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Frank Porter Graham
""Frank Porter Graham.jpg
"United States Senator
from "North Carolina
In office
March 29, 1949 – November 26, 1950
Appointed by "W. Kerr Scott
Preceded by "Joseph Melville Broughton
Succeeded by "Willis Smith
"President of the University of North Carolina
In office
Preceded by "Harry Woodburn Chase
Succeeded by "Gordon Gray
Personal details
Born (1886-10-14)October 14, 1886
"Fayetteville, North Carolina
Died February 16, 1972(1972-02-16) (aged 85)
"Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Nationality "American
Political party "Democratic
Spouse(s) Marian Drane Graham
Relations "Archibald Wright "Moonlight" Graham
"Alma mater "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Columbia University
Profession "Politician, "Educator

Frank Porter Graham (October 14, 1886 – February 16, 1972) was President of the "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and, for a brief period, a "United States Senator.


Early life[edit]

Frank Porter Graham was born in "Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1886, the sixth of nine children born to Alexander and Katherine Bryan Sloan Graham.[1][2] His father was superintendent of the Charlotte school system for 25 years,[2] and many of his siblings and other family relations were teachers.[3] His older brother, "Archibald Wright "Moonlight" Graham (December 28, 1879 – August 25, 1965), was a professional baseball player with the "New York Giants (and inspiration for the 1989 film "Field of Dreams).

In 1909, Graham was graduated from the original University of North Carolina (UNC, now called "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), where he was "Phi Beta Kappa and Senior Class President.[4][2] He thereafter studied law and received his license in 1913. He received a graduate degree in 1916 from "Columbia University. While he was studying law, Graham worked as a "high school "teacher in "Raleigh, North Carolina. He went on to serve as a "history instructor at UNC beginning in 1915. He interrupted his teaching career to enlist in 1917 in the "United States Marine Corps for service in "World War I. He was discharged as a "first lieutenant in 1919.

Graham returned to the History department at UNC and was promoted to a professorship in 1927, despite not having earned a Ph.D. He also served briefly as Dean of Students.[2]

President of the University of North Carolina[edit]

In June 1930, Graham was named President of UNC, succeeding "Harry Woodburn Chase.[5] Two years later, he was selected to lead the consolidation of the "University of North Carolina system, which brought together the three public colleges in the state: Graham's UNC at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina College for Women (now the "University of North Carolina at Greensboro), and State College (now "North Carolina State University).[2] He served as President of the university system for the next 17 years.[2]

In 1934, President "Franklin Roosevelt appointed Graham as chairman of his Advisory Council on Economic Security, which made proposals that led to the "Social Security Act the following year.[6] In 1938, Graham headed the Advisory Committee on Economic Conditions in the South which issued a report detailing the dire position of the region.[7] Immediately afterward, Graham helped establish the Southern Conference on Human Welfare (SCHW), an advocacy group that organized poverty relief efforts and promoted "New Deal policies.[8]

After Roosevelt's death, new President "Harry Truman continued to utilize Graham, and appointed him to the "President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1946. But in the following year, Graham was mentioned in hearings held by the "House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities for his involvement with the SCHW, which was alleged to be a "Communist front organization.[9] Graham denied any Communist affiliation, but was tarnished by accusations of "pinkish" sympathies for years.[10]

United States Senator[edit]

In 1948, former state agriculture commissioner "W. Kerr Scott extinguished the control of a group including former "Governor "O. Max Gardner, all of whom hailed from the small city of "Shelby. Scott, a pro-Truman Democrat who had supported the "New Deal, defeated that group's candidate for governor, the state treasurer Charles M. Johnson, in the party primary.

On taking office in January 1949, Scott brought in his own perceived liberal reformers. Two months after Scott's inauguration, incumbent "Junior United States Senator "J. Melville Broughton, a former state governor, died in office. Broughton's death provided Scott with a prime opportunity to make a mark in "Washington, D.C.

After three weeks of intense speculation throughout March 1949 as to whom the governor might choose for the Senate, attention focused on individuals ranging from the senator's widow, who expressed no interest; Scott's former campaign manager, "Capus Miller Waynick; another Scott supporter, Major Lennox Polk McLendon, a lawyer from "Greensboro, North Carolina; former Senator Umstead; and the governor himself. Scott appointed Graham, which shocked many in the state.[11]

At the time of his appointment, Graham had never sought nor served in any political office, an unusual phenomenon at the time for North Carolina senators.[12] Also atypical was that the particular Senate seat Graham occupied was in a period of considerable turnover. Beginning with the death of Senator "Josiah W. Bailey in 1946, and concluding with the election of "B. Everett Jordan in 1958, no fewer than eight men served in the seat in a dozen years.

1950 Democratic primary[edit]

"Willis Smith's flyer against Graham

Graham faced two opponents in the 1950 Democratic primary, including former Senator "Robert R. Reynolds and former "Speaker of the "North Carolina House of Representatives "Willis Smith. Reynolds was eliminated with only 10% of the vote, while Smith and Graham received 41% and 49% respectively. Graham was one percentage point below the threshold of receiving the nomination outright, and Smith could could have chosen to engage Graham in a runoff. Smith initially declined, but when his supporters rallied outside his house in a show of support, Smith changed his mind.[13]

In the runoff, Smith ran as an anti-Truman Democrat. According to his staffers, Smith never said anything outright "racist, but some of his supporters released unofficial pamphlets stirring up fears of an integrated society.[14] The campaign is considered by historians as the most racist for a senate race in North Carolina since the beginning of popular vote for senators.[15]

At the time of the election, few "African-Americans were voting in North Carolina because of "Jim Crow laws designed to "disenfranchise them. Those blacks who were registered usually were "Republicans who cast ballots only in routine "general elections. Graham was hence unable to appeal to many black voters, and he did not call for immediate integration, either.[16] Graham was not a natural campaigner and hesitated to even ask voters for their vote.[17] His political views were different from most North Carolinians'.[18]

In the virtually all-white Democratic primaries, the tactics of Smith's campaign supporters (among whom was future Republican Senator "Jesse Helms) worked along with these other factors,[19] and Smith prevailed by a narrow 52%-48%.

Graham's supporters mounted a "write-in candidacy for the November general election, but he received only one-half of one percent, and Smith won in a landslide against a desultory "GOP opponent.


Frank Porter Graham Student Union at "UNC

After his short Senate stint, Graham entered the field of world politics and "diplomacy. He served as a "mediator at the "United Nations as a representative to "India and "Pakistan in the "Kashmir dispute, serving in this capacity from 1951 through 1967. He retired from U.N. service in 1967 at the age of 81 and returned to Chapel Hill, after his wife died.[20]

Graham died in Chapel Hill at the age of 85. He is interred at the "Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. Some nine months after Graham's death, his former Senate seat went to a former aide to the late Willis Smith, "Jesse Helms, who also became the first popularly elected Republican U.S. senator from North Carolina.

UNC-Chapel Hill's "student union building is named in Graham's honor—as is the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG.unc.edu), one of the nation's oldest and largest multidisciplinary centers devoted to the study and care of young children. The Frank Porter Graham Elementary School in Chapel Hill and the Frank Porter Graham Building on the campus of the "University of North Carolina at Greensboro also honor the former senator.

Graham, along with "Eleanor Roosevelt and "Hubert Humphrey and other anticommunist liberals of the era, was affiliated with the liberal "advocacy group, the "Americans for Democratic Action.

The North Carolina chapter of the "ACLU acknowledges people who work towards the promotion of civil liberties in the state with the Frank Porter Graham Award.[21]


  1. ^ Wilson and Clark, 06:50
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sitterson, J. Carlyle (1996) [1979]. Powell, William S., ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. University of North Carolina Press. "Graham, Frank Porter". 
  3. ^ Wilson and Clark, 07:30
  4. ^ Wilson and Clark, 08:40
  5. ^ "Frank P. Graham Is Head N.C. University". The Greenville News. Greenville, SC. "AP. June 10, 1930. p. 1 – via "Newspapers.com.  "open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Wilson and Clark, 26:15
  7. ^ Wilson and Clark, 26:45
  8. ^ Wilson and Clark, 26:45
  9. ^ Wilson and Clark, 34:10
  10. ^ Wilson and Clark, 37:10
  11. ^ Wilson and Clark
  12. ^ Wilson and Clark
  13. ^ Wilson and Clark
  14. ^ Wilson and Clark
  15. ^ "The 1950 Senate campaign". LEARN NC. UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Wilson and Clark
  17. ^ Wilson and Clark
  18. ^ Wilson and Clark
  19. ^ Wilson and Clark
  20. ^ Wilson and Clark
  21. ^ "Retrieved: 2010-08-04". Acluofnorthcarolina.org. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

"U.S. Senate
Preceded by
"J. Melville Broughton
"U.S. Senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
Served alongside: "Clyde Roark Hoey
Succeeded by
"Willis Smith
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