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Paul O'Dwyer
Paul O'Dwyer 1968 (5874062127) (cropped).jpg
O'Dwyer In 1968
President of the New York City Council
In office
Preceded bySanford Garelik
Succeeded byCarol Bellamy

Peter Paul O'Dwyer (June 29, 1907 – June 23, 1998) was an Irish-born American politician and lawyer and the younger brother of Mayor William O'Dwyer and father to New York City lawyer Brian O'Dwyer.[1]


O'Dwyer was born in Bohola, County Mayo, Ireland, and emigrated to Brooklyn, New York in 1925. He became a United States citizen in 1930. During World War II he was a staunchly vehement opponent of American involvement in the war and traveled the United States (until Pearl Harbor) to speak with and rally pro-neutrality (particularly Irish-American) groups. As a lawyer some of his more renowned cases were those involving people accused of Communist activities. Active in the National Lawyers Guild, he became its president in 1947 and served on its national board from 1948-51. He supported both constitutionalist and Irish republican initiatives. His influence protected several Irish Republican Army gunmen from deportation, including "The Fort Worth Five" and Vincent Conlon.

Active in New York City politics, O'Dwyer ran for political office several times. In 1948, he narrowly lost an election for the U.S. House of Representatives to incumbent Jacob K. Javits. He was elected to the city council from a seat representing all of Manhattan for a term from 1963-65. He also gained election to the position of New York City Council President, which was then one of three citywide elected positions. He served in that capacity from 1974 to 1977. In ten other races he was unsuccessful.[1]

In 1968, in opposition to U. S. involvement in the Vietnam War, he ran and won the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senator from New York. Again he found his candidacy opposing popular Republican Party incumbent Jacob Javits and again O'Dwyer lost in the general election. In 1970, he ran in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator against Ted Sorensen, Richard Ottinger and Max McCarthy, but was defeated by Ottinger. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate that was won by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1976.

In 1986, Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein appointed O'Dwyer the Manhattan Borough Historian.[2][3]

Personal life

O'Dwyer was the youngest sibling (of 11). His eldest brother was New York City Mayor William O'Dwyer, who was 17 years his senior. The O'Dwyers were maternal uncles of lawyer and activist Frank Durkan. Paul O'Dwyer died six days before his 91st birthday in 1998. His son, Brian, is a New York City lawyer and former national President of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Clines, Francis X. (June 25, 1998). "Paul O'Dwyer, New York's Liberal Battler For Underdogs and Outsiders, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  2. ^ Staten Island Advance. "Our borough historians: The past is their passion". Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Paul O'Dwyer speaks about the 10th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes". NYU. Retrieved 5 September 2020.

External links

  • Paul O'Dwyer Papers at Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University Special Collections

Party political offices
Preceded by
James B. Donovan
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New York
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Ramsey Clark
Preceded by
New district
New York City Council, Manhattan At-large
Succeeded by
Carlos Rios
Preceded by
Sanford Garelik
President of the New York City Council
Succeeded by
Carol Bellamy
Educational offices
Preceded by
Manhattan Borough Historian
1986 - 1990
Succeeded by
Doris Rosenblum

This page was last edited on 26 October 2020, at 15:16
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