The secret to success is to own nothing, but control everything
Nelson Rockefeller was a businessman, politician, philanthropist and patron of the arts. He was seen as a moderate conservative and as a politician he stood behind progressive causes including relaxed laws on abortion, curbing discrimination, and increased availability of low-income housing.
Nelson was born in Bar Harbor, Maine as one of five children. His grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, is thought to be America’s first billionaire, making his fortune in oil refining and financial institutions. While Nelson would take up positions in the family businesses throughout life, he spent much of his career as a politician.
His liberal Republican views were apparent in his time in office. As Governor of New York he championed education, creating new universities and providing grants to ensure a more diverse selection of people could have access to higher education. He created low income housing. He almost completely abolished discrimination in housing and employment. But he also promoted more traditionally conservative policies, such as tough attitudes towards crime and drug enforcement.
His mix of liberal and conservative views and policy making led to fellow liberal Republicans being referred to as ‘Rockefeller Republicans’. It was his moderate views that ultimately blocked Nelson from becoming a presidential candidate. He would lose out in presidential primaries to more traditionally Republican hopefuls such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Following the Watergate Scandal and Nixon stepping down, Nelson Rockefeller was appointed Vice President of the United States of America by President Gerald Ford, a position he held for three years.