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But more significant, in the s the national temper had changed. An age of reform had given way to a mood of self-complacency, even of belligerence. This mood deepened, transformed, on the one hand, into an appetite for foreign conquest and, on the other, into boredom with social and political reform. In such an atmosphere Russell was inevitably overshadowed by the forceful and popular Lord Palmerston, who seized the forefront of the national stage in the Crimean War — Indeed, for four years, from to , Russell retired from public life and devoted more and more of his time to literature.

Private life had always beckoned to him, as had the life of a litterateur. Among the English prime ministers, few wrote so copiously—biography, history, poetry—as Russell. He accepted an earldom in , and he died at Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, in John Russell, 1st Earl Russell.

Lord John Russell, later Earl Russell - History of government

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Written By: David Spring. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Within a few months the immensely popular Palmerston was back in office, however, as home secretary.

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (1792-1878; Prime Minister)

He would serve twice as prime minister. In mid, when Russell did form a government, Palmerston became foreign secretary again.

After the revolution in , as in , Palmerston was concerned with both protecting the new…. History at your fingertips.

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Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! He believed that the Reform Act would force ministers and local leaders to be more active and accountable, and would facilitate a more legislative style of party politics, in tune with his strand of Whiggism. He held this post for the next six years, with great distinction, and became the leading figure in the party. As Home Secretary he supervised key reforms of local government the Municipal Corporations Act , the criminal law, policing and prisons, and was responsible for the educational legislation of Then as Colonial Secretary between and he helped to settle Canada after the rebellion.

His government extended state support for education and passed important public health and factory reform measures. But it soon became politically beleaguered, because of its lack of a majority, the fragmentation of the two — party system, and the severe tensions thrown up by the Irish Famine and then by the economic and social turbulence of at home and abroad. After , Russell always struggled to assert his authority, and was damaged particularly by his alienation of Irish MPs following his criticism of the Pope in , and by his unpopular dismissal of the buccaneering Palmerston from the Foreign Office in late His anxiety that the state should promote, subsidise and regulate schooling in order to attack vice and sensuality, which bore fruit in the legislation of and and further initiatives in the s and s, was originally encouraged by his anxiety about Chartism and his hostility to the attempt by High Church Anglicans to dominate education through the National Society.


He had a simple faith himself, based on the precepts of full-hearted love of God and the human race. He distrusted religious dogmas, which he saw as man-made inventions which created division and conflict for the benefit of sectarian institutions and power-hungry egos.

This, he felt, was the way to uphold national and personal honour, which were both important concepts for him. His main reason for advocating further reform in the s and s was to revitalise a sluggish House of Commons, particularly on Irish and educational questions, and to revive party spirit on the Liberal benches again to the benefit of politicians like himself, rather than his rival Palmerston.

The Decline of Lord John Russell

He never formally retired but at the end of he indicated his intention to Gladstone and a public letter early in was taken as the opportunity by Gladstone to direct the party towards a new policy on the Irish Church. Russell continued to speak in the Lords on a range of issues including education and concurrent endowment, his own alternative solution to the Irish Church. Having sat for the City of London since , he accepted a peerage as Earl Russell in He died on 28 May The familiar story of the NHS has it that the health service is a Labour achievement, dating from the Attlee administration of — But in….

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