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Russell, Richard

Russell, Richard (1897–1971), governor of Georgia and U.S. senator.A widely respected political figure, Russell, a Democrat, served in the U.S. Senate from 1933 to 1971. As chairman of the Armed Services Committee from 1951 to 1968, he greatly influenced American military and foreign policy in the post–World War II era.

A leader of southern senators against civil rights, Russell unsuccessfully opposed President Harry S. Truman's 1948 integration of the military. In 1951, his deft leadership helped assuage the outcry over Truman's dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of United Nations forces in the Korean War. As chairman of a Senate inquiry into MacArthur's dismissal, Russell provided Truman's congressional opponents an outlet for their anger and prevented expansion of the war and cancellation of armistice negotiations.

Although a strong supporter of Truman's Korean policy, Russell opposed America's initial involvement in Southeast Asia in 1954. By the mid‐1960s, he became a reluctant supporter of Presidents Johnson and Nixon's escalation of the Vietnam War, although he expressed strong concerns that neither man was willing to pursue a decisive victory over North Vietnam. In 1968, Russell relinquished his Armed Services chairmanship in order to head the Appropriations Committee, where he secured continued funding for the war.
[See also Vinson, Carl.]

Bibliography

Gilbert C. Fite , Richard B. Russell, Jr., Senator from Georgia, 1991.
John A. Goldsmith , Colleagues: Richard B. Russell and His Apprentice, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1993.

Robert Mann

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Russell, Richard B.

Richard B. Russell, 1897–1971, American political leader, b. Winder, Ga. The son of a justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, he began his political career as a state representative (1921–31) and then governor (1931–32). From 1932 to 1971, he was a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate. A supporter of the New Deal, he was chairman of the Armed Services Committee (1951–53, 1955–69) and widely regarded as one of the most powerful members of the Senate. In his last decades he was a leading opponent of civil-rights legislation, and broke with his former protégé, President Lyndon Johnson, over the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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