JAMES HOWARD MC GRATH was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He graduated from Providence College in 1926 and from Boston University Law School in 1929. He chaired the Democratic State Committee in 1930—the youngest person to date to hold that office, and he headed the state delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1932 that nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for President. He served as City Solicitor for Central Falls, Rhode Island from 1930 to 1934 and U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island from 1934 to 1940. McGrath’s gubernatorial administration was considered a conservative one, during which the cash sickness benefits law was enacted and a juvenile court system was established. In 1944, McGrath seconded Harry S. Truman’s nomination for Vice President. When Truman became President, McGrath was named U.S. Solicitor General, leaving his post as governor. He went on to win a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1946 and to be named Democratic National Chairman by Truman in 1947, a position in which he is considered to have engineered Truman’s defeat of Thomas Dewey in the presidential election of 1948. McGrath was then chosen by Truman to become Attorney General and he gave up his Senate seat to take the cabinet post. However, he resigned the position three years later in the face of charges that the Justice Department had dropped a tax investigation at the request of high government officials. McGrath went on to practice law in Washington, DC. He founded the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Providence and served as an officer of numerous banking and other business enterprises in Rhode Island.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 52. New York: James T. White & Company.
Providence College, Archives and Special Collections
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.