Charles F. Hurley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Charles Francis Hurley
Charles Francis Hurley 1937.png
Hurley in 1937
54th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 7, 1937 – January 5, 1939
Lieutenant Francis E. Kelly
Preceded by James M. Curley
Succeeded by Leverett A. Saltonstall
Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
In office
January, 1931 – January, 1937
Preceded by John W. Haigis
Succeeded by William E. Hurley
Personal details
Born (1893-11-24)November 24, 1893
Boston, Massachusetts
Died March 24, 1946( 1946-03-24) (aged 52)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic

Charles Francis Hurley (November 24, 1893 – March 24, 1946) was the 54th Governor of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and one of its first Irish American governors.


Hurley was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Boston College before serving in the Navy during the First World War. He was the first person to serve three terms as Massachusetts' Treasurer and the first to step from that role directly to the governorship.


Governor Charles Hurley's administration was a brief departure from the increasing ethnic conflict between Yankee and Irish American in political machines, party control, and business influence which had marked the state's early 20th century history.

As a result of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century, the predominant power of the native American classes had first eroded in Boston and then the state with brief checks and restoration of Yankee power in the interim. While Irish immigration had been reduced to a trickle with the Immigration Act of 1924 further immigration was negligible and the state turned to a process of assimilation and competition between the two groups for remaining power.

Charles Hurley represented the more legitimate side to Irish American politics and he attempted to prove the Americanization of his ethnic community by turning away from ethnic spoils which had marked his previous predecessors. Included amongst his program of cleaning up the civil service were the regulation of labor practices and emphasis on individual rights.

Hurley building, Boston, 2011

During Governor Hurley's administration the Fair Trades Laws were passed which regulated the use of private police in strikes, imposed a minimum wage for women and children, and further regulated industrial work. While these practices endeared him to both ethnic groups, his administration also marked a departure from past practices with its increasing liberalism. Although both Yankee and Irish American voters had favored it, he vetoed a law to require teachers to take loyalty oaths. Additionally he raised the ire of Georgia's Governor Eurith D. Rivers by refusing to extradite James Cunningham who had escaped from a Georgia chain gang thirteen years earlier. Hurley further upset Yankee and Irish interests which had a long tradition of local representative democracy when he also approved a fifth form of municipal government in Massachusetts, called Plan E. This allowed for an appointed city manager and a city council drawn from a proportional representation of the vote, rather than a collection of majority elected precinct candidates. Yankee interests in several cities, such as Boston, had cherished their old Charter government from both historical precedence and the ability of ward representatives in protecting their interests in the majority Irish American city. The later in turn had long used the form of government in defending their interests when they were a minority and saw its abolition as a direct threat to their way of conducting business.

Faced with a reinvigorated Yankee political machine and a loss of support amongst his own constituents, particularly the still powerful Irish mob, Hurley was denied reelection when former Governor James Michael Curley won the 1938 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

He died on March 24, 1946.[1]


Today, the Charles F. Hurley Building in Boston's Government Center complex is named after him.


  1. ^ "Charles F. Hurley, Former Governor. Mass. Executive, 1937-1939, Dies. Was State Treasurer for Three Terms". New York Times. March 25, 1946. Charles F. Hurley, former Governor of Massachusetts, died tonight at St. Elizabeth's Hospital at the age of 52. Mr. Hurley suffered a heart attack last July and had been in poor health since. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
James M. Curley
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Leverett Saltonstall
Preceded by
John W. Haigis
Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
1931 –1937
Succeeded by
William E. Hurley