What do you know about John Archibald Campbell? I confess, I knew very little about this interesting Confederate. Born in Georgia, he was admitted to the bar in 1829 at the age of 18 (child prodigy). He moved to Alabama, married and established a law practice in Montgomery, and in 1836 was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives.
In 1839 he moved to Mobile and resumed private practice, and was again elected to the State legislature. He was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce in 1853.
. Campbell strongly opposed secession, and in early 1861 served as a mediator between William Seward, Simon Cameron and three Confederate commissioners. Campbell had been instructed that the Lincoln administration’s policy was for peace and reconciliation, not war, but during the meetings Campbell learned that he had been lied to, when he found the U.S. government was reinforcing Fort Sumter and had requested 75,000 volunteers.
After learning of the reinforcement of Fort Sumter, Campbell resigned from the Court and returned to Alabama. A year later he was named Assistant Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis, a position he held through the end of the War. After the fall of Richmond in 1865, Campbell was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, in Georgia, for six months.
After his release, he resumed his law practice in New Orleans, during which he argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court including the Slaughterhouse Cases and a number of other cases designed to obstruct Radical Reconstruction in the South. He lived until 1889 and was regarded as a brilliant jurist.