Reprinted from Mark O. Hatfield, with the Senate Historical Office, Vice Presidents of the
United States, 1789-1993 (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1997).
Vice Presidents of the United States
Nelson A. Rockefeller (1974-1977)
Citation: Mark O. Hatfield, with the Senate Historical Office. Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993
(Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), pp. 505-512.
Introduction by Mark O. Hatfield.
U.S. Senate Collection
I've known all the Vice Presidents since Henry Wallace. They were all frustrated, and some were pretty bitter.
Television cameras that had been installed in the Senate chamber to cover the expected
impeachment trial of President Richard M. Nixon were used instead to broadcast the swearing-in
of Nelson A. Rockefeller as vice president on December 19, 1974. A year earlier, Gerald Ford
had chosen to take his oath as vice president in the House chamber, where he had served as
Republican floor leader. Rockefeller might have opted for a White House ceremony but decided
to take the oath in the chamber where he would preside as president of the Senate. With President
Gerald Ford attending and Chief Justice Warren Burger administering the oath, Rockefeller
became the nation's second appointed vice president. After the brief ceremony, the cameras were
switched off. Not until 1986 would Senate proceedings be televised on a regular basis.1
A Family of Wealth and Power
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller came to the vice-presidency boasting a remarkable pedigree. His
maternal grandfather, Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich, had been the Senate's most powerful
member at the turn of the century. Aldrich chaired the Senate Finance Committee and played the
key role in passage of tariffs that influenced every industry and agricultural product. In 1901,
Aldrich's daughter Abby married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of the nation's wealthiest man, the
founder of Standard Oil. Although they combin