Harriman, (William) Averell(1891–1986) financier, public official, diplomat; born in New York City. Son of railroad tycoon Edward Henry Harriman and chairman of the board of the Union Pacific Railroad (1932–46), he was a close friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and prominent in the National Recovery Administration (1934–35). In 1941 he was special war aid representative in England and traveled to Moscow with Lord Beaverbrook and with Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1942). He was ambassador to the U.S.S.R. (1943–46) and to Britain (1946), then secretary of commerce (1946–48). As special assistant to President Truman (1950–51), he helped organize NATO. From 1951–53 he directed foreign aid under the Mutual Security Agency. Twice losing the Democratic presidential nomination, he was elected governor of New York (1955–59). He served as undersecretary of state in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961–65) and as ambassador-at-large for Johnson he headed the American delegation during negotiations with North Vietnam in Paris (1968–69).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.