Profession: British Prime Minister
Why Famous: Scion of one of the most powerful aristocratic families in England, Russell served as British Prime Minister on two occasions during the mid-19th century.
His indefatigable battles in Parliament on behalf of the expansion of liberty took many years but were eventually largely successful.
Russell was the principal architect of the great Reform Act of 1832 that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales and increased the electorate from about 500,000 voters to 813,000.
As Prime Minister his government was blamed for failing to deal with the Irish famine and the ruin of the Whig party which never composed a Government again.
Russell's second government of 1865 to 1866, which could be described as the first Liberal Government, was short and frustrating. Russell failed in his lifelong quest to expand the franchise, a task that would be left to his Conservative successors, Edward Smith-Stanley and Benjamin Disraeli.
- 1831-03-01 Lord John Russell introduces the Reform Bill in the British House of Commons on the government's behalf to revamp the electoral system of England and Wales and increase the franchise
- 1832-03-22 British Parliament, led by Charles Grey, passes the Reform Act, introducing wide-ranging changes to electoral system of England and Wales, increasing electorate from about 500,000 voters to 813,000