Campbell, Alexander, 1788–1866, clergyman, cofounder with his father, Thomas Campbell, 1763–1854, of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Of Scottish lineage, both were born in Ireland and educated at the Univ. of Glasgow. Both were Anti-Burgher Presbyterians, a division opposed to the discipline of the main church. In 1807 the father went to America, where he was welcomed among the Scotch-Irish in SW Pennsylvania. His presbytery condemned him for asking all Presbyterians to join his church members in the communion service. Although his synod upheld him, the atmosphere remained so hostile that he and his followers, popularly called Campbellites, withdrew. They formed (1809) the Christian Association of Washington, Pa., setting forth its purposes in a “Declaration and Address.” That year Campbell was joined in America by his family. In c.1812, having accepted the doctrine of immersion, the Campbells joined the Baptists, but by the late 1820s differences caused trouble. Alexander Campbell, who had assumed leadership, advocated a return to scriptural simplicity in organization and doctrine; his followers became known as Reformers. He founded (1823) the Christian Baptist to promote his views and addressed audiences in the new western states. He edited (from 1830) the Millennial Harbinger, wrote The Christian System (1839), and in 1840 founded Bethany College in West Virginia and became its president. Meanwhile, the Reformers had seceded from or been forced out of many Baptist churches, and Campbell suggested that they form congregations and call themselves Disciples of Christ. Many of the “Christians,” led chiefly by Barton Warren Stone, joined congregations of the Disciples; in 1832 the two leaders agreed to unite their efforts.
See R. Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (2 vol., 1868–70); S. M. Eames, The Philosophy of Alexander Campbell (1966); E. J. Wrather, Creative Freedom in Action (1968).
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Campbell, Alexander(1788–1866) Protestant religious leader; born near Ballymena, Northern Ireland. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1809 to join his father, succeeding the elder Campbell as pastor of an independent Protestant church at Brush Run, Pa., in 1813. An exponent of a primitive Christianity based wholly on the Scriptures, he allied his church in 1832 with other disaffected sects to form the Disciples of Christ. He published a translation of the New Testament in 1826 and in 1840 founded Bethany College in West Virginia, serving as its president until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.