GRAHAM, JOSEPH. (1759–1836). American officer. Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on 13 October 1759, Graham moved south with his family after his father's death in 1763, eventually settling in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In September 1778 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the North Carolina Rangers, and later was promoted to captain. He then enlisted with the Fourth North Carolina Continentals, serving a year as quartermaster sergeant. After completing this duty he again volunteered in 1780, was appointed adjutant of a militia regiment, and later became captain of a mounted infantry company. He distinguished himself at Charlotte, North Carolina, on 26 September 1780, where he commanded the rear guard that secured the safe retreat of William Davie's forces from General Charles Cornwallis, receiving nine wounds in the battle. Two months after his recovery he returned to his regiment and remained there until March 1781. In August he organized a dragoon company, and soon thereafter he was promoted to major. For about two months he served near Wilmington, and in November 1781 resigned his commission.
After the war Graham became a successful businessman and local political leader. In 1814 he was appointed commander of a brigade for duty in the Creek War, but delays in equipping his force resulted in its arrival too late to see action. Nonetheless, he was promoted to major general of the North Carolina militia. In 1820 he started writing letters and articles promoting the dubious claims for the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. He died at his plantation in Lincoln County, North Carolina, on 12 November 1836.
Graham, William. General Joseph Graham and His Papers on North Carolina Revolutionary History. Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards & Broughton, 1904.
revised by Michael Bellesiles