James U. Campbell departed this life on July 16, 1937, in Salem, Oregon, in the seventieth year of his life.
He was born August 29, 1866, at De Sable, Prince Edward Island, Canada, being the son of John and Mary (McDougall} Campbell. He was educated at Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and came to Oregon in September 1888, where he was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1893, and began the practice of law in Oregon City January 1, 1895. He entered into partnership with George c. Brownell, which lasted until 1900.
In 1898, when the Spanish-American War broke out, he immediately volunteered his services in defense of his adopted country. During the period of that war and the Philippine Insurrection he was promoted from Sergeant to Second Lieutenant and from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant which position he held when the regiment was mustered out upon its return to the States in 1899.
Upon returning to Oregon he served as Deputy District Attorney for Clackamas County from 1900 to 1904. He served three years in the O.N.G. He was named as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1904; and was elected to the Oregon legislature in 1907, being re-elected to that post in 1909.
He was appointed Circuit Judge for the Firth Judicial District, composed of Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia and Washington Counties, by the then Governor Frank W. Benson, on May 1, 1909, succeeding the late Thomas A. McBride, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon. He succeeded himself at the next election, holding this judicial position until January 1931, when he was elected to the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, and re-elected in 1936. He served as a member of that Court until the time of his death, having been Chief Justice in the years 1935 and 1936.
He was a self-made man. After leaving his birth place, he worked his way across the continent. His first job in Clackamas County was in the Oswego Iron Works. He studied law at night reading whatever books he could borrow. His ascent to the high position he occupied at the time of his death was marked by sheer and dogged determination and well-recognized ability.
The greater part of the adult period of his life was given over to the judiciary. For twenty-one years he presided over the Circuit Courts of this State. His vast experience, contacts with his fellow men, and early political and legal associations well-fitted and equipped him for his judicial career.
As a Circuit Judge he brought to the bench judicial acumen and an intense devotion to human rights. It is said that equity follows the law", but he was wont on occasion, when justice required., to put equity above the law, not in the sense of doing violence to pure legal principles, but rather of over-riding, what he considered to be out-worn court-made precedents inadaptable to present day conditions.
He sometimes appeared severe and abrupt to practitioners before the bar. This characteristic, he no doubt acquired through his war-time experience, yet he was scrupulously conscientious and honest in his administration of the law, and any austerity he might have displayed was in defense of justice and the rights of litigants before him.
His opinions on the Supreme bench were characterized by brevity, clarity, and sound reasoning. His style was terse although on occasions subtle humor found its way into his judicial utterances. Outside of his judicial attainments, his human side was transcendent.
His deep interest was always, without partisanship, with the lowly and down-trodden. He had a great heart, full of human sympathy, and he will always be remembered by those who knew him intimately as a sincere humanitarian, a wise judge, and a kindly man.
On August 7, 1901, Judge Campbell was married to Anna C. Paulding. To them was born one daughter, Mary (Mrs. Walter F. Patrie).
Arthur F. Benson's Original Biography Document