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Date: August 07, 2005 09:30AM
Prescott Sheldon Bush (May 15, 1895, Columbus, Ohio – October 8, 1972, New
York City) was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut and a Wall Street executive
banker with Brown Brothers Harriman. His son, George H. W. Bush, and grandson
George W. Bush would both later become U.S. presidents. His father was Samuel
Prescott Bush and his mother was Flora Sheldon.
Bush was born in Columbus, Ohio to Flora Sheldon and Samuel P. Bush, a steel
company president and later a U.S. government official in charge of coordination
and assistance to major weapons contractors during World War I.
After attending the Douglas School in Columbus and St. George's School in
Newport, Rhode Island from 1908 to 1913, Bush entered Yale University. There, he
played varsity golf, football, and baseball, and was president of the Yale Glee
Club. (He was the best close-harmony man in the class of 1917). His devotion to
singing at Yale would remain strong his entire life, evidenced in part by his
founding of the Yale Glee Club Associates, an alumni group, in 1937. On May 18,
1916 he was "tapped" to join the Skull and Bones society at Yale.
Other new "Bonesmen" that year were E. Roland Harriman, H. S. Fenimore
Cooper (grandson of James Fenimore Cooper), Knight Wooley (son of Ulysses Grant
Wooley), Ellery James, and Henry Neil Mallon. A Skull and Bones legend tells of
Bush digging up the skull of Geronimo (1918) and "donating" it to the
After graduation, he served as a field artillery captain with the American
Expeditionary Forces (1917-1919) during World War I. He received training in
intelligence at Verdun and was briefly assigned to a staff of French officers.
Alternating between intelligence and artillery, Bush came under fire in the
Meuse-Argonne offensive. He wrote home about receiving medals for heroic
exploits that were published in the Columbus newspapers only to be retracted a
few weeks later when it was revealed that he, in fact, had not received such
After his discharge in 1919, Bush went to work for the Simmons Hardware Company
in St. Louis, Missouri.
He married Dorothy Walker, George Herbert Walker's daughter, on August 6, 1921,
and together they had five children, including George H. W. Bush (named after
George Herbert Walker), Prescott Bush, Jr., Jonathan Bush, William Bush, and
Nancy Bush. Among those attending the Kennebunkport, Maine wedding ceremony were
Isabel Stillman Rockefeller (daughter of Percy Rockefeller), Hope Lincoln, Mary
Keck, Elizabeth Trotter, Martha Pittman, Ruth Lionberger, Nancy Walker, George
Herbert Walker, Knight Wooley, Frank Shephard, John Shepley, Richard Bentley,
Henry Isham, William Potter Wear, and Henry Fenimore Cooper.
The Bushes moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1923, where Bush worked for the Hupp
Products Company, where his business efforts generally failed. He left in
November 1923 to become president of sales for Stedman Products of South
Braintree, Massachusetts. Seven months later, on June 12, 1924, future President
George H. W. Bush was born. In 1925, he joined the United States Rubber Company
(based in New York City) as manager of the foreign division, and moved to
His father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, and Walker's partner, Averell
Harriman, brought him on as an officer in their investment banking firm, W. A.
Harriman and Company in 1926. When it merged with Brown Brothers Harriman in
1931, he became a partner in the new firm of Brown Brothers Harriman. Bush
called it "my good fortune" to work with close friends, including Yale
classmates (and members of the Skull and Bones) E. Roland Harriman, Knight
Woolley, and Ellery James, as well as Robert A. Lovett and Thomas McCance.
As a managing partner of Brown Brothers Harriman, he sat on several corporate
boards, including the following:
* Dresser Industries. An oil drilling equipment supply company. in 1928 W.A.
Harriman and Company paid $4,000,000 for Dresser's corporate stock, and sold
securities against the company. In 1929 Bush refinanced Dresser "so that we
retained a substantial measure of control." In 1930, E. Roland Harriman and
Bush became members of the board (Bush served until 1952), and installed their
Yale classmate Henry Neil Mallon as chairman. Mallon and Bush were lifelong
friends. (In 1948, Mallon hired George H.W. Bush to work at Dresser and George
H.W. Bush named one of his sons, Neil Mallon Bush, after Mallon). In September
1998, Dresser merged with Halliburton and is now known as Halliburton
* Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Bush was introduced to William Paley,
founder of CBS, by Averell Harriman, who in 1929 had represented CBS in a merger
with Paramount Studios. In 1932, he took an active role in arranging the
financing for Paley to purchase the company. Bush joined the board of directors
and retained the position for several years.
* Union Banking Corporation. Established in August 1924 with George Herbert
Walker as president, Prescott Bush served on the board of directors from 1934 to
1943 with E. Roland Harriman, H. J. Kouwenhoven, Johann G. Groeninger, Harold D.
Pennington, Cornelis Lievense, Ray Morris, and E. S. James.
* Harriman Fifteen Corporation. Located at 1 Wall Street in New York. Bush
and Averell Harriman were sole directors of the company, with George Herbert
Walker serving as company president beginning in 1930. Half of the company's
holdings were in the Silesian Holding Company, (see Silesian-American
Corporation), according to a 1931 report.
* Hydrocarbon Research Company. Now known as Hydrocarbon Technologies, Inc.
The company was formed in 1943 by Percival Cleveland Keith, Jr., (December 24,
1900 - July 9, 1976), to develop and commercialize chemical and energy
technologies. In August 2001, the Company was acquired by Headwaters
* Vanadium Corporation of America. This company was headed by Charles M.
Schwab and Jacob Leonard Replogle. In August 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers established the Manhattan Engineer District (MED), also known as the
Manhattan Project, to develop atomic weapons and to procure the raw materials,
principally uranium, necessary for their production. The MED contracted the
Vanadium Corporation of America and the U.S. Vanadium Corporation (owned by
Union Carbide) to procure and process uranium bearing ore.
* United States Guaranty Trust. Bush was on the board of directors with
Eugene W. Stetson (president) and Samuel R. Bertron (vice president).
* The Simmons Company. This company would later be a major financial
contributor to the campaigns of both Bush presidencies.
* The Continental Bank & Trust Company of New York
* Commercial Pacific Cable Company
* Hamburg-America Line
* Prudential Insurance
* Pan American Airlines. Bush's son, Prescott Bush, Jr., joined the company
in 1943, before his marriage to Elizabeth (Kauffman) Bush.
* Massachusetts Investors Second Fund
* Rockbestos Products Corporation. Located in New Haven, Connecticut.
Received government supply contracts in the late 1930s to supply electrical
cable to the Navy.
* Pennsylvania Water and Power Company
He was a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Golf Association
(USGA) from 1928-1935, serving successively as Secretary, Vice President and
President. The USGA sponsors the Walker Cup Match, which is named after George
Herbert Walker, who was the organization's president in 1920, when it
In the 1940s, he was national campaign chairman of the United Service
Organizations and National War Fund.
From 1944 to 1956, Bush was a member of the Yale Corporation, the principal
governing body of Yale University. From 1947 to 1950 he served as Connecticut
Republican finance chairman, and was the Republican candidate for the United
States Senate in 1950, losing to Senator William Benton by only 1,000 votes. The
following year, Bush was Connecticut chairman of the United Negro College Fund,
and was one of the UNCF's earliest supporters.
In 1952 he was elected to the U.S. Senate (Republican, Connecticut), defeating
Abraham Ribicoff for the vacancy caused by the death of James O'Brien McMahon.
He served until January 1963, and was a staunch supporter of President Dwight D.
In a speech on Nathan Hale given June 6, 1955, in New London, Connecticut, Bush
shared his reflections on the Cold War. "We must maintain strong defenses,
military and spiritual," he said. "It is our conduct, our patriotism
and belief in our American way of life, our courage that will win the final
He maintained homes in Long Island, New York and Greenwich, Connecticut; the
family compound at Kennebunkport, Maine; a 10,000 acre (40 km²) plantation in
South Carolina; and an island retreat in Florida.
Richard Nixon considered Prescott Bush to be his political mentor and consulted
him before his famous Checkers speech.
Nazi Tie Allegations
Harriman Bank was the main Wall Street connection for German companies and the
varied U.S. financial interests of Fritz Thyssen, who had been an early
financial backer of the Nazi party until 1938, but who by 1939 had fled Germany
and was bitterly denouncing Hitler. Dealing with Nazi Germany wasn't illegal
when Hitler declared war on the US, but, six days after Pearl Harbor, President
Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Trading With the Enemy Act. On October 20,
1942, the U.S. government ordered the seizure of Nazi German banking operations
in New York City.
Prescott Bush's business interests seized under the act in October and November
* Union Banking Corporation (UBC) (for Thyssen and Brown Brothers
* Holland-American Trading Corporation (with Harriman)
* the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation (with Harriman)
* Silesian-American Corporation (with Walker)
Bush's interest in UBC consisted of one share. For it, he was reimbursed
$1,500,000. These assets were later used to launch Bush family investments in
the Texas energy industry.
Toby Rogers has claimed that Bush's connections to the Silesian-American
Corporation makes him complicit with the corporation's mining operations in
Poland which used slave labor out of Oswiecim, where the Auschwitz concentration
camp was later constructed. Allegations that Prescott Bush profited from slave
labor or the Auschwitz concentration camp remain unsubstantiated.
There are unsubstantiated rumors concerning Prescott Bush's associations with
the Nazi party. The Anti-Defamation League has stated, "Rumours about the
alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President
George W. Bush, have circulated widely through the Internet in recent years.
These charges are untenable and politically motivated."  The rumours
began with extreme right-wing attacks on George H.W. Bush during his 1980
presidential run and were renewed during his 1988 run.
The New York Herald-Tribune referred to the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen,
as "Hitler's Angel" and mentioned Bush only as an employee of the
investment banking firm Thyssen used in the USA. The label was ironic, since by
the time the Tribune article appeared, Hitler had turned on Thyssen and
imprisoned him. Shortly after George W. Bush's election as US president,
Canadian bloggers, apparently affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche, began a
determined effort to circulate reports that Prescott Bush himself had been known
as "Hitler's Angel".
It could be argued that Prescott Bush's motivations with regard to the Nazis
were strictly selfishly financial and not philosophical in nature. There is,
however, strong evidence that Prescott Bush was a strong eugenicist. Bush was an
acquaintance of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and herself an
avowed eugenicist. Margaret Sanger is on record favoring infanticide, compulsory
sterilization, and (arguably) genocide . In fact, Prescott served as
Treasurer for Planned Parenthood's first national fund raising campaign in 1947
It should also be noted that the alliance between Hitler and the Harriman-Bush
milieu went beyond mere business interests. Another area where they worked
together extensively was race science--i.e. eugenics. For example, in 1932, W.A.
Harriman arranged the Third International Eugenics Conference in New York, where
Hitler's leading race scientist, Dr. Ernst Rudin, was unanimously elected
president of the International Federation of Eugenics Societies. After studying
the eugenics laws of California and Virginia, which had resulted in thousands of
forced sterilizations in the United States, Dr. Rudin wrote the Nazi "Law
for the Prevention of Hereditary Diseases in Posterity," which led to
thousands of forced sterilizations and millions of exterminations in Nazi