Nathan L. Miller

43rd Governor, 1921–1922
Nathan L. Miller

Prior to his election as governor, Nathan L. Miller (1868–1953) served as State Comptroller, a justice of the State Supreme Court, and as a justice on the State Court of Appeals. Miller defeated Governor Alfred E. Smith in his bid for reelection in 1920. A staunch conservative, Miller was in favor of the death penalty, suspicious of women voters and skeptical of reforms put into place by his predecessor. Governor Miller established a motion picture censorship commission and the New York City Transit Commission and promoted waterpower development. He is credited with instituting policies that saved taxpayers 20 million dollars.

43rd Governor Nathan L. Miller
About the Artist

Sir Oswald Birley (1880–1952) was one of Britain’s foremost portraitists known for painting members of the Royal Family and prominent Europeans. He often traveled to America, where he painted one of his most important pictures: a portrait of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.


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From The Encyclopedia of New York State

Miller, Nathan L(ewis) (b Solon, Cortland Co, 10 Oct 1868; d New York City, 26 June 1953). Governor.

Miller’s first public office was as a school commissioner in Cortland Co (1894–1900). He served as county Republican chairman until he was appointed state comptroller from 1901 until 1903, when he was appointed to a vacancy in the state supreme court, where he served until 1913. He later served in the Court of Appeals for New York State (1913–15). After resigning from the court he practiced law in Syracuse, becoming general counsel to Solvay Process Co. He ran for governor in 1920 and gave Alfred E. Smith his first political defeat. Miller was a staunch conservative, leading some, including Eleanor Roosevelt, to refer to him as a reactionary.

While in office he strengthened the laws against suspected radicals, was suspicious of the political power of newly enfranchised women, and was skeptical of the progressive reforms of Al Smith. In 1922 Smith defeated Miller in the governor’s race, and Miller retired from active politics.

At the time of his death, Miller was general counsel for US Steel Corp. Colleagues regarded him as a fiscal conservative in politics and a “lawyer’s lawyer” in the courtroom.


Branche, Lewis. Governors of New York (Watertown: Watertown Daily Times, 1958)
Dick Case


Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 985-86].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.