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David M. Campbell

David M. Campbell

David M. Campbell

11th Colorado Attorney General
Term: 1899-1900

               In the general election of 1898, David M. Campbell was elected Attorney General. Campbell had not sought the office initially, but was nominated by a friend from Pueblo, Governor Thomas Alderman, at the Democratic State Convention. Campbell ran on a fusion ticket of Democrats and Populists and campaigned hard for the victory.

               Campbell was born in Danville, Illinois on July 26, 1864. He worked on the family farm and had few educational opportunities. He eventually attended Indiana State Normal School in Terre Haute, Indiana. He then taught school and began the study of law with Judge Bookwalter in Danville. He married Amorita James of Danville in 1884. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1887 and practiced there for two years before moving to Delta, Colorado. In 1892 he moved to Pueblo. He became active in the Democratic Party, served on the city council, and was credited with helping turn Pueblo from Republican to Democrat.[1] He served as Kiowa County Attorney from 1896 to 1898.

               During his two-year term as Attorney General, Campbell and his two Assistants, Calvin Reed and Dan B. Carey, handled 62 cases, one in the U. S. Circuit Court, 46 in the Colorado Supreme Court, four in the Colorado Court of Appeals, and eleven in the District Courts. In In re: Morgan, 26 Colo. 415, 58 P. 1071 (1899), the Colorado Supreme Court held that an act of the state legislature limiting the hours of employment to eight per day for miners was unconstitutional and void. In Packer v. People, 26 Colo. 306, 57 p. 1087 (1889), the Court finally upheld the conviction and sentence of the “Colorado Cannibal,” Alferd Packer. Packer was accused of killing and cannibalizing five companions after being stranded in a snowstorm in Hinsdale County. His case went to the State Supreme Court five different times.

               In April of 1900, Campbell brought suit in Arapahoe County against a former State Treasurer to recover $11,995 in missing funds. The debt was paid the next month. Campbell issued opinions directing the Secretary of State not to file certificates of incorporation for two corporations with the same name, informing the Public School Fund that all interest on the fund must remain in the fund, and confirming that the Governor could remove any of his appointments for incompetency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office. He also ruled that a territorial act requiring a District Judge to forfeit a quarter of his salary for failure to decide cases within 90 days was unconstitutional and void.[2]

               After his term as Attorney General, Campbell returned to Pueblo, where he maintained a very successful law practice and was elected to the Colorado Senate in 1906. He was active in the Woodmen of the World and the Presbyterian Church. He took ill suddenly while preparing for a murder trial and died on September 13, 1919 at the age of 55 of a “hemorrhage of the lungs.” He was eulogized as a “leading citizen of Pueblo and leading lawyer of Colorado.”[3]

[1] Pueblo Chieftain, December 14, 1919.

[2] Biennial Report of the Attorney General for 1899-1900, Colorado State Archives.

[3] Pueblo Chieftain, ibid.