“For the good of mankind”: Thomas and Alexander Campbell’s Enduring Print Legacy
Thomas and Alexander Campbell bequeathed to their intellectual and ecclesiastical heirs a set of intertwined legacies. First, they directly formed scores of students, preachers, thinkers, and writers; second, they impacted untold thousands who heard them preach, teach, and debate; third, they left definite institutional legacies in the form of Bethany College and parachurch societies; and finally, they issued a steady stream of periodicals, books, hymnals, editions of the New Testament, and tracts.
Alexander took up the ideals articulated by his father in the Declaration and Address and fully utilized the printing press and postal system to disseminate their principles of reform on a global scale. He marveled at the facility of the printing arts in “multiplying the oracles of God.” His books were read widely in his lifetime. After his death in 1866, publishing houses across the spectrum of the Stone-Campbell Movement made them available for generations and some remain in print today.
This online exhibit showcases select first and early editions of Campbelliana, photographs, and a letter. The books are numbered in the photograph and the description to facilitate identification. The description also contains links to the items’ records in the ACU Library online catalog.
Photograph, circa May-July 1858
Photograph of Alexander Campbell in the study he built in 1832 to house his library and afford a secluded place to read, reflect, and maintain a voluminous correspondence. Reproduction.
Letter, to ‘brother Abbot’, 27 February 1828
In February 1828 Campbell was revising the edition of the New Testament he first published in 1826. In this poignant and articulate letter, he reveals his confidence in the potency of the printed word to “dispense blessing to millions.”
The Declaration and Address was printed in a very small quantity and only two originals survive. In 1909 the Campbell family’s copy was issued in facsimile, making it widely available for the first time. In terms of quantity, Thomas Campbell left a small literary legacy. In terms of impact, though, the Declaration and Address profoundly inspired his son and the rest is history.
Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, together with a
brief memoir of Mrs. Jane Campbell, 1861
Alexander Campbell writes in the preface, “…whatever good, little or much, I may have achieved under God, I owe it all, and those benefited by it owe it all, to his paternal care and instruction, and especially to his example.”
Substance of a sermon, delivered before the Redstone
Baptist Association…, 1816
Commonly known as ‘The Sermon on the Law’ this was Alexander Campbell’s first monograph. It was an important waypoint in the Campbells’ migration into, and then out of, Baptist circles. This first edition, in excellent condition, is one of just six known copies and the only one held by an institution west of the Mississippi River.
Books by Alexander Campbell, 1820-1867,
a nearly complete collection of first or early editions
1. Infant sprinkling proved to be a human tradition…, [debate with John Walker], 1820.
2. Debate on Christian baptism…, [with John Walker], 1822. Second edition with additional material.
3. Debate on Christian baptism… [with W. L. Maccalla], 1824.
4. The sacred writings of the apostles and evangelists of Jesus Christ…, 1826. Commonly known as the Living Oracles.
5. Christian Baptist, volume 3, 1827.
6. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs adapted to the Christian religion, 1828. Commonly known as the Christian Hymn Book, it was issued almost annually from 1828 through the 1870s.
7. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, original and selected. Second revised and enlarged edition, 1860 printing.
8. Debate on the evidences of Christianity… [with Robert Owen], 1829.
9. Millennial Harbinger, volume 1, 1830.
10. Debate on Campbellism… [with Obadiah Jennings], 1832.
11. A connected view of the principles and rules by which the
living oracles may be intelligibly and certainly interpreted…, 1835.
12. The Christian system… revised and enlarged edition, 1843.
The printer assumed the prerogative of using ‘Christianity
Restored’ on the spine label of the first few copies. Campbell
stridently objected and the remainder were issued with ‘Christian
System’ on the spine.
13. The Christian preacher’s companion…, 1836.
14. Debate on the Roman Catholic religion…., [with John B. Purcell], 1837.
15. Discussion of the doctrines of endless misery and universal salvation, [with Dolphus Skinner], 1840.
16. Debate on Christian baptism…, [with N. L. Rice], 1844.
17. Family culture; or conversations in the domestic circle at the Carlton house, 1850.
18. Christian baptism…, 1851.
19. Popular lectures and addresses, 1863, this copy printed 1866.
20. Familiar lectures on the Pentateuch…, [published posthumously in 1867], this copy printed 1871.
This exhibition was curated by Mac Ice for display in the ACU Library at the Packer Forum Dedication and Restoration Day on 7 September 2019. Chai Green and Mac Ice photographed the items for this digital exhibit, which Amanda Dietz prepared, on 12 September 2019.