Nelson Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States from 1974 to 1977 under Gerald Ford. Nelson Rockefeller was an heir of Standard Oil Co. Inc., the world’s largest oil refiner at the time. Despite their affluence, Nelson’s father sought to instill modesty and moderation in his son. Nelson attended Dartmouth College, majoring in economics, and working part-time.
Nelson worked in many family enterprises after college. He also joined politics, serving on the Westchester County Board of Health. Nelson later worked as a secretary for both Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Then he campaigned for governor of New York and was elected four times, from 1959 to 1973. Meanwhile, he attempted multiple failed presidential campaigns.
Nelson was a notable politician, philanthropist, and vocal advocate of the civil rights struggle. To serve his nation, he formed his own non-profit organization and used his position to push for civil rights. He then served as Gerald Ford’s 41st Vice President before retiring to private life.
Childhood & Early Life
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1908, in Bar Harbor, Maine, United States, to John B. Rockefeller Jr. and his first wife, Abby Greene Aldrich. He was the son of John B. Rockefeller Jr. and his first wife, Abby Greene Aldrich. In addition to being the grandson of John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of the Standard Oil Company, he was the third of six children born into one of the wealthiest families in the country, the Rockefeller family.
Nelson attended Dartmouth College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1930, after finishing his basic education at the Lincoln School in 1926.
Following that, he worked at the Chase National Bank’s London and Paris branches, and he eventually managed the building of Rockefeller Center in New York, a project that had been launched by his father in the late 1920s and was completed in 1931.
After spending time in New York, Rockefeller developed an interest in the workings of government and began to drift toward politics. In 1933, he was named to the Westchester County Board of Health, where he served until his death in 2003.
During President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, he accepted his first significant official job as the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, which marked his entry into national politics.
Though he was a Republican during Roosevelt’s Democratic administration, Nelson advanced through the ranks and was named as the 1st Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs in 1944, despite his political affiliation.
Following his resignation from his position in 1945, he went on to form a private nonprofit organization to assist emerging countries in Latin America. He returned to public life five years later, in 1950, when he was appointed as the chairman of the International Development Advisory Board under the administration of President Harry S. Truman.
Nelson was appointed as the first Undersecretary of the newly founded Department of Health, Education, and Welfare by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, a position he held until his retirement in 1955.
As governor of New York State in 1958, Nelson was elected to the position after a successful campaign. He was appointed to the position of the state’s 49th governor. During his tenure, he received widespread recognition for his efforts, and he was re-elected to the position four times in a row, serving until 1973.
As a result of his efforts during this period, Nelson was unsuccessful in his bids to secure the Republican presidential candidacy in 1960, 1964, and 1968. The governorship of New York was won by Nelson in 1972 and held by him until his resignation from the position in 1973.
The next year, Nelson was nominated by President Gerald Ford for the position of vice president of the United States, which had been created following Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal.
Nelson Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States of America, serving in that position from December 1974 until January 1977. Following the conclusion of his stint as Vice President, Rockefeller announced his intention to withdraw from public life and devote his time to the arts. Later, he accumulated an extensive collection of modern paintings, sculptures, and many sorts of primitive art. He died in 2007.
Awards & Achievements
Nelson Rockefeller was an ardent art collector and financier, and a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was dedicated in his honor.
Personal Life & Legacy
Nelson married Mary Todhunter Clark, a socialite from Philadelphia, in 1930, shortly after graduating. They were married for five years and had five children together before divorcing in 1962.
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In 1963, he married Margaretta Large Fitler, with whom he would have two boys in the following year. They were wedded till he passed away.
Nelson Rockefeller passed away on January 26, 1979, in New York City, United States, after suffering a heart attack. Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, was the site of his cremation, and his ashes were put at a private Rockefeller family cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, where his ashes were deposited.
Governor of New York
At various points during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the mid-1950s, Rockefeller served in a variety of capacities. In 1958, he ran as a Republican for Governor of the state of New York. He ran against the incumbent governor, Democrat Averell Harriman, on the platform of being a friend of the working class. Rockefeller was elected despite the fact that Republicans were trounced at the elections across the country in 1958.
As Governor of New York, Rockefeller oversaw large construction projects as well as the development of state-sponsored initiatives. His opponents referred to him as having an “edifice complex” since he oversaw the construction of so many structures. However, he managed to win the election to four terms as governor despite the negative publicity. In December 1973, he resigned from the governorship and devoted his time and energy to the Commission on Critical Choices for the United States.
Vice Presidency and Death
Rockefeller was nominated to be Vice President by Gerald Ford in the fall of 1974, following Nixon’s resignation and the inauguration of Gerald Ford as President. When Ford ran for president and vice president, he believed that liberal Rockefeller would bring a mix of conservatism and liberalism to the office, expecting that this would help the Republicans’ prospects of winning the 1976 presidential election.
Despite the objections of several prominent conservatives in Congress, Rockefeller was approved and sworn in as Vice President in December 1974, after being confirmed as Secretary of State. Rockefeller declined to run for vice president in 1976, and he stepped out from politics on January 20, 1977, when his tenure as president came to an end. He passed away on January 26, 1979, as a result of a heart attack.