William Eustis Russell
Painting: by Edmund Charles Tarbell, 1900

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1891-1894

Elected at age 34, William Eustis Russell was the youngest person elected Governor of Massachusetts. Governor Russell supported a series of pro-labor laws, eliminated the state's poll tax, and encouraged the increase of preservation of public lands.

Mr. Russell grew up in Cambridge, the son of lawyer. He attended public schools, Harvard College, and the Boston University School of Law. He began practicing law with his father in Cambridge before serving as Mayor of Cambridge 1884-1887. He unsuccessfully ran for Governor twice, defeated by Oliver Ames and John Quincy Adams Brackett.

In 1890, Russell won the popular election for Governor as a Democrat. Though the Massachusetts legislature was predominantly Republican, he was able to sustain vetoes and advance policies. He eliminated poll taxes in Massachusetts and began an inheritance tax. He advocated and signed a series of pro-labor laws and established the Trustees of Public Reservations to preserve open spaces.

Governor Russell declined to run for a fourth term and retired to his legal practice. He remained active in the Democratic Party. Russell's son, Richard Manning Russell would go on to also serve as Mayor of Cambridge and represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress in the 1930s.