[Narrator 1:] Patrick J. Hurley, a true son of the Sooner State, Oklahoma born and bred, the son of tough, hard-working Irish stock. He was to become one of Oklahoma's great names and a part of American history. Patrick Hurley, his greatness started at the feet of a Choctaw Indian chief whose wisdom and courage was to help Patrick Hurley deal with presidents and dictators during war and peace alike.
[Narrator 2:]They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities, a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 1:] In the late 1800s, Oklahoma was intended primarily to be used as a new home for various Indian tribes. However, Oklahoma also became the last frontier for newly arrived European immigrants. Such was the story of Patrick Hurley's parents. They came to America from Ireland, first settling in Texas. Finally they came by covered wagon to the Oklahoma Territory where they settled in the land of the Choctaw, a decision that was to have a profound effect on their yet-to-be born son.
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[Narrator 1:] The Choctaw people, after removal from their native land of Mississippi, were relocated to Indian Territory by the Federal Government. The Choctaws then established their own nation under one of their principal chiefs, Benjamin Smallwood. Chief Smallwood lived in a grand home in the style of a Mississippi plantation and in the home Chief Smallwood, a learned man, kept an extensive library and received the notables of his day.
[Narrator 1:] Patrick Hurley's parents settled not far from the Smallwood home and as young Patrick grew, the image of Chief Smallwood became one of increasing importance in his life. Young Patrick would spend hours in the great Chief's house where Chief Smallwood read to him. He explained the history of the Choctaw people to the young Irish boy and the ways of the Indian. The plight of the Choctaw people fired Patrick's desire to become a lawyer and he made a commitment to himself: He would become a lawyer and when he did, he would work for the Choctaw people.
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[Narrator 1:] But as the country turned into the Twentieth century, life in the Oklahoma Territory was still one of hard work. Dreams were difficult to achieve and goals often went unrealized. Patrick Hurley, however, was determined. He was unafraid of hard work and he put all of his Irish grit to bear. He worked the coal mines of Eastern Oklahoma. He attended night school. He worked as a ranch hand. He served in the Spanish-American War and finally, through shear perseverance, he was able to attend law school. At age 28, Patrick Hurley realized his dream. He became a lawyer for the Choctaw people.
[Narrator 1:] But there was more on the horizon for the Irishman from Oklahoma. He was appointed to the cabinet of President Hoover as Secretary of War. He became a Brigadier General and then, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him Ambassador to China.
[Narrator 1:] Life took Patrick Hurley far away from the home of Chief Smallwood, far away from his own home and roots in the Choctaw Nation. Patrick Hurley was with Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at the Yalta and Tehran Conferences. He was recognized by world leaders as a tough, honest and compassionate man. Virtues, Hurley would surely tell us, he learned from Chief Smallwood. Two great images, overlapping Oklahoma's past.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, promoting Newcomers to a New Land book series and the Oklahoma Image Project.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2008. For further information regarding use please consult the Rights and Permissions page, http://www.crossroads.odl.state.ok.us/shell/rights.php or contact the holding institution of the digital resource.
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