Campbell, Samuel R., Sr. (ca. 1812–1862)


By: Isabella Rapisarda

Type: Biography

Published: May 4, 2022

Updated: June 2, 2022


Samuel R. Campbell, Sr., lawyer and state legislator, was born to Thomas F. Campbell and Temperance (Hurt) Campbell in Tennessee around 1812. He was one of at least nine siblings. By 1830 the family had moved to Clay County, Missouri. Campbell married Julia Ann Pence in Clay County on September 30, 1834. Together they had five children who survived to adulthood—Cordelia, Thornton P. “Thomas,” Samuel R. Jr., James Richard, and Mary—between the years 1835 and 1853. Throughout his adult life Campbell worked as a lawyer. The family lived in Buchanan County, Missouri, in 1840 and Collin County, Texas, in 1850. They relocated to Texas in the mid-1840s between the births of Samuel around 1842 and James in 1847.

Between the years 1850 and 1851 the value of his property in Collin County—forty acres—tripled from $200 to $600. This value did not include enslaved people, whom he is not known to have owned. His religious beliefs are unknown, although his parents appear to have been Quakers.

Campbell was elected to the Texas Senate in a special election on July 22, 1850, and filled a vacancy caused by the resignation of Albert G. Walker. Campbell took the oath of office on August 12. He represented Senate District 4, which included his home county of Collin, plus Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, Henderson, Kaufman, and Van Zandt counties. He was added to the Printing and Contingent Expenses, Public Lands, Private Land Claims, and Judiciary committees. He proposed a bill to secure settlers of the Peters Colony the lands to which they were entitled. Around this time he also voted to elect Thomas J. Rusk for the United States Senate. In November 1850 Campbell voted to accept the new boundaries of Texas delineated by the Compromise of 1850 and recommended the passage of a bill to incorporate Dallas. During the final month of the year he also voted against an amendment to a law concerning slavery. The law had permitted enslaved people to carrying firearms with written consent from their master or overseer. The amendment forbade slaves from owning firearms or carrying them away from their master’s or employer’s property. It specified the minimum and maximum fines to be levied against masters and overseers who allowed slaves to carry such weapons and the minimum and maximum number of lashes to be inflicted on the slaves. The amendment also outlined the ranges of the number of lashes to be imposed on slaves found traveling without a permit or engaging in trade.

Meanwhile, redistricting had redrawn the senatorial district lines in North Texas, taking Campbell’s home county, Collin, out of District 4 and placing it in District 3. Campbell was opposed for reelection in the new district by Collin County’s incumbent house member, Samuel Bogart. Bogart won the race and took the seat in November 1851. The frequent overturn of legislative seats in North Texas was driven largely by the ongoing controversy surrounding land titles in the Peters Colony. A bill enacted in 1850, before Campbell’s arrival in the Senate, had proven very unpopular with the stockholders of the company behind the Colony and may have been responsible for Albert Walker’s resignation. The bill that Campbell shepherded through the legislature in the fall of 1850 likewise failed to satisfy all parties, likely leading to Campbell’s defeat. Yet a third bill, engineered by Rep. James Throckmorton in 1852, also proved unpopular and led to Throckmorton’s resignation. This set up an 1852 electoral contest between Campbell and Throckmorton for Throckmorton’s old House seat. Campbell campaigned against Throckmorton’s compromise, but Throckmorton, a future governor and congressman, defended his actions and won the race. It would take two more decades of legislative wrangling before the Peters Colony situation was finally settled, but Campbell had apparently had enough; there is no record of his seeking office in Texas again.

In December 1851 in McKinney he participated in a railroad convention, for which he helped draft the resolutions and was appointed to a permanent committee to coordinate with other organizations throughout Texas and in New Orleans to secure the development of railroads in North Texas. He argued that railroad expansion was not a partisan issue but would benefit everyone.

In the early 1850s Campbell and his family travelled to California by ox team and settled in Los Angeles, where Campbell continued to practice law and served as a justice of the peace from 1855 to 1856. He later moved his family to San Bernardino, California. In 1857 an exodus of Mormons from San Bernardino–in preparation for the Utah War–left multiple seats open in local offices. In early 1858 Campbell was appointed district attorney. He eventually became a judge. He lived in San Bernardino with his family until the winter of 1861–62 when he died. He had left on a trip to Los Angeles in early January, but never arrived at his destination. Following a search, his remains were found near Agua Manse. It was assumed that he died after losing his horse while lost in a storm.

Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898). William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 6 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1973). Kenneth Wayne Howell, Texas Confederate, Reconstruction Governor: James Webb Throckmorton (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Samuel R. Campbell (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeleaders/members/memberdisplay.cfm?memberID=5370), accessed April 28, 2022. Clarksville Northern Standard, December 20, 1851. San Bernardino Daily Sun, March 14, 1937. San Francisco Bulletin, January 14, 1862. San Francisco Daily Globe, February 5, 1858.

Categories:
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • Senate
  • State Legislators
  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
Places:
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region

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

Isabella Rapisarda, “Campbell, Samuel R., Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/campbell-samuel-r-sr.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 4, 2022
June 2, 2022

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: