William Averell Harriman 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 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, where he joined Skull and Bones, he made contacts that led to creation of a banking firm that eventually merged into Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.. He owned parts of various other companies, including Union Pacific Railroad, Merchant Shipping Corporation, and Polaroid Corporation. During the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harriman served in the National Recovery Administration and on the Business Advisory Council before moving into foreign policy roles. After helping to coordinate the Lend-Lease program, Harriman served as the ambassador to the Soviet Union and attended the major World War II conferences. After the war, he became a prominent advocate of George F. Kennan's policy of containment.