The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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Governor William Henry David Murray Character Analysis

The racist governor of Oklahoma who ran a campaign on what he called the three C’s—"Corporations, Carpetbaggers, and Coons.” Nicknamed “Alfalfa Bill,” he resented Theodore Roosevelt for refusing to admit Oklahoma to the union until Murray removed a white supremacist plank from the state constitution. In 1932, he attempted to run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President of the United States. Egan describes Murray as “a mustachioed, haunt-eyed, big-eared man of sixty who could talk for hours without interruption, fueled by caffeine and nicotine.” He drank two pots of black coffee each day and frequently chewed on the butt of a cigar. As governor, he often ruled by martial law, sending the National Guard out “twenty-seven times in his first two years in office.”
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Governor William Henry David Murray Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character Governor William Henry David Murray appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: A Darkening
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
The new governor of Oklahoma, William Henry David Murray , known as “Alfalfa Bill,” gave people both hope and hate. He was elected in... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Alfalfa Bill was born in Toadsuck, Texas in 1869. He ran away at the age of twelve... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
President Theodore Roosevelt would only allow Oklahoma to become the forty-sixth state after Governor Murray removed the segregationist planks from the state constitution. Murray was furious with the demand, and... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
At the start of the Depression, Governor Murray “was a mustachioed, haunt-eyed, big-eared man of sixty” who talked for hours, fueled by caffeine... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
In 1932, there was no rain. Alfalfa Bill encouraged people to fight nature with force. He plowed up grass on the grounds of... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
In the spring of 1932, Alfalfa Bill decided to run for president. He would use the same campaign model that got him... (full context)
Chapter 9: New Leader, New Deal
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...the road from Dalhart, had cut off its streetlights. People’s desperation drew them closer to Alfalfa Bill Murray. He promised that, if he were president, no one would go without bread, butter,... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...Maynard Keynes said that only the Dark Ages were worse. In regard to the election, Alfalfa Murray was certain that anyone “who could stand up straight and string four sentences together” could... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
At the Democratic convention in Chicago, Alfalfa Murray tried to stop Roosevelt, but the New York governor won the nomination on the third... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Long Darkness
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...they were responsible for maintaining an ecosystem. He used the CCC to demonstrate soil conservation. Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray was furious with all of the government intervention. He thought that it was making Oklahoma... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
One proposal Governor Murray did support was the plan to dam the Beaver River near Guymon, a sizable town... (full context)