Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr.

54th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1941 to 1945

Date Born: November 17, 1888

Date Died: March 6, 1949

Place Born: Raleigh, NC

Place Buried: Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh, NC

Residence: Raleigh, NC

Occupation: Education, Lawyer


Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was born on November 17, 1888 in Raleigh, NC, the son of Joseph Melville Broughton and Sallie A. (Harris) Broughton. After graduating from the Hugh Morson Academy in 1906, Broughton entered Wake Forest College, graduating and entering law school there in 1910. That same year he was admitted to the North Caorlina bar, but he chose not to begin practice immediately.

From 1910 to 1912, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was Principal of the Bunn High School. In 1912, he was a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal for a few months. He attended Harvard Law School for the 1912–13 year and began practicing law in Raleigh during 1914.

From 1914 to 1916, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was Chairman of the Democratic Party executive committee for Wake County, NC.

In 1916, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. married Alice Harper Willson, daughter of William Willson of Raleigh, NC; they had four children.

In 1918, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was appointed to the Wake Forest College Board of Trustees, a membership he was to hold until his death, except for one year. At the same time he became a member of the board of trustees for Shaw University and began service of many years as its general counsel.

He was president of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in 1918. During the 1920s he served on the Raleigh School Board (1922–29) and was twice appointed City Attorney (1921–24).

In 1926, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was first elected as one of two men to represent the NC 13th Senate District (Chatham County, Lee County, and Wake County) in the NC Senate of the:
- 107th General Assembly that met in 1927
- 108th General Assembly that met in 1929

In 1933, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. served as president of the Wake County Bar Association, and he headed the North Carolina Bar Association in 1936. Also in 1936 he delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic State Convention.

In the 1940 general election, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was elected by the people as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served one term from January 9, 1941 to January 4, 1945. Gov. Broughton used his party’s popularity and its control of the General Assembly to extend the school calendar to nine months; add a 12th grade to public schools; implement a retirement plan for state employees, including teachers; and allocate funds to public libraries and the arts. Gov. Broughton also provided funds to survey North Carolina for minerals and introduced the Good Health Program, a medical program that expanded medical care and hospital construction throughout North Carolina for the purpose of alleviating polio, malaria, and other diseases.

In 1948, Joseph Melville Broughton, Jr. was elected to the U.S. Senate, after defeating William B. Umstead, the appointed incumbent, in the Democratic primary. In November, Broughton won both a special election to complete the Senate term and an election for a full term. He took office on December 31, 1948, but his service in the U.S. Senate was brief, as he died shortly after taking office.

Joseph Melville Broughton died on March 6, 1949 in Bethesda, MD, and he was later buried at the Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh, NC.


Joseph Melville Broughton (born 17 November 1888 in Raleigh, North Carolina - died 6 March 1949 in Bethesda, Maryland) was the Democratic governor of the state of North Carolina from 1941 to 1945.

A lawyer by training (and an alumnus of Harvard Law School), Broughton worked as a school principal and journalist before actively entering the legal profession. As governor, one of his major legacies was the extension of the public school term from six to nine months.

In 1948, Broughton was elected to the US Senate, after defeating William B. Umstead, the appointed incumbent, in the Democratic primary. In November, Broughton won both a special election to complete the Senate term and an election for a full term. He took office on December 31, 1948, but his service in the Senate was brief, as he died in March of 1949.


Broughton, Joseph Melville, a Senator from North Carolina; born in Raleigh, Wake County, N.C., November 17, 1888; attended the public schools; graduated from Hugh Morson Academy in 1906 and Wake Forest (NC) College in 1910; taught school in Bunn, NC. 1910-1912; reporter on a newspaper in Winston-Salem, NC, in 1912; attended Harvard University Law School in 1912 and 1913; admitted to the bar in 1914 and commenced practice in Raleigh, NC, the same year; also engaged in agricultural pursuits; member, State senate 1927-1929; Governor of North Carolina 1941-1945; served as a member of the board of trustees of Wake Forest College and of the University of North Carolina; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate on November 2, 1948, to fill the vacancy in the term ending January 3, 1949, caused by the death of Josiah W. Bailey and at the same time was elected for the full term commencing January 3, 1949, and served from December 31, 1948, until his death in Washington, DC, March 6, 1949; interment in Montlawn Memorial Park, Raleigh, N.C.
Joseph Melville Broughton, governor of North Carolina, was born in Raleigh, NC on November 17, 1888. His education was attained at the Hugh Morson Academy, at Wake Forest College, where he graduated in 1910, and at Harvard University, where he earned a law degree in 1913. Before establishing his legal career, Broughton worked as a high school principal and was a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal. He first entered politics in 1927, serving as a member of the NC State Senate, a position he held two years. He also served as a presidential elector at large in 1936. Broughton next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1940 general election. During his tenure, educational improvements were sanctioned; the good health program was initiated; a teachers’ and state employees’ retirement system was created; and public library funds were increased. After leaving the governorship, Broughton won election to the U.S. Senate, an office he held from 1948 until his death on March 6, 1949. Joseph M. Broughton was buried in the Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh, NC.
Click Here to view/download an Adobe PDF file of the book, entitled "Public Addresses, Letters, and Papers of Joseph Melville Broughton, Governor of North Carolina 1941-1945," published in 1950.

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