Today is the 145th anniversary of the organization of Wyoming Territory. Organization in this sense refers to the establishment of a territorial government. The Territory was created on July 25, 1868 with the passage of the Organic Act of Wyoming. President Andrew Johnson submitted nominations for territorial officers to Congress on two occasions, when he signed the Organic Act and in January 1869. Congress did not take action in either instance, possibly because of the strained relationship between the two parties following Congress’ effort to impeach Johnson. President Ulysses S. Grant offered new nominations for officers after taking office in March 1869. The appointments of Grant’s nominees were approved by Congress on April 7. Oaths of office were completed on May 19, finalizing the organization of the Territory. The officers included Governor John A. Campbell, Secretary Edward M. Lee, Chief Justice John H. Howe, and Justices William T. Jones and John W. Kingman. Campbell had been serving in a semi-official capacity for nearly a month.John Campbell was the longest tenured Wyoming Territorial Governor, serving from April 15, 1869, when he took his oath of office in Washington, DC, to March 1, 1875. He was born in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio, on October 8, 1835. After the Civil War began in 1861, he joined the Union Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 19th Ohio Infantry. He later served as Ordnance Officer and Acting Assistant Adjutant General under General Alexander M. McCook, and Assistant Adjutant General on Major General John M. Schofield’s staff. Brevetted as a Brigadier General in 1866, retroactive to March 1865, he continued to serve under Major General Schofield during the nation’s reconstruction period. Campbell was appointed Assistant Secretary of War in May 1868, a position he held for less than a year before he relocated to Wyoming. He ended his status as a bachelor governor on February 1, 1872, when he married Isabella (Belle) Wunderly. Campbell received a federal appointment, as Third Assistant Secretary of State, on February 24, 1875, and resigned from the office of Wyoming Territorial Governor on March 1. He served with the Secretary of State until he was appointed American Consul at Basel, Switzerland on December 3, 1877. Because of deteriorating health he resigned from this position on February 4, 1880 and died in Washington, D. C. on July 14, 1880.
The Wyoming State Archives maintains two collections documenting the life and accomplishments of Governor Campbell. His official gubernatorial papers are organized under Record Group 0001.01.
The Archives also holds many personal papers of the Campbell family, cataloged under collection no. C-1049. Most of these records were created between 1860 and 1880. Some earlier school records for Mrs. Campbell, dating from the 1850s, are also included.
The centerpieces of the Campbell Collection are the diaries and correspondence. Mrs. Campbell’s diaries include entries recorded when she resided in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. during the years 1864-1866. Though most of the entries deal with personal and family matters, the diaries also reveal something of what life was like in mid-19th century America, and provide a few glimpses of civilian reactions to Civil War events, the ending of the war and the assassination of President Lincoln. Most of Mrs. Campbell’s correspondence is with family members, regarding topics and events of interest to the family.
John Campbell’s diaries, 1869-1876, cover his years in Wyoming Territory and almost two years after he left the Governor’s Office. Entries consist of brief recordings of the day’s activities and events. Letters to Governor Campbell are from family, friends, favor seekers, and business and political acquaintances. There are references to and correspondence with Wyoming’s political leaders and United States government and military leaders.The balance of the collection includes Governor Campbell’s military records and an assortment of personal papers. Information on his service during the Civil War is found in mustering records, certificates of rank, and a hand written account of his service. Volumes of published general orders for the War Department and the armies in which he served are also included. Other papers include appointment certificates, invitations, financial records from the Swiss Consulate, and copies of Governor Campbell’s 1871 message to the Wyoming Territorial Legislature concerning his decision to veto a bill to repeal women’s suffrage in the Territory. The message was published by the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association.
Overall, the Campbell Collection and Governor Campbell’s official records provide comprehensive sources of information on the first years of Wyoming Territory and the lives of its initial first couple.