Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »

MURPHY, WILLIAM SUMTER

Thomas W. Cutrer

MURPHY, WILLIAM SUMTER (1796?–1844). William Sumter Murphy, United States diplomat, was born in South Carolina about 1796 and moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1818. There he established a legal practice and, in 1821, married Lucinda Sterret. His powers of oratory were such that he came to be called the "Patrick Henry of the West." Politically, Murphy was at first a Democrat but later supported Whig candidates William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. He was greatly interested in military affairs and was appointed a brigadier general in the Ohio state militia. In 1843 President John Tyler appointed Murphy minister extraordinary to Central America and chargé d'affaires to the Republic of Texas, in which office he replaced Joseph Eve. From his ministry in Galveston Murphy worked diligently toward the annexation of Texas to the United States. When, in February 1844, annexation appeared imminent, Murphy, without authorization from his government, acceded to President Sam Houston's request for United States warships to patrol the Gulf of Mexico to protect Texas ports and harbors. For this action the chargé received the reprimand of his superiors and was given to understand that his appointment would not be confirmed by the Senate. This report caused Houston to write to Murphy on March 30, 1844, of his "regret that anything should at this time withdraw you from this Government, until the work which you have been instrumental in commencing should be terminated either by annexation, or rejection of Texas by the U[nited] States." The treaty of annexation, signed by the Texas government on April 11, 1844, was rejected by the United States Senate, and Murphy was recalled to Washington. "The tail went with the hide," as he summed up the situation. Murphy died of yellow fever in Galveston only a few weeks later, on July 12, 1844, and was buried there the following day. He was the third United States minister to Texas to die at his post since 1840.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Dictionary of American Biography. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). Henderson K. Yoakum, History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 (2 vols., New York: Redfield, 1855).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "MURPHY, WILLIAM SUMTER," accessed November 17, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmu14.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...