Campbell, Archibald
b. 1813
d. 1887
Archibald Campbell was born in Albany, New York in 1813. Campbell graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1835. By 1837, Campbell left the Military for a civil engineering position. However, he permanently left the private sector in 1845 to start a thirty-one-year career in the United States Government.1
On 14 February 1857, President Franklin Pearce appointed Campbell to lead a Commission, along with Lieutenant John G. Parke, to survey the 49th Parallel Boundary with Great Britain in the Pacific Northwest.2 The United States boundary with Great Britain had been defined by the terms of the Oregon Treaty of 15 June 1846; however, disputes about the water boundary east of Vancouver Island was not clearly defined.3
Campbell's commission arrived in Semiahmoo Bay in June 1857 and organized their base camp in the area. Campbell met with his British counterpart, Captain James C. Prevost, on 27 June 1857. The commissioners could not agree on a boundary between Vancouver Island and the mainland.4 Work was halted as the issue eventually turned to conflict.
The water boundary issue resulted in what is now known as the “Pig War.” The contested area was the San Juan Islands as both sides believed the islands were under their jurisdiction; although, the islands remained neutral territory, with both Americans and British settling the area.5 However, on 15 June 1859, an American shot and killed a pig belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, Tensions escalated when the American military landed on San Juan and the British officials responded by sending the Royal Navy. The issue would not be resolved until 1872, when peace talks concluded under the arbitration of Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany. The war was bloodless and without military engagement.6
As the water boundary issue escalated, Campbell began work on the land boundary. The American Commission worked independently from 1857 until the arrival of the British Commission under Colonel John S. Hawkins in June of 1858.7 The first meeting at Semiahmoo Bay resulted in disagreement. The teams worked mostly independently from 1858 to 1859; however, the Commissioners met again in 1859, but Campbell refused to sign the minutes of the meeting as he felt his points had not been fairly adopted. Authorities reprimanded Campbell and told him to come to some sort of agreement. The Commissioners had their third and final meeting in 1860 at Harney Depot, Washington, this meeting was more amiable and productive. The Americans continued their survey eastward until 1861, concluding after five years of work and the British Commission would leave the following year.8
Correspondence shows that the commissioners respected their counterparts, with the exception of Campbell. For example, Hawkins would later describe Campbell as impossible.9 And on 1 August 1859, Prevost wrote James Douglas commenting on Campbell's conduct stating, Upon arrival there [Semiahoo Bay] I found that Mr. Campbell had been absent for about a fort-night. Prevost also reported that Campbell had been on the Shubrick, professedly on a deer shooting excursion.10 Nonetheless, Campbell would serve again as US Commissioner surveying the Rocky Mountains to the easternmost point of Lake of the Woods from 1872 to 1874.11 Campbell died in Washington D.C. on 27 July 1887.
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