|W. Averell Harriman|
|48th Governor of New York|
January 1, 1955 – December 31, 1958
|Preceded by||Thomas E. Dewey|
|Succeeded by||Nelson A. Rockefeller|
|11th United States Secretary of Commerce|
October 7, 1946 – April 22, 1948
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||Henry A. Wallace|
|Succeeded by||Charles W. Sawyer|
|United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom|
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||John G. Winant|
|Succeeded by||Lewis W. Douglas|
|United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union|
23 October 1943 – 24 January 1946
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||William H. Standley|
|Succeeded by||Walter Bedell Smith|
|Born||William Averell Harriman|
November 15, 1891
New York City, New York
|Died||July 26, 1986 (aged 94)|
Yorktown Heights, New York
|Political party||Republican (until 1928)|
|Spouse(s)||Kitty Lanier Lawrance (divorced)|
Marie Norton Whitney (her death)
Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward
|Alma mater||Yale University|
William Averell Harriman (November 15, 1891 – July 26, 1986) was an American Democratic Party politician, businessman, and diplomat. He was the son of railroad baron E. H. Harriman. He served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman and later as the 48th Governor of New York. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952, and again in 1956 when he was endorsed by President Truman but lost to Adlai Stevenson both times. Harriman served President Franklin D. Roosevelt as special envoy to Europe and served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and U.S. Ambassador to Britain. He served in numerous U.S. diplomatic assignments in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".
William Averell Harriman was born in New York City, the son of railroad baron Edward Henry Harriman and Mary Williamson Averell, and brother of E. Roland Harriman. Harriman was a close friend of Hall Roosevelt, the brother of Eleanor Roosevelt.
During the summer of 1899, Harriman's father organized the Harriman Alaska Expedition, a philanthropic-scientific survey of coastal Alaska and Russia that attracted 25 of the leading scientific, naturalist, and artist luminaries of the day, including John Muir, John Burroughs, George Bird Grinnell, C. Hart Merriam, Grove Karl Gilbert, and Edward Curtis, along with 100 family members and staff, aboard the steamship George Elder. Young Harriman would have his first introduction to Russia, a nation on which he would spend a significant amount of attention in his later life in public service.
He attended Groton School in Massachusetts before going on to Yale where he joined the Skull and Bones society.:127,150–1 He graduated in 1913. After graduating, he inherited the largest fortune in America and became Yale's youngest Crew coach.
Using money from his father he established W.A. Harriman & Co banking business in 1922. In 1927 his brother Roland joined the business and the name was changed to Harriman Brothers & Company. In 1931, it merged with Brown Bros. & Co. to create the highly successful Wall Street firm Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Notable employees included George Herbert Walker and his son-in-law Prescott Bush.
Harriman's main properties included Brown Brothers & Harriman & Co, Union Pacific Railroad, Merchant Shipping Corporation, and venture capital investments that included the Polaroid Corporation. Harriman's associated properties included the Southern Pacific Railroad (including the Central Pacific Railroad), Illinois Central Railroad, Wells Fargo & Co., the Pacific Mail Steamship Co., American Ship & Commerce, Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Aktiengesellschaft (HAPAG), the American Hawaiian Steamship Co., United American Lines, the Guaranty Trust Company, and the Union Banking Corporation.
He served as Chairman of The Business Council, then known as the Business Advisory Council for the United States Department of Commerce in 1937 and 1939.
Following the death of August Belmont, Jr., in 1924, Harriman, George Walker, and Joseph E. Widener purchased much of Belmont's thoroughbred breeding stock. Harriman raced under the name of Arden Farms. Among his horses, Chance Play won the 1927 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He also raced in partnership with Walker under the name Log Cabin Stable before buying him out. U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee Louis Feustel, trainer of Man o' War, trained the Log Cabin horses until 1926. Of the partnership's successful runners purchased from the August Belmont estate, Ladkin is best remembered for defeating the European star Epinard in the International Special.
War seizures controversy
While Averell Harriman served as Senior Partner of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., Harriman Bank was the main Wall Street connection for German companies and the varied U.S. financial interests of Fritz Thyssen, who had been an early financial backer of the Nazi party until 1938, but who by 1939 had fled Germany and was bitterly denouncing Adolf Hitler. Under the Trading With the Enemy Act (enacted October 6, 1917), business transactions for profit with Nazi Germany were illegal when Hitler declared war on the United States. On October 20, 1942, the U.S. government ordered the seizure of Nazi German banking operations in New York City.
The Harriman business interests seized under the act in October and November 1942 included:
- Union Banking Corporation (UBC) (from Thyssen and Brown Brothers Harriman)
- Holland-American Trading Corporation (from Harriman)
- Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation (from Harriman)
- Silesian-American Corporation (this company was partially owned by a German entity; during the war the Germans tried to take the full control of Silesian-American. In response to that, American government seized German owned minority shares in the company, leaving the U.S. partners to carry on the portion of the business in the United States.)
The assets were held by the government for the duration of the war, then returned afterward; UBC was dissolved in 1951.
World War II diplomacy
Beginning in the spring of 1941, he served President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a special envoy to Europe and helped coordinate the Lend-Lease program. He was present at the meeting between FDR and Winston Churchill at Placentia Bay, in August 1941, which yielded the Atlantic Charter, a common declaration of principles of the United States and the UK. He was subsequently dispatched to Moscow to negotiate the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement with the Soviet Union. His promise of $1 billion in aid technically exceeded his brief. Determined to win over the doubtful American public, he used his own funds to purchase time on CBS radio to explain the program in terms of enlightened self-interest. This skepticism lifted with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the summer of 1942, Harriman accompanied Churchill to Moscow for a second meeting with Stalin. His able assistance in explaining why the western allies were opening a second front in North Africa instead of France earned him the post of U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1943.
At the Tehran Conference in late 1943 Harriman was tasked with placating a suspicious Churchill while Roosevelt attempted to gain the confidence of Stalin. This conference made the divisions between the United States and Britain about the postwar world clearer. Churchill was intent on carving the postwar world into spheres of influence while the United States upheld the principles of self-determination laid out in the Atlantic Charter. Harriman delivered the news that the spheres approach was unsatisfactory to the United States for this reason. Furthermore, if this was the driving concept behind the peace, it would give Stalin a free hand in eastern Europe.
Harriman also attended the Yalta Conference where he encouraged taking a stronger line with the Soviet Union—especially on questions of Poland. After Roosevelt's death, he attended the final "Big Three" conference at Potsdam. Although the new president, Harry Truman, was receptive to his increasingly hard stance against the Soviets, the new secretary of state, James Byrnes, sidelined him. While in Berlin, he noted the tight security imposed by Soviet military authorities and the quick beginnings of a program of reparations by which the Soviets were stripping out German industry.
In 1945, while Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Harriman was presented with a Trojan Horse gift. In 1952, the gift, a carved wood Great Seal of the United States, which had adorned "the ambassador's Moscow residential office" in Spaso House, was found to be bugged.
Cold War diplomacy
Harriman served as ambassador to the Soviet Union until January 1946. When he returned to the United States, he worked hard to get George Kennan's Long Telegram into wide distribution. Kennan's analysis, which generally lined up with Harriman's, became the cornerstone of Truman's Cold War strategy of containment.
Later in 1946, he became ambassador to Britain, but he was soon appointed to become United States Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman to replace Henry A. Wallace, a critic of Truman's foreign policies. Harriman served between 1946 and 1948. He was then in Paris, where he was put in charge of the Marshall Plan, and had friendly relations with Irving Brown, a CIA agent charged of the international relations of the AFL-CIO. Harriman was then sent to Tehran in July 1951 to mediate between Iran and Britain in the wake of the Iranian nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
In the 1954 race to succeed Republican Thomas E. Dewey as Governor of New York, Harriman defeated Dewey's protege, U.S. Senator Irving M. Ives, by a tiny margin. He served as governor for one term until Republican Nelson Rockefeller unseated him in 1958. As governor, he increased personal taxes by 11% but his tenure was dominated by his presidential ambitions. Harriman was a candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1952, and again in 1956 when he was endorsed by Truman but lost (both times) to Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson. Harriman was generally considered to be on the left or liberal wing of the Democratic party, hence his losing out to the more moderate Stevenson.
His presidential ambitions defeated, Harriman became a widely respected elder statesman of the party. In January 1961, he was appointed Ambassador at Large in the Kennedy administration, a position he held until November, when he became Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. In December 1961, Anatoliy Golitsyn defected from the Soviet Union and accused Harriman of being a Soviet spy, but his claims were dismissed by the CIA and Harriman remained in his position until April 1963, when he became Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He retained that position through the transition to the Lyndon Johnson administration until March 1965 when he again became Ambassador at Large. He held that position for the remainder of Johnson's presidency. Harriman was the chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris peace talks on Vietnam.
Vietnamese coup d'état
Harriman is noted[according to whom?] for supporting, on behalf of the State Department, the coup against Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. Johnson's confession in the assassination of Diem indicated complicity on Harriman's part. The orders that ended in the deaths of Diem and his brother originated with him and were carried out by Henry Cabot Lodge's own military assistant.
Harriman, having served as ambassador to Moscow and governor of New York, was in the middle of a long public career. In 1960, President-elect Kennedy appointed him ambassador-at-large, to operate "with the full confidence of the president and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of United States policy." By 1963, according to Corson, Harriman was running "Vietnam without consulting the president or the attorney general.".
The president had begun to suspect that not everyone on his national security team was loyal. As Corson put it, "Kenny O'Donnell (JFK's appointments secretary) was convinced that McGeorge Bundy, the national security advisor, was taking orders from Ambassador Averell Harriman and not the president. He was especially worried about Michael Forrestal, a young man on the White House staff who handled liaison on Vietnam with Harriman.".
At the heart of the murders was the sudden and strange recall of Saigon Station Chief Jocko Richardson and his replacement by a team of unknowns. The key member was a Special Operations Army officer, John Michael Dunn, who took his orders, not from the normal CIA hierarchy but from Harriman and Forrestal.
According to Corson, "John Michael Dunn was known to be in touch with the coup plotters," although Dunn's role has never been made public. Corson believes that Richardson was removed so that Dunn, assigned to Ambassador Lodge for "special operations", could act without hindrance.
In 1973 he was interviewed in the now famous TV documentary series, The World at War, where he gives a recollection of his experiences as Roosevelt's Personal Representative in Britain along with his views on Cold War politics; in particular Poland and the Warsaw Pact; along with the exchanges he witnessed between Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin.
His first marriage, some two years out of Yale, was to Kitty Lanier Lawrance, with whom he had two daughters, one of whom was Kathleen Lanier Harriman (1917–2011). He divorced her in 1928, and about a year later he married Marie Norton Whitney, who had left her husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, to marry him. They remained married until her death in 1970. K. L. Lawrence died in 1936.
His third and final marriage was in 1971 to Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward, the former wife of Winston Churchill's son Randolph, and widow of Broadway producer Leland Hayward. Harriman died in 1986 in Yorktown Heights, aged 94. He and Pamela are buried at Arden Farm Graveyard in Arden, New York.
Summary of career
- Vice President, Union Pacific Railroad Co., 1915–17
- Director, Illinois Central Railroad Co., 1915–46
- Member, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, 1915–54
- Chairman, Merchant Shipbuilding Corp.,1917–25
- Chairman, W. A. Harriman & Company, 1920–31
- Partner, Soviet Georgian Manganese Concessions, 1925–28
- Chairman, executive committee, Illinois Central Railroad, 1931–42
- Senior partner, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 1931–46
- Chairman, Union Pacific Railroad, 1932–46
- Co-founder, Today magazine with Vincent Astor, 1935–37 (merged with Newsweek in 1937)
- Administrator and Special Assistant, National Recovery Administration, 1934–35
- Founder, Sun Valley Ski Resort, Idaho, 1936
- Chairman, Business Advisory Council, 1937–39
- Chief, Materials Branch & Production Division, Office of Production Management, 1941
- U.S. Ambassador & Special Representative to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1941–43
- Chairman, Ambassador & Special Representative of the U.S. President's Special Mission to the USSR, 1941–43
- U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, 1943–46
- U.S. Ambassador, Britain, 1946
- U.S. Secretary of Commerce, 1946–48
- United States Coordinator, European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan), 1948–50
- Special Assistant to the U.S. President, 1950–52
- U.S. Representative and Chairman, North Atlantic Commission on Defense Plans, 1951–52
- Director, Mutual Security Agency, 1951–53
- Candidate, Democratic nomination for U.S. President, 1952
- Governor, State of New York, 1955–58
- Candidate, Democratic nomination for U.S. President, 1956
- U.S. Ambassador-at-large, 1961
- United States Deputy Representative, International Conference on the Settlement of the Laotian, 1961–62
- Assistant US Secretary of State, Far Eastern Affairs, 1961–63
- Special Representative to the U.S. President, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 1963
- Under Secretary of State, Political Affairs, 1963–65
- U.S. Ambassador-at-large, 1965–69
- Chairman, President's Commission of the Observance of Human Rights Year, 1968
- Personal Representative of the U.S. President, Peace Talks with North Vietnam, 1968–69
- Chairman, Foreign Policy Task Force, Democratic National Committee, 1976
- Member, American Academy of Diplomacy Charter, Club of Rome, Council on Foreign Relations, Knights of Pythias, Skull and Bones Society, Psi Upsilon Fraternity, and the Jupiter Island Club
- Florence Jaffray Harriman
- Papers of W. Averell Harriman, Library of Congress (see )
- U.S. presidential election, 1952
- U.S. presidential election, 1956
- Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-72091-7.
- The Business Council, Official website, Background
- Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917
- Cathal J. Nolan, Notable U.S. ambassadors since 1775: a biographical dictionary, 137-143.
- Flynn, John. The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (October 1945)
- The Great Seal
- http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r101:FLD001:E53490,E53490 INTRODUCTION TO 'EMBASSY MOSCOW: ATTITUDES AND ERRORS' – (BY HENRY J. HYDE, REPUBLICAN OF ILLINOIS) (Extension of Remarks - October 26, 1988) page [E3490]
- Harry Kelber, "AFL-CIO's Dark Past", 22 November 2004, on laboreducator.org
- Frédéric Charpier, La CIA en France. 60 ans d'ingérence dans les affaires françaises, Seuil, 2008, p. 40–43. See also Les belles aventures de la CIA en France, 8 January 2008, Bakchich.
- "The Secret History of the CIA." Joseph Trento. 2001, Prima Publishing. pp. 334–335.
- Kathleen Mortimer, Rich and Adventurous, Dies at 93
- W. Averell Harriman. America and Russia in a changing world: A half century of personal observation (1971)
- W. Averell Harriman. Public papers of Averell Harriman, fifty-second governor of the state of New York, 1955–1959 (1960)
- Harriman, W. Averell and Abel, Elie. Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin, 1941–1946. (1975). 595 pp.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to W. Averell Harriman.|
- W. Averell Harriman has been interviewed as part of Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, a site at the Library of Congress.
- A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Averell W. Harriman" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Averell Harriman (May 30, 1952)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Averell Harriman (October 29, 1952)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
Thomas E. Dewey
|Governor of New York
1955 – 1958
Walter P. McConaughy
|Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs
December 4, 1961 – April 3, 1963
Robert Daniel Murphy
|Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
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