Prescott Bush Biography

(Former United States Senator from Connecticut)

Birthday: May 15, 1895 (Taurus)

Born In: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Prescott Bush was an American banker and politician who represented Connecticut in the United States Senate from 1952 to 1963. He was the first member of the influential Bush family to actively participate in politics and was followed by his son, former Vice President and President George H. W. Bush; his grandsons, former Texas Governor and President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; and his great-grandson, politician and attorney George P. Bush. Early on in his career, he worked as a “rubber manufacturer” before being appointed an investment banker by his father-in-law George Herbert Walker. He was accused of involvement in the 1934 Business Plot and continued to manage Union Banking Corporation (UBC), which transferred funds, bonds, gold, coal, oil, and steel to Nazi Germany, even after the Unites States entered World War II. As his family grew, he became actively involved in politics about various social issues. During his tenure as Senator, he supported President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System, the Polaris submarine project, and the establishment of the Peace Corps by Democratic President John F. Kennedy. Before death, he was very pleased with the political ascent of his son George H.W. Bush.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Prescott Sheldon Bush

Died At Age: 77

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders American Men

Height: 6'4" (193 cm), 6'4" Males

Died on: October 8, 1972

place of death: New York City, New York, United States

Notable Alumni: Yale College

Cause of Death: Cancer

Ideology: Republicans

More Facts

education: Yale University

Childhood & Early Life
Prescott Sheldon Bush was born on May 15, 1895 in Columbus, Ohio, United States to Samuel Prescott Bush and Flora Sheldon Bush. His father was a railroad middle manager who became a steel company president, and during World War I, served as a federal government official in charge of coordination of and assistance to major weapons contractors.
After attending St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, from 1908 to 1913, he went to Yale College, where he was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity and the secretive and influential Skull and Bones society. He was a 6ft 4in athlete with a rich singing voice who lettered in baseball and golf, while also serving as a cheerleader and as the president of the Yale Glee Club.
Following graduation, he served as a field artillery captain with the American Expeditionary Forces (1917-19) during World War I and received intelligence training at Verdun, France, before being assigned to a staff of French officers. While he came under fire in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, long before seeing action on the Western Front, he had pranked his mother, who boasted about his fake achievements to Ohio State Journal, but apologized later.
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Professional Career
After being discharged from the army in 1919, Prescott Bush began working for the St. Louis, Missouri based wholesale hardware business, Simmons Hardware Company. In St. Louis, he was introduced by W. Averell Harriman, brother of his classmate E. Roland Harriman, to his business partner, George Herbert Walker, whose daughter he started courting and eventually married.
After living in St. Louis for a while, the married couple moved to Kingsport, Tennessee, where he, still working for Simmons, managed the sale of a saddlery plant in upper east Tennessee. In 1923, he moved the family to Columbus, Ohio, where his father’s Buckeye Steel Castings Company had taken over the small floor covering firm, Hupp Products Company.

The venture turned out to be a bad investment as the company’s upper management was corrupt, so he sold the company to Stedman Products Company, which pioneered the development of rubber floor tiling. Stedman convinced him to continue to manage it, prompting him to relocate to its main base at South Braintree, Massachusetts as president of sales for Stedman Products in November 1923.

He had formally listed his occupation as “rubber manufacturer” on the birth certificate of his second son George, who was born in a Victorian house at 173 Adams Street in Milton, Massachusetts, where they lived. The family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1925 after Bush took a job as manager of the foreign division of the United States Rubber Company, based in New York City.
In 1926, he was appointed vice-president of the investment bank W. A. Harriman & Co., where his father-in-law was president, and worked alongside his Yale classmates and fellow Bonesmen, E. Roland Harriman and Knight Woolley.
In 1931, he became a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., which was formed by merging W. A. Harriman & Co., Harriman Brothers & Co. and the British-American banking firm Brown Bros. & Co.
He was previously appointed to manage the New York-based Union Banking Corporation, set up in 1924 by Harriman and his father-in-law, Walker, to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful industrial family. Bush was a founding member of UBC and was listed as one of its seven directors on the incorporation documents.
The details of his involvement with UBC came to light in July 1941 when New York Herald Tribune reported that the bank held $3 million for Fritz Thyssen, supporter and financier of the Nazi Party.
In 1942, the bank was suspected of holding gold on behalf of Nazi leaders and the US government seized UBC and other German-affiliated BBH assets, even though Bush was not found guilty of any crime.

Political Career
As early as 1942, Prescott Bush was involved with the American Birth Control League and served as the treasurer of the first nationwide campaign of Planned Parenthood in 1947.
An early supporter of the United Negro College Fund, a philanthropic organization funding scholarships for black students to historically black colleges and universities, he served as chairman of its Connecticut branch in 1951.

After serving as Connecticut Republican finance chairman in 1947-50, he became the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1950, but lost narrowly to Sen. William Burnett Benton by just 1,102 votes. He sought a rematch with Benton in 1952, but was instead selected to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Brien McMahon, and went on to defeat the Democratic nominee, Abraham Ribicoff.

He was re-elected for a full term in 1956 with 55% of the vote over Democrat Thomas J. Dodd, but decided against seeking re-election for another term in 1962. He was a staunch supporter and confidant of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower and shared his conservative preference for moderate tax cuts, balanced budgets, limited government intervention in the economy.
Personal Life & Legacy
Prescott Bush was married to Dorothy Wear Walker on August 6, 1921, at St. Anne’s in Kennebunkport, Maine. They welcomed five children together, sons Prescott Jr. (1922–2010), George (1924–2018), Jonathan (1931–2021), and William "Bucky" (1938–2018) and daughter Nancy (1926–2021).
An avid golfer and a member of the United States Golf Association, he served successively as its secretary, vice-president and president in 1928–1935. He died of cancer on October 8, 1972 at age 77 at Memorial Hospital in New York City and was interred at Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich, Connecticut.
According to Skull and Bones lore, Prescott Bush was among a group of Bonesmen who dug up the skull of Geronimo from his grave at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1918, even though historians don’t agree with the claim. Much later, his son George H. W. Bush and grandson George W. Bush would also attend Yale College and be part of the secretive society, although they were members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

See the events in life of Prescott Bush in Chronological Order

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