Bruce Fairchild Barton

Bruce Fairchild Barton bigraphy, stories - American author, politician and advertising executive

Bruce Fairchild Barton : biography

August 5, 1886 – July 5, 1967

Bruce Fairchild Barton (August 5, 1886 – July 5, 1967) was an American author, advertising executive, and politician. He served in the U.S. Congress from 1937 to 1940 as a Republican from New York.


Born in Robbins, Tennessee in 1886, Barton was the son of a Congregational clergyman and grew up in various places throughout the U.S., including the Chicago area. He graduated from Amherst College in 1907. He worked as a publicist and magazine editor before co-founding the Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BDO) advertising agency in 1919. Nine years later the agency merged with the George Batten agency to become Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO). Barton headed the agency until 1961, building it into one of the industry’s leaders. Among other famous campaigns, he created the character of Betty Crocker. He is also credited with naming General Motors and General Electric. Politically conservative, he offered his public relations expertise to many Republican candidates over the years. A staunch opponent of Roosevelt and the New Deal, he served two terms in the United States House of Representatives (1937–1941), and ran in 1940 unsuccessfully for U.S. Senator from New York.

Barton was most famous, however, as the author of many bestselling guides to personal success. He also wrote literally hundreds of articles for popular magazines, offering readers advice and inspiration for pursuing the American dream. His most famous book, The Man Nobody Knows (1925), depicted Jesus Christ as a successful salesman, publicist and role model for the modern businessman. One historian writes: "Barton believed incurably in material progress, in self-improvement, in individualism, and in the Judeo-Christian ethic, and none of the profound crises through which his generation lived appreciably changed the tenor of his writings or their capacity to reflect what masses of Americans, optimists in the progressive tradition, apparently continued to want to hear."

Bruce Barton died at his home at 117 East 55th Street in New York City in 1967. Barton was a descendant of the Rev. John Davenport, the founder of Yale University, and of New Haven, Connecticut, through his mother.

1925 donation request letter receiving a 100% response

In 1925, Barton wrote a letter to 24 rich men who all replied with at least $1,000.

Electoral history