John K. Cowperthwaite

John Keble Cowperthwaite Sr., 1787-1893. Circa 1870.

John Keble Cowperthwaite holds the distinction of being Camden’s first mayor elected by popular vote, a departure from the previous selection process by City Council. Born in 1787 on the east side of the Cooper River near the Federal Street bridge, he relocated to Camden in 1820. Known as a lay judge, he rendered judgments for many years on the Gloucester and, later, Camden County Court, starting from 1844.

Cowperthwaite played an instrumental role in the campaign for Camden’s city charter in 1828, contributing significantly to its establishment. His dedication to public service extended beyond the legal sphere, as evidenced by his involvement in various civic roles over the years.

In 1844, Cowperthwaite’s civic contributions culminated in his election as Mayor of Camden for a one-year term. His tenure in this role marked a significant transition in the city’s governance, ushering in an era of mayoral elections directly by the electorate.

Upon completing his mayoral term, Cowperthwaite returned to the judiciary, continuing his service until his passing on May 6, 1873. His legacy remains intertwined with Camden’s history, reflecting a commitment to public service and the advancement of his community.


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