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John Joseph Dempsey
New Mexico

Gov. John Joseph Dempsey

  • January 1, 1943 - January 1, 1947
  • Democratic
  • June 22, 1879
  • March 11, 1958
  • Pennsylvania
  • Married twice—Katheryn McCarthy, Gladys Everett: three children
  • Representative


JOHN J. DEMPSEY was born in White Haven, Pennsylvania, on June 22, 1879. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of his native state. He went to work as a telegrapher, but eventually got involved in the petroleum business, becoming an independent oil operator in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dempsey first entered politics in 1933, serving as the New Mexico state director for the National Recovery Administration. He also served as the state director of the Federal Housing Administration and National Emergency Council; and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1935 to 1941. In 1941 he served as a member of the U.S. Maritime Commission; and from 1941 to 1942 was the U.S. Undersecretary of the Interior. Dempsey next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 3, 1942. He was reelected to a second term in 1944. During his tenure, the state tested the atomic bomb near Alamogordo; and the state’s economy continued to improve. After leaving the governorship, Dempsey served again in the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he held from 1951 until his death on March 11, 1958. Governor John J. Dempsey was buried in the Rosario Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Governor John J. Dempsey Papers, 1943-1946 (official and personal papers)

* Governor John J. Dempsey Photograph Collection

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

* Finding aid available at New Mexico Commission of Public Records.

For more information please contact the New Mexico State Archives at 505-476-7948 or

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