The 13 most powerful members of 'Skull and Bones'


George Bush

Photo by Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images

George W. Bush, the last in a long line of Bonesman in his family, gives a speech as president.

In 1832, Yale students - including future President William Howard Taft's father - founded one of America's most famous secret societies: Skull and Bones.


Since then, the group has come to signify all that both mesmerizes and repulses the public about the elite.

Each year, only 15 juniors are "tapped," or chosen, for lifetime membership in the club.

A windowless building on 64 High St., the "Tomb," serves as the club's headquarters. The roof is a landing pad for a private helicopter, according to Alexandra Robbins' book, "Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power." For that perk and others, Bonesmen must swear total allegiance to the club.

New members reportedly divulge intimate personal details, including their full sexual histories, before they're inducted. They also agree to give part of their estates to the club. But, in return, they receive the promise of lifelong financial stability - so they won't feel tempted to sell the club's secrets, Robbins writes.


Among those business titans, poets, politicians, and three US presidents, we picked the honor roll.

Thornton McEnery contributed research to this article.