Campbell, Donald (1830–1871)

By: Mark Howard Atkins

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 11, 2019

Donald Campbell, lieutenant governor of Texas, was born on March 26, 1830, in Alabama. As a young man he moved to Tennessee and attended Knoxville College, where he graduated with distinction in 1849. He moved to Texas in 1858 and settled in Jefferson, Marion County, where he worked as a druggist, as an insurance agent, and around 1866 as an agent for the United States Internal Revenue Service. By 1865 Campbell was married, had three children, and was a relatively prosperous property owner with 125 acres of improved farmland and five slaves.

Due to his partisan credentials as an old-line Whig and his ardent Unionism, Campbell rose to political prominence during the tumultuous years of Reconstruction. The wholesale removal of county officials considered by federal authorities to be disloyal to the cause of the Union resulted in Campbell's appointment as chief justice of Marion County in 1868. He was also elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, to fill the unexpired position of another Marion County Unionist, Rev. Aaron Grimsby. Campbell's close cooperation with the military government raised the ire of Marion County Democrats and resulted in his arrest and temporary incarceration by county authorities in 1868 for allegedly falsely swearing to the Union loyalty oath. District Judge Colbert Caldwell ordered Campbell's release, ruling that he had committed no offense.

Campbell won election to the Texas Senate in 1870. When James Winwright Flanagan vacated the lieutenant governorship in 1870 for an appointment to the United States Senate, Campbell was elected president pro tem of the Texas Senate and consequently, by constitutional succession, became ex officio lieutenant governor. He once again found himself caught in the maelstrom of Reconstruction politics when, in support of Governor Edmund J. Davis's legislative agenda, he ordered the arrest of the "Senate bolters," who attempted to break the quorum and prevent the passage of Davis's legislative package. Despite the contentious nature of the political atmosphere, Campbell's Senate colleagues considered him clear, consistent, and honorable as lieutenant governor. He died in Austin on November 8, 1871. The Masonic fraternity performed his funeral rites in the Senate chamber on November 9, 1871. He is buried in the State Cemetery.

Flake's Daily Bulletin, November 8, 1871. Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). Texas Legislature, Senate Journal, 12th legislative session.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mark Howard Atkins, “Campbell, Donald,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 11, 2019