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Robert Daniel Murphy

Robert Daniel Murphy
3/4 view of white man with dark hair, slightly fleshy face, necktie, dark suit, dark homburg
Murphy arrives for Potsdam conference July 15, 1945
Born (1894-10-28)October 28, 1894
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died January 9, 1978(1978-01-09) (aged 83)
Borough of Manhattan, New York, New York
Ethnicity Irish-American[1]
  • Gesu Parochial School, 1909
  • Marquette Academy, a parochial high school
  • Marquette University attended
  • LL.B. 1920, LL.M. 1928
Occupation diplomat
Organization U.S. Department of State
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Board member of
Religion Roman Catholic[2]
Spouse(s) Mildred Claire (née Taylor) (1921-1974, her death)
  • Francis Patrick Murphy
  • Catherine Louise Schmitz

Robert Daniel Murphy (October 28, 1894 – January 9, 1978) was an American diplomat.


  • Life and career 1
  • Diplomatic career after World War II 2
  • After government service 3
  • Works 4
  • Notes 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Life and career

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Murphy began his career federal career at the U.S. Post Office (1916) then moved to be cipher clerk at the American Legation in Bern, Switzerland (1917). He was admitted to the U.S. Foreign Service in 1921. Among the several posts he held were Vice-Consul in Zurich and Munich, consul in Seville, consul in Paris from 1930 to 1936, and chargé d’affaires to the Vichy government. He was also the one-time State Department specialist on France.

In February 1941, Murphy negotiated the Murphy-Weygand Agreement, which allowed the United States to export to French North Africa in spite of the British blockade and trade restrictions against the Vichy-governed area.[11]

In autumn of 1942, at President Franklin D. Roosevelt's behest, Murphy investigated conditions in French North Africa in preparation for the Allied landings - Operation Torch, the first major Allied ground offensive during World War II. He was appointed the President’s personal representative with the rank of Minister to French North Africa. Murphy made contact with various French army officers in Algiers and recruited them to support the Allies when the invasion of French North Africa came.[12]

Prior to the November 8 invasion, Murphy, along with US General Mark Wayne Clark, had worked to gain the cooperation of French General Henri Giraud for the attack. The Americans and British hoped to place Giraud in charge of all French forces in North Africa and command them for the Allied cause. Giraud, however, mistakenly believed he was to assume command of all Allied forces in North Africa, which put Murphy's diplomatic skills to the test to keep Giraud on board. Murphy and General Clark jointly convinced the French in North Africa to accept Admiral François Darlan--the commander of all French military Forces loyal to the Vichy regime and coincidentally in Algiers--as the highest authority in French North Africa and General Giraud as Commander of all French military in North Africa. Murphy used his friendly contacts with the French in North Africa to gain their cooperation in reentering the war against the Axis. He also needed all his diplomatic skills to steer General Clark away from confrontation with the French--especially Darlan. Darlan was assassinated in late December, removing him as an irritant to good relations.[13] [14][15][16][17]

Keeping the French united and aligned with the Allies into 1943 taxed Murphy's skills to their limit. He gained a powerful ally in British diplomat Harold MacMillan, also posted to Algiers in January 1943. The two diplomats worked together amiably to ensure that the Casablanca Conference came off smoothly in January 1943 and that Generals Giraud and de Gaulle would join forces to unite all anti-Axis French alongside the Allies. Keeping the quarrelsome French united and working with the Americans and British exasperated and exhausted Murphy. When General Eisenhower needed a civilian from the State Department to assume a similar role in Italy in 1943, Murphy gladly accepted it and left Algiers behind.[18][19]

Diplomatic career after World War II

After government service

Murphy retired from the U.S. State Department in December 1959, but became an adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon. He served on President Gerald Ford's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[20]

In 2006, Murphy was featured on a United States postage stamp, one of a block of six featuring prominent diplomats.[21]



  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Robert D(aniel) Murphy".   Biography in Context.
  3. ^ """Robert D. Murphy, Diplomat, Dies at 83; Planned Allied Invasion of North Africa; Breath-Taking Moment De Gaulle Not Informed Studied Law While Working Envoy to Belgium Ranking "Old Pro.   (subscription required)
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "Office of Strategic Services Society". Falls Church, VA. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  7. ^ "Robert D. Murphy". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  8. ^ "Robert Daniel Murphy".   Biography in Context.
  9. ^ "Robert Daniel Murphy Papers, Biographical Note". Stanford, California:  
  10. ^ Weil, Martin (January 10, 1978). "Robert D. Murphy Dies; Longtime U.S. Diplomat Played Key Role in WWII". The Washington Post. p. C6. ProQuest document ID 146964448. 
  11. ^ Gabriel Kolko (1968; 1990 edition with new afterword), The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945, ASIN B0007EOISO. Chapter 4.
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Murphy, Robert. Diplomat among Warriors. p. 129-131, 136-139. 
  14. ^ Pendar, Kenneth. Adventures in Diplomacy. pp. 105–09, 117–120. 
  15. ^ Juin, Alphonse. Memoire. p. vol. 1, 78-88, 107. 
  16. ^ Giraud, Henri (1949). Un Seul But: La Victoire, Algerie 1942-1944. Paris: R. Julliard. p. 29-33, 38-40. 
  17. ^ Clark, Mark (1950). Calculated Risk. New York: Harper and Row. p. 105-116-18, 121. 
  18. ^ Murphy, Robert. Diplomat among Warriers. p. 163-76, 183-85. 
  19. ^ MacMillan, Harold (1967). The Blast of War, 1939-1945. London: MacMillan. p. 244-47, 251-54. 
  20. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members".  

Further reading

  • "Editorial, “Gentleman and Diplomat”" (PDF).  
  • Murphy, Robert (March 1954). "Remarks of The Honorable Robert Murphy" (PDF). Foreign Service Journal. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  • Murphy, Robert (May 1952). "The Soldier and the Diplomat" (PDF). Foreign Service Journal. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  • Pendar, Kenneth (1976). Adventure in diplomacy: our French dilemma. New York: Da Capo Press. 
  • Mast, Général Charles (1969). Histoire d’une Rébellion, Alger, 8 novembre 1942. Paris: Plon. 
  • Juin, Alphonse (1959). Mémoires. Paris: A. Fayard. 

External links

  • NNDB
  • Robert Daniel Murphy at Find a Grave
  • The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, Volume XX
  • A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Robert Murphy" is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • "Register of the Robert Daniel Murphy Papers, 1913-1977". Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Archives. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
Government offices
Preceded by
John D. Hickerson
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
March 20, 1953 – November 30, 1953
Succeeded by
David McK. Key
Preceded by
Omar Bradley
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
Succeeded by
W. Averell Harriman
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