Richard Russell was born in Winder, Georgia, on 2nd November, 1897. His father, Richard Russell, Sr., was a lawyer who later became chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.
Russell served in the Naval Reserve during the First World War and was given command of a coastal battery. After graduated from the law department of University of Georgia in 1918 he was admitted to the bar and worked as a lawyer in Winder, Georgia.
A member of the Democratic Party, Russell served in Georgia's House of Representatives (1921-1931) and as Governor of Georgia (1931-1933). He was elected to the Senate on 12th January, 1933, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William J. Harris.
A lifelong bachelor, Russell dedicated his life to politics. He held extreme right-wing views and told his constituents during an election campaign against Eugene Talmadge: "As one who was born and reared in the atmosphere of the Old South, with six generations of my forebears now resting beneath Southern soil, I am willing to go as far and make as great a sacrifice to preserve and insure white supremacy in the social, economic, and political life of our state as any man who lives within her borders."
Russell developed a reputation as the leader of the white supremacists in the Senate. Russell participated in his first filibuster of a civil rights bill in 1935 when he stopped an anti-lynching bill (Costigan-Wagner Act) with 6 days of nonstop talking.
By the end of the Second World War Russell was the acknowledged leader of the Southern bloc in the Senate. In 1950 it was suggested that Russell should become head of the Democratic Party in the Senate. Russell declined the offer and instead gave his support to his great friend, Lyndon B. Johnson, the recently elected senator from Texas. Russell's decision enabled Johnson to become the most powerful man in the Senate.
Russell spent most weekends with Johnson. He was such a regular visitor that Johnson's daughters affectionately referred to Russell as "Uncle Dick".
After the death of John F. Kennedy in 1963 his deputy, Lyndon B. Johnson, was appointed president. He immediately set up a commission to "ascertain, evaluate and report upon the facts relating to the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy." Johnson asked Warren if he would be willing to head the commission. Earl Warren refused but it was later revealed that Johnson blackmailed him into accepting. According to Russell: "After Warren refused several times, Johnson called him to the Oval Office and told him "what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City," whereupon Warren began crying and told Johnson "well I won't turn you down, I'll just do whatever you say."
The Warren Commission reported to President Johnson ten months later. It reached the following conclusions:
(1) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository.
(2) The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired.
(3) Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's wounds. However, Governor Connally's testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which caused the President's and Governor Connally's wounds were fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.
(4) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.
(5) Oswald killed Dallas Police Patrolman J. D. Tippit approximately 45 minutes after the assassination.
(6) Within 80 minutes of the assassination and 35 minutes of the Tippit killing Oswald resisted arrest at the theater by attempting to shoot another Dallas police officer.
(7) The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.
(8) In its entire investigation the Commission has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the US Government by any Federal, State, or local official.
(9) On the basis of the evidence before the Commission it concludes that, Oswald acted alone.
Russell originally agreed that John F. Kennedy and J. D. Tippit had been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald and that Jack Ruby was not part of any conspiracy. However, later he began to have doubts claiming that "no one man could have done the known shooting." On a taped telephone conversation Russell had with Lyndon B. Johnson about Oswald being the lone gunman, he is heard saying that "I don't believe it". Johnson responded with the words: "I don't either".
Russell continued to lead the white supremacists in the Senate. In 1964 this brought him into conflict with President Johnson when he tried to get the Senate to pass the Civil Rights Act. Originally introduced by John F. Kennedy, the bill was an attempt to make racial discrimination in public places, such as theaters, restaurants and hotels, illegal. It also required employers to provide equal employment opportunities. Projects involving federal funds could now be cut off if there was evidence of discriminated based on colour, race or national origin.
The Civil Rights Act also attempted to deal with the problem of African Americans being denied the vote in the Deep South. The legislation stated that uniform standards must prevail for establishing the right to vote. Schooling to sixth grade constituted legal proof of literacy and the attorney general was given power to initiate legal action in any area where he found a pattern of resistance to the law.
Russell told the Senate: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states." Russell organized 18 Southern Democratic senators in filibustering this bill.
However, on the 15th June, 1964, Russell privately told Mike Mansfield and Hubert Humphrey, the two leading supporters of the Civil Rights Act, that he would bring an end to the filibuster that was blocking the vote on the bill. This resulted in a vote being taken and it was passed by 73 votes to 27.
During his time in the Senate he served as chairman of the Committee on Immigration as well as on the Committee of Manufactures, Committee on Armed Forces and Committee of Appropriations.
Richard Russell died in Washington on 21st January, 1971.
(1) Richard Russell, public letter to Eugene Talmadge (9th December, 1935)
As one who was born and reared in the atmosphere of the Old South, with six generations of my forebears now resting beneath Southern soil, I am willing to go as far and make as great a sacrifice to preserve and insure white supremacy in the social, economic, and political life of our state as any man who lives within her borders.
(2) St Louis Post-Dispatch (December 1994)
Congressional leaders privately urged President John F. Kennedy to invade Cuba at the outset of the Cuban missile crisis, newly released White House tapes show.
"We've got to take a chance somewhere, sometime, if we're going to retain our position as a great world power," Sen. Richard Russell, D-Ga., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, advised Kennedy as the world came to the brink of nuclear war in 1962.
Kennedy deflected Russell by reassuring him that troops were being massed for an invasion but would not be ready for at least a week.
Minutes later, the president went on television to announce a different tactic: a blockade against ships bound for Cuba with offensive weapons.
The president had learned only hours earlier that a U.S. airstrike would be less than 100 percent effective against the missiles and that a ground invasion could take months.
Four days later, on Oct. 26 - after the United States secretly had pledged to remove NATO missiles in Turkey - the Soviets agreed to remove any offensive weapons in Cuba, and the crisis was defused.
The tapes, released after being kept secret for more than 32 years, cover two meetings held Oct. 22, 1962, about a week after aerial reconnaissance photos first revealed a Soviet medium-range missile site under construction in Cuba.
More than 500 tactical fighter planes already were massed in Florida by Oct. 22.
Kennedy had learned in a separate meeting with his National Security Council earlier the same day that some Cuban missiles could survive a US airstrike and be used against American targets.
Kennedy shared this news with Russell and other congressional committee chairmen hours later. They insisted it was time to fight.
"Seems to me, we're either a first-class power or we're not," Russell said.
But Kennedy argued that the Soviets would not stand by as an American invasion force was built up with designs on Cuba. "We can't invade Cuba," Kennedy said. "It takes us some while to assemble our force to invade Cuba. That's one of the problems we've got."
(3) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Russell (4.05 pm, 29th November, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson: I talked to the leadership on trying to have... about a seven-man board to evaluate Hoover's report... I think it would be better than.. having four or five going in the opposite direction.
Richard Russell: I agree with that, but I don't think that Hoover ought to make his report too soon.
Lyndon B. Johnson: He's ready with it now and he wants to get it off just as quick as he can.
Richard Russell: Oh-oh.
Lyndon B. Johnson: And he'll probably have it out today. At most, on Monday.
Richard Russell: Well, but he ain't going to publish the damned thing, is he?
Lyndon B. Johnson: He's going to turn it over to this group and there's some things about it I can't talk about.
Richard Russell: Yeah, I understand that, but I think it be mighty well if that thing was kept quiet another week or ten days. I just do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: They're taking this Court of Inquiry in Texas and I think the results of that Court of Inquiry, Hoover's report, and all of them would go to this group.... Now here's who I'm going to try to get on it... I don't think I can get any member of the Court. I'm going to try to get Allen Dulles. I'm going to try Senator Russell and Senator Cooper from the Senate...
Richard Russell: Oh no, no, no, get somebody else now.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Now wait a minute, now I want to try to get...
Richard Russell: I haven't got time.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Jerry Ford. It is not going to take much time but we've got to get a states' rights man in there1 and somebody that the country has confidence in. And I'm going to have Boggs in... I think that Ford and Boggs would be pretty good. They're both pretty young men.
Richard Russell: They're both solid citizens.
Lyndon B. Johnson: And I think that Cooper as a Republican and you're a good states rights' man. I think we might get John McCloy... and maybe somebody from the Court.... Who would be the best then if I didn't get the Chief?
Richard Russell: I know you wouldn't want Clark hardly.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, I can't have a Texan.
Richard Russell: Really, Mr. President, unless you really think it would be of some benefit, it would really save my life. I declare I don't want to serve.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I know you don't want to do anything, but I want you to. And I think that this is important enough and you'll see why. Now, the next thing: I know how you feel about this CIA, but they're worried about having to go into a lot of this stuff with the Foreign Relations Committee. How much of a problem would it give you to just quietly let Fulbright and Hickenlooper come into your CIA committee?
Richard Russell: As long as it is confined to those two, it wouldn't present any problem at all. (Gap in the transcript.)
Richard Russell: Now you're going to let the Attorney General nominate someone, aren't you?
Lyndon B. Johnson: No. Uh-uh.
Richard Russell: Well, you going to have Hoover on there?
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, it is his report.
Richard Russell: Oh, that's right, that's right. It wouldn't do.... Let me see, if I think of a judge in the next thirty or forty minutes...
Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think about a Justice sitting on it? You don't have a President assassinated but every fifty years.
Richard Russell: They put them on the Pearl Harbor inquiry, you know.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I know. That's why he's against it now.
Richard Russell: Afraid it might get into the courts?
Lyndon B. Johnson: I guess so, I don't know.
Richard Russell: That's probably the theory of it....
Lyndon B. Johnson: Give me the arguments why they ought to.
Richard Russell: The only argument about it is that, of course, in a matter of this magnitude... the American people would feel reassured to have a member of the highest Court... If you would have some top-flight state Supreme Court Chief Justice - but they're not known all over the country... This thing in television and radio has narrowed the group of celebrities. I don't know. You've got some smart boys there around you who can give you the name of some outstanding Circuit Court judge.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay. You be thinking.
(4) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Russell (8.55 p.m 29th November, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, I hate to bother you again but I wanted you to know that I made that announcement.
Richard Russell: Announcement of what?
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of this special commission.
Richard Russell: Oh, you have already?
Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes. May I read it to you? (reads from the statement)...
Richard Russell: I know I don't have to tell you of my devotion to you but I just can't serve on that Commission. I'm highly honoured you'd think about me in connection with it but I couldn't serve on it with Chief Justice Warren. I don't like that man. I don't have any confidence in him at all. So you get John Stennis.
Lyndon B. Johnson: It has already been announced and you can serve with anybody for the good of America and this is a question that has a good many more ramifications than on the surface and we've got to take this out of the arena where they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did that and chuck us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour. And you would put on your uniform in a minute. Now the reason I've asked Warren is because he is the Chief Justice of this country and we've got to have the highest judicial people we can have. The reason I ask you is because you have that same kind of temperament and you can do anything for your country. And don't go to giving me that kind of stuff about you can't serve with anybody. You can do anything.
Richard Russell: It is not only that. I just don't think the Chief Justice should have served on it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: The Chief Justice ought to do anything he can to save America and right now we've got a very touchy thing. And you wait until you look at this evidence.... Now I'm not going to lead you wrong and you're not going to be an Old Dog Tray.
Richard Russell: I know that but I have never...
Lyndon B. Johnson: You've never turned your country down. This is not me. This is your country... You're my man on that commission and you're going to do it! And don't tell me what you can do and what you can't because I can't arrest you and I'm not going to put the FBI on you. But you're goddammed sure going to serve - I'll tell you that! And A.W. Moursund is here and he wants to tell you how much all of us love you. Wait a minute.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, you ought to have told me you were going to name me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you today I was going to name the Chief Justice when I called you.
Richard Russell: You did not. You talked about getting somebody from the Supreme Court. You didn't tell me you were going to name him.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you I was going to name Warren...
Richard Russell: Oh no!... I said Clark wouldn't do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, that's right, and I've got to get the highest Justice I can get. He turned Bobby Kennedy down! Bobby and they talked to him and he just said he wouldn't serve under any circumstances.11 called him down here and I spent an hour with him and I begged him as much as I'm begging you. I just said, "Now here's the situation I want to tell you."
Richard Russell: You've never begged me. You've always told me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, I haven't. No I haven't.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, please now...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No! It is already done. It has been announced.
Richard Russell: You mean you've given that...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes sir. I gave the announcement. It is already in the papers and you're on it and you're going to be my man on it and you just forget that. Now wait a minute. A.W. wants to say a word to you and I'll be back.
A.W. MOURSUND: Hello, Senator. We were just sitting here talking and he says, "I've got one man that's smarter than all the rest of them put together."
Richard Russell: You don't have to butter me up.
MOURSUND: I ain't buttering you up. Senator. You know I'm not that kind of a fellow. I just heard that and I wanted you to know it. Hell, he's depending on you. You know that.
Richard Russell: I don't know when I've been as unhappy about a thing as I am this.
MOURSUND: I know, but you can take them. God Almighty, you've taken it for years and the hard ones and the tough ones, and you can take care of it and you can take care of yourself.
Richard Russell: How are things down in Texas? Kill any deer down there?
MOURSUND: But you come see us. But don't say you can't do anything 'cause you're the best can-do man there is.
Richard Russell: Oh, no, oh, no.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick? Now we're going into a lot of problems... I saw Wilkins today and had a long talk with him. Now these things are going to be developing and I know you're going to have your reservations and your modesty.
Richard Russell: Oh...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Now, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Now your President's asking you to do these things and there are some things I want you in besides civil rights and, by God, you're going to be in 'em, because I can't run this country by myself.
Richard Russell: You know damned well my future is behind me, and that is not entering into it at all.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Your future is your country and you're going to do everything you can to serve America.
Richard Russell: I just can't do it. I haven't got the time.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, we'll just make the time.
RUSSELL: With all my Georgia items in there.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, we'll just make the time. There's not going to be any time, to begin with. All you're going to do is evaluate the Hoover report he has already made.
Richard Russell: I don't think they'll move that fast on it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, well then, we won't move any faster than you want to move... The Secretary of State came over here this afternoon. He's deeply concerned, Dick, about the idea that they're spreading throughout the Communist world that Khrushchev killed Kennedy. Now he didn't. He didn't have a damned thing to do with it.
Richard Russell: I don't think he did directly. I know Khrushchev didn't because he thought he'd get along better with Kennedy.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, but we've...
Richard Russell: I wouldn't be surprised if Castro had.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right then, okay. That's what we want to know. And people have got confidence in you and you can be just surprised or not surprised. They want to know what you think...
Richard Russell: You're taking advantage of me...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, no.... I'm going to take a hell of a lot of advantage of you, my friend, 'cause you made me and I know it and I don't ever forget. And I'll be going to be taking advantage of you a good deal. But you're going to serve your country and do what is right and if you can't do it, you get that damned little Bobby up there and let him twist your tail and put a cocklebur under it. Where is he?
Richard Russell: I don't know. He's in Atlanta tonight.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you just tell him to get ready because I'm going to need him and you just tell him that.
Richard Russell: I saw he and Vandiver this afternoon for about thirty minutes. They came by here.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Just tell either one of them that I just would like to use them anyplace because I'm a Russell protege and I don't forget my friends and I want you to stand up and be counted and I don't want to beg you, by God, to serve on these things....
Richard Russell: I know, but this is a sort of rough one.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, it is not rough. What is rough about this? They had a full-scale investigation going, Dick, with the TV up there. They had the House Un-American Activities Committee in it.
Richard Russell: They shouldn't have done it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, but how do I stop it? How do I stop it, Dick? Now don't tell me that I've worked all day and done wrong.
Richard Russell: I didn't say you'd done wrong. I just said... it could have been stopped some other way....
Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think I've done wrong now by appointing you on a commission?
Richard Russell: Well, I just don't like Warren.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, you don't like Warren, but you'll like him before it is over with.
Richard Russell: I haven't got any confidence in him.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you can give him some confidence. Goddamn it! Associate with him now... I'm not afraid to put your intelligence against Warren's. Now by God, I want a man on that commission and I've got one!
Richard Russell: I don't know about the intelligence, of course, and I feel like I'm being kidded, but if you think...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, if you think now Dick, do you think I'd kid you?
Richard Russell: If it is for the good of the country, you know damned well I'll do it and I'll do it for you, for that matter...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, do you remember when you met me at the Carlton Hotel in 1952? When we had breakfast there one morning?
Richard Russell: Yes, I think I do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right. Do you think I'm kidding you?
Richard Russell: No, I don't think you're kidding me. But I think - well, I'm not going to say any more, Mr. President. I'm at your command and I'll do anything you want me to do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: You damned sure going to be at my command! You're going to be at my command as long as I'm here.
Richard Russell: I do wish you be a little more deliberate and considerate next time about it but... if you've done this, I'm going to... go through with it and say I think it is a wonderful idea.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have you on a good goddamned many things that I have to decide.... I've served under you and I don't give a damn if you have to serve with a Republican, if you have to serve with a Communist, if you have to serve with a Negro, or if you have to serve with a thug - or if you have to serve with A.W. Moursund.
Richard Russell: I can serve with a Communist and I can serve with a Negro. I can serve with a Chinaman.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you may have to serve with A.W. Moursund!
Richard Russell: And if I can serve with A.W. Moursund, I would say, "Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to serve with you, Judge Moursund." But - we won't discuss it any further Mr. President. I'll serve.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, Dick, and give Bobby my love and tell him he'd better get ready to give up that fruitful law practice he's got.
Richard Russell: He's been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Now, you see, I got him on there. He's making as much money as I am.
Lyndon B. Johnson: What about Vandiver?
Richard Russell: Well, he's running for Governor next time and he'll be elected.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Who in the hell is going to help me besides you?
Richard Russell: Those boys will help you if you need them.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, I need 'em.
Richard Russell: Goddamn it, they're harder for you than I was - remember?
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, nobody ever has been more to me than you have, Dick - except my mother.
Richard Russell: (laughs scoffmgly)
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, that's true. I've bothered you more and made you spend more hours with me telling me what's right and wrong than anybody except my mother.
Richard Russell: You've made me do more things I didn't want to do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, I never made you do anything that was wrong. I never...
Richard Russell: I didn't say "wrong." I said more things I didn't want to do. But Bobby and Ernie are two of the most loyal friends you've got on earth.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I know that.
Richard Russell: They both called me up and said, "You've just got to do whatever Mr. Johnson says."
Lyndon B. Johnson: No... I just want to counsel with you and I just want your judgment and your wisdom.
Richard Russell: For whatever it's worth, you've got it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have it 'cause I haven't got any daddy and you're going to be it. And don't just forget that.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, you know - I think you know me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I do. I do. I know you're for your country and - period. Now you just get ready to do this and you're my man on there.
Richard Russell: If you hadn't announced it, I would absolutely be...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No you wouldn't. No, you wouldn't.
Richard Russell: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances. Didn't think a Supreme Court Justice ought to go on... He said a man that criticized this fellow that went on the Nuremberg trial - Jackson. And I said, "Let me read you one report." And I just picked up one report and read it to him, and I said, "Okay, now, forty million Americans involved here."
Richard Russell: I may be wholly wrong. But I think Mr. Warren would serve on anything that would give him any publicity.
Lyndon B. Johnson: You want me to tell you the truth? You know what happened? Bobby and them went up to see him today and he turned them down cold and said, "No." Two hours later, I called him and ordered him down here and he didn't want to come. I insisted he come. He came down here and told me no - twice. And I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City and I said, "Now I don't want Mr. Khrushchev to be told tomorrow - and be testifying before a camera that he killed this fellow and that Castro killed him and all I want you to do is look at the facts and bring in any other facts you want in here and determine who killed the President. And I think you put on your uniform in World War I, fat as you are, and would do anything you could to save one American life. And I'm surprised that you, the Chief Justice of the United States, would turn me down." And he started crying and he said, "I won't turn you down. I'll just do whatever you say." But he turned the Attorney General down!
Richard Russell: You ought not to be so persuasive.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I think I ought to.
Richard Russell: I think you did wrong in getting Warren, and I know damned well you did wrong in getting me. But we'll both do the best we can.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I think that's what you'll do. That's the kind of Americans both of you are. Good night.
(5) Recorded telephone conversation between Richard Russell, Lyndon B. Johnson and B. Everett Jordan (13th May, 1964)
Richard Russell: I'm mighty sorry I couldn't go to Georgia with you but you had a fine reception down there.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Aw, couldn't have been better. I missed you. That was the only thing wrong with the trip.
Richard Russell: I had to talk to the junior chamber of commerce.. I'm all right with the old ones. I'll never get back in with the young women, but I'm trying to get back in with the young men...
Richard Russell: Now listen, I'm down here with Everett Jordan and he's sweating blood about this danged Bobby Baker thing. They had a hell of a big revival of it up here today.... It looks to me like they're just trying to keep the damned thing
open.... Everett is greatly bothered about it.... He asked me to come down here, said he had to have some help. I don't know how to help him.
B. Everett Jordan: I'm worried. They made a hell of a fight on this thing on the floor today.... They've already said they're going to drag Walter Jenkins down here. Of course, I know they can't, but you'd have to stop it. That'd be embarrassing... They want to get into campaign expenses. Baker putting out money to Senators, controlling who was going on committees.... It's the damnedest mess you ever saw. The press just eats it up.... I need some help and I need it bad... If you'd call Mike...
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm not the one to call Mike.... If I had any influence with Mike, he never would have fired Bobby.
B. Everett Jordan: What about Hubert?
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm afraid to say I'll talk to anybody 'cause they'll say the White House is calling.... But I'll do what I can.
Richard Russell: Dirksen... of course, if it looks like there's going to be an investigation, he's going to run like hell 'cause he's one of the last fellows up here that wants an investigation.
Lyndon B. Johnson: You ought to tell Dirksen that too, Dick....
Richard Russell: I'm doing the best I can, Mr. President, but God knows, I've got a hell of a lot to do. I sat up last night till eleven-thirty reading the FBI reports on some son of a bitch - this fellow Rankin on the Warren Commission. Everybody's raising hell about him being a Communist and all, a left-winger. The FBI was investigating. Eight thousand pages of raw material. There ain't but twenty-four hours a day. 'Course, I know I'm talking to a man that's got a hell of a lot more to do than I have. You's the only man in Washington that does.
(6) Richard Russell, speech in the Senate on his opposition to the Civil Rights Act (18th June, 1964)
I am proud to have been a member of that small group of determined senators that since the 9th of March has given... the last iota of physical strength in the effort to hold back the overwhelming combination of forces supporting this bill until its manifold evils could be laid bare before the people of the country.
The depth of our conviction is evidenced by the intensity of our opposition. There is little room for honorable men to compromise where the inalienable rights of future generations are at stake....
Mr. President, the people of the South are citizens of this Republic. They are entitled to some consideration. It seems to me that fair men should recognize that the people of the South, too, have some rights which should be respected. And though, Mr. President, we have failed in this fight to protect them from a burgeoning bureaucracy that is already planning and organizing invasion after invasion of the South... our failure cannot be ascribed to lack of effort. Our ranks were too thin, our resources too scanty, but we did our best. I say to my comrades in arms in this long fight that there will never come a time when it will be necessary for any one of us to apologize for his conduct or his courage.
(7) Recorded telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Russell (18th September, 1964)
Richard Russell: That danged Warren Commission business, it whupped me down so. We got through today. You know what I did? I... got on the plane and came home. I didn't even have a toothbrush. I didn't bring a shirt.... Didn't even have my pills-antihistamine pills to take care of my em-fy-see-ma.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Why did you get in such a rush?
Richard Russell: I'm just worn out, fighting over that damned report.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you ought to have taken another hour and gone get your clothes.
Richard Russell: No, no. They're trying to prove that the same bullet that hit Kennedy first was the one that hit Connally, went through him and through his hand, his bone, and into his leg... I couldn't hear all the evidence and cross examine all of them. But I did read the record.... I was the only fellow there that... suggested any change whatever in what the staff got up.' This staff business always scares me. I like to put my own views down. But we got you a pretty good report.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, what difference does it make which bullet got Connally?
Richard Russell: Well, it don't make much difference. But they said that... the commission believes that the same bullet that hit Kennedy hit Connally. Well, I don't believe it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I don't either.
Richard Russell: And so I couldn't sign it. And I said that Governor Connally testified directly to the contrary and I'm not gonna approve of that. So I finally made them say there was a difference in the commission, in that part of them believed that that wasn't so. And of course if a fellow was accurate enough to hit Kennedy right in the neck on one shot and knock his head off in the next one - and he's leaning up against his wife's head - and not even wound her - why, he didn't miss completely with that third shot. But according to their theory, he not only missed the whole automobile, but he missed the street! Well, a man that's a good enough shot to put two bullets right into Kennedy, he didn't miss that whole automobile... But anyhow, that's just a little thing.
Lyndon B. Johnson: What's the net of the whole thing? What's it say? Oswald did it? And he did it for any reason?
Richard Russell: Just that he was a general misanthropic fellow, that he had never been satisfied anywhere he was on earth - in Russia or here. And that he had a desire to get his name in history.... I don't think you'll be displeased with the report. It's too long.... Four volumes.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Unanimous?
Richard Russell: Yes, sir. I tried my best to get in a dissent, but they'd come round and trade me out of it by giving me a little old threat.