Josiah Abigail Patterson Campbell, a Mississippi Supreme Court justice from 1876 to 1894, was born in Lancaster District, South Carolina, on 2 March 1830. The Campbell family traces its roots to Scotland, where his ancient forbears established the House of Argyle and were numbered among the Scottish chiefs.
J. A. P. Campbell’s parents were well educated. His father, Robert Bond Campbell, was a Presbyterian minister, a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary. His mother, Mary Adams Patterson Campbell, was the daughter of a wealthy planter, Josiah Patterson, from the Abbeville District, South Carolina. She taught all of her six children reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and English grammar before they entered formal education. J. A. P. Campbell learned to read by the time he was four. Not content with his intellectual growth alone, his mother also instilled in him spiritual and philosophical values and a love for literature and law.
Campbell graduated from Davidson College. In 1845, at the age of fifteen, he moved with his parents from South Carolina to Madison County, Mississippi. He received a license to practice law two years later and moved to Kosciusko and established a law practice. In 1850 he married Eugenia Elizabeth Nash, daughter of the Rev. William Whitfield Nash, founder of the First Baptist Church of Kosciusko. J. A. P. and Eugenia Nash Campbell had eight children.
Campbell’s law practice in Kosciusko flourished, as did his reputation. In 1851, at age twenty-one, he was elected to the state legislature. Campbell was held in high regard by his fellow legislators, who elected him Speaker of the House in 1860, on the threshold of the Civil War. He was chosen as a delegate from Mississippi to the Confederate Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the permanent Confederate Constitution adopted on 11 March 1861. The convention reconstituted itself as the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy, and Campbell represented Mississippi from 1861 to 1863, serving as president pro tempore in 1863. He then enlisted in the Confederate Army and served in Polk’s Corps, reaching the rank of colonel.
After the war, the thirty-five-year-old Campbell was elected circuit judge for the 5th Judicial District, serving Attala, Leake, Madison, Yazoo, and Holmes Counties until 1868. In 1876, Gov. John M. Stone appointed Campbell to a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He served for the next eighteen years and held the post of chief justice from 1888 to 1894. In 1887, the legislature invited Judge Campbell to draft a new code for the state, an assignment he readily accepted.
Campbell was living in Jackson when he died on 10 January 1917.
- Michael L. Landon, The University of Mississippi School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History (2006)
- Rev. W. W. Nash Family Bible (copy in possession of the author)
- Dunbar Rowland, Courts, Judges, and Lawyers of Mississippi, 1798–1935 (1935)
- David G. Sansing, The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History (1999)