Henry C. Murphy

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Henry Cruse Murphy
Henry Cruse Murphy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1845
Preceded by Henry Cruse Murphy
Succeeded by Obadiah Bowne
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by Henry J. Seaman
Succeeded by David A. Bokee
Mayor of Brooklyn
In office
Preceded by Cyrus P. Smith
Succeeded by Joseph Sprague
U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
In office
Preceded by August Belmont
Succeeded by James Shepherd Pike
New York State Senate (3rd District)
In office
January 1, 1862 – December 31, 1873
Preceded by Francis B. Spinola
Succeeded by John C. Jacobs
Personal details
Born July 5, 1810 (1810-07-05)
Brooklyn, New York
Died December 1, 1882 (1883-01) (aged 72)
Brooklyn, New York
Resting place Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Citizenship  United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Amelia Greenwood (1813–1887) (m. 1833)
Children Henry C. Murphy, Jr.
George I. Murphy
Alma mater Columbia College
Profession Attorney
Newspaper editor

Henry Cruse Murphy (July 5, 1810 – December 1, 1882) was an American lawyer, politician and historian. During his political career, he served as Mayor of Brooklyn, a member of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Minister to the Netherlands, and member of the New York State Senate.

Murphy was a historian, author, and newspaper editor; he founded and was the first editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper, authored monographs on subjects including Henry Hudson's explorations, and translated several Dutch historical works into English.

In addition to his political and literary careers, Murphy was involved in several business ventures in Brooklyn, including railroads and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Murphy died in Brooklyn in 1882 and was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born in Brooklyn on July 5, 1810.[1] He was the eldest son of John Garrison Murphy and Clarissa Runyon, a New Jersey couple who settled in Brooklyn after their marriage.[2] John Murphy was a prominent businessman, and his accomplishments included inventing and patenting in partnership with another individual a horse-powered wheel for use on East River ferries, which enabled them to change direction for round trips without having to turn around.[3][4] Henry C. Murphy's grandfather Timothy Murphy was a doctor and an immigrant from Ireland who settled in New Jersey and was a veteran of the American Revolution.[5]

Henry Murphy graduated from Columbia College in 1830, studied law under Judge Peter W. Radcliffe, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Brooklyn.[6][7] He was also the founder and first editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper.[8][9]

Political career[edit]

Murphy served as Brooklyn's City Attorney and Corporation Counsel, and was Mayor of Brooklyn in 1842 and 1843.[10]

In 1842 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and he served one term, March 4, 1843 to March 3, 1845 (28th Congress).[11] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1844, and served as a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1846.[12]

In 1846 Murphy was again elected to the U.S. House, and he served one term, March 4, 1847 to March 3, 1849 (30th Congress).[13]

Murphy was a delegate to the 1852 Democratic National Convention. When the convention deadlocked after several ballots on the selection of a presidential candidate, the delegation from Virginia decided to support a dark horse—a northerner whose views on slavery were acceptable to southerners—who they intended to support as a unit in the hopes of producing a groundswell of support that would result in the selection of a nominee. The Virginia delegates considered Murphy and Franklin Pierce. By one vote they decided to support Pierce, who went on to win the nomination and the presidency.[14]

From 1857 to 1861 Murphy served as Minister to the Netherlands.[15] In 1860 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Columbia.[16]

He was a member of the New York State Senate (3rd D.) from 1862 to 1873, sitting in the 85th, 86th, 87th, 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 95th and 96th New York State Legislatures.[17]

During the American Civil War Murphy opposed secession and supported the Union. He was one of the prominent Brooklyn leaders who recruited and equipped the 3rd Senatorial Regiment, which was mustered into service as the 159th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Murphy was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in the 1867 election, but Republicans controlled the state legislature and elected Roscoe Conkling. Murphy cast his ballot for George F. Comstock in the caucus held to choose the Democratic nominee. In 1867 he also served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention.[18]

In 1868 Murphy was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York, but the Tammany Hall organization and its leader, William M. Tweed, controlled the process and were able to effect the nomination of John T. Hoffman.

Murphy was the choice of Democrats in the legislature for the United States Senate in 1869, but the Republican majority elected Reuben Fenton. In the caucus to decide the Democratic nominee, Murphy cast his ballot for Henry S. Randall.

When Fenton's term expired in 1875, Democrats controlled the legislature and Murphy was a candidate, but Francis Kernan won the support of the Democrats in the state legislature and was elected.

Business career[edit]

Murphy was active in several business ventures, including president of the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad, and member of the board of directors for the Brooklyn City Railroad and the Union Ferry Company.[19]

In 1866 Murphy became active in the effort to construct the Brooklyn Bridge. He was an incorporator of the original venture, the Brooklyn Bridge Company, and served as its president.[20] When the project was converted to a public work, Murphy was elected president of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company Board of Trustees, the entity created to plan, oversee construction of, and operate it. He served as president of the board until his death.[21]

Career as author[edit]

Murphy was a historian and writer, and is perhaps best known for his research on the early Colonial history of New York. He translated David Pietersz. de Vries' Voyages from Holland to America 1632 to 1644 (1853). and Jasper Danckaerts' Journal Of A Voyage To New York In 1679-80. During his residence at The Hague as American Minister he printed for private distribution two monographs, Henry Hudson in Holland: Origin and Objects of the Voyage which Led to the Discovery of the Hudson River (1859) and Jacob Steendam, Noch Vaster: A Memoir of the First Poet in New Netherlands, with his Poems, Descriptive of the Colony (1861). The latter of these was reprinted in his Anthology of New Netherland: or, Translations from the Early Dutch Poets of New York, with Memoirs of their Lives, issued by the Bradford Club in 1875.[22]

Death and burial[edit]

Murphy died in Brooklyn on December 1, 1882, and was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.[23][24]


In 1834 Murphy married Amelia Greenwood of Haverstraw, New York.[25] Their children included Henry C. Murphy, Jr. and George I. Murphy, both attorneys who practiced in partnership with their father.[26]


  1. ^ Proctor, L. B. (1884). The Bench and Bar of King's County, N.Y. and the Bench and Bar of the City of Brooklyn, 1686-1884. New York, NY: W. W. Munsell & Co. p. 25. 
  2. ^ Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. VIII. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society. 1907. p. 121. 
  3. ^ Morrison, John Harrison (1903). History of American Steam Navigation. New York, NY: W.F. Sametz & Co. p. 532. 
  4. ^ Stone, Linda (April 18, 2001). Report on Phase 1A: Archaeological Documentary Research of a Portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park Located Between the East River, Plymouth, Main and Washington Streets, Borough of Brooklyn (PDF). Flushing, NY: City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation. p. 12. 
  5. ^ Green, Samuel W. (1883). A Complete History of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. New York, NY: S. W. Green's Son. p. 87. 
  6. ^ Kettell, Thomas Prentice (July 1, 1847). "Political Portraits with Pen and Pencil: Henry C. Murphy". The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. New York, NY: Thomas Prentice Kettell. XXI (CIX): 78. 
  7. ^ Officers and Graduates of Columbia University. New York, NY: Macgowan and Slipper. Columbia University. 1882. p. 72. 
  8. ^ Reynolds, David S. (1995). Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York, NY: Vintage Books. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-394-58023-4. 
  9. ^ Birmingham, Ernest F. (October 22, 1921). "Brooklyn Eagle's Eightieth Birthday". The Fourth Estate. New York, NY: Ernest F. Birmingham: 25. 
  10. ^ Stiles, Henry Reed (1883). Memoir of Hon. Henry C. Murphy, LL.D., of Brooklyn, N.Y. New York, NY: The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 13-14. pp. 7–9. 
  11. ^ A Biographical Congressional Directory, 1774 to 1903. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. United States Congress. 1903. p. 711. 
  12. ^ Werner, Edgar A. (1883). Civil List and Constitutional History of the Colony and State of New York. Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons & Co. p. 130. 
  13. ^ A Biographical Congressional Directory, 1774 to 1903, p. 711
  14. ^ Stiles, p. 14
  15. ^ Blume, Kenneth J. (2010). The A to Z of U.S. Diplomacy from the Civil War to World War I. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-8108-7559-3. 
  16. ^ Catalogue of Officers and Graduates of Columbia University from the Foundation of King's College in 1754, XVI edition. New York: Columbia University. 1911. p. 102. 
  17. ^ Johnson, Willis Fletcher; Smith, Ray B. (1922). Political and Governmental History of the State of New York. II. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Press. p. 272. 
  18. ^ Civil List and Constitutional History of the Colony and State of New York, p. 132
  19. ^ Green, Samuel W. (1883). A Complete History of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. New York, NY: S. W. Green's Son. pp. 88–89. 
  20. ^ Hershkowitz, Leo (1978). Tweed's New York: Another Look. New York, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday. p. 325. 
  21. ^ Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn. 2. Brooklyn, NY: City of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Common Council. December 1, 1882. p. 540. 
  22. ^ Lossing, Benson J. (1906). Harper's Encyclopædia of United States History from 458 A. D. to 1906. VI. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. p. 313. 
  23. ^ "Passed Over the River: Deaths of Henry C. Murphy and Other Prominent People". National Republican. Washington, DC. December 2, 1882. p. 1. (Subscription required (help)). 
  24. ^ "Interred: The Remains of Henry C. Murphy Laid in Green-Wood". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. December 4, 1882. p. 2. (Subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ Harlow, S. R.; Hutchins, S. C. (1868). Life Sketches of the State Officers, Senators, and Members of the Assembly of the State of New York in 1868. Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons & Company. p. 112. 
  26. ^ "Dead: One of Brooklyn's Most Conspicuous Citizens; Passing Away of Henry C. Murphy This Morning". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 1, 1882. p. 4. (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
August Belmont
U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
Succeeded by
James Shepherd Pike
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joseph Egbert
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Henry J. Seaman
Preceded by
Henry J. Seaman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
David A. Bokee
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Francis B. Spinola
New York State Senate
3rd District

Succeeded by
John C. Jacobs