William Averell Harriman

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The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press

Harriman, William Averell

William Averell Harriman (ā´vərəl), 1891–1986, American public official; son of E. H. Harriman. Expanding his railroad inheritance, W. Averell Harriman became a banker and shipbuilder and later (1932) board chairman of the Union Pacific. He was administrative officer (1934–35) of the NRA and an official (1937–40) in the Dept. of Commerce, then became (1941) chief overseas administrator of lend-lease. He was ambassador to the USSR (1943–46) and to Great Britain (1946). After serving (1946–48) as Secretary of Commerce, he was appointed (Apr., 1948) U.S. representative abroad for the European Recovery Program and later (1951–53), director of the Mutual Security Agency. He was elected governor of New York (1955–59) and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1956. Defeated for reelection in 1958 by Nelson A. Rockefeller, he became in 1961 President John F. Kennedy's special roving ambassador. He was Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1963–65) and ambassador-at-large (1965–68) for President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, when the Paris peace talks on Vietnam opened, he was chief U.S. negotiator. He is the author of Peace with Russia (1959) and America and Russia in a Changing World (1971).

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