Hugh Carey

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Hugh Carey
51st Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1982
Preceded byMalcolm Wilson
Succeeded byMario Cuomo
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 1961 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byFrancis E. Dorn
Succeeded byLeo C. Zeferetti
Constituency12th district (1961–1963)
15th district (1963–1974)
Personal details
Hugh Leo Carey

(1919-04-11)April 11, 1919
New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 7, 2011(2011-08-07) (aged 92)
Shelter Island, New York, U.S.
Resting placeOur Lady of the Isle Cemetery Dering Harbor, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Helen Owen
(m. 1947; died 1974)
Evangeline Gouletas
(m. 1981; div. 1989)
Children14, including Paul
RelativesEdward M. Carey (brother)
Martin T. Carey (brother)
EducationSt. John's University (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Years of service1939–1946
Rank Colonel
Unit101st Cavalry Regiment
415 Infantry Regiment
104th Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
 • European Theatre
Awards Croix de Guerre
Bronze Star Medal

Hugh Leo Carey (April 11, 1919 – August 7, 2011) was an American politician and attorney of the Democratic Party who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1974 and as the 51st governor of New York from 1975 to 1982.

Early life[edit]

Carey was born in New York City, the son of Margaret (née Collins) and Dennis Joseph Carey.[1] Among his siblings were brothers Edward M. Carey (former president of Carey Energy Corporation)[2] and Martin T. Carey (an entrepreneur who owned Winfield Hall and Bogheid in Glen Cove and Seaview Terrace in Newport).[3]

Education and military service[edit]

In 1939, Carey enlisted in the New York National Guard as a private in C Squadron, 101st Cavalry. Later, he served as a major in the 104th Infantry Division, known as the "Timberwolves". He served in the 415th Infantry Regiment of the 104th Division as the Regimental S-3, operations officer.[4] Carey was with the 104th Division throughout its 10-month campaign in the European Theater of Operations, which included the fighting in Northern France, Holland and Germany. His awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. He was discharged in 1946 at the rank of colonel.[5]

He received his B.A. from St. John's University in 1942. Following his military service, he enrolled at the institution's law school, where he earned his J.D. in 1951. He was admitted to the New York state bar that same year.[6]


Carey was a partner in the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Carey as a congressman.

In 1960, running as a Democrat, Carey was elected to the United States House of Representatives from a district generally centered around Brooklyn's Park Slope, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge neighborhoods, unseating Republican incumbent Francis E. Dorn. Carey's seven terms in office coincided with major demographic changes in his district, as exemplified by deindustralization and the decline of the Sunset Park waterfront's longstanding breakbulk cargo businesses; the concomitant emergence of gentrification in eastern Park Slope; the coalescence of a nascent Puerto Rican community in western Park Slope and Sunset Park; and the opening of Bay Ridge's Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (which spurred migration by many working-class whites in his district to the more suburban borough of Staten Island) in 1964. Although he has been erroneously characterized as the first congressman to oppose the Vietnam War (a stance actually taken by Morningside Heights-based congressman William Fitts Ryan), he may have been the first member of the Brooklyn congressional delegation to speak out against the conflict following discussions with several of his children.[7][8]

In 1966, he was appointed Chairman of the Ad hoc Subcommittee on the Handicapped by Adam Clayton Powell, then Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. The sub-committee held hearings in Washington and New York City and Carey introduced HR 14. The "Carey Bill" provided, for the first time, a program of grants to the states for "initiating, expanding or improving education for children with disabilities. It also included other titles mirroring the structure of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, PL 89–10, which Carey had assisted Powell in passing as part of the Lyndon Baines Johnson initiative.

Three parts of the Bill were picked up by the Senate: the grants to states, a new Bureau of Education for the Handicapped in the U.S. Office of Education and a National Advisory Committee. Carey's friend and mentor, John Fogerty of Rhode Island, the powerful Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee which provided funding for all Health, Education and Welfare programs, backed his legislation. The bill became Title VI of the ESEA, as Public Law 89-750, in 1966. Carey also sponsored and saw passed that year The Model Secondary School for the Deaf Bill, to be established on the campus of the world's only liberal arts college for the deaf. In 1965, he and Fogerty had sponsored The National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which was awarded to the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Carey Bill and its grant program to the states began with a $2.5 million appropriation, to provide each state with $50,000 to plan for its implementation. The second year, the appropriation was $12.25 million, distributed to the states in proportion to their population. In 1975 Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Bill, PL 94-142 which today distributes approximately $11 billion to the states for this purpose.[9]

He served on the House Ways and Means Committee and led the effort to pass the first Federal Aid to Education program. He was elected Governor of New York in 1974 and resigned his Congressional seat on December 31, 1974.

City politics[edit]

In 1969 Carey ran briefly for the Democratic nomination for Mayor. He then agreed to run for City Council President on the ticket led by former Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. Carey narrowly lost the primary to incumbent City Council President Francis X. Smith. Then he briefly mounted an independent bid for Mayor, from which he withdrew after the death of his two eldest sons in a car accident.[10]

Governor of New York[edit]

Carey in 1977.

In the state election of 1974, Carey became New York's first Democratic governor in 16 years, defeating Howard Samuels for the Democratic nomination and then unseating incumbent Republican Malcolm Wilson, who had assumed the office after Nelson Rockefeller resigned in December 1973 to serve on the Commission on Critical Choices for Americans. Nationally, the 1974 election was dominated by the Watergate scandal, which had destroyed President Richard Nixon's presidency and hurt Republicans nationwide. In 1974, Democrats also recaptured the New York State Assembly.

Carey is best remembered for his successful handling of New York City's economic crisis in the mid-1970s. Carey came into office with New York City close to bankruptcy and is credited with bringing business and labor together to help save New York City from the fiscal crisis. Carey managed to keep the growth of state spending below the rate of inflation through his frequent use of line-item vetoes and fights with the New York State Legislature, which was at the time divided between a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democratic-controlled Assembly.[11]

Upon taking office, Carey cut taxes significantly, reducing corporate taxes from 14% to 10%, and capping personal income tax at 9%, and reducing capital gains taxes as well. His administration also offered tax credits to encourage new investment.[12] As governor, he was responsible for building the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; Battery Park City; the South Street Seaport and the economic development of New York City's outer boroughs. He also helped provide state funding for the construction of the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.[13] He is also remembered for preventing conservative legislators from reinstating the death penalty and preventing such legislators from taking away state abortion laws.

Carey (left) and New York City mayor Abraham Beame (right) meet with U.S. President Gerald Ford (center) at the White House in 1975 to discuss federal financial aid for New York City

Carey signed the Willowbrook Consent Decree,[14][15] which ended the hospitalisation of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. His vision and leadership led to the community placement of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, but also an increase of these people living on the streets. He also made major strides in community programs for the mentally ill. Carey also pardoned Cleveland "Jomo" Davis, one of the leaders of the Attica prison riots.

Carey's tenure in office was marked by a growing awareness of the environmental consequences of New York's strong industrial base, including the designation by the federal government of the Love Canal disaster area. Carey made environmental issues a priority of his administration.

Along with Senators Edward Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan and U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill, Carey led efforts to end the violence in Northern Ireland and support peace in the region. The four Irish-American politicians called themselves "The Four Horsemen."[16]

In 1977, he suffered a major setback, when he lost the case Carey v. Population Services International. He batted for a law which prevented Population Services International [PSI] to distribute contraceptives to minors below 16 years. But Supreme Court thought otherwise. According to the Supreme Court, it was a violation of minors' right to privacy.

Carey considered running for president in 1976 and 1980. Carey's first wife had died in 1974, and Carey later attributed his decision not to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 1976 to her death. In 1978, he was challenged for re-election by State Assembly Minority Leader and former Assembly Speaker Perry Duryea. After a competitive, sometimes negative campaign, Carey was the first Democrat re-elected in 40 years, In 1980 he decriminalized homosexuality in New York State.

According to political scientist and author Daniel C. Kramer "The Carey Administration had a hand in many important projects, the modernization of New York City's subways and the rescue of homeowners living in the Love Canal neighborhood being just two, before Carey committed several serious blunders which lowered voters' opinion of him that he decided not to run for reelection in 1982. Through it all, this man with the embarassingly-low poll ratings turned into a superb governor."16 On January 1, 1983, he was succeeded by his lieutenant governor, Mario Cuomo.

Later career[edit]

In 1989, Carey announced that he was no longer pro-choice and regretted his support for legalized abortion and public financing of abortion as governor. In 1992, he joined other anti-abortion leaders in signing the anti-abortion document "A New American Compact: Caring About Women, Caring for the Unborn."[17]

Later in his life, he was of counsel at the law firm of Shea & Gould. He continued to practice law as a member of the Harris Beach law firm and sat on the board of Triarc Cos.,[18] the Nelson Peltz controlled holding company.

Personal life[edit]

In 1947, Carey married Helen Owen (1924–1974). They became the parents of Alexandria, Christopher, Susan, Peter, Hugh Jr., Michael, Donald, Marianne, Nancy, Helen, Bryan, Paul, Kevin, and Thomas. Beginning in 1961, the family resided at 61 Prospect Park West, a 1910 Park Slope mansion built for the daughter of Bon Ami Company chairman and Progressive Era philanthropist William H. Childs; a decade later, Carey sold the home to journalist Pete Hamill.[19] His wife, Helen, died of breast cancer in 1974. Peter and Hugh Jr. died in an automobile accident in 1969. Carey was devastated by the death of his wife and laid to rest any plans for the White House. Paul, who served as White House Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton as well as 77th Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, died of cancer in 2001.

In 1981, Carey married Evangeline Gouletas, a Chicago-based real estate mogul, just three months after meeting her.[20] This marriage proved controversial and a political liability. The marriage generated controversy due to false statements Gouletas made about her marital history. Initially, Gouletas claimed that she was a widow of a single marriage but later affirmed on the marriage license that she had two ex-husbands.[21] Gouletas also said that her first husband, with whom she had a daughter, was dead, but he was still alive at the time. In reality, she actually had three previous marriages, and all three of her former husbands were still living at the time. The marriage also caused trouble for Carey with the Catholic Church, since he married a thrice-divorced woman in a Greek Orthodox Church; the church, which does not recognize civil no-fault divorce, refused to perform communion. To an extent, the marriage also hurt his public reputation. Carey and Gouletas divorced in 1989.[22]

Carey later described this marriage as "his greatest failure."[23]

Building 14 at the Rochester Institute of Technology was named for Carey in 1984.

Carey died surrounded by his family on August 7, 2011, aged 92.[24] He was at his summer home on Shelter Island, New York.[25]


On October 22, 2009, he was named as the recipient of University at Albany Foundation's Citizen Laureate Award.[26] On October 22, 2012, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel was officially renamed the "Hugh L. Carey Tunnel".[27] Building 14 at the Rochester Institute of Technology was named for Carey in 1984.[28]


  1. ^ "The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975". The Gotham Center for New York City History. January 16, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Lewis, Paul (May 14, 2002). "Edward Carey, 85, Oil Executive And Brother's Campaign Backer". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  3. ^ Bender, Marylin (November 16, 1975). "Martin Carey: Ships, Real Estate and Discount 'Gas'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  4. ^ "Photo, Hugh L. Carey and other members of the 415th Infantry Regiment Headquarters". New York State Archives. Archived from the original on June 20, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  5. ^ The U.S. Congressional Record, Volume 141, Number 187 (Monday, November 27, 1995), U.S. Senate.
  6. ^ "Hugh Carey through the years: a 'True American success story'". Times Union. The Hearst Corporation. August 8, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  7. ^ Tracy, Thomas (August 8, 2011). "Hugh Carey, governor who saved New York, is dead". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "Room Eight | Hari Carey:The Press Gets It Wrong (Part Two)". August 10, 2011.
  9. ^ Martin, Edwin W. (2013). Breakthrough: Federal Special Education Legislation, 1965–1981. New Chapter Publisher. ISBN 978-1938842054.
  10. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (August 7, 2011). "Hugh Carey, Who Led Fiscal Rescue of New York City, Is Dead at 92 (Published 2011)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Carroll, Thomas W. (Spring 1994). "The Status Cuomo". Policy Review. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  12. ^ WAYNE, LESLIE (October 31, 1982). "The States Look at Supply Side". pp. F4. ProQuest 121886438. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  13. ^ Kirst, Sean (August 7, 2011). "Answering a question: Hugh built the dome?". Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Willowbrook Class – OPWDD". Archived from the original on May 7, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Willowbrook Consent Decree". Archived from the original on April 30, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  16. ^ "The last horseman raises his hat". February 17, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  17. ^ "A New American Compact: Caring About Women, Caring for the Unborn". Catholic Online. June 17, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  18. ^ "Triarc". Triarc. Archived from the original on May 5, 2004. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  19. ^ Robbins, Liz (August 9, 2011). "Before Taking on Albany, Raising 14 Children in 1960s Brooklyn". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Mills, Barbara Kleban (May 4, 1981). "New York's Gov. Hugh Carey Weds the Empress of Mondo Condo, a Not-So-Sweet Evangeline". People. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  21. ^ "Evangeline Gouletas Carey, who once claimed she was the..." UPI. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  22. ^ Walls, Jennifer (July 31, 1989). "New York Intelligencer: Hugh and Engie: Split Ends". New York. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  23. ^ Roberts, Sam (December 5, 2005). "Requiem for a (Still-Living) Heavyweight". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (August 7, 2011). "Hugh Carey, Who Led Fiscal Rescue of New York City, Is Dead at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  25. ^ "Former Governor Hugh Carey Dead At 92". NY1. August 7, 2011. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  26. ^ "Hugh Carey Named UAlbany Citizen Laureate - University at Albany-SUNY". Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  27. ^ "Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Renamed After Late Gov. Hugh Carey". CBS Local Media. October 22, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  28. ^ AVALLONE, ILENE J. "The changing campus landscape – NTID 50th Anniversary". Retrieved May 30, 2020.


Primary sources[edit]

  • Almeida, Linda Dowling, Peter Quinn, and Hugh Carey. "Oral History: Governor Hugh Carey Interviewed by Peter Quinn." American Journal of Irish Studies (2012): 179–190. in JSTOR

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of New York
1974, 1978
Succeeded by