41st Vice President of the United States: December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977
49th Governor of New York: January 1, 1959 – December 18, 1973
President Ford expressed that he wanted a Vice President with solid executive experience. Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York fit that bill as an accomplished executive with a great deal of experience.
In 1974 Governor Rockefeller became the second person in U.S. history to be appointed Vice President of the United States under the 25th Amendment. A year before it was then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford who became the first.
Rockefeller resigned late in his fourth term as Governor of New York to serve as Vice President under President Ford. Under his leadership as Governor, Rockefeller achieved national prominence for New York in areas of environmental protection, aid to local governments, crime control, education, transportation, health and mental health, social services, housing and consumer protection.
As Vice President, Rockefeller was appointed to a variety of important commissions, including the Commission on the Organization of Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy, the National Commission on Productivity, the Federal Compensation Committee, and the Committee on the Right to Privacy. In addition Rockefeller served as Chairman of the President’s Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (also known as the Rockefeller Commission). As Chairman, Rockefeller was charged with investigating allegations of improper CIA activates within the U.S.
It was during Rockefeller’s term as Vice President, the official Vice Presidential residence was established on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory. He personally donated millions of dollars of furnishings to be used in the new residence.
During his long career Rockefeller was appointed to a number of high-level positions, boards and commissions, both public and private. President Eisenhower appointed him as the first Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and then later as his Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs. In 1940, FDR chose him to be the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and later as the first Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.
At one time Rockefeller had presidential ambitions of his own. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1960, 1964, and 1968.
During his lifetime, Rockefeller was deeply involved in philanthropy. Art and culture were of particular interest to him. He served as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art for nearly 50 years.
Nelson Rockefeller passed away on January 26, 1979. Attendees at his memorial service included, Presidents Ford and Carter and more than 100 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and official representatives from over 70 foreign countries.