Religious Leader and Founder of the Disciples of
Alexander Campbell was a prolific writer on
religious subjects and a vigorous debater and
polemicist in the field of religion. He, with
some assistance from others, was the founder of
the Protestant denomination, Disciples of
Campbell was born September 12, 1788, in Ulster.
His father Thomas was a rebellious Scots
Presbyterian minister. Father and son broke with
the Presbyterian Church in 1812 over immersion,
which they considered necessary for salvation.
As a result, both joined the Baptist Church.
started his college training at the University
of Glasgow but left a year later before
embarking for the United States. His father had
preceded him to America, and Alexander joined
him in 1809. They lived in Pennsylvania but
moved to Virginia where Alexander spent a good
share of his life.
■ The Campbells wanted to end sectarian
divisions in the Christian Church. To do this,
they would grant liberty in all matters of
opinion as it was, they said, in the original
Christian Church. ■
Alexander took over leadership of the movement
and associated with the Baptists. But he soon
found differences and felt the need to separate.
In so doing, he founded the Disciples of Christ
in 1839. ■
He became a well-known public figure, debating,
writing, lecturing and preaching. He also became
a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional
Convention in 1829 while operating a large farm.
■ For 20
years he also served as president of Bethany
College which he founded in 1840. Before his
death on March 4, 1866, in Bethany, the
religious movement which he led with help from a
few others had attained a membership of more
than 300,000 and was continuing to grow.
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546