Frank Murphy

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Frank Murphy (1890-1949) was a mayor of Detroit, governor of Michigan, Governor-General and High Commissioner for the Philippines, U.S. Attorney General, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Early Life and Family

He was the grandson of Irish immigrants. His father was a well-to-do lawyer. Murphy himself was an entrepreneur and invested heavily in the stock market during the 1920s. He was friends with Walter P. Chrysler and Lawrence Fisher. He entered politics in the late 1920s and was elected Recorders' Court judge for Detroit.

Murphy was a practicing Catholic, an officer in the Holy Name Society and the American Legion.

Mayor of Detroit

In 1930, he ran for the mayoralty of Detroit. He was openly pro-labor but not anti-business (since he was so well invested and connected in the Detroit and national business scene). He called himself an "independent progressive." He was not against entrepreneurship, only against the "ruthless and un-Christian individualism" that had brought ruin to the U.S. economy. He was the "people's candidate," a advocate, he said, of "the man and woman who is broke and hard pressed and hasn't a chance." He was overwhelmingly elected in a four-way race.[1]

In the Philippines

Governor of Michigan

See also Flint sit-down strike.

U.S. Attorney General

U.S. Supreme Court


  1. Murphy quoted in Steve Babson, Working Detroit: The Making of a Union Town (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986), 54-55.