Nelson Rockefeller

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Nelson Rockefeller
Rockefeller in 1975
41st Vice President of the United States
In office
December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977
PresidentGerald Ford
Preceded byGerald Ford
Succeeded byWalter Mondale
49th Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1959 – December 18, 1973
LieutenantMalcolm Wilson
Preceded byW. Averell Harriman
Succeeded byMalcolm Wilson
1st Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
In office
June 11, 1953 – December 22, 1954
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byHerold Christian Hunt
1st Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs
In office
December 20, 1944 – August 17, 1945
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded bySpruille Braden
Personal details
Born
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller

(1908-07-08)July 8, 1908
Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.
DiedJanuary 26, 1979(1979-01-26) (aged 70)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeRockefeller Family Cemetery
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Todhunter Clark
(m. 1930–1962; divorced)
Margaretta Large Fitler
(m. 1963–1979; his death)
RelationsRockefeller family
Children
ParentsJohn Davison Rockefeller, Jr.
Abigail Greene Aldrich
ResidenceNew York City
Alma materDartmouth College (A.B.)
Profession
  • businessman
  • philanthropist
  • public servant
  • politician
SignatureCursive signature in ink

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (July 8, 1908 – January 26, 1979) was an American politician and businessman. A liberal Republican,[1] he was the 41st vice president of the United States from December 1974 to January 1977. Before becoming Vice President, he was the 49th governor of New York from 1959 to 1973, and served as assistant secretary of State for American Republic Affairs, as well as under secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Before entering politics, he was a businessman. As a businessman, Rockefeller was president and later chair of Rockefeller Center, Inc., and he formed the International Basic Economy Corporation in 1947. He served as trustee, treasurer, and president of the Museum of Modern Art, and founded the Museum of Primitive Art in 1954.

A grandson of billionaire John D. Rockefeller and a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family, he was an art collector and served as administrator of the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City. He was from one of the richest and most powerful families in the United States.

Political career[change | change source]

He tried three times to gain his party's nomination for the United States presidency but lost to the slightly more conservative Vice President and future President Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1968 and conservative Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona in 1964. He refused to support Goldwater in the general election after losing to him, which Nixon condemned him for and used to argue that Rockefeller was not a loyal Republican.[2] He was Vice-President from 1974-1977 under Gerald Ford. He waged a campaign against future President George Bush to be appointed to that office. He won.[3][4] He was a member of the Republican Party. He was in the Knights of Pythias.

Vice President, 1974–1977[change | change source]

When Richard Nixon resigned (quit) as president on August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford became the president. On August 20, Ford chose Rockefeller to be the next vice president of the United States. He was chosen out of three other people; the other two were Donald Rumsfeld, the then-United States Ambassador to NATO, and George H.W. Bush, the then-chairman of the Republican National Convention (RNC). Bush would later become vice president from 1981 to 1989, and president from 1989 to 1993.[5]

The United States Congress voted to approve Rockefeller to become vice president. On December 10, 1974, the Senate voted 90-7, and on December 19, the House voted 287-128.[6] He became vice president on December 19, 1974. This made him the second person to become vice president under the 25th Amendment—the first being Ford himself.

1976 election[change | change source]

Gerald Ford faced strong opposition when running for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. He had a hard time getting support from more conservative Republicans. He also was expecting a challenge from a conservative opponent, Ronald Reagan. As a result, Ford decided to choose a different running mate for the election. In November 1975, Rockefeller decided not to run as Ford's running mate for 1976.[7][8]

Ford was nominated at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and other notable conservatives said they would support Ford if he chose a suitable vice presidential nominee. Ford considered several candidates, William Ruckelshaus and Bob Dole. He eventually chose Dole as his running mate.

Rockefeller campaigned actively for the Republican ticket, but Ford lost narrowly to Jimmy Carter. Rockefeller's term as vice president ended on January 20, 1977, and he was replaced by Walter Mondale.

As of 2020, Ford is the last incumbent president to not have his incumbent vice president as his running mate. Ford later said not choosing Rockefeller was one of his biggest mistakes, and "one of the few cowardly things I did in my life."

Personal life[change | change source]

His paternal grandfather was John D. Rockefeller Sr. His maternal grandfather was United States Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island. He was the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Abby Aldrich. He was Governor of New York from 1959 to 1973. He was the brother of David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Bank, Winthrop, later Governor of Arkansas, John III, and Laurance. He is the uncle of former Senator John D. Rockefeller IV.

Marriages[change | change source]

He was married twice. His first was to Mary Todhunter Clark until they divorced. His second was to Margaretta Fitler Murphy until his death from a heart attack.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Nelson Rockefeller, Last of the Liberal Republicans". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  2. "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  3. "Chapter 13 – Bush Attempts The Vice Presidency, 1974 « TARPLEY.net". tarpley.net.
  4. Parmet, Herbert George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee pages 168-171
  5. "George H. W. Bush". December 29, 2014.
  6. "CQ Almanac Online Edition". library.cqpress.com. Retrieved 2022-12-29.
  7. "Excerpts From Rockefeller Conference Explaining His Withdrawal; 'Are You Going to Stop' Interests of the People". The New York Times. November 7, 1975. p. 16. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  8. "Mutual Decision: Vice President's Letter Gives No Reason for his Withdrawal". The New York Times. November 4, 1975. p. 73.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Nelson Rockefeller at Wikimedia Commons