Malcolm Wilson (governor)

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Malcolm Wilson
Malcolm Wilson (Governor of New York).jpg
50th Governor of New York
In office
December 18, 1973[1] – December 31, 1974[2]
LieutenantWarren M. Anderson (acting)
Preceded byNelson Rockefeller
Succeeded byHugh Carey
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1959 – December 18, 1973
GovernorNelson Rockefeller
Preceded byGeorge DeLuca
Succeeded byWarren M. Anderson (acting)
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the Westchester County, 1st district
In office
January 1, 1945 – December 31, 1958
Preceded byChristopher H. Lawrence
Succeeded byChristian H. Armbruster
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the Westchester County, 5th district
In office
January 1, 1939 – December 31, 1944
Preceded byArthur J. Doran
Succeeded byChristopher H. Lawrence
Personal details
Born
Charles Malcolm Wilson

(1914-02-26)February 26, 1914
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 13, 2000(2000-03-13) (aged 86)
New Rochelle, New York, U.S.
Resting placeGate of Heaven Cemetery
Hawthorne, New York
NationalityAmerican
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Katherine McCloskey
Alma materFordham University (BA, JD)
ProfessionLawyer
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1943–1945
RankLieutenant, Junior Grade (JG)
Battles/warsWorld War II

Charles Malcolm Wilson (February 26, 1914 – March 13, 2000) was the 50th Governor of New York from December 18, 1973, to December 31, 1974. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1939 to 1958. He also served in the Navy during World War II. In 1958, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of New York on the gubernatorial ticket with Nelson Rockefeller, and when they won he served as lieutenant governor until succeeding to the governorship after Rockefeller resigned. Wilson lost the 1974 gubernatorial election to Hugh Carey.

In 1994, the Tappan Zee Bridge was renamed in Wilson's honor.[3] There is also a park in Yonkers, New York named for him.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born in New York City into a Roman Catholic family of Irish and Scottish extraction. He had three siblings. His father, Charles H. Wilson, was a patent attorney who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the State Assembly in 1912. His mother, Agnes, was a Republican activist and local party leader. The family moved to Yonkers, New York, when Wilson was eight, and Wilson continued to reside there after he began his career.[4][5][6]

Education and professional career[edit]

After graduating from Fordham Preparatory School in 1929 at only 15 years of age, Wilson earned a bachelor's degree from Fordham University in 1933 at age 19 and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 1936 at age 22. Wilson was admitted to the bar and joined the White Plains, New York firm that would eventually become known as Kent, Hazzard, Jaeger, Greer, Wilson, and Fay. Wilson practiced law at this firm for his entire career, and was made a partner in 1946.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

At age 24, just two years after graduating from Fordham Law, Wilson was elected to the New York State Assembly where he represented the 5th district of Westchester County from 1939 to 1945, and after re-districting the 1st district from 1945 to 1959. He sat in the 162nd, 163rd, 164th, 165th, 166th, 167th, 168th, 169th, 170th and 171st New York State Legislatures. During his tenure as a legislator, Wilson sponsored a large number of bills that became law. Among his bills that came into law was the Wilson Pakula Act, which prevented candidates from running in a party primary if they were not members of that party.[7]

His political and legal careers were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Wilson joined the United States Navy in 1943 and served on an ammunition ship, traveling to Europe several times. He was discharged in 1945 as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade. While he was at war, Wilson won reelection to the Assembly in absentia.

Rockefeller's right-hand man[edit]

In 1958, Wilson decided to support Rockefeller for Governor despite the fact that the latter was a political novice and had never run for office before. Wilson took pains to introduce Rockefeller to many politically powerful people in the state. They would frequently travel in Wilson's personal car in order to play down the candidate's wealth. Rockefeller was nominated for governor, and Wilson for lieutenant governor.

The Rockefeller-Wilson ticket defeated the incumbent Democrats W. Averell Harriman and George DeLuca. Wilson's served as lieutenant governor for nearly 15 years, the entirety of Rockefeller's governorship. The Rockefeller-Wilson ticket was reelected in 1962, 1966 and 1970. Throughout his tenure, he tended to agree with Rockefeller's liberal Republicanism, with the notable exception of abortion, the legalization of which Wilson opposed. Wilson defined himself as "an economic conservative and a human-rights liberal".

Governor of New York[edit]

In December 1973, Rockefeller resigned as governor to run the Commission on Critical Choices for Americans, and Wilson assumed the governorship. he completed the remaining year of Rockefeller's term and ran for election to a full term in 1974. The period was a difficult one for the nation, both in terms of economic and foreign policy and for the Republican Party, which was weakened by the Watergate scandal. Democrats swept to power across the nation in the 1974 general election, with Wilson losing the governor's mansion to Hugh Carey, who won with 58% of the vote.

While governor, Wilson worked to improve passenger rail service the state and under his leadership, New York City-Albany-Montréal and New York City-Buffalo-Detroit service were revived. Concerned that city governments, especially New York City, were financing their budgets with financial sleight-of-hand, Wilson warned New York State's mayors that there would be a reckoning unless they got their fiscal houses in order. His warning turned out to be prescient when New York City was found to be nearly bankrupt, and had to resort to federal assistance to regain a sound footing. But Wilson's concern over government finances turned into a campaign issue for Carey in the 1974 election, when an agency under Wilson's purview, the state's Urban Development Corporation, was discovered to be near bankruptcy. After taking office, Carey accused Wilson of hiding the severity of the crisis, and complained that the Wilson administration had not been helpful or engaged during the transition between governors.

Later life and death[edit]

After losing the election, Wilson returned to his legal practice and served as Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Manhattan Bank for Savings from 1977 until 1986.

His wife, Katherine, (née McCloskey) died in 1980.[8] In 1991 Wilson's health deteriorated and he retired to New Rochelle, New York.

When Malcolm Wilson died in 2000, his memorial service was held at Holy Family Church in New Rochelle. He is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

Personal[edit]

Wilson had two daughters, Katharine, an attorney, and Anne, and six grandsons. Wilson was a Catholic and attended the St. Denis Catholic Church in Yonkers, New York.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kalb, Deborah (2015). Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: CQ Press. p. 1803.
  2. ^ Gubernatorial Elections, 1787–1997. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly. 1998. p. 26.
  3. ^ Tappan Zee Bridge Fact Book Archived June 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NYS Thruway Authority
  4. ^ Manual for the Use of the Legislature of the State of New York. Albany, NY: New York Secretary of State. 1962. p. 457. The family moved to Yonkers in 1920, and Mr. Wilson has lived there since.
  5. ^ Manual for the Use of the Legislature of the State of New York. Albany, NY: New York Secretary of State. 1975. p. 475. Malcolm Wilson, Republican of Yonkers...
  6. ^ Reeves, Richard (October 18, 1971). "Malcolm Whatshisname, Our Next Governor?". New York Magazine. New York, NY: NYM Corporation: 61. Malcolm Wilson of 24 Windsor Road, Yonkers...
  7. ^ Martin v. Alverez (Supreme Court, State of New York, Suffolk County 2005). Text
  8. ^ Ralph Blumenthal (January 23, 1980). "Katherine McCloskey Wilson Dies". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. B6. Retrieved November 21, 2010.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Arthur J. Doran
New York State Assembly
Westchester County, 5th District

1939–1945
Succeeded by
Christopher H. Lawrence
Preceded by
Christopher H. Lawrence
New York State Assembly
Westchester County, 1st District

1945–1959
Succeeded by
Christian H. Armbruster
Political offices
Preceded by
George DeLuca
Lieutenant Governor of New York
1959–1973
Succeeded by
Warren M. Anderson
Acting
Preceded by
Nelson Rockefeller
Governor of New York
1973–1974
Succeeded by
Hugh Carey