Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chief Justice Campbell: "all laws against carrying weapons are wrong and should be repealed...."

 [Supreme Court of Mississippi 
Chief Justice J.A.P., (Josiah Arthur Patterson), Campbell]

   The following letter on the subject of carrying concealed weapons has been received:

   "Jackson, Miss., Nov. 28, 1895.
"Editor of The Times-Democrat;

   Reading your editorial on car[r]ying concealed weapons leads me to write that, after an experience of nearly a half century, in active connection with the enforcement of laws, my judgment is that all laws against carrying weapons are wrong and should be repealed. They cannot be enforced, and for that reason should not exist. They operate unequally and harmfully, by being a restraint on those in whose hands the weapons would be harmless and often useful, and imposing no restraint on those in whose hands they are dangerous and often destructive.

   "My view is that all should be free to carry arms, as they please, and that every girl especially should be taught to use them expertly. We would then hear less of rapes, and burglaries, and such crimes as so often occur, and there would not be a crime more by reason of the unrestrained right to carry arms.

   "It would prevent rather than promote crime. The man disposed to commit crime is never restrained by the law against carrying concealed weapons, while the good citizen ofted is, and is thus placed at a disadvantage, being at the mercy of the villain who assails him and is emboldened to do it by the confidence that his victim is unarmed.


   It will be observed that Judge Campbell, who is one of the ablest and most distinguished Jurists in the South, not only adds the weight of his great authority to the view of this question enunciated recently by The Times-Democrat, but takes a wider and broader view of the question still.

   And, when we think over the matter we believe that Judge Campbell is right; and that, while nothing is gained by the lop-sided restraint at present placed against the carrying of weapons, much would be gained by making the carrying of them as wide and general as possible. The hoodlum and criminally-disposed person who habitually goes armed is almost certainly a coward to boot; and the knowledge that his would-be victim is likely to be as well armed as he and liable to give as good an account of himself with his weapon, would make his dastardly hoodlumship hesitate in gratuitously assuming the offensive. He would recognize that the persons he runs up against and picks quarrels with are apt to be as expert at the game of handling firearms as himself; that the odds between himself and his would-be victim have been evened up: and, on the whole, that it will be safer for him not to take the chances implied in drawing a weapon.

   The general carrying of weapons would almost to a certainty produce this desirable result among the hoodlum class who habitually carry them; and the lawless use of the weapons that would be otherwise by a general wearing of them would probably not amount to much--would not counteract one tithe of good produced among the murderous hoodlum class.

   As to the other half of Judge Campbell's proposition that girls should be trained in the use of the revolver with a view of self-protection, the chances are that it will be received with a divided sentiment; some of the population holding it to be right and proper and almost necessary, under the circumstances of everyday assaults upon females, that women be ready and able to teach the assailant a salutary lesson, and the other moiety of the people holding that the practice of using and carrying pistols is unladylike, and dangerous and demoralizing to the wearers.

   The chances are, however, that if female folks were accustomed in their youth to handle weapons of self-defense and were to become fairly expert in their use, the danger and demoralizing tendency would disappear and it might become the vogue; in which case it is almost superfluous to remark that the persons of women would be safer and more inviolate than they are now.

   Judge Campbell's proposition is one that is certain to induce a large amount of reflection.--Times-Democrat.

   The Baton Rouge truth has the following to say of the above subject:

   The right of an American to carry arms in any method be wishes is a question now being energetically agitated in this State. It is held by many that as the constitution of the United States grants the right to bear arms without prescribing the method of so doing, one may carry them concealed or not at his own pleasure. We don't pretend that a man not has the right to carry his gun concealed, but if the practice is carried on much longer the editor of the Truth will be compelled to carry a Winchester on his shoulder. A hidden pistol on our person makes us feel as if about to commit a murderous act, and for this reason we don't carry them, and as we do not we are at a disadvantage for nearly every one else does. For this we vote to carry arms openly, and when such becomes custom we will bet our heads that killings will very materially decrease while the plea of self-defense, on the ground that the dead man made a motion as it to draw a weapon, will be heard no more.

   It has gotten so from carrying guns out of sight that one is afraid when meeting an enemy to draw his handkerchief from his pocket, for fear of being shot for making a threatening motion. Let us all carry Winchesters, and the quick shooters won't be so handy with their guns.
* - Supreme Court of Mississippi Chief Justice J.A.P., (Josiah Arthur Patterson), Campbell. Chief Justice Campbell served 18 years on the Mississippi Supreme Court - 1876 to 1894. He wrote the Mississippi Code of Law which established legal and official White Supremacy. Chief Justice Campbell had both a white and black family, and spent most of the last 27 years of his life with his Black family teaching them how to break the system of White Supremacy. [See: The Father of White Supremacy by James Meredith, whom is the African American great grandson of Justice Campbell]

Addendum: At the close of the war Judge Campbell was elected to preside over the Kosciusko court district.  “This was in a state of confusion almost chaotic through the doubtful status of state currency.”  But throughout this unhappy period in the State’s history he did invaluable work in upholding law and order.

   He was elected circuit judge of the fifth judicial district of Mississippi composed of the counties of Attala, Leake, Madison, Yazoo, and Holmes, in 1865, soon after his arrival home from the army, when thirty-five years of age.  He was reelected without making a canvass.

   Judge Campbell was a democrat presidential elector, selected by the State convention, but did not attend.  He became judge of the supreme court of Mississippi when forty-six years old and served continuously eighteen years.  He was twice chief justice of the court, missing only eighteen days from his judicial duties.  After serving nine years as supreme judge, he was appointed by Governor Lowry to succeed himself.

   In 1870 he was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate one of three commissioners to codify the statutes of Mississippi and succeeded in securing several valuable new laws in the interest of the people.  But the legislature amended the work of the commissioners to such an extent that it was injured.  In 1877 an incoming legislature invited him to prepare a new code, which he did while engaged with his duties on the supreme bench.  It was adopted with but little change by the legislature of 1880.  The code of 1880 abound in reformatory laws which have proved of great value to the people.  It contains nearly two hundred sections written solely by Judge Campbell, which were adopted as written, and the record shows that not one has been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court in later years.

   The State Bar Association of Mississippi expressed high appreciation of his service as the author of the Code, as is shown by a committee report by C. H. Alexander, himself one of the truly great lawyers of the State.  The report states that Judge Campbell was the “author of more legal reforms than any other lawyer, judge, or legislator in the State.”

   Judge Campbell retired from the supreme court in 1894, as full of honors as of years.  A meeting of the bar in attendance was held in the court room, and the following resolutions of high commendation were adopted and signed, and an engrossed copy presented to him and his family:

“Whereas Honorable J. A. P. Campbell, chief justice of the supreme court of Mississippi, is about to retire from service on the bench, and those members of the bar of that court practicing in this city wish to give some expression of the feeling occasioned by an event so important in the history of the judicial department of our State government.

   Be it Therefore Resolved, That the long and devoted service of this learned, upright and able judge I such as to inspire, along with universal regret at his retirement, a profound sense of the obligation under which he has put our great commonwealth for the conversation, enrichment, and elevation of its jurisprudence:

   Resolved Further, that our admiration for his various endowments and accomplishments as an expounder and codifier and author in large measure of the law under which we live, is not earned than our appreciation of his uniform courtesy and consideration.”

   There is a story of Judge Campbell’s retirement from the bench that should be written in the pages of Mississippi history.  Though beyond sixty years of age, he was, owing to a vigorous constitution and perfect health, as well preserved as some are in the prime of life.  His voluntary withdrawal from a most congenial position to which Governor Stone desired to reappoint him, and in which the state bar and public desired his continuance, was the occasion of no little surprise.  The explanation as made to personal friends of Governor Stone was that under a recent change in the law, if Judge Campbell was reappointed, his colleague and devoted friend, Judge Woods, being from the same district, would be forced to retire at the end of his term.  Judge Campbell coupled the withdrawal of his name for renomination (sic) with an earnest appeal that Judge Woods, a lawyer of the first class, be reappointed.  It was an arrangement to which Governor Stone, himself the embodiment of all that was true in Southern manhood, finally agreed.

   In 1870, Judge Campbell was elected professor of law in the University of Mississippi, and urged to accept the position but declined.  The university conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL.D. in recognition of his erudition not only as a student in the science of law but for scholarly attainment as well.--Courts, Judges, and Lawyers of Mississippi, 1798-1935, By Dunbar Rowland, B.S., LL.B., LL.D., Press of Hederman Press, Jackson, Mississippi, 1935, pgs 103-110.

 In Memoriam.

    Report of Memorial Committee on the death of Judge J.A.P. Campbell as taken from the minutes of the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

October Term, 1916—Monday—February 12, 1917.

Your Committee appointed to report resolutions commemorative of the life of Judge J. A. P. Campbell, beg leave to submit that:

   The life of Josiah A. P. Campbell having far exceeded the allotted span is closed on earth. For nearly three score years as a lawyer or as a Judge, his learning and industry, added to the great natural powers, advanced and securely kept to him a recognized position among the leaders of the profession. In the later years of his life, he was by common opinion considered as its acknowledged head. Judge Campbell was born in the State of South Carolina on March 2, 1830. He died in Jackson on January 10, 1917. His parents removed to this State after his birth. He said, he did not remember when he learned to read, but his mother told him he could read well when four years of age, and that he remembered to have completed the memorizing of the West Minster Catechism on his fifth birthday.

   He was admitted to the bar in June A. D., 1847, and entered upon the practice the following March. At twenty-one years of age he was a member of the Legislature; and was the Speaker of the House when twenty-nine years old. When thirty years of age he was elected one of the seven Representatives of Mississippi to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States; he was one of the forty-nine representatives who formulated and subscribed the constitution of the Confederate States and of that number he was the last survivor. At the age of thirty-two he was the Colonel of his Regiment which he commanded at the battle of Corinth, where he was wounded. Soon after his return to active service, he was appointed as Judge Advocate upon the staff of General Polk. At the close of the war, he was elected as Circuit Judge, from which position he was removed by military authority. He then removed to Canton and entered into partnership with Judge S. S. Calhoun, who was afterwards Judge of the Supreme Court. In 1876 he was appointed to the Supreme Bench and upon the expiration of his term of office, was again appointed and served eighteen years upon that Bench. The length of his Judicial service exceeded that of any other Judge in this state. His public service was not limited to those who performed as a Legislator, or a Judge or a Soldier. In 1875 he was member of that Committee of which J. Z. George was Chairman, and which, by the boldness, persistence and courage, added to the high character of its members, freed Mississippi from the rule of alien adventurers and restored the control of government to its citizens. No higher duty has been performed at any time by any man under any circumstances; no step in civilization further advanced. In the year 1871, Judge Campbell was appointed one of the Commissioners to codify the Statutes of the State. He prepared and submitted many important provisions; but by reason of the incompetency of the Legislature, many of them were rejected and the symmetry of the Code destroyed. In the year 1878, he was selected to prepare a new Code which in 1880 was adopted practically as prepared by him. His ripe experience and almost unerring judgment contributed largely to the consistency and simplicity of our Statutory Laws. More than two hundred changes were made, not one of which was ever declared to be unconstitutional. The Code of 1880 is his monument in that field of labor. As a Judge, he magnified his office. In the discharge oi the great duty it imposed, he was earnest to discover truth and justice; he was laborious in investigation, neutral and impartial in decision. To his diligence and industry, was added accurate and profound learning and an unequaled knowledge of the legislation and decision of the State. All this contributed to make him, as he was, an ideal Judge. He was the equal of Poindexter as a codifier of laws; of Sharkey as a Judge, and of Harris, George and Yerger as a lawyer. No chapter in the history of this state for the past fifty years can be written from which his name is omitted. His private life was without a stain; he was an affectionate husband and father, an honored and revered citizen. In recognition of his distinguished service and of his great ability and high character;

   RESOLVED: That we should and do hold in affectionate and grateful remembrance the life and character of our deceased brother, and commend them as standards to be emulated by the bar and people of the State.

   That a copy of this report and resolution be supplied to the members of his family and to the press and that the Attorney General be requested to present the same to the Supreme Court and move that they be spread upon its minutes.

Respectfully submitted,
Ross A. Collins
JAS. F. McCooL

- Cases Reported. Cases Argued And Decided In The Supreme Court of Mississippi At The March And September Terms 1922. Vol. 129. Reported By Robert Powell. Columbus, MO. E.W. Stephens Publishing Co. Law Publishers 1922 (Pgs. XV, XVI).

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