Author: Harry L. Carrico


Preston W. Campbell (1874–1954)

Preston W. Campbell was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902, commonwealth’s attorney for Washington County (1911–1914), a judge of the Twenty-third Circuit (1914–1924), and a judge on the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (1924–1946), serving as the court’s chief justice from 1931 until his retirement. Born in Abingdon, Campbell studied law there and practiced in the town for fourteen years. At the Convention of 1901–1902, called in large part to disenfranchise Virginia’s blacks and poor whites, he supported the depoliticizing of county school superintendents but spoke little during the proceedings. As a Supreme Court justice he penned 528 opinions, the most memorable of which was his solo dissent in Staples v. Gilmer (1945). Campbell argued that in calling a constitutional convention, the General Assembly could not place limits on what the delegates considered. Campbell retired from the bench in 1946 and died in 1954.