John Archibald Campbell from child prodigy, to West Point cadet, to Supreme Court justice, to military prisoner.

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Aug 25, 2012
John Archibald Campbell (June 24, 1811 – March 12, 1889) is best know as an American jurist. Campbell was a child prodigy and graduated from the University of Georgia at age 14. He was appointed to West Point and was involved in the Eggnog Riot but was not expelled. When his father died Campbell resigned from West Point. He studied law and it required a special act of the Georgia legislature to allow him join the bar at age 18. He was elected as a state reprehensive in Alabama. Next he was a judge. As a member of the Fifth Circuit Court he twice frustrated separate filibuster efforts in Cuba and Nicaragua. This and his view on improving conditions for slaves and gradual emancipation nearly got him hung in the South.

He was a strong supporter of the doctrine of "original sovereignty". Campbell advocated for the rights of slaveholders and condemned the free soil philosophy. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Fillmore in 1852.

When the Confederacy sent three commissioner to meet with Lincoln the president refused to meet with them but meet with Campbell in their place. Campbell was assured by Secretary of State Seward that Lincoln would withdraw US troops from Fort Sumter and when Lincoln reversed this, Campbell resigned from the Supreme Court on April 30, 1861 and went South. Some suspected Campbell of treason. In October of 1862 Campbell was appointed Confederate Assistant Secretary of War. However, Campbell still advocated for peace. He was selected to be one on the three Confederate Peace Commissioner who met with Abraham Lincoln at the Hampton Roads Conference.

After Lincoln was assassinated Campbell was loosely suspected of aiding in the assassination and was held for five months n federal detention at Fort Pulaski. He was never charged and was released. After the war he returned to law.
 

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Aug 25, 2012
One of my reasons for bringing up Campbell was so we could speculate on if his resigning from the US Supreme Court helped or hurt the Confedercy. Justice Campbell was considered highly intelligent and he had considerable influence on other Supreme Court justices. So would Campbell have better served the South by staying on the Supreme Court? I am not sure if Campbell could have swayed the Supreme Court during the Civil War or not. His resigning did allow Lincoln to appoint a Republican to replace him. I understand that in the end Campbell had to follow his own conscience. I am just not sure if his service to the Confederate government was worth the loss of his voice on the US Supreme Court.
 
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