James Duncan Graham, topographical engineer, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, 4 April, 1799, and died in Boston, Massachusetts, 28 December 1865. He was graduated at the United States Military Academy in 1817, and became lieutenant of artillery. He was promoted several steps in this arm of the service, and employed on topographical duty, but it was not until 1829 that his specialty was recognized. He was then brevetted captain and afterward major, that he might enter the corps of topographical engineers, receiving the full commission of major in 1838. In 1839-40 he was astronomer of the surveying party that, in behalf of the United States, established the boundary-line between the latter and the then new Republic of Texas. In 1840 he was appointed commissioner for the survey and exploration of the northeast boundary of the United States, and was employed along the Maine and New York frontiers until 1843. In the same year he was ordered to duty as astronomer on the part of the United States for the joint demarcation of the boundary between the United States and the British provinces, under the treaty of Washington. He was thus employed during the Mexican war. On its conclusion he was brevetted lieutenant colonel, the commission reading, "for valuable and highly distinguished services, particularly on the boundary line between the United States and the provinces of Canada and New Brunswick." In 1850 Colonel Graham was engaged by the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, to examine certain disputed questions regarding the intersection of the boundary line of those states. He made a thorough survey of the line originally made by Mason and Dixon, and published a voluminous report thereon. He was employed in the final settlement of the questions resulting from the War with Mexico, and during 1851 was United States astronomer in the survey of the boundary line between this country and Mexico. For the next ten years he was in charge of various harbor improvements on the northern and northwestern lakes, in which he discovered the existence of a lunar tide (1858-59). At the time of his death he was superintending engineer of the sea-walls in Boston harbor, and of the repairs of harbor works on the Atlantic coast from Maine to the capes of the Chesapeake. He was promoted to be colonel of the engineer corps, 1 June, 1863. He was a member of several scientific societies.
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography. Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske (eds): D. Appleton and Company, New York.
Photograph from Sotheby's, 2004
Military History. -Cadet of the Military Academy, June 19, 1813, to July 17,1817, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
THIRD LIEUT., CORPS OF ARTILLERY, JULY 17, 1817.
Served: at the Military Academy, as Adjutant, Oct. 12, 1817, to Feb. 10,
(SECOND LIEUT., CORPS OF ARTILLERY, OCT. 14, 1817)
1819; on Major Long's Western Exploration, 1819-21; on Topographical
(FIRST LIEUT., CORPS OF ARTILLERY, SEP. 8, 1819)
(FIRST LIEUT., 4TH ARTILLERY, IN RE-ORGANIZATION OF ARMY, JUNE 1, 1821) ,
(TRANSFERRED TO 3d ARTILLERY, AUG. 16, 1821)
duty, Jan. 14, 1822, to Jan. 15, 1829; on Surveys in Vermont, 1829;
(BVT. CAPTAIN, STAFF-ASST. TOP. ENGINEER, JAN. 15, 1829)
on Railroad Surveys in Virginia, 1831-32, -and in Alabama, Florida,
(BVT. MAJOR, STAFF-TOP. ENGINEER, SEP.14, 1834)
and Georgia, 1836-37; in making Reconnoissance and Surveys for Military Defenses in Me., 1838; on Court of Inquiry at St. Louis, Mo., 1838-39 ; on tour of Inspection of Harbor Improvements on Lakes Ontario
(MAJOR, CORPS OF TOP. ENGINEERS, JULY 7, 1838)
and Champlain, 1839 ; as Astronomer, on the part of the United States, for the joint demarcation of the Boundary between the United States and the Republic of Texas, 1839-40; as Commissioner for the Survey and Exploration of the Northeast Boundary of the United States, 1840--43 ; as " Head of the Scientific Corps and Principal Astronomer," on the part of the United States, for the joint demarcation of the Boundary between the United States and the British Provinces, under the Treaty of Washington, 1843-47, -and renewing maps of the Boundary
(BVT. LIEUT.-COLONEL, JAN. 1, 1847, FOR VALUABLE AND HIGHLY DISTINGUISHED SERVICES, PARTICULARLY ON THE BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE PROVINCES OF CANADA AND NEW BRUNSWICK)
Survey, destroyed by fire, 1848-50, and 1852-53 ; on Survey of Boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland (" Mason and Dixon's Line "), 1849-50; as Principal Astronomer and "Head of the Scientific Corps," on the part of the United States, for the joint demarcation of the Boundary between the United States and Mexico, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1850-51 ; in general supervision of the Harbor Improvements on Lake Michigan, Apr. 20, 1854, to Dec. 11, 1856, -and of the Channel Improvement over St. Clair Flats, Apr. 25, 1854, to Sep., 1856; as Superintending Engineer of the Harbor Improvements on the North and
(LIEUT.-COLONEL, TOP. ENGINEERS, AUG. 6, 1861: CORPS OF ENGINEERS, MAR. 3. 1863)
Northwestern Lakes, Dec. 11, 1856, to Apr. 20), 1864, in which he discovered the existence of a lunar tide, 1858-59.
Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-65: as Superintendent of the United States Lake Survey, Aug. 30, 1861, to Apr. 20, 1864; as Lighthouse Engineer of the 10th and 11th Districts (Northern Lakes, except Champ1ain), Aug. 30, 1861, to Apr. 20, 1864, -and Inspector
(COLONEL, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, JUNE 1, 1863)
of 11th Lighthouse District, Aug.30,1861, to Mar., 1863 ; as Superintending Engineer of Sea-walls in Boston harbor, and in charge of the Preservation and Repairs of Harbor Works on the Atlantic Coast, from Maine to the Capes of the Chesapeake, Aug. 1, 1864, to Dec. 28, 1865.
Civil History. -Member of several Scientific and Historical Societies, 1840-65.
DIED, DEC. 28, 1865, at Boston, Mass.: Aged 66.
from Cullum, G. W., Biographical register of the officers and graduates of the USMA at West Point, N.Y., from its establishment in 1802 to 1890, with the early history of the USMA.