Fall Premier Auction 2017


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/4/2017

After graduating from Marquette University, Robert Daniel Murphy embarked on what looked to be a fairly normal career with the United States Post Office. However, world events thrust Robert Murphy into much more interesting and influential career than he could ever have imagined. When America entered the First World War in 1917, Murphy did his part by becoming a cipher clerk at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. This taste of international work led to his joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1921 where he was re-posted to Switzerland as vice-consul and then Munich during the very beginning of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. His superior diplomatic skills led to his appointment as U.S. Consul in Paris from 1930-1936.

The knowledge and relationships he forged during that time led to his becoming the State Department’s specialist on French matters. After Hitler conquered France in 1940, Murphy was given the difficult assignment of chargé d’affaires to the collaborationist Vichy Government where he successfully negotiated and defended the United States’ neutrality before Pearl Harbor. After the U.S. entered the war, Murphy worked successfully to convince high ranking French officers in North Africa to defect from the Vichy government and help the Allied cause. His work saved countless American lives when the U.S. invaded North Africa in 1942. Later, friendships Murphy cultivated over his years in France helped the Americans work smoothly with the notoriously difficult and fractious leaders of the French Army and Navy.

All his hard work came to fruition with the successful Casablanca Conference of 1943 where the French agreed to unite and fight alongside Great Britain and the United States. When General Eisenhower needed someone to do the same for the upcoming invasion of Italy, he asked Robert Murphy to fill that role, which he did successfully. After the war Murphy had postings in Belgium and Japan before serving as President Eisenhower’s personal representative during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis. More or less forgotten today, the roots of the Lebanon Crisis are still prevalent in today’s Middle East: religious conflict, Arab nationalism, revolution and a conflict of the world’s superpowers. Because of the volatile atmosphere, the United States sent troops to stop the violence from spreading. The crisis abated after Robert Murphy persuaded the warring factions to elect Fuad Chehab, a moderate Christian general, as Lebanon’s new President. After leaving the Foreign Service, Murphy served as an advisor to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Robert Murphy passed away in 1978 and was honored by the nation he served so well with his own postage stamp in 2006. For his service during the war and more recently the work on Eisenhower’s behalf in Lebanon, the University Notre Dame made Robert Murphy the 1959 recipient of the Laetare Medal. The Laetare is awarded annually by the University of Notre Dame, and is the oldest and most prestigious award for Catholics in the United States.

First awarded in 1883, the Laetare is awarded to the person or persons "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity." Other recipients of the award include John F. Kennedy, Speaker of the House “Tip” O’Neill, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. Murphy’s award is housed in a royal blue velvet lined jewelry case measuring 6 1/2” x 6 1/2” x 9”. A black plaque on the front is engraved “ROBERT DANIEL MURPHY With Warmest Appreciation and Everlasting Gratitude Notre Dame Club of Chicago.”  The award is displayed on a glass enclosed, velvet covered stand. The medal itself is of gold and is suspended from a bar reading “LAETARE MEDAL”. The medal is in pristine condition and the display shows light wear from age. The protective jewelry box shows many scuffs and abrasions from age and storage, and one part of the front left door has come loose. A rarely encountered medal that recognizes a man who helped shape the course of not only the United States, but the Western World.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $3,509
Number Bids:9
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