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Frank Murphy

Gov. Frank Murphy

  • January 1, 1937 - January 1, 1939
  • Democratic
  • April 13, 1890
  • July 19, 1949
  • Michigan
  • University of Michigan; Trinity College
  • Cabinet secretary
  • Army


FRANK MURPHY, the thirty-fifth governor of Michigan, was born in Harbor Beach, Michigan on April 13, 1890. His education was attained at the University of Michigan, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1912, and his law degree in 1914. He later attended graduate classes at Trinity College in Dublin and at Lincoln’s Inn in London. Murphy saw action in both World Wars, serving as a first lieutenant and later rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his military service, he secured an appointment as first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, a position he held from 1919 to 1920. He also served as judge of the Recorder’s Court from 1923 to 1930, was mayor of Detroit from 1930 to 1933, served as governor-general of the Philippine Islands from 1933 to 193, and was the U.S. First High Commissioner to the Philippines from 1935 to 1936. Murphy next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 3, 1936. During his tenure, an unemployment compensation system was instituted; a sit down strike in Flint and an industrial plant strike were both dealt with; and mental health programs were improved. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Murphy left office on January 1, 1939.  He continued to stay politically active, serving as the U.S. attorney general, a position he held from 1939 to 1940. He also served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1940 to 1949. Governor Frank Murphy passed away on July 19, 1949, and was buried in Our Lady of Lake Huron Cemetery in Harbor Beach, Michigan.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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