The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Philip Graham (1915-1963)

Philip Graham, the charming manic publisher who transformed The Washington Post into one of the nation's most influential newspapers, was born in South Dakota, the only son of Ernest Graham, a mining engineer and farmer, and Florence Morris Graham, a schoolteacher. After graduating from the University of Florida in 1936, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review and became a protégé of Felix Frankfurter. In 1939, Graham moved to Washington, D.C., to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stanley Reed and then Justice Frankfurter. The following year he developed a reputation as an ardent New Dealer for his work in the Office for Emergency Management and the Lend-Lease Administration. He also developed a reputation as one of the most charming men in the capital and in the summer of 1940, he married Katherine Meyer, the daughter of Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer and social reformer Agnes Meyer. The following year, Graham enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he helped decipher Japanese military codes, received the Legion of Merit, and reached the rank of major. Immediately after his discharge in 1945, his father-in-law, whom Truman had appointed president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, pressured Graham to assume more management responsibility for the Post. Graham proved a brilliant publisher, doubling the newspaper's circulation, finessing a complex merger with the Washington Times Herald Tribune, orchestrating the purchase of radio and television stations, and making the Post a profitable venture for the first time in its history. Under his leadership the paper embraced Truman's foreign policy, endorsed Eisenhower for president, and urged the passage of civil rights legislation. He quickly developed a reputation as a brilliant manager and a shrewd navigator of Washington politics. Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy each considered him one of their must trusted confidantes, so much so that Graham, who initially supported LBJ for president in 1960, played the key role in JFK's selection of LBJ as his running mate. Graham, who had been hospitalized three times for manic depression and who no longer could control his mood swings and manic behavior, committed suicide August 3, 1963.

Source: American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From

Published by the Model Editions Partnership

Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .

For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at

Copyright © 2006. The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. All rights reserved.