A 15-year resident of Longview, Thomas Mitchell Campbell, was the second native Texan to become governor of the state.
Campbell, who held the high office from 1907 to 1911, entered politics at the urging of a childhood companion, Gov. James S. Hogg, the onetime publisher of Longview’s first newspaper. Both men were born In the Rusk County area.
As governor, Campbell was noted for initiating such legislation as regulation of utilities, restrictions on lobbying, a pure-food law and insurance law. He also strengthened the antitrust laws of the state and began reform of the prison system.
Campbell was only five years younger than Hogg, although he did not become governor until after Hogg’s death. The older man is also believed to have influenced Campbell’s appointment as receiver for the International & Great Northern Railroad.
Thomas Duncan Campbell, the governor’s father, was the family’s first politician. The elder Campbell waged a successful campaign for election as the first Justice of the Peace for Pct. 1 when Gregg County was created in 1873. He also is said to have been an early mayor of Longview, though that is unclear.
The governor’s younger brother, J.N. Campbell, followed the family tradition of interest In law. After working in the county and district clerk’s office, he was elected county judge in 1889.
He was later responsible for the construction of Lake Devernia Hunting and Fishing Club eight miles west of Longview.
Finances limited the future governor’s education, but be attended Rusk Masonic Institute and Trinity University. He worked in the Gregg County clerk’s office and studied law at night until he passed the bar examination.
Devernia Carroll Campbell, Thomas Duncan Campbell’s second wife, managed the family home on North Center Street in Longview while her husband and stepson devoted their attention to work and studies.
Campbell’s appointment to the I&GN receivership position led to the family’s’ move to Palestine. He later became general manager of the road and maintained a private law practice. During his railroad service, Campbell showed pro-labor inclinations that gave him strong labor support when he entered public life.
Texans seemed ready for reform of state government and policies when In 1906, six weeks after Hogg’s death, Campbell announced for governor in a San Jacinto Day speech at Athens.
He faced strong opposition from three candidates in the first Democratic primary election, a new system initiated that year to replace the party nominating convention.
Campbell had little difficulty in defeating his Republican opponent in the general election and won re-election In 1908 by a large majority.
Gov. Campbell maintained an active interest in state and national politics. He ran for nomination as U.S. senator in 1918, but was defeated by Charles Culberson. He died in 1923 at Galveston and was buried in Palestine.