Robert Daniel Murphy

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Robert Murphy
Robert Daniel Murphy.jpg
Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board
In office
March 11, 1976 – May 5, 1977
PresidentGerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byThomas L. Farmer
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
In office
August 14, 1959 – December 3, 1959
PresidentDwight Eisenhower
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byLivingston Merchant
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
In office
July 28, 1953 – November 30, 1953
PresidentDwight Eisenhower
Preceded byJohn Hickerson
Succeeded byDavid Key
United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
May 9, 1952 – April 28, 1953
PresidentHarry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
Preceded byJoseph Grew
Succeeded byJohn Allison
United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
November 29, 1949 – March 19, 1952
PresidentHarry Truman
Preceded byAlan Kirk
Succeeded byMyron Cowen
Personal details
Born(1894-10-28)October 28, 1894
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedJanuary 9, 1978(1978-01-09) (aged 83)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s)Mildred Claire Taylor (1921–1974)
Children3 (including Rosemary)
EducationMarquette University (BA)
George Washington University (LLB, LLM)
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Croix de Guerre
Order of the Rising Sun
Order of Leopold (Belgium)
Order of Isabella the Catholic
National Security Medal

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

Life and career[edit]

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Murphy began his federal career at the United States 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 Zürich 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.[9]

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 Western 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.[10]

Prior to the November 8 invasion, Murphy, along with U.S. General Mark W. 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.[11][12][13][14][15]

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 politician (and future Prime Minister) 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.[16][17]

Diplomatic career after World War II[edit]

After government service[edit]

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.[19]

In 2006, Murphy was featured on a United States postage stamp, one of a block of six featuring prominent diplomats.[20]



  1. ^ "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"". The New York Times. January 11, 1978. p. B9. (link: Retrieved 2014-08-23. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit (July 10, 2014). "Rosemary Murphy, 89, Emmy Winner Familiar to Broadway, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  3. ^ Vaughan, Hal (2006). FDR's 12 apostles : the spies who paved the way for the invasion of North Africa. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press. ISBN 9781592289165. LCCN 2006022143. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  4. ^ "Office of Strategic Services Society". Falls Church, VA. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  5. ^ "Robert D. Murphy". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  6. ^ "Robert Daniel Murphy". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1995. GALE|BT2310006918. Retrieved 2014-08-22. Biography in Context.
  7. ^ "Robert Daniel Murphy Papers, Biographical Note". Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Archives. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Atkinson, Rick (2002). An army at dawn : the war in North Africa, 1942-1943 (First ed.). New York, NY: Henry Holt & Co. pp. 45–46, 48–91, 61, 72, 89, 93–96, 107, 115, 118–119, 121–123, 158, 251, 252. ISBN 0805062882. LCCN 2002024130. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  11. ^ Murphy, Robert. Diplomat among Warriors. pp. 129–131, 136–139.
  12. ^ Pendar, Kenneth. Adventures in Diplomacy. pp. 105–09, 117–120.
  13. ^ Juin, Alphonse. Memoire. p. vol. 1, 78–88, 107.
  14. ^ Giraud, Henri (1949). Un Seul But: La Victoire, Algerie 1942-1944. Paris: R. Julliard. pp. 29–33, 38–40.
  15. ^ Clark, Mark (1950). Calculated Risk. New York: Harper and Row. pp. 105–116–18, 121.
  16. ^ Murphy, Robert. Diplomat among Warriers. pp. 163–76, 183–85.
  17. ^ MacMillan, Harold (1967). The Blast of War, 1939-1945. London: MacMillan. pp. 244–47, 251–54.
  18. ^ "Japanese Assume New Sovereignty: Little Fanfare Marks Shift From Occupied Status -- Murphy Arrives as U. S. Envoy". The New York Times. 29 April 1952. p. 3.
  19. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  20. ^ "USPS Stamp News: SIX DISTINGUISHED DIPLOMATS HONORED ON U.S. POSTAGE STAMPS". U.S. Postal Service. May 30, 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2014-08-23.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Alan Kirk
United States Ambassador to Belgium
Succeeded by
Myron Cowen
Preceded by
Joseph Grew
United States Ambassador to Japan
Succeeded by
John Allison
Political offices
Preceded by
John Hickerson
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Succeeded by
David Key
New office Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Succeeded by
Livingston Merchant
Preceded by
Omar Bradley
Recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award
Succeeded by
Averell Harriman
Government offices
New office Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board
Succeeded by
Thomas Farmer