HON. JOHN A. CAMPBELL, judge of the first judicial circuit of West Virginia, was born in Columbiana county, Ohio, in December, 1842. He remained there until he was about thirteen years old, when his parents removed to Hancock county, W. Va., where his permanent residence has since been. His father was Alexander Campbell, a native of Ohio, who became a merchant in Hancock county, and died in 1844. John Campbell, father of the latter, was one of the pioneers of eastern Ohio, and was co-adjutor of the famous religious organizer and reformer, Alexander Campbell. John Campbell, in this work, labored as an elder, in eastern Ohio and the Western Reserve. Judge Campbell received his collegiate education in Washington and Jefferson college, Pennsylvania, where he was graduated in the class of 1867, just twenty years after the graduation from the same school of James G. Blaine. Mr. Campbell completed his course with honor, and delivered one of the senior orations. He was soon afterward tendered the professorship of mathematics of Hiram college, Ohio, well-known as the school with which the late President Garfield was associated for a number of years, but did not accept the same, preferring to accept the professorship of languages and literature at Hopedale Normal college, of Ohio, which chair had been tendered him simultaneously with the offer from Hiram college. After a connection with Hopedale Normal for four years, he resigned that position on account of failing health, and returned to West Virginia. Judge Campbell having always taken an active interest in politics as a republican, was in the autumn of 1871, without solicitation on his part, made the republican candidate of Hancock county for the house of delegates of West Virginia, and was re-elected, and served three terms in succession, leaving the house in 1876, just after the impeachment proceedings against Burdette and Bennett had been completed. Judge Campbell introduced the resolution which instituted the proceedings and resulted in the impeachment, and was an active participant in the proceedings. During his membership in the legislature, he was admitted to the bar, by examination before the supreme court, and he has since been engaged in the practice of his profession at New Cumberland, and in the courts of Hancock and Brooke counties. Since 1884, he has also been engaged in banking, having in connection with Senator B. J. Smith, of the successful financial institutions of the valley, and the only one in the republican campaigns in West Virginia. In 1880 he was tendered the republican nomination for congress from the district, but declined. He was on the ticket, however, as one of the Garfield electors. In the same year he was chairman of the republican state convention which nominated George C. Sturgis for governor, and accompanied that gentleman who by invitation of the state committee, accompanied Mr. Blaine in his tour of West Virginia, and spoke from the same platform with that gentlemen at the great meeting at Parkersburgh in October of that year. In 1886 he was mentioned as a candidate for congress, but refused to allow his name to go before the convention. He was an active candidate for the nomination in 1888, when G. W. Atkinson received that honor. In September of the same year, he was nominated for judge by the judicial convention of his party, at Wheeling, without solicitation on his part, and in November following he was elected. He assumed the duties of this office, beginning a term of eight years, on January 1, 1889. Judge Campbell has, amid the cares and excitement of a professional and political career, found opportunity to devote much time to literature, and has on various occasions accepted invitations to deliver addresses before colleges. He has occupied many positions of trust, and he brings to the discharge of every duty a clean character, distinguished ability and a rigid integrity. For many years he was connected with the state legislature, and many of our present laws bear the impress of his experience and clear legal acumen. During his incumbency as a state legislator, the trial of two state officers was had for malfeasance. Mr. Campbell was the prime mover of the investigation, and the results of that trial were largely accomplished through his energy and ability. He is probably one of the brightest and best parliamentarians in this state, his long experience in legislative bodies, and his keen perception placing him in the front ranks of judges of parliamentary law. While Judge Campbell's abilities are pre-eminent as a citizen, lawyer and judge, it is probable on the hustings that he has won his greatest prominence. In this field the ripe judgement of the man and the keen ability of the lawyer are supplemented by the large experience and brilliant genius of the politician. He has addressed thousands of his fellow citizens in nearly every county of the state, and there are few speakers who can command greater respect and confidence of his hearers than he. His manner on the stump is eloquent, logical and convincing. He does not speak merely for the occasion, to tickle the ear with pleasing platitudes for the sake of gaining a temporary victory, but he plants seeds in the consciences of his hearers that bear fruit with the developments of time. There are very few public men in the state whose private lives and public careers are freer from nebulous mists than is the life and character of Judge Campbell.
Copyright © 2006 Danice Ryan. All rights reserved.