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William B. Wilson and Adolphus Busch inducted
into Labor Hall of Fame
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao presides over ceremony
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today hosted the 19th Labor Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year’s honorees were the first secretary of labor and former secretary-treasurer of the United Mine Workers of America, the late William B. Wilson; and the founder of Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co., the late Adolphus Busch.
“These leaders are honored for their dedication, ingenuity, foresight and success in advancing the causes of working men and women,” stated U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
William B. Wilson was born in 1862 in Blantyre, Scotland. His family immigrated to Arnot, a small coal mining village in Tioga County, Pa. As a young boy with less than two years of formal education, Wilson joined his father in the mines and worked until he was 16. Wilson is probably one of the youngest people to become a union member – at age 11 he joined the newly formed local of the Miners and Laborers Benevolent Association as a half member, a status reserved for workers under 16. By the time he was 16, Wilson was secretary of the local union.
As an adult, Wilson was appointed by John Mitchell, the legendary president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) to the position of secretary-treasurer, having been the chair of the constitutional and by-law committee when the UMWA was formed on Jan. 25, 1890. Wilson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1906 and served as chair of the Committee on Labor. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 5, 1913, to be the first secretary of the Department of Labor.
Adolphus Busch was born in Germany in 1839 as the second-youngest of 22 children. In 1857 he immigrated to the United States, arriving in St. Louis, Mo. Busch spent years studying the art of brewing and learning brewing techniques, and in 1859 with Ernst Wattenberg formed the wholesaler commission house of Wattenberg, Busch and Co., which became Adolphus Busch & Co. in 1865. In 1861 he married Lilly Anheuser, the daughter of Erberhard Anheuser who was one of St. Louis’ area brewers. After three years in the Union army Busch joined his father-in-law in the management of his brewery.
Busch took the brewery operations to new levels, opening new markets, introducing technical developments and modernizing business functions – becoming the first American brewer to introduce pasteurization in the 1870s. In 1876, the Busch vision for a national beer became a reality with the introduction of Budweiser, which later became the best-selling beer in the world. The company was renamed Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, with Busch becoming president of the brewery. He served for 33 years until his death in 1913.
The Labor Hall of Fame established in 1989 by Friends of the Department and managed since 2000 by the Department of Labor honors posthumously those Americans who have contributed to the field of labor, including industry leaders, public officials and the American worker. The Labor Hall of Fame is located in the North Plaza of the U.S. Department of Labor and is open to the public.