Alexander Campbell, founder of the religious sect calling themselves " Disciples of Christ," but commonly known as Campbellites, born in county Antrim, Ireland, in June, 1786, died at Bethany, W. Va., March 4, 1866. His father, Thomas Campbell, a relative and classmate of Thomas Campbell the poet, was a Presbyterian clergyman, who emigrated to America in 1807, followed two years afterward by his son Alexander, who had been educated at the university of Glasgow. He took up his residence in "Washington co., Penn., near Bethany, in western Virginia, which afterward became his home. For a short time he was pastor of a Presbyterian church, from which order he soon separated on the ground that the Bible should be the sole creed of the church. In 1810 he and his father organized a new society at Brush Run, Penn. In 1812 he became convinced that immersion was the only mode of baptism; and he and his congregation were immersed. They united with a Baptist association, but still protested against all human creeds as a bond of union in the churches. lie and his followers in time were excluded from fellowship with the Baptist churches, and in 1827 began to form themselves into a separate organization, which extended in the states of "Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In 1864 they numbered 350,000 members.
In 1823 Mr. Campbell commenced the publication of the " Christian Baptist," afterward merged in the "Millennial Harbinger," which became the recognized organ of the sect. In 1840 he founded Bethany college, of which he continued to be president to the close of his life. Besides his numerous articles in the "Harbinger," he was the author of several books, among which are "The Christian System," "Remission of Sin," and "Memoirs of Thomas Campbell," his father. He was also engaged in several public discussions, which have been printed. Among these are: with the Rev. John Walker, a Presbyterian (1820); with the Rev. William McCalla on " Christian Baptism " (1823); with Robert Owen on "The Truth of Christianity" (1828); with Archbishop Pur-cell on the "Infallibility of the Church of Rome" (1836); and with the Rev. N". L. Rice on " Christian Baptism, the Expediency of Creeds," etc. (1843). On the subject of slavery Mr. Campbell maintained that the institution was sanctioned, or at least tolerated, in the Bible, and that therefore the relation of a holder of slaves should not be made a test question for communion in the church.
His life has been written by Robert Richardson (2 vols., Boston, 1868). (See Disciples).