McGranery, James Patrick

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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James Patrick McGranery was a U.S. representative and a federal judge prior to his appointment as attorney general of the United States. He served as attorney general under President HARRY S. TRUMAN from April 1952 to January 1953.

McGranery was born July 8, 1895, in Philadelphia. His Irish Catholic parents, Patrick McGranery and Bridget Gallagher McGranery, were devout, hardworking, and practical. They sent McGranery to local parochial schools, and they did not discourage their son when he chose to quit school and enter the workforce. McGranery was a high-school student when he landed his first full-time job at a Philadelphia printing plant. He remained a card-carrying member of a Philadelphia printer's union for most of his life.

When the United States entered WORLD WAR I, McGranery left his job to enlist in the Army. He served as a balloon observation pilot and as adjutant with the 111th Infantry. At the end of the war, he returned home with a broader view of the world and a strong determination to resume his education. He entered Philadelphia's Maher Preparatory School in 1919 to complete the entrance requirements for Temple University.

The war experience also sparked McGranery's interest in law and government. While at Temple, and later at Temple Law School, he became active in local ward politics. Soon after graduating

James P. McGranery.


and passing the bar examination in 1928, he was tapped by Philadelphia ward bosses to manage the local campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith, of New York. Smith ultimately lost his presidential bid, but McGranery was exhilarated by the political process and eager to attempt his own run for office. He hastily made a bid for a vacant clerk-of-court seat, and was defeated.

McGranery's introduction to the political process showed him the need for a solid political base, and it convinced him that a base of supporters could be cultivated through the PRACTICE OF LAW. To that end, he established the firm of Masterson and McGranery. He started to represent clients with known political influence, including police officers and firefighters, and leaders of their unions. While building his practice, McGranery made two more failed attempts

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at elected office?as a candidate for district attorney in 1931, and as a candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1934.

Finally, in 1936, McGranery had paid his dues and curried the favor he needed. He was...

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