Howard Hyde Russell: Major Temperance Leader

Howard Hyde Russell (1855-1946) was the founder of the powerful Anti-Saloon League.

Religious Conversion

Following a religious conversion, he gave up the practice of law to become a minister. He wrote A Lawyer’s Examination of the Bible. It was published in 1893. Long opposed to drinking, he conceived of the League during the funeral of an alcoholic woman. She left an alcoholic husband and two small children. At that time he pledged to himself to appeal to to members of all churches. And “to join their hearts and hands in a movement to destroy this murderous curse”1 of alcohol.


Russell formed the Ohio Anti-Saloon League in 1893. In 1895, he helped form the Anti-Saloon League at the national level. It was through a merger of local and state temperance groups across the country. Russell was elected head of the national League. There he mentored future leaders of the league. They included Wayne Wheeler and Ernest Cherrington. He later became head of the World League Against Alcoholism.

Howard Hyde Russell
Rev. Russell

Russell also formed the Lincoln Legion. It was to promote the signing of temperance pledge signing by youths. It was later re-named the Lincoln-Lee Legion to attract Southerners. No good statistics exist. But it appears that millions of young people signed pledges to abstain from alcohol. And for life.

Howard Hyde Russell is reported to have raised five million dollars. It was to promote temperance. That would be about $120,000,000 today.

Howard Hyde Russell



1 Leaders of the Anti-Saloon League


Photo courtesy Westerville Pub Lib.