The most famous secret society in America, Skull and Bones was co-founded at Yale in 1832 by the father of a future president and has come to signify everything that attracts and repulses the public about “The Elite.”
Rumor has it that Yale junior class members are tapped for membership each fall by some measure of leadership, influence and breeding.
Among the business titans, poets, politicians and three US Presidents that are rumored to be members, we’ve picked out the honor roll.
William Howard Taft – Class of 1878
Our 27th, and fattest (fun fact), President was known to his college buddies as “Big Lub,” and was the first “Bonesman” ever to reach The Oval Office.Frankly, young Mr. Taft would probably had a rather easy time getting into the club…
His father, and one-time Attorney General, Alphonso Taft, co-founded Skull and Bones as a Yale student in 1832.
Amos Alonzo Stagg – Class of 1888
Yale’s greatest football player of all-time (apologies to Calvin Hill), Stagg practically invented the modern game and is still the only man to be elected into both the Pro Football and Pro Basketball Halls of Fame. It can only be assumed that being the most gifted jock in Yale’s history had some bearing on Mr. Stagg’s being chosen to join Skull and Bones.
William Averill Harriman – Class of 1913
The future Governor of New York and Presidential candidate was clearly a man who liked his time at Yale… Immediately after inheriting the largest fortune in The United States from his railroad baron father upon his graduation, Harriman took a job as Yale’s crew coach and stuck around New Haven.
No doubt the man his fellow Bonesmen referred to Averill as “Thor,” continued to enjoy himself around town as Yale celebrity before moving on to his many future successes.
Archibald MacLeish – Class of 1915
Before living in Paris amongst “The Lost Generation” of Hemingway, Pound and Fitzgerald, while honing a poetic voice that would yield three Pulitzer Prizes, MacLeish was a Yale Graduate and a member of Skull and Bones. It would seem that MacLeish, like most Bonesmen, was chosen more for his brains more than his connections…
“Archie’s” father was an Illinois dry goods dealer, and his mother was a college professor, a rare combination of parentage and geography for the Bonesmen of his day.
Prescott Bush – Class of 1916
If you thought “Dubya” was a wild man in his college years, you should have met his grand-daddy. Prescott, the future Senator from Connecticut, was apparently a real “cut-up” who, along with some other Bonesmen, is believed to have dug up and absconded with the skull of the legendary Native American warrior Geronimo during World War I.
Legend has it that Geronimo’s head is still inside Skull and Bones HQ, known as “The Tomb,” at 64 High Street in New Haven.
Robert Lovett – Class of 1918
Harry Truman’s Secretary of War and the man whom many have called “The Architect of The Cold War” was the consummate Bonesman insider. Along with sharing a membership timeline with Prescott Bush, Lovett was also friendly with fellow Bonesman Harvey Hollister Bundy, who served with Lovett in Truman’s War Cabinet and was the father of future Bonesman McGeorge Bundy.
Henry Luce – Class of 1920
The man who went on to found and publish Time Magazine was first an editor of The Yale Daily News. He was also a man that fellow Bonesmen referred to as “Baal,” an apparent reference to a mythological, ancient, Aramaic demon.
We have no idea why, but the mind boggles at the implications.
Potter Stewart – Class of 1936
The son of a Midwestern Congressman, Stewart went on to be an editor of The Yale Law Review, after being a member of Skull and Bones during his undergraduate days. But it was perhaps much later in life that Mr. Potter was of greatest assistance to Bonesmen of the future…
As an Associate Justice of The Supreme in 1965, Mr. Potter wrote a dissent in Griswold v. Connecticut, setting the stage for the future legalization of the sales of contraceptives in The Nutmeg State, no doubt bringing great relief to the young gentlemen inside “The Tomb.”
McGeorge Bundy – Class of 1940
Before becoming one of JFK’s “Wise Men,” Bundy was another Bonesman with a long family lineage of getting “Tapped” for the society. But, if the lore surrounding Skull and Bones has any veracity, he was apparently a man with a personality all his own, one that led his pals to nickname him “Odin.”
George Herbert Walker Bush – Class of 1948
The second ever Bonesman to be elected President, “41” was also a fighter pilot in WWII, Ambassador to “Red China” and Director of the CIA. His training at Skull and Bones must have been invaluable in the career he made out of keeping safe the secrets of state.
Check out this complete list of verified Skull and Bones members here. Yes, it’s from Wikipedia, but the list of sources is quite exhaustive. If you doubt anyone on the list, you can always check the primary source yourself through the citation.
Recommended Reading: For an inside look at another influential secret society, the Milner Group, check out The Anglo-American Establishment and Tragedy and Hope by Georgetown University professor Carroll Quigley, former professor and mentor to President Bill Clinton.