GRAHAM, JAMES M., Member of Congress from the Twenty-first District of Illinois, is a man whom his community has delighted to honor with various offices of trust, and one who has in every instance proven worthy of the confidence reposed in him by his constituents. He is a self-made man in every sense and his life is an inspiration to all young men of enterprise and ambition, an incentive to high endeavor and the determination to make the most of their abilities and opportunities. Probably no man is more widely or favorably known in political circles in Illinois than Mr. Graham, and few men there are who in the midst of political strife, have made a smaller number of enemies. A man of superior intelligence, educated and cultured, he has at all times maintained the attitude and principles of a true gentleman, though forceful in speech and vigorous in defense of his opinions. The people of Sangamon County and of Central Illinois feel proud of the record of Mr. Graham and acknowledge that his success is a credit to himself and to his constituents.
Mr. Graham was born in County Moaghan, Ireland, April 14, 1852, and came to Sangamon County, Ill., in 1868. He is a son of Hugh and Sarah (McMahon) Graham, the former a farmer by occupation. Honorable J. M. Graham received his education in the common schools, the Northern Normal School at Valparaiso, Ind., and when of age began teaching in Champaign County, Ill., continuing this profession seven years. During his teaching he began the study of law under William A. Day, who later became Second Auditor of the Treasury under President Cleveland, and finished his legal studies under the supervision of James A. Creighton, who became and is Circuit Judge of the Springfield District. Mr. Graham was admitted to the Bar in 1885, and served in the Thirty-fourth General Assembly of Illinois, in 1885-86. He rose rapidly in his profession and served as State's Attorney for Sangamon County in 1892-96. He afterward entered the law firm of Palmer, Shutt & Graham, the senior member being Hon. John M. Palmer, a biographical sketch of whom appears on another page of this work, and the second member, W. E. Shutt, became United States District Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The firm has since been reorganized and now consists of Hon. James M. Graham and his two sons, Hugh J. and James J., both of whom are graduates of the University of Illinois. The firm has won high prestige and all its members stand high in their profession. Mr. Graham was elected a member of the Sixty-first and Sixty-second United States Congress. He has always been interested in educational matters and served as a member of the School Board in Springfield in 1898-1900. Fraternally he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, the Court of Honor, the Catholic Order of Foresters, the Knights of Columbus and the Loyal Americans. In political views he is an ardent supporter of the principles of the Democratic party. Mr. Graham has always taken an active interest in the progress and welfare of Springfield and Sangamon County, and as a public-spirited citizen, has been ready to promote the same. Mr. Graham is an active member of the Catholic Church and has made a special study of its history as well as other lines of historical research. He is the author of an article to be found in this work entitled History of the Catholic Church, and well fitted to cover his subject comprehensively.
Mr. Graham was married at Rantoul, Ill., August 15, 1876, to Miss Catherine Wallace, a native of Rantoul, daughter of Michael Wallace and Ellen (Nolan) Wallace. Seven children have blessed this union, three of whom are graduates of the University of Illinois, and one a student in that institution. Their names are: Hugh J., born in 1877; James J., in 1879; Arthur F., in 1881; Charles W., in 1882; Mary, in 1885; Nellie, in 1892; Agnes, in 1897. Mr. Graham is a fine specimen of athletic manhood, being six feet tall and weighing 195 pounds. He has little time for social pleasures, but has always been greatly absorbed by his work and it is his favorite occupation. His two oldest sons are partners in the firm of Graham & Graham and his third and fourth sons are preparing for business life. Mr. Graham owns a residence in Springfield and some farm land in Sangamon County. Though Mr. Graham has been so successful in his professional and political career, he never forgets his former friend and meets with them the same pleasure and greets them with as much friendliness as in his early life. He is modest and unassuming in demeanor, pleasant and courteous to all, and has a multitude of close personal friends, in all stations of life.