Murphy, Frank, 1890-1949

Alternative names
Birth 1890-04-13
Death 1949-07-19

Biographical notes:

Mayor of Detroit; Governor of Michigan; Governor General of the Philippine Islands; associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

From the description of Frank Murphy papers, 1893-1960 (Detroit Public Library). WorldCat record id: 369174924

Mayor of Detroit, governor of Michigan; justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

From the description of Frank Murphy autograph book, 1930-1942. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 85778857

Detroit (Mich.) Recorders Court Judge, Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, Governor-General of the Philippines, U.S. Attorney General, and Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

From the description of Frank Murphy papers, 1908-1949. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34422091

From the description of Frank Murphy papers [microform], 1908-1949. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34420481

The career of Frank Murphy was distinguished by the varied scope of his public service. For three decades, he was Michigan's best-known public servant, a consummate politician, known and respected by thousands. Murphy was born April 13, 1890 in Sand Beach (later Harbor Beach), Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1914, served in the infantry during World War I, and upon his discharge received appointment as first assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Although a holder of high political office, Murphy kept coming back to the law. In 1923, he was elected Detroit Recorder's Court judge. Here, he won national attention with his one-man grand jury probe into various departments and as presiding judge in the famous Sweet trial. In 1930, following the removal by recall of Charles W. Bowles, Murphy was elected mayor of the city of Detroit. He was reelected in 1931 and served until May 1933. As mayor during the heart of the depression, Murphy won high marks for his efforts to deal with the devastation caused by widespread unemployment.

A staunch supporter of Franklin Roosevelt in his presidential campaign of 1932, Murphy was rewarded with appointment as governor-general of the Philippines. He served in this position until the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth in November 1935 at which time he became the United States high commissioner. At President Roosevelt's urging, he returned to the United States in 1936 to run for governor of Michigan. In that Democratic year, Murphy won handily. His term as governor was marked by the Flint sit-down strike and his efforts to bring New Deal reforms to Michigan government.

In 1939, Roosevelt appointed Murphy to serve as attorney general of the United States. He distinguished himself as a crusader against crime and corruption. The attorney general was primarily responsible for establishing a civil liberties unit within the Justice Department. Murphy served as head of the Justice Department until January 1940 when he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. For nine years, often in the role of a dissenter, Murphy championed the cause of civil liberties.

Following difficulties with his heart, Frank Murphy died July 19, 1949.

From the guide to the Frank Murphy papers, 1908-1949, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)


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  • Offices
  • Strikes
  • Oaths
  • Painting
  • Mayors--Michigan--Detroit
  • Labor
  • Demonstrations
  • Sit-down strikes--Michigan--Flint
  • Labor--Michigan
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Public speaking
  • Dentistry--Michigan
  • Governors--Philippines
  • Building dedications
  • Recreation
  • Military camps
  • War casualties
  • Judges
  • Women
  • Labor movement
  • Courts
  • Clothing and dress--1931-1940
  • Hospitals--Philippines
  • Strikes and lockouts--Michigan
  • War damage--Philippines
  • Politics and government--1946-1960
  • Interiors
  • Clothing and dress--1921-1930
  • Labor and laboring classes
  • Working class
  • Toasting
  • Warships
  • Military training
  • Dwellings--Michigan--Harbor Beach
  • Afro--Americans--Work
  • Tanks (Military science)
  • Horseback riding
  • Lying in state
  • Judges--United States
  • Crowds
  • Political elections--1936
  • Religious services
  • Funeral rites and ceremonies
  • Strikes and lockouts
  • Governors--Michigan
  • Galleries and museums--Michigan--Harbor Beach
  • Courts--Michigan
  • Politics and government--1929-1938
  • General Motors Corporation Sit--Down Strike, 1936-1937
  • Disease
  • Voting
  • Parades and processions
  • Civil service
  • Newspaper industry--Michigan--Detroit
  • Radio broadcasting--Michigan--Detroit
  • Politics and government--1939-1945
  • Capitols--Michigan--Lansing
  • Laborers


not available for this record


  • Philippines (as recorded)
  • Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)
  • Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Philippines (as recorded)
  • Philippines (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Europe. (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Detroit (Mich.) (as recorded)
  • Harbor Beach (Mich.) (as recorded)