John McGraw, Governor

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John Harte McGraw

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Daniel McGraw and Catherine Harte
Husband of May L. Kelley

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About John McGraw, Governor

John Harte McGraw (October 4, 1850 – June 23, 1910) was the second Governor of Washington state.


McGraw was born in Penobscot County, Maine. After running away from home in Maine, McGraw made his way west and ended up in Seattle, taking a job as one of four officers in the Seattle Police Department. He became police chief and later sheriff Sheriff of King County, Washington before being elected governor. He served just one term. He served as Republican Governor from January 9, 1893 to January 11, 1897.

In February 1886, as sheriff, he repelled vigilantes who were trying to round up Chinese Americans in Seattle and send them back to China. When the vigilantes arrived in Seattle, he deputized 400 citizens to protect the Chinese. When a ship arrived to take them back to China, he boarded the vessel and said it couldn't leave. McGraw told the Chinese that he would protect those who wished to stay in Seattle. Gunfire erupted, and a bullet went through McGraw's hat and two through his coat, Pattison said. The vigilantes finally ran away. This is noted as being one of his proudest moments.

McGraw, a law graduate, had also been President of Seattle First National Bank and Seattle Chamber of Commerce. After leaving office, he made money during the Klondike Gold Rush, much needed since he had to repay the State $10,000 following an investigation into his term of office.

He died on June 23, 1910 from typhoid fever.

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John McGraw, Governor's Timeline