Dennis Murphree: Forty-second and Forty-seventh Governor of Mississippi: 1927-1928; 1943-1944
Dennis Murphree was governor of Mississippi on two separate occasions but was never elected to the office. In 1927 while serving as lieutenant governor, he became governor following the death of Henry Whitfield, and in 1943 he again succeeded to the office upon the death of Paul B. Johnson, Sr.
Murphree was elected lieutenant governor in 1923, 1931, and in 1939.
He was defeated for governor in 1927, 1935, and in 1943. In 1927 Murphree
was running for governor while serving as governor upon the death of the
incumbent. For twenty consecutive years Dennis Murphree ran for either
governor or lieutenant governor. Because of his unusual career, Governor
Murphree was featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
On April 21, 1927, about a month after Murphree succeeded to the governor’s office after the death of Governor Henry Whitfield, the Mississippi River broke through the levee north of Greenville, and Mississippi faced one of its greatest natural disasters. Two million acres were flooded and homes, buildings, livestock, and Delta crops were destroyed.
Dennis Murphree had already announced that he would seek re-election
as lieutenant governor shortly before the death of Governor Whitfield.
Governor Murphree’s friends and supporters convinced him that he
should not seek the lieutenant governor’s office while holding the
highest office in the state. Consequently, he decided to run for governor
in 1927, but was defeated by Theodore Bilbo.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Posted January 2004
Jackson Daily News, March 20, 1927.
McCain, William D. “The Life and Labor of Dennis Murphree,”Journal of Mississippi History VII (October 1950), 183-191.
Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1924-1928), 60.
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