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Texas | Columns | All Things Historical

GOVERNOR THOMAS MITCHELL CAMPBELL


by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

Many know that Governor James Stephen Hogg was born in Rusk, Texas, because once a state park there commemorated Hogg's birthplace. Fewer know that Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell also was born in Rusk, on April 22, 1856.

Campbell attended local schools until leaving to study law at Trinity University. He operated a legal practice in Longview in Gregg County until he became involved in managing the International-Great Northern Railroad, which eventually meant a move to Palestine, Texas.

Those successful in saving the railroad, Campbell resigned to reenter the private practice of the law in Palestine, where he became interested in politics, and in 1906 won the first of two terms as governor.

Campbell's tenure as Texas' chief executive occurred during the "Progressive Period" begun by Governor Hogg and dominated by Colonel Edward M. House, and Campbell's administration was among the most progressive of the period.

Campbell supported passage of the Robertson Insurance Law, which required deposits of premiums paid by Texans in Texas financial institutions rather than being transferred out of state so they could be accessed by local courts, and other insurance reforms.

Campbell ended the long standing practice of leasing inmates of Texas penal institutions to private contractors as laborers, which often led to abuse and mistreatment of prisoners. His administration witnessed the creation of several new state agencies and services, including the Department of Insurance and Banking, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the State Board of Health, and the Texas State Library.

After returning to the practice of law in Palestine in 1911, Campbell ran unsuccessful for the U.S. Senate in 1916. He passed away in Galveston on April 1, 1923, and was interred in Palestine-not far from Rusk.

Archie P. McDonald, PhD
All Things Historical
Feb. 25-Mar. 3 column
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas.



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