Philip Graham, the son of a mining engineer, was born in Terry, South Dakota, on 18th July, 1915. The family moved to Florida when Graham was a child and he was educated at Miami High School and the University of Florida. Graham moved on to the Harvard University Law School where he was editor of the Law Review.
In 1940 Graham married Katharine Meyer. The following year he became clerk to Felix Frankfurter. Graham joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.
Graham's father-in-law was Eugene Meyer, the owner of the Washington Post. In 1946 Meyer appointed Graham as associate publisher. He eventually took over business side of the newspaper's operations. He also played an important role in the paper's editorial policy.
Graham lived in Washington where he associated with a group of journalists, politicians and government officials that became known as the Georgetown Set.
Graham met Lyndon B. Johnson in 1953. Graham believed that one day Johnson would make a good president. Graham told Johnson that his main problem was that he was perceived in Washington as someone under the control of the Texas oil and gas industry. Graham added that his attitude towards civil rights was also hurting him with liberals in the North. He was advised to go a "bit beyond (Richard) Russell and yet far short of (Hubert) Humphrey".
Graham was a supporter of the Democratic Party and did what he could to get Johnson the nomination in 1960. When John F. Kennedy defeated Johnson he sent Clark Clifford to ask Stuart Symington to be his running-mate. Symington accepted the post but said: "I bet you a hundred dollars that no matter what he says, Jack will not make me his running mate. He will have to pick Lyndon".
In the background Graham and Joseph Alsop were attempting to persuade Kennedy to appoint Johnson instead. Despite the objection of Robert Kennedy and other leading advisers, Kennedy decided to replace Symington with Johnson.
It is claimed that Graham had close links with the Central Intelligence Agency. It has been claimed that Graham played an important role in Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program to infiltrate domestic American media.
As president of the Washington Post Company he purchased Washington Times-Herald. Later he took control of radio and television stations WTOP (Washington) and WJXT (Jacksonville). In 1961 Graham purchased Newsweek. The following year he took control of America's two leading art magazines, Art News and Portfolio.
Philip Graham committed suicide by killing himself with a shotgun on 3rd August, 1963.