This is a collection of interviews pulled together by Archives and Special Collections about the life and political career of Senator James Murray. These interviews were conducted during the 1970s with Murray’s family members and colleagues. The bulk of the interviews were conducted by Donald E. Spritzer. The original interviews are held at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula, and are identified by the following oral history numbers: OH 003, OH 007, OH 009, OH 030, OH 031, OH 033, OH 059, and OH 094.
This collection includes 8 interviews.
Victor O. Reinemer and Ben Stong
Ben Stong and Vic Reinemer, Congressional aides to Montana Senator James E. Murray, discuss Murray's congressional career from 1935 to 1960. Both describe Murray’s involvement with the Missouri Valley Authority and the Yellowtail Dam project in Montana. They also talk about Murray’s connection to the Small Business Committee. Stong and Reinemer describe Murray’s relationships with other members of the United States Congress and the presidential administrations under which he served.
Bertram Gross discusses working for Senator Murray in 1942 and his main duties on the Small Business Committee. He discusses the Smaller War Plants Corporation and the United States Naval Department, as well as his personal relationship with Senator Murray. Gross also describes the relationship that the Senator had with different program directors, other senators, and his personal staff. Gross discusses the Missouri Valley Authority, the Full Employment Bill and the Employment Act of 1946, and Senator Murray’s demeanor during committee hearings. Gross also discusses the National Health Bill and the Communist charges leveled against Senator Murray.
This interview is actually Gross answering a list of questions that Spritzer mailed to him, and recording his answers on audio cassette.
Charles A. Murray
Charles Murray describes his father, James E. Murray’s, decision to run for the United States Senate following the stock market crash of 1929. Charles Murray recalls working as his father’s campaign manager in Washington, D.C. after graduating from college. Murray talks about his role as his father’s political advisor and how he persuaded his father not to seek reelection when James Murray was 84. He describes his father’s strong support of Lyndon Johnson both as vice president and president. He describes important pieces of legislation that Senator Murray, sponsored including the Full Employment Act, the National Health Act, and the Smaller War Plants Act. Charles Murray talks about his father’s tense relationship with the Montana Power Company and his clash with President Harry Truman over the failed Missouri Valley Authority (MVA) bill. Murray talks at length about his father’s long-running feud with Senator Burton K. Wheeler, and describes the smear campaign against his father which accused James Murray of being a Communist sympathizer. Charles Murray compares the relationship his father, Senator James E. Murray, had with President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the one he had with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Murray ends the interview by explaining how his father was accused by a Senate investigating committee of helping the Sorrento Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, secure a Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) loan.
Co-founder of the Great Falls Paper Company, James Flaherty describes his personal relationship with Senator James E. Murray. He also describes Murray's relationships with other Montana politicians, particularly Burton K. Wheeler. Flaherty discusses Murray's political activities and campaigning style.
James G. Patton
James Patton talks about his role as former president of the National Farmers' Union. He discusses his relationship with Senator James E. Murray and the role the Farmers' Union played in the Employment Act of 1946. He also describes the union’s involvement with the Missouri Valley Authority and its sponsorship of congressional bills supporting national health insurance.
Former Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court Leif Erickson discusses his political career in Montana with particular emphasis on the leanings of Montana’s ruling economic bodies such as Montana Power, Columbia Valley Authority, Missouri Valley Authority, and the Anaconda Company. Erickson recalls running unsuccessfully as Democratic nominee in the 1944 race for Montana governor as well as the 1946 senate seat. He details his relationship with fellow Montana politicians Sam Ford, James E. Murray, and Burton K. Wheeler. Erickson describes his relationship to politics through the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson presidential administrations. He discusses Montana’s specific brand of political campaigning and briefly describes his role supporting the political campaigns of Montana senators Lee Metcalf and Mike Mansfield.
Victor O. Reinemer, Ludvig Browman, and Frances Logan
Victor Reinemer, Ludvig Browman, and Frances Logan discuss the former Montana senator, James E. Murray, and his career in the U.S. States Senate from their time in his acquaintance, ranging from 1948 to 1961. They describe Murray’s work on the behalf of tribal nations, small business, minorities, his position on tribal nation termination. The also recall his personal qualities, relationships with other U.S. senators, and the end of his career. All three interviewees talk about Murray’s involvement in specific road projects, Alaska’s bid for statehood, National Park Service wildlife thinning in addition to his relationship with environmental groups, the Irish-American community, particularly in Butte, Montana, and his work on various Senate committees and subcommittees. They conclude by discussing the process of archiving legislators’ materials.
This discussion was likely conducted for history students at the University of Montana.
William D. Murray
William D. Murray describes how his father, Senator James E. Murray, moved to Butte, Montana, as a young man and worked as an attorney for his uncle James A. Murray. William Murray talks about his father’s relationship with the Irish community in Butte and Ireland, including his friendships with Irish revolutionaries such as Éamon de Valera. Murray describes at length the tension that existed between his father and Senator Burton K. Wheeler for most of their political careers. He details his father’s support of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as his father’s liberal political views. Murray briefly describes his family’s residences then discusses his own career as an attorney and a United States federal judge.