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Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
New York

Gov. Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller

  • January 1, 1959 - December 18, 1973
  • Republican
  • July 8, 1908
  • January 26, 1979
  • Maine
  • Dartmouth College
  • Married twice—Mary Todhunter Clark, Margaretta Fitler Murphy; seven children
  • Resigned
  • Vice President
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom Award


NELSON A. ROCKEFELLER, the fifty-third governor of New York, was born in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 8, 1908. His education was attained at the Lincoln School of Teachers’ College, where he graduated in 1926, and then at Dartmouth College, where he earned a B.A. degree in 1930. Before entering into politics, Rockefeller became involved in his family’s philanthropic endeavors, as well as working in the real estate, banking, and oil industries. He first entered public service in 1940, serving as the director of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, a position he held four years. From 1944 to 1945 he served as the assistant secretary of state for Latin-American Affairs; and from 1953 to 1958 he was chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Government Organization. He also was the under secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1953 to 1954; and served as the special assistant to the president on Foreign Affairs from 1954 to 1955. Rockefeller next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 4, 1958. He went on to win reelection in 1962, 1966, and 1970. During his tenure, authorization was approved to reapportion the state; and the 24th and 25th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified by the state legislature. Also during his term, he served on the President’s Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, as well as serving on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He resigned from his duties as governor on December 18, 1973. Rockefeller was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency in 1964, 1968, and 1972. In 1975, he was nominated by President Gerald R. Ford for the vice presidency of the United States, an office he held from December 19, 1975 to January 20, 1977. After leaving the White House, he retired from political life, returning to his philanthropic works. Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller passed away on January 26, 1979, and his cremated ashes were interred at the family’s Pocantico Hill estate in New York.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

The Rockefeller Archive Center


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