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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MURPHY, Richard Louis

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United States Senator Richard Lewis Murphy

MURPHY, Richard Louis. (Dubuque, IA, Nov. 6, 1875--Chippewa Falls, WI, July 16, 1936). As a child, Murphy migrated west with his parents to Iowa. His father, John Stanford MURPHY, was the editor of the TELEGRAPH HERALD. (1) Known by his middle name, Louis Murphy was educated in Dubuque and entered his father's profession.

Murphy began his career at the age of fifteen as a reporter for the Galena (IL) Gazette. He returned to Dubuque in 1892 as a reporter for the DUBUQUE TIMES-JOURNAL. He rose through the ranks working as a reporter, city editor from 1892 to 1901. (2) Upon the death of his editor-father, he assumed the position of editor with the Telegraph Herald. (3) A reading enthusiast, he served on the Dubuque County Library Board from 1909 to 1914. (4)

Murphy entered politics by way of working for Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912. He was rewarded for his work by being appointed as the Collector of Internal Revenue for Iowa. He held this position from 1914 until 1920. (5) He served as a delegate that year to Democratic National Convention in San Francisco and retired from public employment to become an income tax counselor. (6)

Although he had never held elective office, Murphy entered a field of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U. S. senator from Iowa in 1932. He survived the primary and benefited from the Franklin Roosevelt presidential landslide to win election. (7) A chief plank of Murphy's platform was the restoration, as an agricultural relief measure, of the legality of beer. (8)

As a U. S. Senator, Murphy supported corn price supports from 10 cents per bushel to 45 cents per bushel. He also believed in repeal of the 18th Amendment thinking that it caused criminal activity and was ineffective. Given his work in taxes, he was often consulted by his colleagues on tax reform. (9)

On July 16, 1936 Murphy was killed in an automobile accident while driving back from a Wisconsin vacation with his wife and another couple. (10) President Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Dubuque to pay special tribute to Murphy soon after the senator's death. An area on the southern boundary of the city and along South Grandview was named MURPHY PARK in his honor.



1. Ullrich, Kurt. "Senator Murphy "Fought the Good Fight," 175 Telegraph Herald Commemorative Edition, Mar. 26, 2012, p. 11B

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. "Richard Louis Murphy," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Online: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=m001103

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. "Richard Louis Murphy," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_L._Murphy

9. Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren (ed). Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, p. 379

10. "Fatally Injured In Auto Mishap Near Chippewa Falls," Telegraph-Herald, July 16, 1936, p. 1