Frank Murphy was born in Harbor Beach, Michigan, on 13th April, 1890. As a child worker in a local factory he developed a strong hatred of exploitation and a sympathy for the underprivileged.
After a long struggle Murphy was able to fund his studies at the University of Michigan. He graduated in 1914 and worked in Detroit as a law clerk during the day and a teacher at night school.
Murphy joined the United States Army during the First World War and saw action in France. After the war he remained in Europe where he studied law in Trinity College, Dublin and in Lincoln's Inn, London.
On his return to the United States he became chief assistant to the U.S. attorney of Eastern Michigan District where it is claimed he never lost a case. After a spell of private practice he was appointed a judge in Detroit(1923-30). A member of the Democratic Party, Murphy was elected mayor of Detroit and during his period of office (1930-33) he received national recognition for his efforts to help the unemployed.
In 1931 Murphy wrote in The Unemployed magazine: "The time has come when widespread unemployment has ceased to be the concern of one group. It is neither the affair solely of the manufacturer nor of the unemployed. There was a time when the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee was supposed to be none of the public's business. That time has passed. Today the stability of employment is the direct business of every taxpayer and every citizen, because they are responsible for the support and maintenance of those who are of jobs. It is the public who must foot the bills and it is the public who most interest itself in the question which has become, not a class, but a social issue."
Murphy developed a reputation for honest and efficient government. In 1999, Melvin Holli, the author of The American Mayor, and a group of experts on local government, voted Murphy as the seventh best mayor in United States history. Holli wrote: "Murphy helped to establish the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was a New Dealer before there was a New Deal, lobbied for federal aid to cities, and tried to feed the hungry during the Great Depression - and balance the city's books."
A strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, Murphy served as governor-general of the Philippines (1933-35) and United States High Commissioner (1935-36). Murphy was elected as governor of Michigan in 1937. Controversially, Murphy refused to employ troops to help break strikes by automobile workers. This upset industrialists in Michigan and they successfully used their power to make sure he was not re-elected as governor.
Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Murphy as his Attorney General in 1939. The following year the president nominated him to become a member of the Supreme Court. Over the next nine years Murphy established himself as a strong defender of civil rights. R, the author of T (
Frank Murphy died in Detroit on 19th July, 1949.