In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Rockefeller surname was among the most powerful in the United States, and Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908-1979) was one of the most prominent representatives of that clan of millionaire businessmen, politicians and philanthropists. He served as governor of New York four times and vice president of his country. Nelson Rockefeller’s biography collects the most prominent facts of this controversial figure. You’ll be surprised!

Summary of Nelson Rockefeller’s life

The index

  • Patrons and industrialists

  • A presidential run by Nelson Rockefeller

  • Governorate of New York

  • Rockefeller’s resignation and death

Patrons and industrialists

The fact that Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was born into a millionaire family is rather modest. During the 26 years before his birth, on July 8, 1908, John Davison Rockefeller’s grandfather controlled the United States oil industry through Standard Oil.

His parents were John Davison Rockefeller Jr., also a prominent industrialist, and Abigail Greene Aldrich, affectionately known as “Abby.” Due to his strong temperament, Rockefeller was the leader of his five siblings: Abigail (his only sister), John III, Laurance, Winthrop and David.

The presidential campaign of Nelson Rockefeller

With his dynamic intelligence, Rockefeller soon excelled in his studies. Following his graduation from Dartmouth College in 1930, he married Mary Todhunter Clark, his first wife. From there, he became an industrialist in the family business. Through a Venezuelan subsidiary of this company, Creole Petroleum, he ran Chase National Bank, the Rockefeller Center, and Standard Oil.

A man like Nelson Rockefeller did not take long to make himself known among American high politics. Since he was a child, he had said that he wanted to be president of the United States. This is where he aimed by taking advantage of the different platforms his family owned for business and philanthropy. As a 32-year-old, he expressed to Franklin D. Roosevelt his concern over the influence of Nazism in Latin America. He then became the Coordination of the Office of Latin American Affairs under Roosevelt.


He spoke excellent Spanish and had a very close relationship with Latin America, especially Venezuela, where he invested in supermarket chains, agriculture, and white goods.

Later, Rockefeller served as Secretary of State and represented his country in the United Nations (UN). Rockefeller’s political career experienced its first major setback when Harry S. Truman, the newly elected president, fired him. However, he did not let this deter him. Truman himself appointed him president of the International Development Advisory Board in 1950.

His work as an official of his country was not affected by the change of government with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Several million people were added to Social Security under his guidance. Eventually, he became a Foreign Affairs assistant.

A Governorate in New York

Rockefeller aspired to be more than a government employee on duty, and saw the governorship of New York as his path to the presidency. Upon resigning from federal service, he devoted himself to the campaign that would bring him to the governorship for the first time. In 1960, he ran for president but lost to Richard Nixon, the other Republican.


In spite of the fact that his parents and his grandfather John D. Rockefeller tried to instill in him their stern Baptist beliefs, Nelson Rockefeller rejected them because they clashed with his bold, ostentatious nature.

Despite accusations of infidelity by his wife, he tried again in 1964, but was prevented by the scandal surrounding his divorce. He remarried five weeks after the divorce to Margaretta Large “Happy” Rockefeller, 18 years his junior, with whom he had two more children. In 1968, he unsuccessfully ran for the White House again, and remained governor for four terms.

The great Rockefeller resigned and died

After his first election to the New York government in 1974, he resigned from that position and received the nomination of President Gerald Ford as vice president, which he held until 1977, when he resigned from politics as his presidential ambitions were ultimately shattered. .


A grant from Nelson Rockefeller helped finance the first English translation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Nelson A. Rockefeller, 70, died of a heart attack in his Rockefeller Center office on January 26, 1979. A more gruesome truth emerged, however: the attack happened at his home while he was visiting Megan Marshack, his 25-year-old assistant. There were more than 2,000 people in attendance at her funeral.

During his lifetime, Nelson Rockefeller was a devoted patron of the arts and a devoted collector of art. Among other things, he managed and chaired the Museum of Modern Art in New York and founded the Museum of Primitive Art. According to estimates, Rockefeller’s family’s fortune was about $490,000 at the time of his death.

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