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Robert Graham
12th Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin

In office
January 2, 1882 – January 3, 1887
Governor Jeremiah McLain Rusk
Preceded by William Clarke Whitford
Succeeded by Jesse B. Thayer
Personal details
Born (1827-07-24)July 24, 1827
Putnam, New York, U.S.
Died December 14, 1892(1892-12-14) (aged 65)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.
Resting place Woodlands Cemetery, Cambridge, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary M. Maxwell (m. 1847–1901)
Children William Graham
Alma mater Albany Normal School
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Volunteers
Union Army
Years of service 1864
Rank Captain, USV
Unit 39th Reg. Wis. Vol. Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Robert Graham (July 24, 1827 – December 14, 1892) was an American educator who served as the 12th Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin.

Early career

Graham was born in Putnam, New York, on July 24, 1827.[1] He left office in 1887 and returned to teaching.[2] His father died when he was a child and he was raised by his childless uncle and aunt. He received an academy education and began teaching school to pay for the cost of attending the State Normal School in Albany, New York (now the University at Albany, SUNY.[3] He studied under David Perkins Page until his death in 1848. Graham continued teaching in New York and became Superintendent of Schools in Washington County, New York. In 1861, however, he was convinced by his wife, Mary's, family to move west and take up a homestead. They settled at Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Graham quickly became a respected teacher in the area, rising to Superintendent of Schools in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.[3]

Civil War

In 1864, near the climax of the American Civil War, Graham responded to President Lincoln's call for Hundred Days Men to surge personnel into the Union Army ranks in an effort to end the war in 100 days. He enlisted and became Captain of Company C of the 39th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. His regiment was assigned to the defense of Memphis, Tennessee, allowing veteran regiments already stationed there to join the Atlanta campaign. They lost over 30 men to disease, but only saw combat on August 21, 1864, when a detachment of cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest attempted a raid into Memphis in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Union commanders stationed there. He mustered out a month later at the end of his hundred days service.[4]

Wisconsin schools

Graham returned to teaching in Kenosha, but soon was called to higher office. He was appointed to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents in 1868, where he played a consequential role in shaping state schools. Graham's next project came in 1871, when a new Normal School was established at Oshkosh (now the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh).[2][5] The school's president, George S. Albee, called on Graham and Graham would go on to serve as Professor at the Normal School for the next ten years.[3] He was a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1873 and 1875, but was not elected. In 1881, however, he was nominated by consensus of the Republican, Democratic, and Prohibition parties, winning an overwhelming majority. He was re-elected in 1884, running on the Republican ticket.[1] He left office in 1887 and returned to teaching.[2]

He died on December 14, 1892, at Oshkosh. After a funeral, his body was sent to New York to be interred at his family's burial plot.[3]

Personal life and family

Graham married Mary M. Maxwell of New York around 1847. They had only one son, William, living at the time of Graham's death.

Electoral history

Wisconsin Superintendent (1873, 1875)

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 1873[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 4, 1873
style="background-color: Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/color; width: 5px;" | Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/shortname Edward Searing 80,147 54.42%
Republican Robert Graham 67,137 45.58% -7.78%
Plurality 13,010 8.83% +2.11%
Total votes 147,284 100.0% +0.11%
style="background-color: Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/color" | [[Liberal Republican Party (United States)|Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/shortname]] gain from Republican
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 1875[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 2, 1875
style="background-color: Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/color; width: 5px;" | Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/shortname Edward Searing (incumbent) 85,392 50.35%
Republican Robert Graham 84,217 49.65% +4.07%
Plurality 1,175 0.69% -8.14%
Total votes 169,609 100.0% +15.16%
style="background-color: Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/color" | [[Liberal Republican Party (United States)|Template:Liberal Republican Party (United States)/meta/shortname]] hold

Wisconsin Superintendent (1881, 1884)

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 1881[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 8, 1881
Republican Robert Graham 164,115 95.81% +44.46%
style="background-color: Template:Greenback Party/meta/color; width: 5px;" | [[Greenback Party|Template:Greenback Party/meta/shortname]] John A. Gaynor 7,175 4.19% -2.35%
Plurality 156,940 91.62% +82.39%
Total votes 171,290 100.0% -6.19%
Republican hold
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 1884[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 4, 1884
Republican Robert Graham (incumbent) 170,406 53.52% -42.29%
Democratic Isaac N. Stewart 122,675 38.53%
Democratic Warren G. Parker 20,985 6.59%
style="background-color: Template:Greenback Party/meta/color; width: 5px;" | [[Greenback Party|Template:Greenback Party/meta/shortname]] H. S. Brown 4,322 1.36% -2.83%
Plurality 47,731 14.99% -76.63%
Total votes 318,388 100.0% +85.88%
Republican hold

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Heg, James E. (1885). The Blue Book of the state of Wisconsin (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. p. 417. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Graham, Robert 1826 - 1892". https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS8219. Retrieved September 2, 2020. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Prof. Graham Gone". December 15, 1892. p. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/58525787/prof-robert-graham-obituary/. Retrieved September 2, 2020.  open access publication - free to read
  4. Quiner, Edwin B. (1866). "Regimental History – One Hundred Day Troops". The Military History of Wisconsin. Chicago: Clark & Co.. pp. 854–857. https://archive.org/details/militaryhistoryo00quin/page/854. Retrieved September 2, 2020. 
  5. "Oshkosh Normal School". Appleton, Wisconsin. July 29, 1871. p. 3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/58534528/oshkosh-normal-school/. Retrieved September 2, 2020. 
  6. Turner, A. J., ed (1874). The legislative manual of the state of Wisconsin (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. p. 447. 
  7. Bashford, R. M., ed (1876). The legislative manual of the state of Wisconsin (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. p. 450. 

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