Thomas E. Campbell, Governor of Arizona

Thomas E. Campbell, Governor of Arizona

Portrait courtesy of University of Arizona Special Collections (A-Z Photo, Folder 17).

Born January 18, 1878, in Prescott, Arizona Territory. Died March 1, 1944.

A native son, Campbell studied geology in California without graduating, in preparation for a career in mining. He came home and took a job with the post office; at age twenty-one, he moved to Jerome, where he married Gayle Allen, the daughter of the United Verde Copper Company branch agent. He was then appointed postmaster in Jerome.

In 1900, he was elected to the territorial House of Representatives where he introduced the eight-hour day bill, which gave him the reputation as a friend of labor. From 1907-14, he served as the Yavapai County Tax Assessor, where he demonstrated his loyalty to the copper companies. In 1914, he was elected Arizona State Tax Commissioner, the only Republican elected during that year's democratic landslide. Two years later, he was apparently elected governor in an extremely close race; he was inaugurated and served nearly a year, however the state supreme court ruled against him and he stepped down in December, 1917. He ran again successfully in 1918 and 1920, and lost to George Hunt in 1922. He was later a member of the Republican National Committee and president of the U.S. Civil Service Commission.

Campbell was governor during the deportations of 1917 and played an equivocal role. While he was heartily embarrassed by the excesses, his failure to censure earlier illegal activities by mine operators may have contributed to that very excess. Whether Campbell knew about plans for the Bisbee deportation in advance is uncertain. He repeatedly called for President Wilson to crack down on the IWW. He requested and received federal troops in Globe, where the miners appeared to be in control, and then requested that more troops be sent to Bisbee and other mining camps, where small detachments were stationed until 1920, an effective deterrent against militant activity. After the Bisbee deportation, he visited the area and prepared a report, which condemned both the IWW and the deportation, calling it illegal.

Tall and handsome, with the look of a cowboy in a ten-gallon hat, he was popular with much of the population. He died at his home in Phoenix and was buried in Prescott.

[Sources: James W. Byrkit. Forging the copper collar: Arizona's labor management war of 1901-1921. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1982; John S. Goff, Arizona Biographical Dictionary. Cave Creek: Black Mountain Press, 1983.]