John A. Campbell
John Archibald Campbell was a child prodigy who entered Franklin College in his home state of Georgia at the age of eleven. He graduated at fourteen and then enrolled in West Point but had to withdraw three years later to support his family upon the death of his father. Campbell was admitted to the bar when he was eighteen.
Campbell moved to Alabama and established himself as a leading member of that state's bar. He twice refused appointment to the Alabama Supreme Court.
Campbell's appointment to the Supreme Court came by an unprecedented route. The Democratic Senate had refused to confirm three nominations by President Millard Fillmore. Pierce (Fillmore's successor) was a Democrat. The justices of the Court wanted Pierce to nominate Campbell and sent a delegation to the new president to express their preference. Pierce agreed to the choice.
Campbell's service on the Court was cut short by the Civil War. Though he fought against secession, Campbell resigned from the bench at the outbreak of hostilities. Campbell also attempted a mediator's role during the secession crisis between the seceding states and the Lincoln administration. Campbell was invited to join the government of the Confederacy and took up the position of Assistant Secretary of War.
After the War, Campbell practiced law in New Orleans and argued many cases before the High Court from which he resigned.