Alabama Governors

Russell Cunningham

photo portrait of Ala. Governor Russell McWhortor Cunningham


April 25, 1904 to March 5, 1905


Russell McWhortor Cunningham was born August 25, 1855, at Mt. Hope, Lawrence County. He was the son of Moses W., and Nancy Caroline Cunningham who were former natives of Tennessee. Dr. Cunningham received his academic education in the public schools of Mt. Hope and at the age of seventeen began teaching school. He began his study of medicine in March, 1871, under Dr. John M. Clark, a distinguished physician of North Alabama. In 1878 he entered Bellevue hospital medical college, New York City, from which he graduated the following year. In 1881, he was appointed physician of the State penitentiary, and moved to Wetumpka.


In addition to his distinguished career as physician and surgeon, Dr. Cunningham held a high place in the political life of the state. During 1880-81, he represented Franklin County in the legislature and after locating in Jefferson County was a strong factor in the Democratic party there. During 1896-1900, he represented that county in the state senate and was chosen president of that body in 1898. He was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1901 and was also elected as lieutenant-governor on the ticket with William D. Jelks. While holding the office of lieutenant-governor he served as acting governor of the state for a year, during the absence of Governor Jelks, who was in the west on account of ill health. At the expiration of his term of office he resumed the practice of medicine in Ensley. He died in Birmingham on June 6, 1921.

Alabama Dept. of Archives and History. Public Information Subject Files-governors.
Owen, Marie Bankhead. The Story of Alabama: A History of the State, 1949.