Historical Highlights

Baby-faced Representative William F. Murray of Massachusetts

April 04, 1911
Baby-faced Representative William F. Murray of Massachusetts Image courtesy of Library of Congress A two-term Member of the House of Representatives, William F. Murray of Massachusetts was dubbed the "Baby of the House" by the press.
On this date, 29-year-old Representative William F. Murray of Massachusetts was sworn in as the 62nd Congress’s (1911–1913) youngest Representative. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman William Sulzer of New York, having mistaken the baby-faced Murray on the floor for a House Page, barked an order at him to fetch a book. “All right, Bill,” Murray responded, “but the next time kindly address me as the member from Massachusetts.” Instantly, the press dubbed Murray the “baby of the House.” His career was, as one newspaper recalled, “prodigious” and “precocious.” He enlisted and fought in the Spanish–American War at age 16. In 1904, the 23-year-old was elected to the Boston city council. Three years later he secured a seat in the Massachusetts house of representatives. In 1910, Murray launched an improbable campaign for the Democratic nomination against the four-term, incumbent Congressman, John A. Keliher of Boston. He wrested the nomination from Keliher, who consequently ran as an Independent, and then defeated the incumbent and the Republican candidate in a three-way general election with 49 percent of the vote. Murray won re-election to another House term, where he became a devout proponent of the new Woodrow Wilson administration before resigning his seat on September 28, 1914, to accept President Wilson’s appointment as postmaster of Boston. Known widely as “Billy,” he became one of the city’s most beloved political figures, according to the Boston Globe which described him as, “Genial, attractive, with a winning personality.” Tragically, Murray died of pneumonia on September 21, 1918, shortly after his 37th birthday; more than 2,500 Bostonians attended his funeral. The youngest U.S. Representative ever was 22-year old William C.C. Claiborne of Tennessee, who served in the 5th and 6th Congresses (1797–1801).

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