Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes banner
  • Monument Name

    William Alexander Graham, State Capitol, Raleigh

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

  • Creator

    Frederick Wellington Ruckstull, Sculptor

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    This bust of William A Graham sits in the rotunda of the North Carolina Capitol. Graham is portrayed realistically, clothed in the dress of his time in a high-collared shirt with a jacket and elegant tie.

  • Inscription

    WILLIAM A GRAHAM / 1804 - 1875

  • Dedication Date

    January 12, 1910

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.780610 , -78.639190 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Bishir, Catherine W. "State Capitol Memorials," from “Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina”,, (accessed May 16, 2012) Link

      Grimes, J. Bryan. "Why North Carolina Should Erect and Preserve Memorials and Mark Historic Places: Address Before the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, Raleigh, N.C., November 4, 1909," ([Raleigh, NC: The News and Observer, 1909]), (accessed May 18, 2012) Link

      Grimes, John Bryan. Addresses at the Unveiling of the Bust of William A. Graham, (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1910), (accessed February 8, 2012) Link

      McGehee, Montford. "Life and Character of Hon. William A. Graham. A Memorial Oration by Montford McGehee, Esq., Delivered Before the Bench and Bar of the Supreme Court, In the Hall of the House of Representatives, In Raleigh, June 8, 1876," (Raleigh, NC: News Job Office and Book Bindery, 1877), (accessed May 29, 2012) Link

      North Carolina Historical Commission. Addresses at the Unveiling of the Bust of William A. Graham by the North Carolina Historical Commission in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Delivered in the Hall of the House of Representatives, January 12, 1910, (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1910), (accessed May 15, 2012) Link

      Williams, Max R. "William Alexander Graham, 5 Sept. 1804-11 Aug. 1875," Documenting the American South (from Dictionary of North Carolina Biography edited by William S. Powell), (accessed February 22, 2012) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Sponsors

    North Carolina Historical Commission

  • Monument Cost


  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Speeches were given by Frank Nash and Thomas W. Mason. Unveiled by William A. Graham Junior, the Fourth. The introductory address was delivered by J. Bryan Grimes.

  • Subject Notes

    William Alexander Graham was born in Lincoln County in 1804 to Revolutionary War veteran Joseph Graham and his wife, Isabella. William Graham attended the University of North Carolina and later studied with acclaimed attorney and jurist Thomas Ruffin. Graham became a successful lawyer and enjoyed a long career in public service, serving first in the House of Commons of Orange County and later as a United States Senator. Graham was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1845. Millard Fillmore appointed Graham Secretary of the Navy in July 1850. He later served as a state congressman and a Confederate senator.

    [Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]

  • Location

    The bust is located in the North Carolina Sate Capitol building in the rotunda on the first floor of the building in Raleigh, NC.

  • Landscape

    The bust sits in a niche inside the rotunda. The interior of the rotunda houses other State Capitol memorials including statuary, paintings, and plaques commemorating significant events and individuals in North Carolina's history. A 1970 copy of Antonio Canova's original statue of George Washington stands in the center.

Icon for reporting missing/incorrect information Know anything else about this monument that isn't mentioned here? If you have additional information on this or any other monument in our collection fill out the form at the Contact Us link in the footer. Thank you.