- “Oh Mother, Mother! What have you done? Behold! the heavens do ope. The gods look down, and this unnatural scene they laugh at. ”
The Silver Spoon
George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924. During the next year the family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, and established their permanent residency.
Prescott and Dorothy Walker Bush had had a son, Prescott, Jr., before George. Later there was a little sister, Nancy, and another brother, Jonathan; a fourth son, William (“ Bucky ”), was born 14 years after George, in 1939.
George was named after his grandfather, George Herbert Walker. Since George’s mother called Grandfather Walker “ Pop, ” she began calling her son, his namesake, “ little Pop, ” or “ Poppy. ” Hence, Poppy Bush is the name the President’s family friends have called him since his youth.
Prescott, Sr. joined W.A. Harriman & Co. May 1, 1926. With his family’s lucrative totalitarian projects, George Bush’s childhood began in comfort and advanced dramatically to luxury and elegance.
The Bushes had a large, dark-shingled house with “ broad verandas and a portecochere ” (originally a roofed structure extending out to the driveway to protect the gentry who arrived in coaches) on Grove Lane in the Deer Park section of Greenwich.@s1
Here they were attended by four servants–three maids (one of whom cooked) and a chauffeur.
The U.S.A. was plunged into the Great Depression beginning with the 1929-31 financial collapse. But George Bush and his family were totally insulated from this crisis. Before and after the crash, their lives were a frolic, sealed off from the concerns of the population at large.
During the summers, the Bushes stayed in a second home on the family’s ten-acre spread at Walker’s Point at Kennebunkport, Maine. Flush from the Soviet oil deals and the Thyssen-Nazi Party arrangements, Grandfather Walker had built a house there for Prescott and Dorothy. They and other well-to-do summer colonists used Kennebunkport’s River Club for tennis and yachting. In the winter season, they took the train to Grandfather Walker’s plantation, called “ Duncannon, ” near Barnwell, South Carolina. The novices were instructed in skeet shooting, then went out on horseback, following the hounds in pursuit of quail and dove. George’s sister Nancy recalled “ the care taken ” by the servants “ over the slightest things, like the trimmed edges of the grapefruit. We were waited on by the most wonderful black servants who would come into the bedrooms early in the morning and light those crackling pine-wood fires…. ”@s2
The money poured in from the Hamburg-Amerika steamship line, its workforce crisply regulated by the Nazi Labor Front. The family took yet another house at Aiken, South Carolina. There the Bush children had socially acceptable “ tennis and riding partners. Aiken was a Southern capital of polo in those days, a winter resort of considerable distinction and serenity that attracted many Northerners, especially the equestrian oriented. The Bush children naturally rode there, too…. ”@s3 Averell Harriman, a world-class polo player, also frequented Aiken.
Poppy Bush’s father and mother anxiously promoted the family’s distinguished lineage, and its growing importance in the world. Prescott Bush claimed that he “ could trace his family’s roots back to England’s King Henry III, making George a thirteenth cousin, twice removed of Queen Elizabeth. ”@s4
This particular conceit may be a bad omen for President Bush. The cowardly, acid-tongued Henry III was defeated by France’s Louis IX (Saint Louis) in Henry’s grab for power over France and much of Europe. Henry’s own barons at length revolted against his blundering arrogance, and his power was curbed.
As the 1930s economic crisis deepened, Americans experienced unprecedented hardship and fear. The Bush children were taught that those who suffered these problems had no one to blame but themselves.
A hack writer, hired to puff President Bush’s “ heroic military background, ” wrote these lines from material supplied by the White House:
“ Prescott Bush was a thrifty man…. He had no sympathy for the nouveau riches who flaunted their wealth–they were without class, he said. As a sage and strictly honest businessman, he had often turned failing companies around, making them profitable again, and he had scorn for people who went bankrupt because they mismanaged their money. Prescott’s lessons were absorbed by young George…. ”@s5
When he reached the age of five, George Bush joined his older brother Pres in attending the Greenwich Country Day School. The brothers’ “ lives were charted from birth. Their father had determined that his sons would be … educated and trained to be members of America’s elite…. Greenwich Country Day School [was] an exclusive all-male academy for youngsters slated for private secondary schools….
“Alec, the family chauffeur, drove the two boys to school every morning after dropping Prescott, Sr. at the railroad station for the morning commute to Manhattan. The Depression was nowhere in evidence as the boys glided in the family’s black Oldsmobile past the stone fences, stables, and swimming pools of one of the wealthiest communities in America. ”@s6
But though the young George Bush had no concerns about his material existence, one must not overlook the important, private anxiety gnawing at him from the direction of his mother.
The President’s wife, Barbara, has put most succinctly the question of Dorothy Bush and her effect on George: “ His mother was the most competitive living human. ”@s7
If we look here in his mother’s shadow, we may find something beyond the routine medical explanations for President Bush’s “ driven ” states of rage, or hyperactivity.
Mother Bush was the best athlete in the family, the fastest runner. She was hard. She expected others to be hard. They must win, but they must always appear not to care about winning.
This is put politely, delicately, in a “ biography ” written by an admiring friend of the President: “ She was with them day after day, … often curbing their egos as only a marine drill instructor can. Once when … George lost a tennis match, he explained to her that he had been off his game that morning. She retorted, `You don’t have a game.’ ”@s8
According to this account, Barbara was fascinated by her mother-in-law’s continuing ferocity:
- George, playing mixed doubles with Barbara on the Kennebunkport court, ran into a porch and injured his right shoulder blade. “ His mother said it was my ball to hit, and it happened because I didn’t run for it. She was probably right, ” Barbara told [an interviewer]…. When a discussion of someone’s game came up, as Barbara described it, “ if Mrs. Bush would say, `She had some good shots,’ it meant she stank. That’s just the way she got the message across. When one of the grandchildren brought this girl home, everybody said, `We think he’s going to marry her,’ and she said, `Oh, no, she won’t play net.’ ”@s9
A goad to rapid motion became embedded in his personality. It is observable throughout George Bush’s life.
A companion trait was Poppy’s uncanny urge, his master obsession with the need to “ kiss up, ” to propitiate those who might in any way advance his interests. A life of such efforts could at some point reach a climax of released rage, where the triumphant one may finally say, “ Now it is only I who must be feared. ”
This dangerous cycle began very early, a response to his mother’s prodding and intimidation; it intensified as George became more able to calculate his advantage.
His mother says:
- “ George was a most unselfish child. When he was only a little more than two years old … we bought him one of those pedal cars you climb into and work with your feet.
“[His brother] Pres knew just how to work it, and George came running over and grabbed the wheel and told Pres he should `have half,’ meaning half of his new possession. `Have half, have half,’ he kept repeating, and for a while around the house we called him `Have half.’ ”@s1@s0
George “ learned to ask for no more than what was due him. Although not the school’s leading student, his report card was always good, and his mother was particularly pleased that he was always graded `excellent’ in one category she thought of great importance: `Claims no more than his fair share of time and attention.’ This consistent ranking led to a little family joke–George always did best in `Claims no more.’
“He was not a selfish child, did not even display the innocent possessiveness common to most children…. ”@s1@s1
George Bush left Greenwich Country Day School in 1936. He joined his older brother at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, 20 miles north of Boston. “ Poppy ” was 12 years old, handsome and rich. Though the U.S. economy took a savage turn for the worse the following year, George’s father was piling up a fortune, arranging bond swindles for the Nazis with John Foster Dulles.
Only about one in 14 U.S. secondary school students could afford to be in private schools during George Bush’s stay at Andover (1936-42). The New England preparatory or “ prep ” schools were the most exclusive. Their students were almost all rich white boys, many of them Episcopalians. And Andover was, in certain strange ways, the most exclusive of them all.
A 1980 campaign biography prepared by Bush’s own staff concedes that “ it was to New England that they returned to be educated at select schools that produce leaders with a patrician or aristocratic stamp–adjectives, incidentally, which cause a collective wince among the Bushes…. At the close of the 1930s … these schools … brought the famous `old-boy networks’ to the peak of their power. ”@s1@s2
These American institutions have been consciously modeled on England’s elite private schools (confusingly called “ public ” schools because they were open to all English boys with sufficient money). The philosophy inculcated into the son of a British Lord Admiral or South African police chief, was to be imbibed by sons of the American republic.
George made some decisive moral choices about himself in these first years away from home. The institution which guided these choices, and helped shape the peculiar obsessions of the 41st President, was a pit of Anglophile aristocratic racialism when George Bush came on the scene.
“ Andover was … less dedicated to `elitism’ than some [schools]…. There were even a couple of blacks in the classes, tokens of course, but this at a time when a black student at almost any other Northeastern prep school would have been unthinkable. ”@s1@s3
Andover had a vaunted “ tradition, ” intermingled with the proud bloodlines of its students and alumni, that was supposed to reach back to the school’s founding in 1778. But a closer examination reveals this “ tradition ” to be a fraud. It is part of a larger, highly significant historical fallacy perpetrated by the Anglo-Americans–and curiously stressed by Bush’s agents in foreign countries.
Thomas Cochran, a partner of the J.P. Morgan banking firm, donated considerable sums to construct swanky new Andover buildings in the 1920s. Among these were George Washington Hall and Paul Revere Hall, named for leaders of the American Revolution against the British Empire. These and similar “ patriotic ” trappings, with the alumni’s old school-affiliated genealogies, might seem to indicate an unbroken line of racial imperialists like Cochran and his circle, reaching back to the heroes of the Revolution!
Let us briefly tour Andover’s history, and then ponder whether General Washington would want to be identified with Poppy Bush’s school.
Thirty years after Samuel Phillips founded the Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, the quiet little school became embroiled in a violent controversy. On one side were certain diehard pro-British families, known as Boston Brahmins, who had prospered in the ship transportation of rum and black slaves. They had regained power in Boston since their allies had lost the 1775-83 American Revolution.
In 1805 these cynical, neo-pagan, “ Tory ” families succeeded in placing their representative in the Hollis chair of Philosophy at Harvard College. The Tories, parading publicly as liberal religionists called Unitarians, were opposed by American nationalists led by the geographer-historian Rev. Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826). The nationalists rallied the Christian churches of the northeastern states behind a plan to establish, at Andover, a new religious institution which would counter the British spies, atheists and criminals who had taken over Harvard.
British Empire political operatives Stephen Higginson, Jr. and John Lowell, Jr. published counterattacks against Rev. Morse, claiming he was trying to rouse the lower classes of citizens to hatred against the wealthy merchant families. Then the Tories played the “ conservative ” card. Ultra-orthodox Calvinists, actually business partners to the Harvard liberals, threatened to set up their own religious institution in Tory-dominated Newburyport. Their assertion, that Morse was not conservative enough, split the resources of the region’s Christians, until the Morse group reluctantly brought the Newburyport ultras as partners into the management of the Andover Theological Seminary in 1808.
The new theological seminary and the adjacent boys’ academy were now governed together under a common board of trustees (balanced between the Morse nationalists and the Newburyport anti-nationalists, the opposing wings of the old Federalist Party).
Jedidiah Morse made Andover the headquarters of a rather heroic, anti-racist, Christian missionary movement, bringing literacy, printing presses, medicine and technological education to Southeast Asia and American Indians, notably the Georgia Cherokees. This activist Andover doctrine of racial equality and American Revolutionary spirit was despised and feared by British opium pushers in East Asia and by Boston’s blue-blooded Anglophiles. Andover missionaries were eventually jailed in Georgia; their too-modern Cherokee allies were murdered and driven into exile by pro-slavery mobs.
When Jedidiah Morse’s generation died out, the Andover missionary movement was crushed by New England’s elite families–who were then Britain’s partners in the booming opium traffic. Andover was still formally Christian after 1840; Boston’s cynical Brahmins used Andover’s orthodox Protestant board to prosecute various of their opponents as “ heretics. ”
Neo-paganism and occult movements bloomed after the Civil War with Darwin’s new materialist doctrines. In the 1870s the death-worshipping Skull and Bones Society sent its alumni members back from Yale University, to organize aristocratic secret satanic societies for the teenagers at the Andover prep school. But these cults did not yet quite flourish. National power was still precariously balanced between the imperial Anglo-American financiers, and the old-line nationalists who built America’s railroads, steel and electrical industries.
The New Age aristocrats proclaimed their victory under Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency (1901-09). The Andover Theological Seminary wound up its affairs and moved out of town, to be merged with the Harvard Divinity School! Andover prep school was now largely free of the annoyance of religion, or any connection whatsoever with the American spirit. Secret societies for the school’s children, modeled on the barbarian orders at Yale, were now established in permanent, incorporated headquarters buildings just off campus at Andover. Official school advisers were assigned to each secret society, who participated in their cruel and literally insane rituals.
When J.P. Morgan partner Thomas Cochran built Andover’s luxurious modern campus for boys like Poppy Bush, the usurpers of America’s name had cause to celebrate. Under their supervision, fascism was rising in Europe. The new campus library was named for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Andover class of 1825. This dreadful poet of the “ leisure class, ” a tower of Boston blue-blooded conceit, was famous as the father of the twentieth century U.S. Supreme Court justice. His son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., symbolized the arbitrary rule of the racial purity advocates, the usurpers, over American society.
Andover installed a new headmaster in 1933. Claude Moore Fuess (rhymes with fleece) replaced veteran headmaster Alfred E. Stearns, whom the Brahmins saw as a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary. Stearns was forced out over a “ scandal ”: a widower, he had married his housekeeper, who was beneath his social class.
The new headmaster was considered forward-looking and flexible, ready to meet the challenges of the world political crisis: for example, Fuess favored psychiatry for the boys, something Stearns wouldn’t tolerate.
Claude Fuess had been an Andover history teacher since 1908, and gained fame as an historian. He was one of the most skillful liars of the modern age.
Fuess had married into the Boston Cushing family. He had written the family-authorized whitewash biography of his wife’s relative, Caleb Cushing, a pro-slavery politician of the middle nineteenth century. The outlandish, widely known corruption of Cushing’s career was matched by Fuess’s bold, outrageous coverup.@s1@s4
During George Bush’s years at Andover, Feuss, his headmaster, wrote an authorized biography of Calvin Coolidge, the late U.S. President. This work was celebrated in jest as a champion specimen of unwholesome flattery. In other books, also about the blue bloods, Fuess was simply given the family papers and designated the chief liar for the “ Bostonian Race. ”
Both the Cushing and Coolidge families had made their fortunes in opium trafficking. Bush’s headmaster named his son John Cushing Fuess, perhaps after the fabled nineteenth-century dope kingpin who had made the Cushings rich. @s1@s5
Headmaster Fuess used to say to his staff, “ I came to power with Hitler and Mussolini. ”@s1@s6 This was not merely a pleasantry, referring to his appointment the year Hitler took over Germany.
In his 1939 memoirs, Headmaster Fuess expressed the philosophy which must guide the education of the well-born young gentlemen under his care:
- Our declining birth rate … may perhaps indicate a step towards national deterioration. Among the so-called upper and leisure classes, noticeably among the university group, the present birth rate is strikingly low. Among the Slavonic and Latin immigrants, on the other hand, it is relatively high. We seem thus to be letting the best blood thin out and disappear; while at the same time our humanitarian efforts for the preservation of the less fit, those who for some reason are crippled and incapacitated, are being greatly stimulated. The effect on the race will not become apparent for some generations and certainly cannot now be accurately predicted; but the phenomenon must be mentioned if you are to have a true picture of what is going on in the United States.@s1@s7
Would George Bush adopt this anti-Christian outlook as his own? One can never know for sure how a young person will respond to the doctrines of his elders, no matter how cleverly presented. There is a much higher degree of certainty that he will conform to criminal expectations, however, if the student is brought to practice cruelty against other youngsters, and to degrade himself in order to get ahead. At Andover, this was where the Secret Societies came in.
The Secret Societies
Nothing like Andover’s secret societies existed at any other American school. What were they all about?
Bush’s friend Fitzhugh Greene wrote in 1989:
- Robert L. “ Tim ” Ireland, Bush’s longtime supporter [and Brown Brothers Harriman partner], who later served on the Andover board of trustees with him, said he believed [Bush] had been in AUV. “ What’s that? I asked. “Can’t tell you, ” laughed Ireland. “ It’s secret! ” Both at Andover and Yale, such groups only bring in a small percentage of the total enrollment in any class. “ That’s a bit cruel to those who don’t make AU[V] or `Bones,’ ” conceded Ireland.@s1@s8
A retired teacher, who was an adviser to one of the groups, cautiously disclosed in his bicentennial history of Andover, some aspects of the secret societies. The reader should keep in mind that this account was published by the school, to celebrate itself:
- A charming account of the early days of K.O.A, the oldest of the Societies, was prepared by Jack [i.e. Claude Moore] Fuess, a member of the organization, on the occasion of their Fiftieth Anniversary. The Society was founded in … 1874….
[A] major concern of the membership was the initiation ceremony. In K.O.A. the ceremony involved visiting one of the local cemeteries at midnight, various kinds of tortures, running the gauntlet–though the novice was apparently punched rather than paddled, being baptized in a water tank, being hoisted in the air by a pulley, and finally being placed in a coffin, where he was cross-examined by the members…. K.O.A. was able to hold the loyalty of its members over the years to become a powerful institution at Phillips Academy and to erect a handsome pillared Society house on School Street.
The second Society of the seven that would survive until 1950 was A.U.V. [George Bush’s group]. The letters stood for Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas. [Authority, Unity, Truth.] This organization resulted from a merger of two … earlier Societies … in 1877. A new constitution was drawn up … providing for four chief officers–Imperator [commander], Vice Imperator [vice-commander], Scriptor [secretary], and Quaestor [magistrate or inquisitor]….
Like K.O.A, A.U.V. had an elaborate initiation ceremony. Once a pledge had been approved by the Faculty, he was given a letter with a list of rules he was to follow. He was to be in the cemetery every night from 12:30 to 5:00, deliver a morning paper to each member of the Society each morning, must not comb or brush his hair nor wash his face or hands, smoke nothing but a clay pipe with Lucky Strike tobacco, and not speak to any student except members of A.U.V.
After the pledge had memorized these rules, his letter of instruction was burned. The pledge had now become a “ scut ” and was compelled to learn many mottoes and incantations. On Friday night of initiation week the scut was taken to Hartigan’s drugstore downtown and given a “ scut sundae, ” which consisted of pepper, ice cream, oysters, and raw liver. Later that night he reported to the South Church cemetery, where he had to wait for two hours for the members to arrive. There followed the usual horseplay–the scut was used as a tackling dummy, threats were made to lock him in a tomb, and various other ceremonies observed. On Saturday afternoon the scut was taken on a long walk around town, being forced to stop at some houses and ask for food, to urinate on a few porches, and generally to make a fool of himself. On Saturday night came the initiation proper. The scut was prepared by reporting to the cellar in his underwear and having dirt and flour smeared all over his body. He was finally cleaned up and brought to the initiation room, where a solemn ceremony followed, ending with the longed-for words “ Let him have light, ” at which point his blindfold was removed, some oaths were administered, and the boy was finally a member….
Shortly after 1915 the present [A.U.V.] house was constructed. From then until the Society crisis of the 1940s, A.U.V. continued strong and successful. There were, to be sure, some problems. In the mid-1920s, the scholarship average of the Society dropped abysmally. The members had also been pledging students illegally–without the approval of the Faculty guardian. In one initiation a boy had been so battered that he was unable to run in the Andover-Exeter track meet…. Yet the Society managed to overcome these problems and well deserved its position as one of the big three among the school’s Societies….@s1@s9
From all available evidence, at Andover prep George Bush was completely obsessed with status, with seeming to be important. His 1980 campaign biography boasts that he achieved this goal:
- “ There was, as there always is at any institution, an elitism in terms of the group that ran things, the power group among the boys who recognized each other as peers. George was among this group, but for him it was natural…. ”@s2@s0
The A.U.V. roster, 32 members including George Bush, is given in the Andover Class of 1942 yearbook. Why was it “ natural ” for George to be “ among this group ”?
The hierarchical top banana of the A.U.V. in George’s class was Godfrey Anderson (“ Rocky ”) Rockefeller. In the yearbook just above the A.U.V. roster is a photograph of “ Rocky Rockefeller ” and “ Lem [Lehman F.] Beardsley ”; Rockefeller stands imperiously without a shirt, Beardsley scowls from behind sunglasses. Certainly the real monarch of George Bush’s Andover secret society, and George’s sponsor, was this Rocky’s father, Godfrey S. Rockefeller.
The latter gentleman had been on the staff of the Yale University establishment in China in 1921-22. Yale and the Rockefellers were breeding a grotesque communist insurgency with British Empire ideology; another Yale staffer there was Mao Zedong, later the communist dictator and mass murderer. While he was over in China, Papa Godfrey’s cousin Isabel had been the bridesmaid at the wedding of George Bush’s parents. His Uncle Percy had co-founded the Harriman bank with George Walker, and backed George Bush’s father in several Nazi German enterprises. His grandfather had been the founding treasurer of the Standard Oil Company, and had made the Harrimans (and thus, ultimately, George Bush) rich.
Faculty adviser to A.U.V. in those days was Norwood Penrose Hallowell; his father by the same name was chairman of Lee, Higginson & Co. private bankers, the chief financiers of Boston’s extreme racialist political movements. The elder Hallowell was based in London throughout the 1930s, on intimate terms with Montagu Norman and his pro-Hitler American banking friends.
But this kind of backing, by itself, cannot ensure that a person will rise to the top, to authentic “ big-shot ” status. You have to want it very, very badly.
One of Poppy Bush’s teachers at Andover, now in retirement, offered to an interviewer for this book, a striking picture of his former pupil. How was the President as a student?
“ He never said a word in class. He was bored to death. And other teachers told me Bush was the worst English student ever in the school. ”
But was this teenager simply slow, or dull? On the contrary.
“ He was the classic `BMOC’ (Big Man On Campus). A great glad-hander. Always smiling. ”@s2@s1
Leaving academic studies aside, George Bush was the most insistent self-promoter on the campus. He was able to pursue this career, being fortunately spared from the more mundane chores some other students had to do. For example, he mailed his dirty laundry home each week, to be done by the servants. It was mailed back to him clean and folded.@s2@s2
Student records show a massive list of offices and titles for Poppy, perhaps more than for any other student:
- President of Senior Class (1 term)
- Secretary of Student Council (1 term)
- Student Council (1941-42) (surveillance of students during tests, keeping order in the movies, investigating student thieves)
- President of Society of Inquiry (1941-42)
- Senior Prom Committee
- Chairman of Student Deacons (1941-42)
- Advisory Board (management of sports, choosing of P.A. Police to control student body, choosing of cheerleaders)
- President of Greeks (1940-42)
- Captain of Baseball (1942)
- Captain of Soccer (1941)
- Manager of Basketball (1941)
- Society of Inquiry (1940-42) (formerly a Christian mission group, now management of extra-curricular activities)
- Student Deacon (1940-42)
- Editorial Board of the Phillipian (1938-39)
- All-club Soccer (1938)
- Business Board of the Pot Pourri (1940-42)
- Deputy Housemaster
- Varsity Soccer Squad (1939-41)
- Varsity Basketball Team (1941-42)
- Junior Varsity Baseball Team (1939)
- Varsity Baseball Squad (1940)
- Varsity Baseball Team (1941-42)
- Johns Hopkins Prize (1938)
- Treasurer of Student Council (1 term)
To be sure, some of these distinctions were, well, a bit less than he had hoped for.
The Class of 1942 was officially polled, to see who had the most status among the students themselves.
For “ Best All-Around Fellow, ” Poppy Bush was third. Bush did not show up in the “ Most Intelligent ” category.
Interestingly, Bush came in second on “ Most Faculty Drag ”–the teachers’ pets–even though Bush did not appear at all on the school’s Scholastic Honors list. In fact, no member of the Rockefeller-Bush A.U.V. was on the Honors list–despite chanting incantations, being smeared with filth and urinating on porches.
Barbara Pierce’s Tradition
The Japanese attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, bringing America into World War II. Because of his family’s involvement with the Nazis, this would later pose a very different problem for Andover senior Poppy Bush than for the ordinary young man his age.
Meanwhile, the social whirl went on. A couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor, during Christmas vacation, George went to a “ cotillion at the Round Hill Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was a social affair attended by upcoming debutantes and acceptable young men. ”@s2@s3
Here George Bush met his future wife, Barbara Pierce, whose family was in the High Society set in nearby Rye, New York. Barbara was an attractive 16-year-old girl, athletic like George’s mother. She was home for the holidays from her exclusive boarding school, Ashley Hall, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her breeding was acceptable:
- “ Barbara’s background, though not quite so aristocratic as George’s, was also socially impressive in a day when Society was defined by breeding rather than wealth. Her father, Marvin Pierce, was a distant nephew of President Franklin Pierce (1853-57)…. Barbara’s mother, Pauline Robinson … was [the daughter of] an Ohio Supreme Court justice. ”@s2@s4
Barbara’s father, Marvin Pierce, was then vice president of McCall Corporation, publisher of Redbook and McCall’s magazines. After his daughter joined the banking oligarchy by marrying into the Bush family (1945), Pierce became McCall’s chief executive. Pierce and his magazine’s theme of “ Togetherness ”–stressing family social existence divorced from political, scientific, artistic or creative activities–played a role in the cult of conformity and mediocrity which crushed U.S. mental life in the 1950s.
A great deal is made about Barbara Pierce Bush’s family connection to U.S. President Franklin Pierce. It is inserted in books written by Bush friends and staff members. Barbara Bush’s gossip-column biographer says: “ Her own great-great-great uncle President Franklin Pierce had his [White House] office in the Treaty Room…. ” In fact, President Pierce was a distant cousin of Barbara Pierce’s great-great grandfather, not his brother, as this claim would imply. **
** [Established through consultation with the New Hampshire Historical Society and Pierce family experts in Pennsylvania, this fact is acknowledged by Mrs. Bush’s White House staff.]
Like the Henry III ancestral claim, Franklin Pierce may be a bad omen for George Bush. The catastrophic Pierce was refused renomination by his own political party. Pierce backed schemes to spread slavery by having mercenaries, called “ filibusters, ” invade Mexico, Central America and the Caribben islands. During the Civil War, he attacked the Emancipation Proclamation that outlawed black slavery in the rebel states. His former backers among the wealthy New England families abandoned him and treated him like dirt. He died unmourned in 1869.
One may ask, in what way are President Bush and his backers conscious of an oligarchical tradition? For a clue, let us look at the case of Arthur Burr Darling, George Bush’s prep school history teacher.
Just after Claude Fuess “ came into power with Hitler and Mussolini ” in 1933, Fuess brought Darling in to teach. Dr. Darling was head of the Andover history department from 1937 to 1956, and Faculty Guardian of one of the secret societies. His Political Changes in Massachusetts, 1824 to 1848 covered the period of Andover’s eclipse by Boston’s aristocratic opium lords. Darling’s book attacks Andover’s greatest humanitarian, Jedidiah Morse, as a dangerous lunatic, because Morse warned about international criminal conspiracies involving these respectable Bostonians. The same book attacks President John Quincy Adams as a misguided troublemaker, responsible with Morse for the anti-freemasonic movement in the 1820s-30s.
Arthur Burr Darling, while still head of Andover’s history department, was chosen by the Harrimanites to organize the historical files of the new Central Intelligence Agency, and to write the CIA’s own official account of its creation and first years. Since this cynical project was secret, Darling’s 1971 obituary did not reflect his CIA employment.@s2@s5 Darling’s The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950 was classified Secret on its completion in December 1953. For 36 years it was only to be consulted for self-justification by the Harrimanites. This mercenary work was finally declassified in 1989 and was published by Pennsylvania State University in 1990. Subsequent editions of Who Was Who in America were changed, in the fashion of Joe Stalin’s “ history revisers, ” to tell the latest, official version of what George Bush’s history teacher had done with his life.
Having met his future wife Barbara, Poppy Bush returned from the Christmas holidays after New Year’s Day, 1942, for his final months at Andover. The U.S. entry into World War II made things rather awkward for Bush and some of his schoolmates, and cast a dark shadow on his future.
Since early 1941, the Justice Department had been investigating the Nazi support apparatus among U.S. firms. This probe centered on the Harriman, Rockefeller, Du Pont and related enterprises, implicating George’s father Prescott, his partners and the Bushes’ close family friends.
On March 5, 1942–at about the time Poppy Bush and Rocky Rockefeller were contemplating the tortures they would inflict on the Class of 1943 A.U.V. recruits–the Special Committee of the U.S. Senate Investigating the National Defense Program began explosive public hearings in Washington, D.C. The subject: cartel agreements between U.S. and Nazi firms that should be hit with anti-trust actions. Pearl Harbor, the draft of American boys, and these sensational hearings were causing a popular attitude quite dangerous for the higher-level Nazi collaborators (see Chapter 2).
But on March 20, 1942, Henry L. Stimson, U.S. Secretary of War and president of Andover prep’s Board of Trustees, sent a memorandum to President Franklin Roosevelt recommending stopping the investigations of the U.S.-Nazi trusts: the resulting lawsuits would “ unavoidably consume the time of executives and employees of those corporations which are engaged in war work. ” Stimson got Navy Secretary Frank Knox and Assistant Attorney General Thurman Arnold to co-sign the memo. President Roosevelt agreed to Stimson’s request, but conceded to Arnold and his antitrust staff that he would press for extended statutes of limitation to make postwar prosecutions possible.@s2@s6
Stimson’s intervention for his friends could not, however, entirely cancel the already ongoing exposure and prosecution of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey, as we saw in Chapter 4. After Farish’s death, the prosecutions were suspended, but the seizures of Nazi corporate assets continued, and this would soon lead to Prescott Bush and to Grandfather Walker. Could aristocratic friends be relied upon to prevent scandal or legal trouble from smashing up Poppy’s world, and wrecking his carefully prepackaged golden future?
As George wound up his Andover career, and paid court to Barbara, U.S. government investigators sifted through the affairs of the Hitler-Harriman-Bush steamship lines, Hamburg-Amerika and North German Lloyd. Their final report, issued under confidential seal on July 18, 1942, would show that long-time Harriman-Bush executive Christian J. Beck was still the New York attorney for the merged Nazi firms. (See Chapter 3 for details and description of sources.)
Seizure orders on the shipping lines would be issued in August. The government would seize other Nazi assets, still managed by the Bush family, in the autumn. Prescott Bush, legally responsible for Nazi German banking operations in New York, would have to be named in a seizure order. Could friends in high places keep all this out of the public eye?
Along about this time, something was going very wrong with the secret societies at Andover prep school.
Andover’s historian, as quoted above, affirmed that “ until the Society crisis of the 1940s, A.U.V. continued strong and successful. ” But a few months after Poppy Bush and Rocky Rockefeller left the school, Headmaster Fuess and his trustees announced they were closing and banning the secret societies forever. This set off a storm of controversy.
Bush’s A.U.V. had been humiliating students and teaching anti-Christian rituals since 1877. Fuess was himself a member of one of the Societies. What had happened, to precipitate this drastic decision?
The great Society crisis at Andover was highly charged, because so many of the alumni and parents of current students were leaders of government and finance. An ugly scandal there would reverberate around the world. Whatever really prompted the close-down decision was kept a tight secret, and remains wrapped in mystery today, a half-century later.
Headmaster Fuess claimed that an event which happened nine years earlier had moved him to the decision. This event was duly recorded in the Andover history book:
- “ In 1934 one undergraduate had been killed during the course of a Society initiation. A group of alumni had joined the undergraduates for part of the ceremonies that were held in a barn on the outskirts of Andover. On the way back the initiate rode on the running board of a car driven by one of the alumni. The roads were slippery, and the car crashed into a telegraph pole, crushing the boy, who died in Dr. Fuess’s presence in the hospital a few hours later. ”@s2@s7But this tragedy had been brushed off by the school administration, with no suggestion of interfering with the satanic Societies. Was there another, significantly worse disaster, that happened to Class of 1943 secret society recruits?
When the alumni heard about the decision, they exploded into action. They accused Fuess of “ fascism ” and attacked his “ star-chamber proceedings. ” A Boston newspaper headline proclaimed, “ 10,000 Andover Alumni Battle Trustees on Abolishing Secret Societies. ” The headmaster, releasing no specifics to back up his proposal, said, “ the purpose for which the secret societies were founded no longer seems apparent. ” His allies said, quite vaguely, that the Societies “ promoted exclusiveness, ” operated “ on a special privilege basis, ” and created “ social cleavage. ”@s2@s8
The stealthy shut-down decision, having now become loudly public, had to be squelched. Andover’s Board of Trustees president, Secretary of War Stimson, settled the matter and kept a lid on things with his familiar refrain that the war effort should not be disturbed. Whatever had pushed Fuess and the trustees to act, was never disclosed. The Societies were quietly closed down in 1950.
Secretary of War Stimson made a famous speech in June 1942, to Poppy Bush and the other graduating Andover boys. Stimson told them the war would be long, and they, the elite, should go on to college.
But George Bush had some very complicated problems. The decision had already been made that he would join the service and get quite far away from where he had been. For reasons of family (which will be discussed in Chapter 7), there was a very special niche waiting for him in naval aviation.
There was one serious hitch in this plan. It was illegal. Though he would be 18 years old on June 12, he would not have the two years of college the Navy required for its aviators.
Well, if you had an urgent problem, perhaps the law could be simply set aside, for you and you alone, ahead of all the five million poor slobs who had to go in the mud with the infantry or swab some stinking deck–especially if your private school’s president was currently Secretary of War (Henry Stimson), if your father’s banking partner was currently Assistant Secretary of War for Air (Robert Lovett), and if your father had launched the career of the current Assistant Navy Secretary for Air (Artemus Gates).
And it was done.
As a Bush-authorized version puts it, “ One wonders why the Navy relaxed its two years of college requirement for flight training in George Bush’s case. He had built an outstanding record at school as a scholar [sic], athlete and campus leader, but so had countless thousands of other youths.
“Yet it was George Bush who appeared to be the only beneficiary of this rule-waiving, and thus he eventually emerged as the youngest pilot in the Navy–a fact that he can still boast about and because of which he enjoyed a certain celebrity during the war. ”@s2@s9
Return to the Table of Contents
Notes for Chapter V
1. Nicholas King, George Bush: A Biography (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1980), pp. 13-14.
2. Ibid., p. 19.
4. Joe Hyams, Flight of the Avenger: George Bush at War (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovitch, 1991), p. 14.
5. Ibid., p. 17.
6. Ibid., pp. 16-17.
7. Donnie Radcliffe, Simply Barbara Bush (New York: Warner Books, 1989), p. 132.
8. Fitzhugh Green, George Bush: An Intimate Portrait (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1989), p. 16.
9. Radcliffe, op. cit., p. 133.
10. King, op. cit, p. 14.
11. Hyams, op. cit., pp. 17-19.
12. King, op. cit., pp. 10, 20.
13. Ibid., p. 21.
14. Claude M. Fuess, The Life of Caleb Cushing, 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1923).
15. John Perkins Cushing was a multi-millionaire opium smuggler who retired to Watertown, Massachusetts with servants dressed as in a Canton gangster carnival. See Vernon L. Briggs, History and Genealogy of the Cabot Family, 1475-1927 (Boston: privately printed, 1927), vol. II, p. 558-559. John Murray Forbes, Letters and Recollections (reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1981), Vol I, p. 62-63. Mary Caroline Crawford, Famous Families of Massachusetts (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1930), 2 vols.
16. Interview with a retired Andover teacher.
17. Claude M. Fuess, Creed of a Schoolmaster (reprinted Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1970), pp. 192-93.
18. Green, op. cit., p. 49.
19. Frederick S. Allis, Youth from Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover, Mass.: Phillips Academy, 1979), distributed by the University Press of New England, Hanover, N.H.), pp. 505-7.
20. King, op. cit., p. 21.
21. Spoke on condition of non-attribution.
22. Hyams, op. cit., pp. 23-24.
23. Ibid., p. 24.
24. Ibid., p. 27.
25. See New York Times, Nov. 29, 1971.
26. Joseph Borkin, The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1978), p. 89.
27. Allis, op. cit., p. 512.
28. Newsweek, August 9, 1943; Boston Globe, July 22, 1943.
29. Green, op. cit., page 28.