William J. Graves

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William Jordan Graves (1805 – September 27, 1848) was a U.S. Representative from Kentucky.

Graves was born in New Castle, Kentucky, and pursued an academic course early in life, choosing to study law. He was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Kentucky before serving as member of the State house of representatives in 1834. Graves was elected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the Twenty-fourth Congress and reelected as a Whig to the Twenty-fifth, and Twenty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1835 – March 4, 1841).

He engaged in a duel at the Bladensburg dueling grounds on the Marlboro Road in Maryland with Congressman Jonathan Cilley in 1838. Graves was a stand-in for New York newspaper editor James Watson Webb, whom Cilley had called corrupt. Cilley was inexperienced with guns, and Graves was allowed to use a powerful rifle. A shot to an artery in Cilley's leg caused him to bleed to death in ninety seconds. This duel prompted passage of a congressional act of February 20, 1839, prohibiting the giving or accepting, within the District of Columbia, of challenges to a duel.

He was not a candidate for renomination in 1840. He was again a member of the State house of representatives in 1843. He died in Louisville, Kentucky, September 27, 1848. He was interred in the private burial grounds at his former residence in Henry County, Kentucky.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Patrick H. Pope
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 8th congressional district

1835 – 1841
Succeeded by
James Sprigg