Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865

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James Duncan Graham (1799-1865), Major, Corps of Topographical, U.S.A.

From the description of J.D. Graham papers, 1804-1896 (bulk 1848-1865). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702132881

James Duncan Graham was born 4 April 1799 in Prince William County, Va. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1817 and served in the United States Army as a topographical engineer. He directed the re-survey of the Mason-Dixon line and served on the boundary commission for the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico. He supervised harbor improvements on the Great Lakes, discovering the lunar tide there. He married twice, to Charlotte Meade and after her death, to Frances Wickham. He died 28 December 1865 in Boston, Mass.

His son, William Montrose Graham was born in Washington, D.C. on 28 September 1834. He served in the United States Army on the frontier and during the Civil War in the artillery. He also served in the Spanish-American War. He married Mary Brewerton Ricketts. He died in 1916 and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery.

From the description of Myers-Burrage-Graham Papers (I) Group C. (College of William & Mary). WorldCat record id: 52778122

James Duncan Graham, son of William and Mary Campbell Graham, was born into a Virginian family with a tradition of military service. Graham attended West Point from 1813-17 with his brother William Montrose Graham. In fact all of Graham's brothers attended West Point and some of his stepbrothers and half brothers chose military careers. Not surprisingly, Graham married into another southern military family when he wed Charlotte Hustler Meade, the sister of General George G. Meade in 1828. Their son, William Montrose Graham, followed family tradition and distinguished himself in the artillery.

On graduating from West Point, J. D. Graham entered the artillery corps and assisted Major Stephen Long on his 1819-21 expedition to explore the Great Plains. Graham dates this as the beginning of his career as a topographical engineer (see Box 6, folder 198, letterpress copybook, p. 163), although he was not promoted into the Topographical Bureau until 1829. When the army reorganized in 1838, Graham became a member of the Corps of Topographical Engineers and served the corps until his death in 1865 (eventually rising to the rank of major).

During the 1820s and 1830s Graham worked on a variety of military surveys including the Winchester and Potomac Rail Road in Virginia in 1831-32 and the Alabama, Florida, and Georgia Rail Road in 1836. He served under Major General Thomas S. Jesup in the 1836-37 Seminole Indian campaign. Graham became astronomer for the survey of the Texas-United States boundary of 1838 and later commissioner of the 1840-43 North Eastern Boundary Survey, which settled the border between Maine and British North American. He went on to surveying the Mason-Dixon line and worked for a short period on the Mexican-American border demarcation in 1851. In all of these projects Graham acted as astronomer or supervisor of scientific work. When he took charge of the Great Lakes harbor improvements in 1854 he used his position to gather astronomical data for establishing accurate latitude and longitude readings for the Midwest. While officially supervising the construction of piers and channel dredging, Graham studied Lake Michigan's tides and was able to prove scientifically the existence of a lunar tide. In 1861, he was put in charge of the survey of the north and northwestern lakes and their lighthouses.

During the Civil War Graham's loyalty to the Union was questioned and he was removed from his post. Exactly what happened is not clear from the collection, but in 1864, J. M. Howard wrote to the secretary of war after investigating Graham. He proclaimed Graham loyal, requested he be returned to active service, and suggested he be assigned to New York Harbor (see Box 6, folder 192). Graham was ordered to Boston to serve on the Atlantic Coast Survey. He died there on December 28, 1865.

From the guide to the J. D. Graham papers, 1804-1896, 1848-1865, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Mason, J. M. (James Murray), 1798-1871. Papers relating to James D. Graham's biological collections, 1853 January. Library of Virginia
referencedIn Weather Bureau National Archives at College Park
referencedIn J. N. Nicollet Papers, 1797-1843 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Myers family. Myers-Burrage-Graham Papers (I). William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIe. 1845-1865. American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Delaware boundaries collection, 1733-1953. Historical Society of Delaware
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 76: Boundary And Claims Commissions.
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Loring, Charles G. (Charles Greely), 1794-1867. Papers, 1768-1866 Houghton Library
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Camp of the cadets attached to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the State of New York / J.D. Graham. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Whipple, Amiel Weeks, 1817?-1863. "Report upon the transit instrument of Repsold, established at the observatory of Poulkova in the prime vertical; and upon the results which this instrument has given for the value of the constant of aberration by M. Struve / translated by Lt. A.W. Whipple and presented to Major J.D. Graham." United States Military Academy, USMA Library
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Letter : to William Bond & Son / by James Duncan Graham, 1840 Mar 4. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Royal Society. Sabine Papers.
referencedIn Coffin, James H. (James Henry), 1806-1873. James Henry Coffin Papers, 1848-1884 Smithsonian Institution Archives
creatorOf Bartlett, William Holmes Chambers, 1804-1893. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 52: Assistant Secretary, Incoming Correspondenc.
referencedIn Nicollet, J. N. (Joseph Nicolas), 1786-1843. J.N. Nicollet papers, 1797-1843. Library of Congress
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Montpelier canal : Wells River route : experimental survey / by Lieutenants A.D. Mackay, E. French, and G.E. Chase ; under the orders of Capt. J.D. Graham, U.S.T. Engineers. Vermont Historical Society
creatorOf J. D. Graham papers, 1804-1896, 1848-1865 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Memoirs &c. on scientific subjects. William & Mary Libraries
creatorOf Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. Norman Thomas papers, 1904-1967, bulk (1933-1967). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IId, 1837-1844 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. J.D. Graham papers, 1804-1896 (bulk 1848-1865). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn College Of William And Mary, Swem Lib., Spec. Coll. Res. Ctr. Myers Burrage Graham Papers, Group C.
referencedIn Peale-Sellers family collection, 1686-1963 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 60: Meteorological Project, 1849 1875.
creatorOf Graham, J. D. (James Duncan), 1799-1865. Myers-Burrage-Graham Papers (I) Group C. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 233: House Of Representatives.
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIf, 1866-1886 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn John Fries Frazer papers, 1834-1871, 1834-1871 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abert, John James, 1788-1863. person
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associatedWith Graham, Margaret C., d. 1852. person
associatedWith Graham, Richard Worsham Meade, d. 1855. person
associatedWith Graham, Salvadora. person
associatedWith Graham, William Montrose, 1798-1847. person
associatedWith Graham, William Montrose, 1834-1916. person
correspondedWith Gray, Asa person
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associatedWith Healy, G. P. A. (George Peter Alexander), 1813.1894. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Humphries, Andrew A. person
associatedWith Humphries, Andrew A. person
associatedWith Lee, Thos. J. (Thomas Jefferson) person
associatedWith Lee, Thos. J(Thomas Jefferson) person
associatedWith Longfellow, A. W. person
associatedWith Longfellow, A. W. person
associatedWith Long, Stephen Harriman, 1784-1864. person
associatedWith Loring, Charles G. (Charles Greely), 1794-1867 person
associatedWith Macomb, J. N(John N.), 1810 or 11-1889. person
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associatedWith Thom, George. person
associatedWith Thom, George, 1819-1891. person
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
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associatedWith U.S. Lakes Survey. corporateBody
associatedWith Wampler, J. M. person
associatedWith Warren, Gouverneur Kemble, 1830-1882. person
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associatedWith White, T. F. person
associatedWith White, T. F. person
associatedWith Wickham, William F. person
associatedWith Wickham, William F. person
associatedWith William Bond & Son. corporateBody
associatedWith Wright, Charles person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Fort Riley (Kan.)
Canada
Texas
Great Lakes (North America)
Northeast boundary of the United States
United States
Mexico
Southern boundary of the United States
Mason-Dixon Line.
Mason-Dixon Line
United States
Southern boundary of the United States
Great Lakes (North America)
Presidio of San Francisco (Calif.)
Northeast boundary of the United States
Orange County (N.Y.)
United States
United States
Fort Riley (Kan.)
Texas
Canada
West Point (N.Y.)
Maine
New York (State)--West Point
Mexico
Texas
United States
Presidio of San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif.)
Subject
Surveys And Explorations, General
Fortification--Maps
Smithsonian Publications
Military engineering
Physical geography
Smithsonian Exchange
Surveying
Natural history
Topographical surveying
Tides
Recommendations For Positions
Military engineers
Meteorology
Magnetism, Terrestrial
Astronomy
Tides--Great Lakes (North America)
Mexican War, 1846-1848
Military camps--Maps
Surveying--United States
Occupation
Astronomers--United States
Engineers--United States
Military engineers--United States
Surveyors--United States
Activity

Person

Birth 1799

Death 1865

Americans

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Ark ID: w6fb5kww

SNAC ID: 1908496