John V. Lindsay

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John Vliet Lindsay, Sr.​

103rd Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1966​ – December 31, 1973​
Preceded by Robert Ferdinand Wagner, Jr.​
Succeeded by Abraham Beame​

U.S. Representative for New York's
17th congressional district
(Upper West Side, Lower East Side,
and Greenwich Village)​
In office
January 3, 1959​ – December 31, 1965​
Preceded by Frederic R. Coudert Jr.​
Succeeded by Theodore R. Kupferman​

Born November 24, 1921​
Manhattan borough
f New York City
Died December 19, 2000
(aged 79)
Hilton Head Island,

South Carolina

Resting place Memorial Cemetery of Saint John's Church​ in Syosset,
New York
Political party Republican-turned-Liberal Party (1969-1971)-turned-Democrat
Spouse(s) Mary Anne Harrison Lindsay (married 1949-2000, his death)
Children Katherine Lake

Margarett Picotte
Anne Lindsay
John Lindsay, Jr.

Alma mater Yale University

Yale Law School​

Occupation Attorney

Military Service
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars Invasion of Sicily; Pacific Theater of Operations in World War II
Awards Five battle stars

John Vliet Lindsay, Sr. (November 24, 1921 – December 19, 2000), was an American attorney, politician, and broacaster who served two-terms as the mayor of New York City from 1966 to 1974. Considered perhaps the most liberal of any Republican in the nation, Lindsay was elected mayor in 1965. He defeated two more conservative opponents, Democratic U.S. Representative Mario Procccacino and the National Review publisher William F. Buckley, Jr., the nominee of the New York Conservative Party, a breakaway from the GOP. When he lost the Republican nomination in 1969 to conservative state Senator John Joseph Marchi (1921-2009) of Staten Island, Lindsay temporarily switched to the banner of the New York Liberal Party to win the general election.

By 1971, he had switched parties again to contest the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination to challenge the reelection of Richard M. Nixon, who reportedly in 1968 had considered Lindsay for the vice-presidential nomination that instead went to Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland. Lindsay was eliminated early in the contest, and the nomination went to the liberal U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, who won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in the general election.


Born on West End Avenue in the Manhattan borough, Lindsay was a twin son of George Nelson Lindsay, an investment banker and lawyer, and the former Florence Eleanor Vliet, hence his middle name. The family lived on Riverside Drive and then Park Avenue. Lindsay attended exclusive private schools: the Buckley School in New York City, St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and then Yale University and Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, from which he received his law degree in 1948. He joined the New York firm of Webster & Sheffield, of which he was later made a partner.​​[1]

In 1943, he joined the United States Navy, in which he obtained the rank of lieutenant. He participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations and in the invasion of Sicily. He earned five battle stars. In 1949, when admitted to the bar, he married the former Mary Anne Harrison (1926-2004), whom he had met at the wedding of Nancy Walker Bush Ellis, a sister of later U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a groomsman and she a bridesmaid. A distant relative of Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, she graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Mary was considered to be essential to the workings of her husband's administration. The Lindsays lived frugally and usually in a one-bedroom apartment. The couple had three daughters and a son, John, Jr. (born 1960), who was sentenced to six months in jail after he pleaded guilty to attempting to sell cocaine to an undercover police officer. The arrest was part of a large-scale narcotics investigation in Suffolk County, New York.[2]


In 1967, Mayor Lindsay was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on the Kerner Commission, which investigated the widespread racial unrest and looting in the middle 1960s. The commission report blamed "white racism" as the cause of the civil unrest. Throughout his career, Lindsay was a staunch advocate of civil rights legislation. The Lindsay administration faced a devastating blizzard in 1969 and strikes by sanitation workers, teachers, and transit personnel. Still, he won reelection by plurality in 1969 despite having lost the Republican nomination to John Marchi. Though allied with many Moderate Republicans and liberal Republicans, such as Governor Nelson Rockefeller and U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, Lindsay surprised observers when he switched to the Democratic Party with more than two years left in his second term as mayor.

In 1980, Lindsay tried for a political comeback by seeking the Democratic senatorial nomination but lost out to fellow liberal U.S. Representative Elizabeth Holtzman. In the Republican primary, Senator Javits lost re-nomination to Al D'Amato, a more conservative Republican and the last person to have served as a Republican senator from New York State. D'Amato defeated Holtzman in the general election, 45 to 44 percent, while Javits continued his campaign and polled 11 percent as the nominee of the Liberal Party, which in past years had been particularly partial to Lindsay. In that same election Ronald Reagan carried the New York electoral vote and easily unseated President Jimmy Carter.

During his time in politics, Lindsay was also a regular guest host of ABC's Good Morning America. He died at the age of seventy-nine of Parkinson's disease and pneumonia at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. His medical bills wiped out much of the family's savings.​ Mrs. Lindsay followed him in death four years later. Named in his honor is an East River park and the Wildcat Academy Charter School.

See also


  1. Robert D. McFadden (December 21, 2000). John V. Lindsay, Mayor and Maverick, Dies at 79. The New York Times. Retrieved on May 23, 2020.
  2. The City: John V. Lindsay, Jr., Is Given 6 Months. The New York Times (October 1, 1983). Retrieved on May 24, 2020.