James Michael Curley
Painting: by Leopold Seyffert, 1937

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1935-1937

Described by author Jack Beatty as the "Rascal King" and used as the fictional model for Frank Skeffington in The Last Hurrah, James Michael Curley is one of the enduring figures in Boston's political history. After serving on various municipal offices and a single term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1902-1903), he was elected to the U.S. Congress (1911-1914).

After his stint in Washington, Mr. Curley concluded that Boston was more to his liking. He set about running for Mayor of Boston without the aid of the traditional political establishment. Though his opponents could not deny him election to the Mayor's office, they passed a law prohibiting election to consecutive terms. Curley would go on to win three terms -- every other four years (1914-18, 1922-26, and 1930-34) and after reelection to Congress (1943-1945) return for a final term as Mayor 1945-1949. Mayor Curley was convicted of mail fraud in 1947. He served five months in prison during his final term as Mayor before receiving a Presidential commutation of his conviction and later a Presidential pardon.

After three terms as Mayor, James Michael Curley was elected Governor in a race against Gaspar Bacon, beating Bacon 736,463 votes to 627,413. The effects of the Great Depression continued to dominate the Governor's agenda. Governor Curley accelerated the investment of millions of federal and state dollars in public works projects and induced regulated industries, such as banks and utilities to lower rates. He advocated conservation projects, a forty-eight hour work week, and improved old age pension laws. Governor Curley declined to run for reelection in favor of running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Curley's Senate campaign was unsuccessful and after a failed Mayoral campaign, he returned to Congress (1943-1945), and then again to the Mayor's office (1945-1959).