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The birth of Alfred Russell in 1817 is marked on this date. He was a Black missionary, businessman, and politician.
Alfred Francis Russell was born in Kentucky. At the age of 15, he was emancipated along with his mother and four siblings and sent to Liberia. By 1837, Russell was doing missionary work for the Methodist church, and for the next 17 years he served in various posts throughout Liberia. His primary home remained in Montserrado County, where he developed an extensive farm along the St. Paul River. An early advocate for coffee cultivation in Liberia, Russell had upwards of 8,000 coffee trees on his property in 1852, and later became a major sugarcane grower.
He represented Montserrado County in the Senate throughout the 1850s and served now and then in that association over the next two decades. He remained active as a clergyman, but changed his affiliation to the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the 1881 presidential contest, Anthony W. Gardner won election as Liberia's president, and Russell won the vice presidency. When failing health forced Gardner to resign in January 1883, Russell succeeded him.
Blamed for the loss of Liberian territory to Britain, Russell was not nominated for president in 1883. He died only a few months after leaving office in 1884.
Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century.
Edited by Leon Litwack and August Meier
Copyright 1991, University of Illinois Press
A Durable Memento:
Augustus Washington, African American Daguerreotypist
by Ann M. Shumard
24 pages, 33 illustrations
The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution