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Murphy, Franklocked

(13 April 1890–19 July 1949)
  • Roger Daniels


Murphy, Frank (13 April 1890–19 July 1949), politician and Supreme Court justice, was baptized William Francis Murphy in what is now Harbor Beach, Michigan, the son of John F. Murphy, a Canadian-born attorney, and Mary Brennan. He was deeply attached to his mother, who died in 1924, and his chief biographer believes that this attachment probably accounted for his not marrying. Educated in the public schools, Murphy received an LL.B. from the University of Michigan in 1914. After graduation he joined a Detroit law firm that was counsel to the city’s employer association. He also taught in a night school for immigrants, which, he later wrote, gave him an insight into the problems of “the submerged majority,” and beginning law classes at the University of Detroit, his one direct connection with American Catholic education. Soon after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Murphy attended a Reserve Officers Training Camp, was commissioned a first lieutenant, served with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France without seeing combat, did occupation duty in Germany, and under the army’s postarmistice educational program, studied law briefly at Lincoln’s Inn, London, and Trinity College, Dublin. He sailed for home in July 1919 and was discharged as a captain the next month. While in France in August 1918 he had received but declined a Democratic nomination for Congress, and before he returned to the United States, he was named first assistant U.S. attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District....

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