Educational public schools. Attended Trinity University, Tehuacana, Texas, 1873-1874. Admitted to bar, 1878.
Master in chancery, 1889-1891, receiver, 1891-1892, general manager, 1892-1897, I.&National Guard Railroad Governor Texas for terms 1907-1909, 1909-1911.
He was unable to support himself and withdrew after a year. Campbell went to work in the Gregg County clerk"s office and continued his studies at night. In 1878, he was admitted to the Texas Barometer
Campbell practiced law in Longview until he became involved with the troubled International-Great Northern Railroad in 1889.
He became its court-appointed receiver in 1891 and moved his family to Palestine. The next year, after lifting the line from bankruptcy, he remained in Palestine as the general manager of the railroad.
Campbell distrusted monopolistic big business and sympathized with trade unions. In 1897, Campbell resigned from the railroad and became active in Democratic Party politics.
At Hogg"s urging, he decided to run for governor.
Campbell was elected governor in 1906. In his two terms in office, 1907-1911, Campbell initiated a number of reforms involving railroad regulation, equitable taxation, and lobbying restrictions. In 1907, he named the legendary Captain Bill McDonald of the Texas Rangers as the state revenue agent.
During his two-year appointment, McDonald increased the state"s valuation by a nearly a billion dollars.
The most significant legislation centered on prison reform, as Campbell"s administration ended the contract lease system for inmates and implemented more humane treatment of prisoners. Under Campbell, many state agencies also came into being, including the Department of Insurance and Banking, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the State Board of Health, and the Texas State Library.
Campbell returned to private law practice in Palestine, but remained active in Democratic politics. In 1916, he ran unsuccessfully against his fellow Democrat Charles Culberson for the United States Senate.
He died in Galveston and is interred at Palestine, where is grave is marked with a tall white obelisk.
He shared many of the reformist political views of former Texas governor James Stephen Hogg.