Candidate feasts in 1932 Jamestown

A candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1932 brings strange eating habits to Jamestown.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

Back in the days before electronic communications, politicians actually had to travel the country making stops in a lot of communities. Jamestown, located on the Northern Pacific mainline, was also the site of these whistle-stop tours.

in 1932, W.H. Murray, more commonly known as "Alfalfa Bill," was running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency when he toured North Dakota just prior to the state’s primary election.

Alfalfa Bill was a populist politician who had earned his nickname as an advocate for alfalfa as a forage crop when he was governor of Oklahoma. Along with better hay crops, Murray wanted to eliminate property taxes to be replaced with income taxes on high earners and estate taxes.

Murray evidently had a difficult youth which he used to promote himself as a “common man” candidate. He claimed he and his brother George ran away from home when in their teens. Alfalfa Bill became a politician while George became a farmer in North Dakota who campaigned for his brother in the state.


In March 1932, the Murray party made a stop in Jamestown. Evidently, the reporters of The Jamestown Sun concentrated on his campaign diet rather than his political views.

It was reported that Alfalfa Bill preferred a large onion and a salmon fillet sprinkled liberally with olive oil baked and served with toast for his meals.

“It is tried and tested by long use,” Murray is reported as saying to the Jamestown media.

Not sure I’ve ever seen salmon and onion on any of the menus here in Jamestown.

Murray also had some strong beliefs on what to drink as well.

“He warned against drinking cold water,” he was reported as saying, “asserting that even whiskey would be better.”

Murray wrapped up the discussion of his eating and drinking habits by saying his “throat will never wear out because I treat it right.”

Having a strong voice was a necessity for a politician in the days before the days of the public address system.


Alfalfa Bill Murray lost his race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency to Franklin Roosevelt, who won the office in the November general election.

Who knows, salmon and onions may have become a popular dish if Murray had won the White House.

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