James E. Murray

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James E. “Jim” Murray
James Edward Murray.jpg
Former U.S. Senator from Montana
From: November 7, 1934 – January 3, 1961
Predecessor John E. Erickson
Successor Lee Metcalf
Information
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Viola Edna Horgan

James Edward “Jim”[1] Murray (May 3, 1876 – March 23, 1961) was a Democrat from Montana who was the state's Class II United States Senator from 1934 until his retirement in 1961. He was elected as a liberal and staunch New Dealer, a stance he maintained throughout his political career.[2][3]

Murray is among the longest-serving U.S. senators from Montana.[4]

Political career

Murray was from 1906 to 1908 the attorney for Silver Bow County, which was the only public elected office he held prior to his Senate career.[1] Following the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he was appointed to and served from 1933 to 1934 as the chair of the Public Works Administration (PWA),[1] an early part of the New Deal.

U.S. Senate

After the death of incumbent senator Thomas Walsh, Montana governor John Erickson resigned and was appointed by his successor as an interim to the seat.[1] Erickson faced outrage from constituents who suspected cronyism, and Murray was encouraged to run for the seat in the 1934 special election. In an upset, he won the primary in a field of six candidates with a plurality of 25%,[5][6] and easily defeated Republican opponent Scott Leavitt in the general election.[7] Two years later, Murray only barely defeated a primary challenger and proceeded to win re-election for a full Senate term.[1]

When the U.S. Senate took up the Anti-Lynching Bill of 1935 (commonly known as the Costigan–Wagner Act), Southern Democrats filibustered the bill, and among them, Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson led motions to adjourn the chamber to indefinitely stall the legislation into defeat. Although the initial attempt resulted in a narrow failure for the anti–civil rights forces, eventual political trading resulted, within about a week, of the chamber voting to adjourn, effectively killing the Act; Murray was among the votes which switched to support adjourning.[8]

Murray (left) and Henry F. Ashurst (right) in 1937.

A strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and New Deal programs during the Great Depression, Murray stayed loyal to the president even during the 1937 court packing attempt.[1] Unlike his Democratic colleague Burton K. Wheeler from the state's Class I seat,[3] he never significantly broke with Roosevelt, though ultimately did vote to recommit the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill for committee.[9]

In 1942 when the U.S. became involved in World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Murray was the only member of Congress from his state to support Roosevelt's foreign policy;[10] his colleague Wheeler was a staunch non-interventionist, as was U.S. representative Jeannette Rankin, the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. entry into the war.

Murray opposed the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act which amended the National Labor Relations Act and restricted the powers of labor unions,[3] voting against Senate passage[11] as well as overriding President Harry S. Truman's veto of the bill.[12]

In an address at Tiber Dam, Montana in late September 1952, President Truman praised Murray and his Democratic senatorial colleague Mike Mansfield.[13]

Murray voted in 1937 to table two anti-lynching rider amendments (which were introduced by his conservative Democrat colleague Royal S. Copeland of New York) along with the majority of his party.[14][15] In early 1947, he split votes on tabling two motions by Louisiana Democrat John H. Overton,[16][17] which sought to prevent racist Mississippi demagogue Theodore Gilmore Bilbo from being kicked out of the Senate after the latter openly threatened blacks in his 1946 re-election campaign.[18] Later in 1957 when the Senate took up the Civil Rights Act that year, Murray joined the majority of his Democrat colleagues (including the Southern segregationists) in voting for the removal of Title III[19] as well as instituting a jury trial amendment,[20] both of which watered down the legislation to being effectively toothless.

He missed 17.1% of roll call votes during his Senate career.[21]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hill, Ray (August 17, 2014). Senator James E. Murray of Montana. The Knoxville Focus. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  2. March 24, 1961. JAMES E. MURRAY, EX-SENATOR, DIES; Montana Democrat, Stanch Supporter of New Deal, Served From '35 to '61. The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 James E. Murray Papers, 1918-1969. Archives West. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  4. States in the Senate | Montana. United States Senate. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  5. MT US Senate - D Primary Race - Jul 17, 1934. Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  6. July 19, 1934. ERICKSON IS THIRD IN MONTANA PRIMARY; James E. Murray Takes Lead for Senatorship -- Wheeler Defeats His Opponent.. The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  7. MT US Senate - Special Election Race - Nov 06, 1934. Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  8. Greenbaum, Fred (1967). "The Anti-Lynching Bill of 1935: The Irony of "Equal Justice—Under Law"," p. 83. Internet Archive. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  9. TO RECOMMIT TO THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. S. 1392, A BILL TO REORGANIZE THE JUDICIARY BRANCH.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  10. FascinatingPolitics (February 23, 2020). The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part V. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  11. S 1126. PASSAGE.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  12. HR 3020. PASSAGE OVER THE PRESIDENT'S VETO.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  13. Address at Tiber Dam, Montana. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  14. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 69, THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT. THE AMEND. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED HOUSE BILL 1507, THE ANTILYNCHING BILL, TO S. 69, A BILL LIMITING THE SIZE OF TRAINS IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  15. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 2475. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED THE ANTILYNCHING BILL AS PERFECTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY TO THE PENDING LEGISLATION.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  16. S RES 1. WHITE MOTION THAT THE OATH OF OFFICE BE ADMINIS- TERED TO BREWSTER. TAFT MOTION TO TABLE OVERTON MOTION TO SUBSTITUTE THE NAME OF BILBO.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  17. S RES 1. RESOLUTION TO REFER TO RULES COMMITTEE BILBO'S CLAIM TO A SENATE SEAT. OVERTON AMEND. TO PERMIT OATH TO BE ADMINISTERED TO BILBO. TAFT MOTION TO TABLE BOTH RESOLUTION AND AMEND.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  18. Fleegler, Robert L. Theodore G. Bilbo and the Decline ofPublic Racism, 1938-1947. Mississippi Historical Society. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  19. HR. 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957. AMENDMENT TO DELETE AUTHORITY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL TO SEEK PREVENTIVE RELIEF IN CIVIL RIGHTS CASES UNDER THE 14TH AMENDMENT.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  20. HR. 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957. AMENDMENT TO GUARANTEE JURY TRIALS IN ALL CASES OF CRIMINAL CONTEMPT AND PROVIDE UNIFORM METHODS FOR SELECTING FEDERAL COURT JURIES.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  21. Sen. James Murray. GovTrack.us. Retrieved August 2, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at Find a Grave