Albert Wahl Hawkes (1878-1971)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Hawkes was a financier of American Liberty League.

A.W. Hawkes’ career mixed law, business, Republican politics and chemistry. His career in the chemical business began as a 15-year-old office boy but by 1926 he had worked his way up to executive vice president. In the meantime, he took night classes at Chicago’s College of Law and was admitted to the bar in 1900. He also studied chemistry and then, during WWI, he worked in Washington, D.C. as director of the Chemical Alliance (1917-1918).

He was president of Congoleum-Nairn (1927-1942) which resulted from a 1920s merger of Congoleum Corp. (a leading U.S. maker of sheet and tile flooring) and Nairn (which created linoleum flooring in the late 1800s). Hawkes hired A.W. Erickson’s ad company to promote Congoleum-Nairn. Congoleum, a simulated wood-grain product, was made with asphalt materials from the Belgian Congo and asbestos. When filing for bankruptcy in January 2004, due to increased asbestos-related lawsuits, it listed $187 million in assets and $206 million in debts.

Hawkes was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and sat on the Newark Labor Board and the Board to Maintain Industrial Peace in New Jersey (1941-1942). He was one of four members representing employers on the National War Labor Board in Washington, D.C. (1942) and was a Republican Senator from New Jersey (1943-1949). His book, Congress and the Patent System, was published by the ultra-right National Association of Manufacturers. In 1951, in an effort to form a new conservative party, Hawkes and two other Republican Senators formed the National Committee for Political Realignment. When this failed, Hawkes went back to his former business activities until 1961.

He was a trustee of the Freedoms Foundation, created by prominent business leaders after WWII. It is still busily indoctrinating children in the patriotic values of militarism and respect for the flag. Its chairman, from 1949 to 1969, was former President Dwight Eisenhower.

Hawkes was a prominent member of the Freemasons, the Ambassador Unit of the Shriners’ Salaam Shrine in New Jersey (along with Norman Vincent Peale), the Kiwanis Club and the Newcomen Society, which promotes the wondrous achievements of U.S. corporations and has honoured many of the firms cited in these biographies.


"Congoleum files bankruptcy plan," St. Louis Today

National Association Of Manufacturers, Business Coalition for Education Reform

Freedoms Foundation

Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

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