Francis P. Murphy

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For other people named Francis Murphy, see Francis Murphy (disambiguation).


Francis Parnell Murphy
Francis Parnell Murphy.jpg
64th Governor of New Hampshire
In office
January 7, 1937 – January 2, 1941
Preceded by Styles Bridges
Succeeded by Robert O. Blood
Personal details
Born (1877-08-16)August 16, 1877
Winchester, NH
Died December 19, 1958(1958-12-19) (aged 81)
Nashua, NH
Political party Republican
Religion Catholic

Francis Parnell Murphy (August 16, 1877 – December 19, 1958) was a manufacturer and politician from Nashua, New Hampshire. He served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and on the Governor's Council before being twice elected as a Republican Governor.

Murphy supported Roosevelt's New Deal policies and switched to the Democratic Party in an attempt to unseat U.S. Senator Styles Bridges in the 1942. He retired from politics to enter the radio broadcasting business and later started the WMUR radio and Television station in Manchester. A large flood control project in northern New Hampshire at the headwaters of the Connecticut River is named for him, with Murphy Dam impounding Lake Francis. He was also responsible for one of the first ski area aerial tramways in the United States when the Cannon Mountain tramway was built in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire.

Murphy was the fourth of eight children born to Irish immigrant Roman Catholic parents. His father was a tannery worker and a Civil War veteran.

Murphy graduated from high school in the factory town of Hudson, Massachusetts and secured an entry-level job nailing packing cases for shoes together at a local shoe factory. Murphy worked his way up from this entry position, holding successively more responsible jobs at factories in Newport, Manchester, and Nashua.

During World War I Murphy was chairman of New Hampshire's Committee on Electric Power Supply, and he was a longtime member of the New Hampshire National Guard. In 1922 Murphy and two partners organized the J.F. McElwain Company, a manufacturer of shoes, and in 1925 Murphy served on Governor Winant's military staff with the rank of major. He was elected to the state legislature (1931), and to Governor Winant's Executive Council (1933).

By 1936 Murphy's shoe manufacturing plant had grown to twelve shoe manufacturing plants, and J.F. McElwain Company was the largest employer of labor in New Hampshire. Murphy won the Republican nomination for governor in 1936. Then he won the election in the face of an overwhelming electoral landslide for Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat entering his second of four election victories as president. Even Republican New Hampshire voted (narrowly) for Roosevelt, so much ticket splitting was necessary for Murphy to win. He was reelected to a second term in 1938.

Governor Murphy supported much New Deal legislation, particularly legislation which supported labor rights. He also had the traditional New Hampshire concern for sound budgeting. In order to ease homeowners' tax burdens, he eliminated the state tax on real estate in favor of a new tax on tobacco products. The State House annex was built to bring all state agencies under one roof and improve efficiency. The state got into tourism with the new Cannon Mountain Tramway, and with new State-owned bathing facilities at Hampton Beach. The State Police were established at this time and a statewide system of probation was set up to make law enforcement more efficient.

When Murphy retired as governor (1941) he made one last effort at political life, campaigning against Styles Bridges for the U.S. Senate seat in 1942. When Murphy lost that election (by 15,000 votes), he returned to his business interests. He established Radio Voice of New Hampshire, Inc., which became radio station WMUR; when television came he set up WMUR-TV.

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Political offices
Preceded by
H. Styles Bridges
Governor of New Hampshire
1937–1941
Succeeded by
Robert O. Blood