Prescott Sheldon Bush (born May 15, 1895 in Columbus, Ohio - died October 8, 1972 in New York City) was a Connecticut Senator and Wall Street banker with Brown Brothers Harriman. His son, George H. W. Bush, and grandson George W. Bush would both later become US Presidents.
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, and 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. A Yale University legend tells of Bush digging up the skull of Geronimo (1918) and giving it to the Skull and Bones society.
After graduation, he served as an Artillery Captain in 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 was under fire in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
After his discharge in 1919, Bush went to work for the Simmons Hardware Company in St. Louis, Missouri. He married Dorothy, George Herbert Walker's daughter, on August 6, 1921, and together they had five children; including the future president of the United States.
The Bushes moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1923, where Bush worked for the Hupp Products Company. He left in November 1923 to become president of sales for Stedman Products of South Braintree, Mass. In 1925, he joined the United States Rubber Company in New York City as manager of its foreign division and moved to Greenwich, Connecticut.
He entered business in the organization of George Herbert Walker and Averell Harriman and became an officer in their investment banking firm, W. A. Harriman and Company in 1926. When it merged with Brown Brothers 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 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 Columbia Broadcasting System, Dresser Manufacturing Company, Union Banking Corporation, Prudential Insurance, Pan American Airlines, Simmons Company, Massachusetts Investors Second Fund, Rockbestos Products Corporation, Vanadium Corporation of America, United States Guarantee Company, and Commercial Pacific Cable Company. He also served as chairman of the board of Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. The Simmons Company would later be a major financial contributor to the campaigns of both Bush presidencies.
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. Eisenhower.
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 battle."
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2 External links
3 Further Reading
War seizures controversy
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 until Hitler declared war on the US, but, six days after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed the Trading With the Enemy Act. By then, many companies that had been doing business with Hitler's war machine had stopped, though not Prescott Bush and the Union Banking Corporation. Toby Rogers, a controversial antagonist, writes "Prescott Bush continued with business as usual, aiding the Nazi invasion of Europe and supplying resources for weaponry that would eventually be turned on American solders in combat against Germany." 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 1942 included:
- Union Banking Corporation (UBC) (for Thyssen and Brown Brothers-Harriman)
- Holland-American Trading Corporation (with Harriman)
- the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation (with Harriman)
- Silesian-American Corporation (with Walker)
Toby Rogers has claimed that Bush's connections to the Silesian-American Corporation resulted in his connection with the corporation's mining operations in Poland which used slave labor out of Oswiecim, where the Auschwitz concentration camp would later be constructed; however, such charges remain, essentially, unsubstantiated.
Bush's articles include: