How The Bush Family Dynasty Became America's First Family Of Finance

America doesn’t have many political dynasties as powerful and well known as the Bush Family. Their success is an effort that takes money, power, and all of the right connections — some of which comes from a history on Wall Street.

Bushes have served in both the executive and legislative branches of our federal government. The family provided a pair of Presidents — the 41st and 43rd — and have held two state governorships.

And because of George W. Bush’s close ties to Texas and connections with the oil industry, the Bush family is often perceived as a bunch of oil tycoons.

In reality, however, the oil industry is just one of many in which the Bush family displayed their financial expertise. The family tradition, which continues to this day, was founded upon the pursuit of riches through investment banking and wartime business ventures.

This is why the family has had a hand in businesses from Halliburton to Merrill Lynch, and also has a history of owning major league sports teams.

Linette Lopez also contributed to this story.

Samuel P. Bush, one of the two patriarchs of the dynasty, had extensive experience as a banking executive.

Samuel served on the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and helped found the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During WWI, he served as Chief of the Ordnance, Small Arms and Ammunition division on the War Industries Board, where wartime business ventures coupled with his connections to the Rockefeller family laid the foundation for the family's fortune.

Source: A Hoover Vignette

George Herbert Walker, the other patriarch, founded the investment bank G.H. Walker & Co. in 1900.

This was the first of Walker's forays into finance. The firm, located on 1 Wall Street, employed various members of the Bush family until it became a part of Merrill Lynch in 1978.

Source: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

Walker became President of the investment firm W.A. Harriman & Co. in 1920.

The company's owner, Averell Harriman, is seen pictured with President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the firm, Walker used his network of international banking contacts to develop profitable investment opportunities, especially in Germany and Russia.

Source: Britannica

Naturally, all this money meant the family led a lovely lifestyle. George H. Walker bought the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1903.

The estate has been called Point Vesuvius and Walker's Point.

His son, George Herbert Walker Jr., owned a share in the New York Mets.

George 'Herbert' Walker Jr. was an original owner of the New York Mets and a successful Wall Street businessman. He tapped his connections and his own deep pockets to help finance the Bush-Overby Oil Development Company.

Source: ESPN

Walker's son-in-law Prescott Bush developed the family fortune at Union Banking Corporation.

After serving as Vice-President at W.A. Harriman & Co, a position he secured from his father-in-law, Prescott was able to amass the Bush fortune at Union Banking Corp. The investment bank was a massive beneficiary of WWII, facilitating the transfer of gold, oil, steel, and coal all over the globe. The bank's assets were frozen during WWII as a result of its ties to Nazi Germany, though Prescott was never found guilty of any crime.

Source: Fox News

Prescott got the family into oil by sitting on the board of Dresser Industries, an oil equipment company.

While at Harriman, Prescott sat on the board of Dresser Industries, an oil equipment company which boomed during WWII and eventually merged with Halliburton in the late 1990s. George H.W. Bush, Prescott's son, got his start at Dresser.

Source: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

Prescott's son George H.W. Bush married Barbara Pierce, the daughter of a magazine executive.

They had six children: Pauline, Neil, Marvin, Dorothy, John Ellis 'Jeb,' and George Walker.

H.W.'s first venture into oil, the Bush-Overby Oil Development Co., eventually became Pennzoil.

Bush and Overby expanded their operations to form Zapata Petroleum in 1953, which became Pennzoil after a merger 10 years later. Pennzoil would go on to earn almost $US3 billion in revenues in 1999.

Source: The New York Times

Eldest son and future President George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968 and from Harvard Business School in 1975.

In the 1980s, George W. Bush's first venture was Arbusto Energy, and he used the same office his father had 25 years earlier.

Arbusto Energy, Dubya's first business venture, was a struggling venture saved twice through mergers. Arbusto offered investors substantial tax write-offs, but little in the way of returns. W only returned 45 cents on the dollar to his investors.

The initial investors include several Bush notables and some family friends.

Source: CNN

The venture was a family affair. Jonathan Bush, George W.'s Uncle, bundled investors for Arbusto Energy.

Jonathan owned J. Bush & Co., which provided banking services for diplomats, and later became CEO of Riggs Investment. He recruited the majority of Arbusto Energy's investors.

Source: Los Angeles Times

One of those investors was Dorothy Bush, George W's grandmother.

George W. Bush's grandmother, Dorothy Bush, was part of the group of investors that helped him launch his first oil exploration company. She chipped in $US25,000.

Source: Los Angeles Times

James R. Bath, U.S. money manager for the Bin Laden family, also invested in Arbusto.

Bath, who was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard along with Dubya, poured $US50,000 into Arbusto Energy on behalf of Salem bin Laden, an older half-brother of Osama bin Laden. He is shown breaking ground at an Arbusto Energy site (right).

Sources: Houston Chronicle, New York Times

Arbusto was merged into Harken Energy to save the firm, but the Bush connections paid off, scoring the company a Bahraini offshore drilling contract.

Arbusto became Spectrum 7 and Harken Energy following mergers which saved the failing firm. The investment in the Bush name paid off, as Harken unexpectedly acquired an offshore drilling contract from the Bahraini government through Dubya's business connections while H.W. served as President. This move both revealed and enhanced the Bush family's connections with the Saudi elite.

Sources: CNN , Los Angeles Times

But he didn't leave finance. W served on the Carlyle Group's board of directors. H.W. joined the firm as an advisor after he was President.

During his father's presidency, George W. Bush served on the Board of Directors for the Carlyle Group. After his presidency ended, George H.W. Bush joined the global private equity investment firm as an advisor.

Source: New York Times

Meanwhile, the rest of the family stayed in finance. Neil Bush paid $US50,000 for his role in the Savings & Loan crisis.

This brother of George W. Bush settled out of court with the FDIC for allegedly breaching his fiduciary duties in the wake of the collapse of Silverado Savings and Loan, where he served on the Board of Directors. Neil is pictured (front left) as a child in this Bush family photo.

Source: Los Angeles Times

H.W.'s cousin George Herbert Walker III started in finance and ended up an Ambassador to Hungary

Herbert III started his career at G.H. Walker & Co, later becoming Chairman of G.H. Walker Laird and then President, CEO, and Chairman of Stifel, Nicolaus & Company. He also served as a U.S. ambassador to Hungary.

Source: U.S. Embassy.Gov

His son, George Herbert Walker IV, has held top positions at Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and now Neuberger Berman.

Herbert IV has a storied career in financial services. He was formerly a Goldman Sachs partner who became global head of Investment Management at Lehman Brothers shortly before its collapse. Currently, he is Chairman and CEO of Neuberger Berman Group, an investment management firm for high net worth individuals and institutional investors.

Sources: Business Insider, Huffington Post

William H.T. Bush, brother of H.W., parlayed his financial connections into defence contracts.

'Bucky' Bush, CEO of financial services holding company Bush, O'Donnell & Co, made a substantial profit from the sale of about $US2 million in Engineered Support Systems stock in 2005. The defence contractor worked on behalf of the Pentagon in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Perhaps you want to trace some banking roots back much farther>

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