Tunis Campbell

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Tunis Campbell
Tunis Campbell.jpg
Personal details
Born(1812-04-01)April 1, 1812
Middlebrook, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedDecember 4, 1891(1891-12-04) (aged 79)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyRepublican

Tunis Gulic Campbell Sr. (April 1, 1812 – December 4, 1891) served as a voter registration organizer, Justice of the Peace, a delegate to the Georgia State Constitutional Convention, and as a Georgia state senator during the Reconstruction era. He also wrote an autobiography. An African American, he was a major figure in Reconstruction Georgia. He reportedly had a 400-person militia to protect him from the Ku Klux Klan.


Born in Middlebrook, New Jersey, Tunis Campbell was one of nine other siblings. He was the son of a blacksmith.[1]

Campbell was the principal waiter at the Howard Hotel in New York City for some time (at least from 1842–45), and later wrote a well-regarded 1848 guide to hotel management, Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and Housekeepers' Guide. This work was both a collection of culinary recipes and a program to organize African American workers in military order within one of the available sources of paid employment.[2][3]

In March 1865, Congress established a Freedmen's Bureau and appointed Campbell to oversee land claims and resettlement on Georgia islands including: Ossabaw, Colonels Island, Georgia, St. Catherines Island, and Sapelo Island. When Georgia planters, through pardons from President Andrew Johnson, regained the islands in 1866, Campbell bought 1,250 acres at Belle Ville in McIntosh County, Georgia where he established an association of black landowners to own parcels.[4] Effectively, he established colonies on these islands.[3]

1868 election[edit]

In 1867, to help freedmen vote, Campbell was appointed to the Board of Registration in Georgia. He was elected state senator in Georgia in 1868. He also campaigned for his son Tunis Gulic Campbell Jr. to be a state representative. Both won,[5] only to be expelled from office because a majority of white Georgia legislators agreed that blacks did not have the right to hold office. Campbell Sr. was able to return to office in 1871, but lost a bid for re-election in 1872 and was imprisoned in a Georgia labor camp before fleeing the state. He wrote a short book about his experiences Sufferings of the Reverend T. G. Campbell and His Family in Georgia, published in 1877.


He died in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 4, 1891.


  1. ^ Hogan, Richard (2014). "Tunis G. Campbell, Sr. (1812-1891)". Journal of African American Studies. 18 (4): 410. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Feeding America". digital.lib.msu.edu. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  3. ^ a b Lynch, Matthew, ed. Before Obama: A Reappraisal of Black Reconstruction Era Politicians, Volume 1, p. 167 (2012)
  4. ^ "Tunis Campbell (1812-1891)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  5. ^ Russell Duncan (1986). Freedom's Shore: Tunis Campbell and the Georgia Freedmen. University of Georgia Press. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-0-8203-0905-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Eric Foner (ed.), Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996).
  • "Tunis Campbell (1812-1891)", New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  • Tunis Campbell, Sufferings of the Reverend T.G. Campbell and His Family in Georgia. (1877).
  • Edmund L. Drago, Black Politicians and Reconstruction in Georgia: A Splendid Failure (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982).
  • Russell Duncan, Freedom's Shore: Tunis Campbell and the Georgia Freedmen (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986).