W. Averell Harriman

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William Averell Harriman

William Averell Harriman (November 15 1891July 26 1986) was a Governor of New York.

Harriman was born in New York City, son of Edward Henry Harriman and Mary Williamson Averell, brother of E. Roland Harriman. He first married Kitty Lanier Lawrence, who died in 1936. Harriman married again to Pamela Beryl Digby. Harriman served President Franklin Roosevelt as special envoy to Europe, and was present at the meeting between Winston Churchill and the US president at Placentia Bay in August of 1941. The outcome of this 5 day meeting became known as the Atlantic Charter, a common declaration of principles of the US and the UK. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Soviet Union between 1943 and 1946 and the Ambassador to Britain in 1946. He was later appointed the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Harry Truman to replace Henry A. Wallace, a critic of Truman's foreign policies. Harriman served between 1946 and 1948. He was sent to Tehran in July 1951 to mediate between Persia and Britain in the wake of the Persian nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (

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William Averell Harriman (center) with Winston Churchill (on the right)
He was a Democrat, and served as the Governor of New York from 1955-59. In the 1954 race to succeed Republican Thomas Dewey for the governorship, Harriman defeated Dewey's protege, Irving M. Ives. He served as governor for one term until Nelson Rockefeller, who was a Republican, defeated him in 1958. He was a candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1952 and 1956, was endorsed by Harry S. Truman in 1956, but lost the fight to Adlai Stevenson.

He was appointed Ambassador at Large in the Kennedy administration, a position he held until November 1961. He was then appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. He remained in that position until April 1963, when he became Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He continued in that position in the Lyndon Johnson administration, until March 1965 when he again became Ambassador at Large, a position he would hold for the remainder of Johnson's presidency. Harriman was the chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris peace talks on Vietnam.

Harriman was initiated into the Skull and Bones Society, along with his friend Prescott Bush. He also served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

W.A. Harriman employed brother E.R. Harriman through a company gifted him by his father the railroad baron E.H. Harriman, W.A. Harriman & Co, where other notable employees were George Herbert Walker, and Prescott Bush, who were likewise employed alongside E.R. Harriman, at Union Banking Corporation (UBC), a company which was closed in 1943 by the U.S. Government for Trading with the Enemy.

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Preceded by:
Henry A. Wallace
United States Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by:
Charles Sawyer
Preceded by:
Thomas E. Dewey
Governor of New York
Succeeded by:
Nelson A. Rockefeller

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