John A. Campbell

Media Items
Personal Information
Monday, June 24, 1811
Tuesday, March 12, 1889
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Tuesday, March 22, 1853
Sworn In 
Monday, April 11, 1853
Left Office 
Tuesday, April 30, 1861
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
8 years, 0 months, 19 days
John A. Campbell
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Erik John 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.

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John A. Campbell. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2015. <>.
John A. Campbell, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 27, 2015).
"John A. Campbell," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2015,