WILLIAM BOWEN CAMPBELL was born in Sumner County, Tennessee. He studied law with Governor David Campbell of Virginia and was admitted to the Bar in 1830, after which he began a law practice in Carthage, Tennessee in which he was active for more than twenty years. He was Captain of the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers in the Seminole War of 1836 and served as a Colonel of the Tennessee Volunteers’ 1st Regiment during the Mexican War. He began public service as Attorney General of the 5th Judicial District of Tennessee in 1831, following which he served briefly in the Tennessee House of Representatives and then as a Whig representative in Congress from 1837 to 1843. He was Judge of the 4th Judicial Circuit from 1847 until 1850. The following year he was the Whig nominee for governor and ran against his former military commander, incumbent governor William Trousdale. Of his gubernatorial goals, he succeeded in securing judicial reform and in winning appropriations for the state mental hospital and for continued construction of the State Capitol. He chose not to run for reelection, and moved from Carthage to Lebanon, where he became president of the Bank of Middle Tennessee. In 1861 he was vocal in opposing Tennessee’s secession from the Union, and in 1862 he was commissioned a Brigadier-General in the Union Army. At the close of the Civil War, he worked for the readmission of Tennessee into the Union and was elected as a Democrat to the 39th Congress. He died after serving for one congressional session.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 7. New York: James T. White & Company.
Past Governors of Tennessee
Philips, Margaret I. The Governors of Tennessee. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2001.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
White, Robert H. Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, 1845-1857. Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Commission, Vol. 5, 1952.