The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Russell, William Eustis

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RUSSELL, William Eustis, American lawyer and political leader: b. Cambridge, Mass., 6 Jan. 1857; d. Little Palos, Quebec, Canada, 16 July 1896. He was graduated from Harvard in 1877, and from the Boston University Law School in 1879, winning the Lawrence prize for the best legal essay. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1880 and began the practice of law with his father's firm. He also became an active member of the Democratic party; was elected to the common council of Cambridge in 1881, to the board of aldermen in 1883 and 1884; and was mayor of the city 1885-87. His efficient administration as mayor, and his effective campaign speeches during the Presidential campaign of 1884, had made him a prominent figure in State politics, and in 1888 he was the Democratic nominee for governor. He was defeated in that year and again in 1889, but in 1890 was elected and twice re-elected in 1891 and 1892. He took an active part in all his gubernatorial campaigns, making numerous speeches in all parts of the State. His election as governor for three successive years was a remarkable testimony to his personal integrity and popularity, as the majority of the legislature and the State officials were Republicans. Several laws were passed on his recommendation, including a measure to regulate the lobby, and a law abolishing the property qualification for governor and the poll tax. At the close of his term he resumed the practice of law, and in 1894 was appointed a member of the board of Indian commissioners. In 1896 he was one of the most active opponents of the adoption of the free silver platform at the Democratic National Convention, and distinguished himself by a remarkable speech pleading for a return to the original principles of the Democracy; he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for the presidency by those who favored the gold standard. His death occurred suddenly, shortly after the convention, and was thought to be due largely to the strain he had undergone at that time.