Lehman, Herbert Henry (lēˈmən) [key], 1878–1963, American political leader, b. New York City. At first an executive of a textile firm, he became (1908) a partner in the family banking house of Lehman Brothers. In World War I he was assistant director of purchase, storage, and traffic of the U.S. army. He was finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1928, the year he was elected lieutenant governor of New York state. After serving another term as lieutenant governor, Lehman was elected (1932) governor of the state, succeeding Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was reelected twice for two-year terms and in 1938 for a four-year term. In the course of Lehman's gubernatorial administrations, state income taxes were cut, a huge budgetary surplus was accumulated, and much liberal legislation was enacted. He refused to run again in 1942 and was appointed (1943) director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He resigned (1946) because of ill health. In a special senatorial election in 1949, he defeated John Foster Dulles to fill the unexpired term of Robert F. Wagner, Sr. Reelected in 1950, he was a leading liberal and an opponent of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Retiring from the Senate in 1956, he continued to be a leader of the reform faction in the New York Democratic party.
See biography by A. Nevins (1963).