On Saturday, March 6, former Massachusetts Senate and UMass President William Bulger spoke to a standing-room only audience about his new book, James Michael Curley: A Short Biography with Personal Reminiscences. Bulger recounted Curley’s rise from very humble beginnings to his election as city councillor, congressman, mayor, and governor. Bulger observed that early in his career, Curley made a huge mistake—taking a Civil Service exam for a friend—that led to his imprisonment for fraud, an error in judgment that tainted Curley throughout his life. Bulger commented that, when continuously confronted with such a felony conviction, many people would have left public life, but James Michael Curley had the courage to remain in the public spotlight.
Even before he had been elected to high office, the young Curley would reach out to people to try to help them overcome difficulty. Later, as governor and mayor, Curley made himself totally accessible to citizens, regularly meeting with constituents and helping them in any way he could. Despite Curley’s personal connection to the people, many newspapers of the day delighted in routinely tweaking and attacking him, and Bulger said that some of the media “news” about Curley constituted complete fabrications.
After his comments, Bulger answered questions and signed books for almost an hour.