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 William Francis “Frank” Murphy

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William Francis “Frank” Murphy

  • Original Name Francis
  • Birth 13 Apr 1890 Harbor Beach, Huron County, Michigan, USA
  • Death 19 Jul 1949 Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
  • Burial Harbor Beach, Huron County, Michigan, USA
  • Plot Section 3, Under the tree off of the dirt road.
  • Memorial ID 5711

Jurist, Politician, 35th Governor of Michigan, US Attorney General, and US Supreme Court Associate Justice. A member of the Democratic Party, he served on the High Court from January 1940 until his death. Born William Francis Murphy to Irish/American parents, his father was a lawyer. In 1912 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor, Michigan and received his Bachelor of Laws Degree in 1914. When the US entered World War I in April 1917, he served in the US Army and attained the rank of captain with the Occupational Army. When he returned from Germany, he opened a law office in Detroit, Michigan and became the Chief Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, serving from 1919 until 1922. In 1923 he was elected to Detroit's Recorder's Court and in 1930 he ran for and was elected Mayor of Detroit, serving for three years. In 1933 US President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as Governor-General of the Philippines and two years later he became the High Commissioner to the Philippines. In 1936 he returned to the US and was elected governor of Michigan, serving until 1939 when President Roosevelt appointed him as US Attorney General. The same year, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from the University of Michigan. In January 1940 President Roosevelt nominated him as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Pierce Butler, and was confirmed by the US Senate the same month. During his tenure on the High Court, he supported the cause of civil rights, women's rights, individual liberties, and union workers, and sharply criticized the government's internment of Japanese-Americans following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. He was the first Justice to introduce the word "racism" into US Supreme Court opinions. During World War II he served in the US Army as an infantry officer at Fort Benning, Georgia during the High Court recess periods. In January 1944 he chaired the National Committee Against Nazi Persecution and Extermination of the Jews. He died in his sleep of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 59. His papers are retained at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 11 Jun 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5711
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Francis “Frank” Murphy (13 Apr 1890–19 Jul 1949), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5711, citing Our Lady of Lake Huron Catholic Cemetery, Harbor Beach, Huron County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .