Rev. John Russell, a Methodist pastor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was the first Chairman and first Vice-Presidential candidate of the Prohibition National Committee. Earl Dodge’s national office condominium unit in Denver was named for him.
He was born in Livingston County, New York on September 20, 1822, of Puritan descent. In 1838, his parents removed to Michigan, where John acquired his education in a district school, improving on that by reading and study. At the age of 21, he entered the Methodist Episcopal ministry in the Detroit Conference. He had charges at Port Huron, Romeo, Ypsilanti, Flint, Pontiac, Marquette, and Detroit. For eight years, he was a president elder, and he was twice a delegate to the General Conference. At the meeting of that body in 1880, he was chairman of the Special Committee on Temperance. He was also elected by the Detroit Conference a delegate to the Second Ecumenical Conference of the Methodist Church, in 1891.
He has been well known for many years as a temperance advocate and Prohibitionist. For eight years, he was the temperance agent of his conference. He was head of the Good Templars of Michigan for 12 years, head of the IOGT World Order for two years, and for two years Right Worthy Grand Lodge Lecturer. He has lectured and spoken in almost every State of the Union, also in Canada and in Great Britain and France.
Mr. Russell is known as the “Father of the Prohibition Party,” having published the first newspaper, The Peninsular Herald, in 1867, which advocated a separate political party, and having taken steps that led to a meeting of Prohibitionists in Detroit, in 1867, at which the new party’s organization in Michigan was born. The reports on “political action” for four successive years, beginning in 1867, adopted by the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of Good Templars, were written by him. He was temporary chairman of the convention which founded the National Prohibition Party and, in 1872, was nominated by that Party for Vice-President.
Many of the most logical and noteworthy articles on Prohibition and temperance subjects which have appeared in the Prohibition newspapers have ben contributed by him.
Data from An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)