1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Campbell, Alexander

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CAMPBELL, ALEXANDER (1788–1866), American religious leader, was born near Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Ireland, on the 12th of September 1788, and was the son of Thomas Campbell (1763–1854), a schoolmaster and clergyman of the Presbyterian “Seceders.” Alexander in 1809, after a year at Glasgow University, joined his father in Washington, Pennsylvania, where the elder Campbell had just formed the Christian Association of Washington, “for the sole purpose of promoting simple evangelical Christianity.” With his father’s desire for Church unity the son agreed. He began to preach in 1810, refusing any salary; in 1811 he settled in what is now Bethany, West Virginia, and was licensed by the Brush Run Church, as the Christian Association was now called. In 1812, urging baptism by immersion upon his followers by his own example, he took his father’s place as leader of the Disciples of Christ (q.v., popularly called Christians, Campbellites and Reformers). He seemed momentarily to approach the doctrinal position of the Baptists, but by his statement, “I will be baptized only into the primitive Christian faith,” by his iconoclastic preaching and his editorial conduct of The Christian Baptist (1823–1830), and by the tone of his able debates with Paedobaptists, he soon incurred the disfavour of the Redstone Association of Baptist churches in western Pennsylvania, and in 1823 his followers transferred their membership to the Mahoning Association of Baptist churches in eastern Ohio, only to break absolutely with the Baptists in 1830. Campbell, who in 1829 had been elected to the Constitutional Convention of Virginia by his anti-slavery neighbours, now established The Millennial Harbinger (1830–1865), in which, on Biblical grounds, he opposed emancipation, but which he used principally to preach the imminent Second Coming, which he actually set for 1866, in which year he died, on the 4th of March, at Bethany, West Virginia, having been for twenty-five years president of Bethany College. He travelled, lectured, and preached throughout the United States and in England and Scotland; debated with many Presbyterian champions, with Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati and with Robert Owen; and edited a revision of the New Testament.

See Thomas W. Grafton’s Alexander Campbell, Leader of the Great Reformation of the Nineteenth Century (St Louis, 1897).