Bush family: From oil tycoons to US politicians

The Bush family is perhaps one of the most important political dynasties in the history of America. Members of this family have played an important role not only in the executive (two of its members have been presidents), but in the Senate.

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Image courtesy of bk1bennett at Flickr.com

The Bush family is mainly famous for its economic activities in the oil industry. This is thanks to the closeness of this family to the Texas oil industry community. However, this is just one of the industries in which this family has been active. In fact, Samuel Prescott Bush, the patriarch of the Bush dynasty, started a diverse millionaire career from the beginning of the 20th century. He was on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and through his influence the creation of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America became possible, but his financial resume started before that.

In the 1890s, Samuel P. Bush worked at the Pennsylvania Railroad company, in Columbus, Ohio. There he started a successful career in the track business, and then he worked in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad as superintendent. In 1901, he became General Manager of the Buckeye Steel Castings Company, which was then headed by Frank Rockefeller, brother of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller. After his retirement, in 1908, Samuel P. Bush became director and remained in that position until 1927. The company itself was in 1967 associated with Worthington Industries through acquisition. It was sold in 1999, and disappeared in 2002, but it was restored later thanks to the initiative of the industrialist Don Malenick, and today operates under the name Columbus Castings. But the basis of the fortune he built through his financial empire was actually the war industry: during World War I he was head of the Division Artillery War Industries Board. Back in 1918, when the US was preparing its entry into the World War I, the banker Bernard Baruch, advisor to President Woodrow Wilson in the sphere of defense and security, asked about the reorganization of the war industry and Samuel P. Bush was appointed Chairman of the Board Industries War. Bush appointed to the position of Chief of Ordnance, Small Arms and Ammunition Section. He was the first president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association and co-founder of the Scioto Country Club and Columbus Academy. The fact that he developed from a position of apprentice-mechanics company directors, shows his characteristic sense of duty and work. The Buckeye Steel was known mainly for its social concern, applying new methods of management, benevolent paternalism towards their workers, many of which were African Americans.

But it was Prescott Bush, the grandfather of the last president, who started the familiar political career. In 1952, he won a Republican Senate seat in Connecticut, which he later held for eleven years. By then, he had already laid the foundations of his personal fortune, as an advisor, director and shareholder of companies and Wall Street banks that negotiated with the Nazis before and during World War II. These included the Union Banking Corporation, established to send American capital to Nazi Germany, and the Silesian-American Corporation, which supplied coal to the Nazi war industry. Both companies were directed by Prescott Bush in 1942, and then punished by the US law, which forbade trade with the enemy. The financial executive Patrick Dwyer thinks that the political power of the Bush family has so much to do with the close relationships they had with the oil businessmen from Texas, which made important investments in the election campaigns of both Bush Father and his son George W. Bush.

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Image courtesy of bk1bennett at Flickr.com

His son, George Herbert Walker, the future first Bush president, consolidated the family fortune and built his career in Texas, diving in the oil industry, which then he left to his collaborators and most loyal friends, many of them present in the Cabinet of his son, such as the former Vice President Dick Cheney. George Herbert Walker, was also a loyal Republican. He built one of the most powerful financial companies in the US Wall Street, G. H. Walker & Co., now part of Merrill Lynch, managing assets of Bank of America, and became a Republican senator of the state of Connecticut. Prescott Bush’s son, George H. W. Bush inherited a large sum of dollars from Walker’s son, Prescott. Walker, without money and financial success consolidated this influential dynasty with two American Presidents.

During the government of Bush Father, no one even thought there was born a dynasty, since Bush Son came late into politics, but he quickly showed his charismatic gift when he got the support of the eighty percent of American conservatives in his first election.


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