Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C.
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William Francis Murphy



Born in Harbor Beach on April 13, 1890 William Francis Murphy was a politician and jurist from Michigan. 
His Irish parents, John T. Murphy and Mary Brennan, raised him as a devout Catholic. He followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a lawyer. He attended the University of Michigan Law School, and graduated with a BA in 1912 and LLB in 1914. He was a member of the senior society Michigamua.  After his admission to the bar in 1914 he served with the American forces in Europe and remained abroad after the War where he performed graduate work at Lincoln's Inn in London and Trinity College, Dublin, which was said to be formative for his judicial philosophy.

In 1919, Murphy became Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Eastern District of Michigan, and from 1920 to 1923 he was engaged in private law practice. From 1923 to 1930, Murphy served on the Recorder’s Court of Detroit. He was elected Mayor of Detroit in 1930 and served for three years. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Murphy Governor General of the Philippines in 1933. When the Philippines achieved independence in 1935, Murphy was named United States High Commissioner. After his return to the United States in 1936, Murphy was elected Governor of Michigan and served for two years. President Roosevelt appointed him Attorney General of the United States in 1939. One year later, on January 18, 1940, President Roosevelt nominated Murphy to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on February 5, 1940. Murphy served on the Supreme Court for nine years. He died on July 19, 1949, at the age of fifty-nine.