- NAME: Nelson Rockefeller
- OCCUPATION: Governor, U.S. Vice President
- BIRTH DATE: July 08, 1908
- DEATH DATE: January 26, 1979
- EDUCATION: Dartmouth College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Bar Harbor, Maine
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
- AKA: Nelson Rockefeller
- AKA: Nelson A. Rockefeller
- Nickname: "Rocky"
Best Known For
The son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., Nelson Rockefeller served four terms as governor of New York. He was later appointed vice president under President Gerald Ford.
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The artist had reportedly included the Soviet leader in his mural in an attempt to portray the turbulent political atmosphere at the time, which was largely defined by conflicting capitalist and socialist ideologies and escalating fears regarding the growth of the Communist Party.
An ensuing publish backlash against the Rockefellers—who, after long proclaiming a deep dedication to the arts,
now looked both hypocritical and tyrannical—reportedly humiliated Nelson's mother, Abby Rockefeller, who, in response to the negative publicity, stated that she had never wanted the mural to be destroyed. While Nelson Rockefeller is widely credited with demolishing Rivera's mural, John D. Rockefeller Jr. later attempted to explain the incident, stating, "The picture was obscene and, in the judgment of Rockefeller Center, an offense to good taste. It was for this reason primarily that Rockefeller Center decided to destroy it."
During his time in New York, Rockefeller's interest in government began to shine through. In 1933, he served as a member of the Westchester County (New York) Board of Health. He went on to enter national and international politics in 1940, when he was appointed coordinator of the Office of Inter-American Affairs by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Nelson would later receive presidential appointments by Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. His impressive career in public service would ultimately help to integrate the Rockefeller name with the American political arena.
In 1958, Nelson Rockefeller successfully campaigned for the governorship of New York—a victory that made him an instant contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1960. Although Rockefeller lost the nomination to the more conservative Richard Nixon, he would to try to win the party's nomination again in 1964. That bid also met with failure, as his campaign became mired in controversy surrounding his divorce from wife Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller and subsequent marriage to the much younger Margaretta "Happy" Murphy. (With his first wife, Nelson Rockefeller had three sons, Rodman, Steve and Michael, and two daughters, Ann and Mary; with second wife Margaretta Murphy, he had two sons, Nelson Jr. and Mark.)
Although he didn't find success as a presidential candidate (he ran unsuccessfully again in 1968), Nelson Rockefeller won high praise for his work as governor of New York State, serving four consecutive terms in that position. A progressive Republican, he focused on education, welfare, housing, transportation and the arts.
In 1973, just one year after resigning as governor, Nelson Rockefeller was nominated for the U.S. vice presidency by President Gerald Ford. He subsequently served as vice president, under Ford, from 1974 to '77.
Nelson A. Rockefeller died of a heart attack in New York City on January 26, 1979.
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While the term "American dynasty" might technically be an oxymoron, it's hard not to notice the similarities between the Rockefeller family and noble lineages that have spanned the globe for centuries. Like royal families have done in other nations, the Rockefellers have had a profound and irrevocable impact on the United States—from the oil and banking industries to property development, to politics and philanthropy—which will continue to resound for generations to come. Beginning with John D. Rockefeller Sr., who founded the Standard Oil Company and became one of the world's richest men, the Rockefeller troupe also includes John D. Rockefeller III, Winthrop Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller, Laurance Rockefeller and David Rockefeller.
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