Richardson, Elliot Lee, 1920–99, U.S. government official, b. Boston. Admitted to the bar in 1949, he was (1957–59) assistant secretary of health, education and welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Richardson was later active as a Republican in Massachusetts state politics, serving as lieutenant governor (1965–67) and attorney general (1967–69). He became (1970) secretary of health, education, and welfare under President Richard M. Nixon and supported the administration's cutbacks in social welfare programs and its conservative approach to school desegregation. After serving briefly (1973) as secretary of defense, Richardson was appointed attorney general, but he resigned on Oct. 20, 1973, rather than carry out President Nixon's order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox (see Watergate affair). He was also U.S. ambassador to Great Britain (1975–76) and secretary of commerce (1976–77) under President Gerald Ford, making him the first person to hold four different cabinet posts; and U.S. ambassador-at-large (1977–80) under President Jimmy Carter. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
See his Reflections of a Radical Moderate (1996).