Charles F. Hurley

Charles Francis Hurley (November 24, 1893 – March 24, 1946) was the 54th Governor of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and one of its first Irish-American governors.

Charles Francis Hurley
Hurley in 1937
54th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 7, 1937 – January 5, 1939
LieutenantFrancis E. Kelly
Preceded byJames M. Curley
Succeeded byLeverett A. Saltonstall
Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
In office
January, 1931 – January, 1937
GovernorJoseph B. Ely
James M. Curley
Preceded byJohn W. Haigis
Succeeded byWilliam E. Hurley
Personal details
BornNovember 24, 1893
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedMarch 24, 1946 (aged 52)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political partyDemocratic

Early years

Charles Francis Hurley was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to John and Elizabeth (Maker) Hurley. He attended public schools in Cambridge, then Boston College High School, and then studied for two years at Boston College. He became a salesman for athletic goods, and entered the United States Navy in the First World War, serving in a radio intelligence unit stationed at Harvard University. After the war Hurley entered the real estate business, in partnership with James M. Conley. In 1924 he married Conley's daughter Marion; the couple had five children.[1]

Political career

Hurley's entry into politics was in 1919, when he won election to the Cambridge school committee, on which he served until 1931. Governor Hurley's administration was a brief departure from the increasing ethnic conflict between Yankee Protestants and Irish-American Catholics in political machines, party control, and business influence which had marked the state's early 20th century history. In 1930 he ran as a Democrat for the position of Massachusetts State Treasurer, winning three consecutive two-year terms.[1] In 1936 he won the nomination for Governor (James Michael Curley, the Democratic incumbent, was seeking a Senate seat), and then won the general election, defeating Republican John W. Haigis.

As a result of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century, the predominant power of the native American classes had first eroded in Boston and then the state with brief checks and restoration of Yankee power in the interim. While Irish immigration had been reduced to a trickle with the Immigration Act of 1924 further immigration was negligible and the state turned to a process of assimilation and competition between the two groups for remaining power. Hurley represented the more legitimate side to Irish American politics and he attempted to prove the Americanization of his ethnic community by turning away from ethnic spoils which had marked his previous predecessors. Included amongst his program of cleaning up the civil service were the regulation of labor practices and emphasis on individual rights.

2011 GovtServiceCenter CambridgeSt Boston IMG 3426
Hurley building, Boston, 2011
Gov. Hurley throws out the first ball as Joe Cronin and McCarthy watch, at Fenway
Hurley throws out the first ball as Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin and New York Yankees manager Joe McCarthy watch, at Fenway Park on April 23, 1937

During Governor Hurley's administration the Fair Trades Laws were passed which regulated the use of private police in strikes, imposed a minimum wage for women and children, and further regulated industrial work. While these practices endeared him to both ethnic groups, his administration also marked a departure from past practices with its increasing liberalism. Although both Yankee and Irish American voters had favored it, he vetoed a law to require teachers to take loyalty oaths. Additionally he raised the ire of Georgia's Governor Eurith D. Rivers by refusing to extradite James Cunningham who had escaped from a Georgia chain gang thirteen years earlier. Hurley further upset Yankee and Irish interests which had a long tradition of local representative democracy when he also approved a fifth form of municipal government in Massachusetts, called Plan E. This allowed for an appointed city manager and a city council drawn from a proportional representation of the vote, rather than a collection of majority elected precinct candidates. Yankee interests in several cities, such as Boston, had cherished their old Charter government from both historical precedence and the ability of ward representatives in protecting their interests in the majority Irish American city. The later in turn had long used the form of government in defending their interests when they were a minority and saw its abolition as a direct threat to their way of conducting business.

Later years and legacy

Faced with a reinvigorated Yankee political machine and a loss of support amongst his own constituents, particularly the still powerful Irish mob, Hurley was denied reelection when former Governor Curley won the 1938 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

He returned to private life, serving as a trustee of the Cambridge Public Library from 1941 until his death.[1] He died on March 24, 1946.[2]

The Charles F. Hurley Building in Boston's Government Center complex is named after him.


  1. ^ a b c Hannon, p. 249
  2. ^ "Charles F. Hurley, Former Governor. Mass. Executive, 1937-1939, Dies. Was State Treasurer for Three Terms". The New York Times. March 25, 1946. Charles F. Hurley, former Governor of Massachusetts, died tonight at St. Elizabeth's Hospital at the age of 52. Mr. Hurley suffered a heart attack last July and had been in poor health since.


  • Hannon, Caryn (2008). Massachusetts Biographical Dictionary. Hamburg, MI: State History Publications. ISBN 9781878592668. OCLC 198759744.
Political offices
Preceded by
James M. Curley
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Leverett Saltonstall
Preceded by
John W. Haigis
Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts
1931 –1937
Succeeded by
William E. Hurley
1936 United States gubernatorial elections

United States gubernatorial elections were held in 1936, in 34 states, concurrent with the House, Senate elections and presidential election, on November 3, 1936 (September 14 in Maine).

This was the last time Georgia elected its governors to two year terms, switching to four years from the 1938 election.

1938 United States gubernatorial elections

United States gubernatorial elections were held in 1938, in 33 states, concurrent with the House and Senate elections, on November 8, 1938 (September 12 in Maine).

In New York, the governor was elected to a four-year term for the first time, instead of a two-year term.

Charles Hurley

Charles Hurley may refer to:

Charles F. Hurley (1893–1943), Governor of Massachusetts

Charles A. Hurley, former CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Charlie Hurley (born 1936), Irish footballer

Charlie Hurley (Irish republican) (died 1921), Irish Republican Army officer

Eugene M. McSweeney

Eugene M. McSweeney (September 1, 1880 – January 21, 1946) was an American public safety official who served as Massachusetts Commission of Public Safety and Boston's police and fire commissioner.

Francis E. Kelly

Francis E. Kelly (March 26, 1903 – January 27, 1982) was an American politician who served as a member of the Boston City Council from 1930–1933, the 53rd Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1937 to 1939 and Massachusetts Attorney General from 1949-1953.

Fred Tarbell Field

Fred Tarbell Field (December 24, 1876 – July 23, 1950) was an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from January 30, 1929 until he became Chief Justice on June 30, 1938, serving in that capacity until his resignation on July 24, 1947. He was appointed by Governor Charles F. Hurley.Born and raised in Springfield, Vermont, Field read law to gain admission to the Massachusetts State Bar. He was the nephew of Walbridge Abner Field, who was also an Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Following his admission to the Bar, Field worked in the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Herbert Parker as a law clerk from 1903 to 1904, and as an assistant attorney general from 1905 to 1912, working in the subsequent administrations of Attorneys General Dana Malone and James M. Swift. He then entered private practice in association with Parker in Boston. From 1918 to 1919, Field was a member of the legal staff in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, during which time he helped organize the Advisory Tax Board of the Treasury Department. In 1919, Field returned to Boston, becoming a partner in the firm of Goodwin, Procter, Field and Hoar, where he remained until his appointment to the state supreme court.

James Michael Curley

James Michael Curley (November 20, 1874 – November 12, 1958) was an American Democratic Party politician from Boston, Massachusetts. One of the most colorful figures in Massachusetts politics in the first half of the 20th century, Curley served four terms as Democratic Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, including part of one while in prison. He also served a single term as Governor of Massachusetts, characterized by one biographer as "a disaster mitigated only by moments of farce", for its free spending and corruption.

Curley was immensely popular with working-class Roman Catholic Irish Americans in Boston, among whom he grew up and became active in ward politics. During the Great Depression, he enlarged Boston City Hospital, expanded the city's public transit system (now the MBTA), funded projects to improve the roads and bridges, and improved the neighborhoods with beaches and bathhouses, playgrounds and parks, public schools and libraries, all the while collecting graft and raising taxes. He became a leading and at times divisive force in the state's Democratic Party, contesting for power with its White Anglo-Saxon Protestant leadership at the local and state levels, and with Boston's ward bosses. He served two terms in the United States Congress, and was regularly a candidate for a variety of local and state offices for half a century. He was twice convicted of crimes, and notably served time for a felony conviction related to earlier corruption during his last term as mayor.

John Patrick Higgins

John Patrick Higgins (19 February 1893 – 2 August 1955) was an officer in the United States Navy, chemist, attorney, and U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

John P. Higgins was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended the public schools and graduated from Harvard University in 1917. During the First World War, he served as an Ensign in the United States Navy from 1917 until 1919. Returning to civilian life, Higgins was employed as a chemist from 1919 until 1922. He then resumed his academic studies, enrolling in the Boston University Law School and Northeastern College of Law in 1925 and 1926. He was admitted to the bar in 1927 and commenced practice in Boston.

Entering politics, Higgins was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1929 through 1934. He was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fourth Congress, was unopposed in his re-election to the Seventy-fifth Congress and served from January 3, 1935 until his resignation on September 30, 1937, having been appointed by Gov. Charles F. Hurley on October 1, 1937 as chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, in which capacity he served until his death in 1955. Appointed in January 1946 by the Justice Department with the approval of President Truman to be the United States judge on the 11 country International Military Tribunal for the Far East at Tokyo, Japan, Judge Higgins resigned in June 1946 to return to his family and his duties as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.

During his Congressional career, Congressman Higgins advocated for improved working conditions and benefits in America and against religious persecution in Mexico.

Higgins died in Boston and was interred in St. Joseph Cemetery, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

John W. Haigis

John William Haigis, Sr. (July 31, 1881 – 1960) was an American newspaper publisher, businessman and politician. Haigis was the editor and publisher of the Greenfield Recorder. Haigis was the founder of WHAI radio.

Leverett Saltonstall

Leverett A. Saltonstall (September 1, 1892 – June 17, 1979) was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts. He served three two-year terms as the 55th Governor of Massachusetts, and for more than twenty years as a United States Senator (1945–1967). Saltonstall was internationalist in foreign policy and moderate on domestic policy, serving as a well-liked mediating force in the Republican Party. He was the only member of the Republican Senate leadership to vote for the censure of Joseph McCarthy.

Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts

The Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts is the first in the line to discharge the powers and duties of the office of governor following the incapacitation of the Governor of Massachusetts. The constitutional honorific title for the office is His, or Her, Honor.

The Massachusetts Constitution provides that when a governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the office of governor remains vacant for the rest of the 4-year term. The lieutenant governor discharges powers and duties as Acting Governor and does not actually assume the office of governor. The first time this came into use was five years after the constitution's adoption in 1785, when Governor John Hancock resigned his post five months before the election and inauguration of his successor, James Bowdoin, leaving Lieutenant Governor Thomas Cushing as acting governor. Most recently, Jane Swift became acting governor upon the resignation of Paul Cellucci.The lieutenant governor serves in place of the governor when he or she is outside the borders of Massachusetts. Historically a one-year term, the office of lieutenant governor now carries a four-year term, the same as that of the governor. The lieutenant governor is not elected independently, but on a ticket with the governor. The 1780 constitution required a candidate for either office to have lived in Massachusetts for at least seven years immediately preceding election, own at least £1,000 worth of real property and to "declare himself to be of the Christian religion". However, only the residency requirement remains in effect, and both men and women have served in the office. Amendment Article LXIV (1918) changed the election from every year to every two years, and Amendment Article LXXXII (1966) changed it again to every four years.

The office is currently held by Karyn Polito, who was inaugurated in January 2015.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The SJC claims the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in the Americas, with a recognized history dating to the establishment of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature in 1692 under the charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania disputes this, claiming to be eight years older.Although it was historically composed of four associate justices and one chief justice, the court is currently composed of six associate justices and one chief justice.

Paul A. Dever

Paul Andrew Dever (January 15, 1903 – April 11, 1958) was an American Democratic politician from Boston, Massachusetts. He served as the 58th Governor of Massachusetts and was its youngest-ever Attorney General.

Paul G. Kirk Sr.

Paul Grattan Kirk (September 25, 1904 – August 2, 1981) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Political party strength in Massachusetts

The following table indicates the party of elected officials in Massachusetts:


Lieutenant Governor

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Attorney General

Treasurer and Receiver-General

AuditorThe table also indicates the historical party composition in the:

Massachusetts Senate

Massachusetts House of Representatives

State delegation to the United States Senate

State delegation to the United States House of RepresentativesFor years in which a United States presidential election was held, the table indicates which party's nominees received the state's electoral votes, and whether they Y won the election or N lost the election.

Each time an official is elected or re-elected, a new box for that official is included to indicate their repeated political party strength.

The parties are as follows: American (A) (More commonly known as the Know Nothing Party), Anti-Administration (AA), American Labor (AL) Conservative (C), Constitutional Union (CU), Democratic (D), Democratic-Republican (DR), Federalist (F), Independence (I), Jacksonian Democratic (JD), no party (N), National Republican (NR), National Union (NU), People's Party (P), Pro-Administration (PA), Republican (R), Whig (W), Working Families (WF), and a tie or coalition within a group of elected officials.

Raymond L. S. Patriarca

Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca Sr. (March 18, 1908 – July 11, 1984) was an Italian-American mobster from Providence, Rhode Island who became the longtime boss of the Patriarca crime family, whose control extended throughout New England for more than three decades. He was one of the most powerful crime bosses in the United States, and often mediated disputes between Cosa Nostra families outside the region. He was the father of Raymond Patriarca Jr.

Thomas H. Buckley

Thomas Henry Buckley (September 5, 1897 – December 1, 1960) was an American politician who served as Massachusetts Auditor.

Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts

The Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts (commonly called the "treasurer") is an executive officer, elected statewide every four years.

The Treasurer oversees the Office of Abandoned Property, escheated accounts, the State Retirement Board, the Office of Cash Management, the Office of Debt Management, the lottery, the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, the Water Pollution Abatement Trust, the office of Financial Education Programs, The Office of Economic Empowerment, and the office of Deferred Compensation. The Office of the Treasurer and Receiver-General additionally performs the role of Chairman over the independent public authority known as the Massachusetts School Building Authority.The current Treasurer is Deb Goldberg, who took office January 21, 2015.

William E. Hurley

William E. Hurley was an American politician who served as Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts from 1937–1943.

Hurley was the post master of Boston from 1918 to 1920 and from 1930 to 1935.William E. Hurley defeated former Marlborough State Representative James M. Hurley in the 1936 election, succeeding Charles F. Hurley who had chosen to run for Governor instead of running for reelection. Because he was constitutionally limited to three, two year terms, William E. Hurley did not run for reelection in 1942 and was succeeded by former State Auditor Francis X. Hurley.

(since 1776)

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