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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William W. Campbell

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 44-45 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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William W. Campbell, lawyer and lawmaker, who represented the second assembly district of Schenectady county in 1921, 1922 and 1923, is now filling the mayoralty of Schenectady, where he ranks among the foremost of the younger citizens. He was born in Rome, Oneida county, New York, on the 10th of July, 1887, his parents being William and Mary A. (Driscoll) Campbell, the latter now deceased. The father, a prominent Civil war veteran, removed in 1890 to Schenectady, where the family home has since been maintained. Ancestors in the Campbell line participated in the wars to procure and maintain American independence.

William W. Campbell began his education in the public schools of Schenectady when a lad of five years and continued his studies in the Union Classical Institute, now the Schenectady high school, from which he was graduated in 1907. He then became a clerk in the law offices of Daniel Naylor, Jr., former county judge, and Supreme Court Justice Edward C. Whitmyer, under whose preceptorship he studied for three years. In the fall of 1910 he entered the Albany Law School, from which institution he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws in June, 1912. In the following October he became a postgraduate student in the Albany Law School, which in June, 1913, conferred upon him the degree of Master of Laws. Subsequently he pursued a special course of instruction in the New York Law School, the faculty of which institution reconferred upon him the degree of Bachelor of Laws in June, 1915. He was admitted to the bar of New York state before the completion of his law course in the New York Law School and has since been a practicing attorney, with offices in the Ellis building in Schenectady. During the first year of his work in the Albany Law School he was elected president of his class.

A contemporary biographer wrote of Mr. Campbell:

"Being a member of a large family he was compelled, through necessity, to fight his way into the legal profession. In order to accomplish this he wrote for a number of leading newspapers and magazines both in New York, New Jersey and Schenectady. He commenced his business career at the age of twelve years, when he sold newspapers on the streets of Schenectady. From that position he was advanced to 'copy boy' on a Schenectady morning newspaper and later to newswriter on the same publication. He was frequently brought in to close touch with labor organizations and has done much to enhance their interests."

During the legislative sessions of 1918, 1919 and 1920 he was employed in the senate as a clerk and served in 1919 as clerk to the senate committee on canals and in 1920 as clerk to the senate committee on military affairs. He received his appointment through former State Senator James W. Yelverton of Schenectady. Mr. Campbell was chosen a member of the assembly by the largest plurality ever given a successful candidate in the second assembly district of Schenectady county. In the fall of 1919 the district was carried by Dr. Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Gillette, democrat, by a plurality of two hundred and forty-seven. Mr. Campbell was elected over Dr. Gillette by a plurality of four thousand, five hundred and eighty-six, the former receiving eight thousand, nine hundred and seventy-two votes, while the latter was given four thousand, three hundred and eighty-six. He also defeated former Assemblyman Herbert W. Merrill, the first socialist to sit in the New York state legislature, by a plurality of six thousand, two hundred and fifty, the latter having received two thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two votes. On the 5th of November, 1923, Mr. Campbell was elected mayor of Schenectady by a plurality of over twenty-six hundred. He is giving to the city a most progressive and businesslike administration, characterized by many measures of reform and improvement. He is the youngest mayor Schenectady has ever had.

Mr. Campbell is a member of the Schenectady County Republican Club and has always been a stanch adherent of the republican party, in the local ranks of which he has been an active worker. He also belongs to Schenectady Post No. 21 of the American Legion and to the Sons of Veterans, is likewise a member of the Schenectady County Historical Society and fraternally is identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Loyal Order of Moose and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. His further membership connections are with the New York Law School Alumni Association, the Albany Law School Alumni Association and the Pi Phi high school fraternity. Along strictly professional lines he is identified with the Schenectady County Bar Association. His personal qualities make him a favorite wherever he is known and his genial manner has gained him wide popularity among his constantly increasing circle of friends.

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