Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James H. Campbell Papers, 1861-1866

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, September 2009

Summary Information
Title: James H. Campbell papers
Creator: Campbell, James Hepburn, 1820-1895
Inclusive dates: 1861-1866
Extent: 107 itemsExtent: (0.25 linear feet)
This collection holds a series of letters written by Pennsylvania Congressman James Hepburn Campbell from April to August of 1861, in which he described the political and social climate of Washington D.C. during the outbreak of the Civil War. Also present is a series of ten letters written in 1862 and 1863 to Campbell's wife relating interviews with President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, and letters documenting his post as Minister to Sweden, in 1866.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1975. M-1725.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Alternate Format:

The collection has been microfilmed

Preferred Citation:

James H. Campbell Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The James H. Campbell papers are organized into four series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Documents
  • Series III: Newspaper Clippings
  • SeriesIV: Miscellaneous.

Each series is ordered chronologically.


James Hepburn Campbell (1820-1895), successful lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to Francis C. Campbell and Jane Hepburn. He graduated from the law department at Dickinson College, was admitted to the bar in 1841, and set up a practice in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, shortly thereafter. His marriage in 1842 to Juliet H. Lewis, daughter of Chief Justice Ellis Lewis of Pennsylvania, helped situate Campbell squarely in an influential position both in law and politics. In 1844, Campbell represented his district in the national Whig convention, nominating Henry Clay for president; in 1855, he took a seat in Congress as a Whig, serving for one term, and was returned as a Republican in both 1859 and 1861. By the 1860s, Campbell had established a reputation as an able leader through his work on the Pacific Railroad Bill.

With the escalation of the Civil War in the spring of 1861, Campbell chose to leave home to join in the defense of Washington, D. C. Traveling by train through rioting mobs in Baltimore, he arrived in the capital on April 19th and immediately enlisted as a Private in Major Cassius M. Clay's short-lived Capital Guard. The following month he was elected major of the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment which lasted only three months. He returned to active duty during Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, helped General Nagle recruit a regiment of 1,100 men, and became lieutenant colonel the 39th Pennsylvania Infantry Militia. In the following year, Lincoln appointed Campbell as United States minister to Sweden and Norway, where he served for three years.

After 1867, Campbell returned to a private legal practice in Philadelphia, where he remained until he retired to his estate Aeola , near Wayne, Pennsylvania. He died in Wayne on April 12, 1895, and is buried in Philadelphia.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The James Hepburn Campbell papers are comprised of 98 correspondence, 2 legal documents, 5 newspaper clippings, and 2 miscellaneous items. The bulk of the collection was written between April and August of 1861, when Campbell, then a member of the House of Representatives, rushed to Washington to help defend the capital. Traveling by train, he arrived in the city on April 19, having passed through Baltimore at the height of the riots. Once in Washington, he entered into almost daily correspondence with his wife until his departure for Pennsylvania on August 3, 1861. This tightly-knit set of letters covers the initial panic in the District of Columbia when war broke out, the opening of Congress in July amid the crisis, early attempts of Clement Vallandigham to disrupt the Union, the death of the celebrated Colonel Ellsworth, and the fiasco at First Bull Run.

A series of ten letters, written in 1862 and 1863 to Campbell's wife, relate separate interviews with President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln and give an account of a hastily formed regiment in the aborted attempt to cut off Lee's escape from Pennsylvania following Gettysburg. Of his hour-long meeting with Mary Todd Lincoln he wrote: "She is an ordinary woman with strong likes and dislikes...[S]he prides herself on being a 'little Southern," hates the angular Yankees" (January 27, 1863). Campbell also discussed family issues and military life. Eight letters and documents are extant from Campbell's years as Minister to Sweden (1865-1866) and Norway, including diplomatic correspondence concerning Lee's surrender and Lincoln's assassination.

The Documents series contains two items from the palace in Stockholm. The Newspaper Clippings series holds five undated articles: two on H.K. Brown, one about Ellis Lewis, Jr., a short poem called Three Calls, and a column on the soldiers stationed at Camp McDowell in Alexandria, Virginia. The Miscellaneous series consists of a seal from the Department of State of Sweden and Norway and a brief note about the collection's contents.

Subject Terms

    • Baltimore (Md.)
    • Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861.
    • Ellsworth, E. E. (Elmer Ephraim), 1837-1861.
    • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Lincoln, Mary Todd, 1818-1882.
    • Stockholm (Sweden)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Vallandigham, Clement L. (Clement Laird), 1820-1871.
    • Washington (D.C.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Poems.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-13
     April 19, 1861-October 30, 1866
    Documents [series]
    Box   1 Folder   14
     November 3,1864-May 23, 1865
    Newspaper Clippings [series]
    Box   1 Folder   15
    Box   1 Folder   16
    Miscellaneous [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Peskin, Allan. "Campbell, James Hepburn."American National Biography . New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.