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 “to join their hearts and hands in a movement to destroy this murderous curse’1  of alcohol.


Howard Hyde 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, including Wayne Wheeler and Ernest Cherrington. He later became head of the World League Against Alcoholism.

Howard Hyde Russell

Rev. Russell

Russell also established the Lincoln Legion  to promote the signing of temperance pledge signing by children and other 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 for life.

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


1 Leaders of the Anti-Saloon League

Photo courtesy Westerville Public Library.


Aaron, P., and Musto, D. Temperance and Prohibition. In: Moore, M., and Gerstein, D. (Eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy. Washington: Nat. Acad. Press, 1981. Pp. 127-180.

Asbury, H.. The Great Illusion. NY: Doubleday, 1950.

Blocker, J. American Temperance Movements. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Odegard, P. Pressure Politics: The Story of the Anti-Saloon League. NY: Columbia U. Press, 1928.

Timberlake, James H. Prohibition and the Progressive Movements,: 1900-1920. Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1963.

Westerville (Ohio) Public Library. Howard Hyde Russell. Westerville Public Library website.