The Info List - W. A. Harriman

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WILLIAM AVERELL HARRIMAN (November 15, 1891 – July 26, 1986) was an American Democratic politician, businessman, and diplomat. The son of railroad baron E. H. Harriman , he served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
and later as the 48th Governor of New York . He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956, as well as a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men ".

While attending Groton School and Yale University
Yale University
, where he joined Skull and Bones, he made contacts that led to creation of a banking firm that eventually merged into Brown Brothers Harriman ">: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.
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Notable employees included George Herbert Walker and his son-in-law Prescott Bush
Prescott Bush

Harriman's main properties included Brown Brothers & Harriman & Co, Union Pacific Railroad
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
Central Pacific Railroad
), Illinois
Central Railroad , Wells Fargo & Co. , the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. , American Ship who was a financial backer of the Nazi party until 1938. The Trading With the Enemy Act (enacted on October 6, 1917) classified any business transactions for profit with enemy nations as illegal, and any funds or assets involved were subject to seizure by the U.S. government. The declaration of war on the U.S. by Hitler led to the U.S. government order on October 20, 1942 to seize German interests in the U.S. which included Harriman's 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 full control of Silesian-American. In response to that, the 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.


W. Averell Harriman
W. Averell Harriman
(center) with Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
(right) and Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov

Beginning in the spring of 1941, Harriman 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
Winston Churchill
at Placentia Bay , in August 1941, which yielded the Atlantic Charter
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.

On November 25, 1941 (twelve days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ), he noted that "The United States Navy
United States Navy
is shooting the Germans—German submarines and aircraft at sea".

In the summer of 1942, Harriman accompanied Churchill to the Moscow Conference to explain to Stalin why the western allies were carrying out operations in North Africa instead of opening the promised second front in France. Harriman was appointed as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1943.

At the Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
in late 1943 Harriman was tasked with placating a suspicious Churchill while Roosevelt attempted to gain the confidence of Stalin. The conference highlighted the divisions between the United States and Britain about the postwar world. Churchill was intent on maintaining Britain's empire and carving the postwar world into spheres of influence while the United States upheld the principles of self-determination as laid out in the Atlantic Charter. Harriman mistrusted the Soviet leader's motives and intentions and opposed the spheres approach as 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 Harriman's anti-Soviet hard line advice, the new secretary of state, James Byrnes , managed to sideline him. While in Berlin, he noted the tight security imposed by Soviet military authorities and the 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
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 .


See also: 1963 South Vietnamese coup
1963 South Vietnamese coup
, Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
, Reaction to the 1963 South Vietnamese coup
1963 South Vietnamese coup
, Cable 243 , Buddhist crisis
Buddhist crisis
, Krulak Mendenhall mission , and McNamara Taylor mission Photographic portrait of Lord Beaverbrook
Lord Beaverbrook
(left) and Harriman

Harriman served as ambassador to the Soviet Union
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.

From April to October 1946, he was ambassador to Britain , but he was soon appointed to become United States Secretary of Commerce
United States Secretary of Commerce
under President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
to replace Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
, a critic of Truman's foreign policies. In 1948, he was put in charge of the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
. In Paris, he became friendly with the CIA
agent Irving Brown , who organised anti-communist unions and organisations. 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
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company

In the 1954 race to succeed Republican Thomas E. Dewey
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
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 .

Despite the failure of his presidential ambitions, 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. During this period he advocated U.S. support of a neutral government in Laos
and helped to negotiate the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
in 1963. In December 1961, Anatoliy Golitsyn defected from the Soviet Union
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 during the transition to the Johnson administration until March 1965 when he again became Ambassador at Large. He held that position for the remainder of Johnson's presidency. Harriman headed the U.S. delegation to the preliminary peace talks in Paris between the United States and North Vietnam (1968–69).


President-elect Kennedy appointed Harriman as ambassador-at-large, to operate "with the full confidence of the president and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of United States policy." But by 1963, Kennedy had come to suspect the loyalty of certain members on his national security team. According to Colonel William Corson, USMC, by 1963 Harriman was running "Vietnam without consulting the president or the attorney general.". Corson said Kenny O'Donnell, JFK's appointments secretary, was convinced that the National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge Bundy
, followed the orders of Harriman rather than the president. Corson also claimed that O'Donnell was particularly concerned about Michael Forrestal , a young White House staffer who handled liaison on Vietnam with Harriman.

Harriman certainly supported the coup against the South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
in 1963. However, it is alleged that the orders that ended in the deaths of Diem and his brother actually originated with Harriman and were carried out by Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge
's military assistant. The fundamental question about the murders was the sudden and unusual recall of Saigon Station Chief John "Jocko" Richardson by an unknown authority. Special
Operations Army officer, John Michael Dunn , was sent to Vietnam in his stead. He followed the orders of Harriman and Forrestal rather than the CIA. According to Corson, Dunn's role in the incident has never been made public but he was assigned to Ambassador Lodge for "special operations" with the authority to act without hindrance; and he was known to have access to the coup plotters. Corson speculated that with Richardson recalled the way was clear for Dunn to freely act.


Harriman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
, with Distinction, in 1969 and West Point's Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1975. Furthermore, in 1983 he received the Freedom Medal .

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
Warsaw Pact
; along with the exchanges he witnessed between Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
, Franklin Roosevelt , and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
. In one such recollection he describes Stalin as utterly cruel.

Harriman was appointed senior member of the US Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly's Special
Session on Disarmament in 1978. He was also a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy Charter, Club of Rome
Club of Rome
, Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations
, Knights of Pythias , Skull and Bones Society, Psi Upsilon Fraternity, and the Jupiter Island Club.


His first marriage, two years after graduating from Yale, was to Kitty Lanier Lawrence. Lawrence was the great-granddaughter of James Lanier , a co-founder of Winslow, Lanier & Co. , and the granddaughter of Charles D. Lanier (1837-1926), a close friend of Pierpont Morgan Before their divorce in 1928, and her death in 1936, Harriman and Lawrence had two daughters together:

* Mary Averell Harriman (1917-1996), who married Dr. Shirley C. Fisk

* Kathleen Lanier Harriman (1917–2011), who married Stanley Grafton Mortimer Jr. (1913–1999), who had previously been married to socialite Babe Paley (1915-1978)

About a year after his divorce from Lawrence, he married Marie Norton Whitney (1903–1970), who had left her husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney , to marry him. On their honeymoon in Europe, they purchased oil paintings by Van Gogh
Van Gogh
, Degas
, Cézanne
, Picasso
, and Renoir
. She and her husband later donated many of the works she bought and collected, including those of the artist Walt Kuhn
Walt Kuhn
, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. They remained married until her death on September 26, 1970, at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

In 1971, he married for the third and final time to Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward (1920–1997), the former wife of Winston Churchill 's son Randolph , and widow of Broadway producer Leland Hayward . In 1993, she became the 58th United States Ambassador to France .

Harriman died on July 26, 1986 in Yorktown Heights, New York , at the age of 94. Averell and Pamela Harriman are buried at the Arden Farm Graveyard in Arden, New York .


External video Forum on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Harriman, hosted by the Library of Congress, November 14, 1991. Participants include James H. Billington, McGeorge Bundy, Richard C. Holbrooke, Marshall Shulman, and Cyrus Vance.

* The Harriman Hall at Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University
was named in his honor. * The W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus in Albany, NY also carries his name. * Harriman State Park (Idaho)

For the state park in New York named after his parents, see Harriman State Park (New York) . Harriman State Park is a state park in eastern Idaho, United States. It is located on an 11,000-acre (45 km2) wildlife refuge in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
and is home to an abundance of elk , moose , sandhill cranes , trumpeter swans , and the occasional black or grizzly bear . Two-thirds of the trumpeter swans that winter in the contiguous United States spend the season in Harriman State Park. The land was deeded to Idaho
for free in 1977 by Roland and W. Averell Harriman, whose insistence that the state have a professional park managing service helped prompt the creation of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation in 1965. The park opened to the public in 1982. It is located in Fremont County , 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Island Park, Idaho
Island Park, Idaho
. Henry's Fork, a fly-fishing stream, winds through the meadows of Harriman State Park. In winter, many of its roads and trails are groomed for cross country skiing .


* Vice President, Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad
Co., 1915–17 * Director, Illinois Central Railroad
Illinois Central Railroad
Co., 1915–46 * Member, Palisades Interstate Park Commission
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
Illinois Central Railroad
, 1931–42 * Senior partner, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 1931–46 * Chairman, Union Pacific Railroad
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
United Kingdom
, 1941–43 * Chairman, Ambassador -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

* ^ 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 Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
. * ^ https://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70F11FF34591B7A93C7A8178CD85F428285F9 * ^ Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 * ^ A B C D E Cathal J. Nolan, Notable U.S. ambassadors since 1775: a biographical dictionary, 137-143. * ^ Flynn, John . The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (October 1945) * ^ "National Cryptologic Museum - NSA/CSS". nsa.gov. * ^ "Congressional Record - 101st Congress (1989-1990) - THOMAS (Library of Congress)". loc.gov. (INTRODUCTION TO 'EMBASSY MOSCOW: ATTITUDES AND ERRORS' – (BY HENRY J. HYDE, REPUBLICAN OF ILLINOIS) (Extension of Remarks - October 26, 1988) page ) * ^ 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 Archived 2007-04-20 at Archive.is , 8 January 2008, Bakchich . * ^ http://www.bibliothecapersica.com/articles/v12f1/v12f1011.html * ^ A B C D "The Secret History of the CIA." Joseph Trento. 2001, Prima Publishing. pp. 334–335. * ^ "Presidential Recordings Program". whitehousetapes.org. * ^ "Presidential Recordings Program". whitehousetapes.org. * ^ "Pincers (August 1944 – March 1945)". The World at War . Episode 19. 20 March 1974. 21 minutes in. ITV . Stalin was very suspicious of the underground, but it was utterly cruel that he wouldn't even try to get supplies in. He refused to let our aeroplanes fly and try to drop supplies for several weeks. And that was a shock to all of us. I think it played a role in all our minds as to the heartlessness of the Russians. Averell Harriman U.S. Ambassador to Russia
1943-46 * ^ Staff (July 3, 1915). "MISS LAWRANCE TO WED W. A. HARRIMAN Romance in Match of Late Railroad Magnate\'s Son and C. Lanier\'s Granddaughter. FIANCEE A SPORTS DEVOTEE Just Recovered from Injury Received While Horseback Riding with the Young Financier". The New York Times . Retrieved 7 April 2016. * ^ Vincent P. Carosso, Rose C. Carosso, "The Morgans" (Harvard University Press, 1987) p. 248 * ^ "W.A. Harriman Wed to Mrs. C.V. Whitney". New York Times. February 22, 1930. Retrieved February 17, 2015. * ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (January 10, 1996). "Mary A. Fisk, 78, an Advocate Of Tutoring in Primary Grades". The New York Times
The New York Times
. Retrieved 26 March 2016. * ^ Fox, Margalit (February 19, 2011). "Kathleen Mortimer, Rich and Adventurous, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2016.

* ^ Nemy, Enid (July 7, 1978). "Barbara Cushing Paley Dies at 63; Style Pace-Setter in Three Decades; Symbol of Taste". New York Times
New York Times
. Retrieved 2010-03-21. Barbara Cushing Paley, the wife of William S. Paley, the chairman of the board of the Columbia Broadcasting System, died of cancer at their apartment in New York City
New York City
yesterday after a long illness. She was 63 years old. * ^ Isaacson, Walter; Thomas, Evan (1986). The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Simon & Schuster. p. 106. * ^ "The Marie and Averell Harriman Collection". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved February 17, 2015. * ^ "Mrs. W. Averell Harriman
W. Averell Harriman
Dies; Former Governor\'s Wife Was 67". New York Times. September 27, 1970. Retrieved February 17, 2015. * ^ Berger, Marilyn (6 February 1997). " Pamela Harriman Is Dead at 76; An Ardent Political Personality". The New York Times
The New York Times
. Retrieved 15 December 2016.


* 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.


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