William H. (Alfalfa Bill) Murray is the most important figure in the political history of Oklahoma. No other individual contributed so greatly to the formation of its political institutions and there was never a more colorful or controversial character on the state s political scene. Flamboyant, unpredictable, and stubborn, Alfalfa Bill became a legend.
President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, speaker of the first House of Representatives, two-term congressman, and governor of Oklahoma, the Texas-born Murray made an indelible mark on his adopted state. But he also made enemies. During the struggle for statehood he waged a hard battle over the constitution, taking on President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of War William Howard Taft.
As Oklahoma governor, Murray challenged the oil industry, newspaper interests, and the state of Texas. To enforce his programs, he relied on the National Guard. While governor, Murray called out the guard forty-seven times for duties ranging from policing ticket sales at University of Oklahoma football games, to patrolling oil fields, to guarding the Red River Bridge during the infamous Bridge War with Texas.
In 1932 he ran for the Democratic nomination for president, and his fame spread across the nation. When candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt offered a program for national recovery, Murray countered with Bread, Butter, Bacon, and Beans.
In describing Murray s frustrated efforts to preserve the agricultural American of the nineteenth century, Bryant has written a perceptive biography presenting the first clearly defined portrait of this determined but inflexible man."
Alfalfa Bill Murray
University of Oklahoma Press
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