In summary it seems likely this was a subtle and complicated plot to organise a mini second civil war in the United States. The plotters were not trying to overthrow Roosevelt but to organise his defence against those who were against him. They approached a decorated Marine Corps General to be the fake leader of the patriotic heroes, the American Legion. Presumeably those who hated Roosevelt would be secretly marshalled by the same plotters and hence destined to loose the war (The American Liberty League ?). Their defeat would give great strength to the New Deal political revolution, which the corporate establishment had planned.
Key testimony of Smedley Butler was removed from the Committee's report. The Committee never called the key witnesses to testify, nothing was done about the plot. The whole report was a coverup. The Coverup was probably organised by Roosevelt.
In the light of Smedley Butlers testimony, the history of the American Legion makes for very interesting reading.
The plot as recounted by Butler, in Anthony Sutton's 'Wall Street and FDR' Edit
Just before Christmas 1934, news of a bizarre plot to install a dictator in the White House surfaced in Washington an New York, and the story—one of unparalleled significance—was promptly smothered by Congress and the establishment press.
On November 21, 1934 The New York Times printed the first portion of the Butler story as told to the House Un-American Activities Committee, giving it front-page treatment and an intriguing lead paragraph:
A plot of Wall Street interests to overthrow President Roosevelt and establish a fascist dictatorship, backed by a private army of 500,000 ex-soldiers and others, was charged by Major Gen. Smedley D. Butler, retired Marine Corps officer. . . .
The New York Times report added that General Butler, ". . . had told friends . . . that General Hugh S. Johnson, former NRA administrator, was scheduled for the role of dictator, and J.P. Morgan & Co. as well as Murphy & Co. were behind the plot."
After this promising opening, The New York Times reporting gradually faded away and finally disappeared.
GRAYSON M-P. MURPHY COMPANY, 52 BROADWAY
The central figure in the plot was Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, a colorful, popular, widely known Marine Corps officer, twice decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor and a veteran of 33 years of military service. General Butler testified in 1934 to the McCormack-Dickstein Committee investigating Nazi and Communist activities in the United States that a plan for a White House dictatorship was outlined to him by two members of the American Legion: Gerald C. MacGuire, who worked for Grayson M-P. Murphy & Co., 52 Broadway, New York City, and Bill Doyle, whom Butler identified as an officer of the American Legion. General Butler testified that these men wanted to "unseat the Royal Family in control of the American Legion at the Convention to be held in Chicago, and [were] very anxious to have me take part in it." A scheme was outlined to General Butler: he was to come before the convention as a legion delegate from Honolulu; there would be two or three hundred American Legion members in the audience; and "these planted fellows were to begin to cheer and start a stampede and yell for a speech, then I was to go to the platform and make a speech."
The prepared speech was to be written by Morgan associate John W. Davis. To prove his Wall Street financial backing, MacGuire showed General Butler a bank book listing deposits of $42,000 and $64,000 and mentioned that their source was Grayson M-P. Murphy, director of Guaranty Trust Company and other Morgan-controlled companies. A millionaire banker, Robert S. Clark, with offices in the Stock Exchange Building at 11 Wall Street, was also involved.
Robert Clark was incidentally known to General Butler from his China campaign days. MacGuire and Doyle also offered Butler a substantial sum to make a similar speech before the convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Miami Beach. According to MacGuire, his group had investigated the background of Mussolini and Italian fascism, Hitler's organization in Germany, and the Croix de Feu in France and hinted that it was time to establish a similar organization in the United States. General Butler testified to the Congressional committee about MacGuire's statement in the following words:
He said, "The time has come now to get the soldiers together." "Yes," I said, "I think so, too." He said, "I went abroad to study the part that the veteran plays in the various set-ups of the governments that they have abroad. I went to Italy for 2 or 3 months and studied the position that the veterans of Italy occupy in the Fascist set-up of Government, and I discovered that they are the background of Mussolini. They keep them on the pay rolls in various ways and keep them contented and happy; and they are his real backbone, the force on which he may depend, in case of trouble, to sustain him. But that set-up would not suit us at all. The soldiers of America would not like that. I then went to Germany to see what Hitler was doing, and his whole strength lies in organizations of soldiers, too. But that would not do. I looked into the Russian business. I found that the use of the soldiers over there would never appeal to our men. Then I went to France, and I found just exactly the organization we are going to have. It is an organization of super soldiers." He gave me the French name for it, but I do not recall what it is. I never could have pronounced it, anyhow. But I do know that it is a super organization of members of all the other soldiers' organizations of France, composed of noncommissioned officers and officers. He told me that they had about 500,000 and that each one was a leader of 10 others, so that it gave them 5,000,000 votes. And he said, "Now, that is our idea here in America—to get up an organization of that kind."
What would be the objective of this super organization? According to the previously cited New York Times, General Butler is reported to have testified that the affair was an attempted coup d'etat to overthrow President Roosevelt and replace him with a fascist dictator. This interpretation is repeated by Archer, Seldes, and other writers. However, this was not the accusation made by General Butler to the committee. Butler's precise statement concerning the projected organization, the use to which it was to be put when established, and the role of President Roosevelt is as follows; General Butler reported on his conversation with MacGuire:
I said, "What do you want to do with it when you get it up?" "Well," he said, "we want to support the President." I said, "The President does not need the support of that kind of an organization. Since when did you become a supporter of the President? The last time I talked to you you were against him." He said, "Well, he is going to go along with us now." "Is he?" "Yes." "Well, what are you going to do with these men, suppose you get these 500,000 men in America? What are you going to do with them?" "Well," he said, "they will be the support of the President." I said, "The President has got the whole American people. Why does he want them?" He said, "Don't you understand the set-up has got to be changed a bit? Now, we have got him—we have got the President. He has got to have more money. There is not any more money to give him. Eighty percent of the money now is in Government bonds, and he cannot keep this racket up much longer. He has got to do something about it. He has either got to get more money out of us or he has got to change the method of financing the Government, and we are going to see to it that he does not change that method. He will not change it." I said, "The idea of this great group of soldiers, then, is to sort of frighten him, is it?" "No, no, no; not to frighten him. This is to sustain him when others assault him." I said, "Well I do not know about that. How would the President explain it?" He said: "He will not necessarily have to explain it, because we are going to help him out. Now, did it ever occur to you that the President is overworked? We might have an Assistant President, somebody to take the blame; and if things do not work out, he can drop him." He went on to say that it did not take any constitutional change to authorize another Cabinet official, somebody to take over the details of the office—take them off the President's shoulders. He mentioned that the position would be a secretary of general affairs—a sort of super secretary. CHAIRMAN [Congressman McCormack]. A secretary of general affairs? BUTLER. That is the term used by him—or a secretary of general welfare—I cannot recall which. I came out of the interview with that name in my head. I got that idea from talking to both of them, you see. They had both talked about the same kind of relief that ought to be given the President, and he said: "You know, the American people will swallow that. We have got the newspapers. We will start a campaign that the President's health is failing. Everybody can tell that by looking at him, and the dumb American people will fall for it in a second." And I could see it. They had that sympathy racket, that they were going to have somebody take the patronage off of his shoulders and take all the worries and details off of his shoulders, and then he will be like the President of France. I said, "So that is where you got this idea?" He said: "I have been traveling around looking around. Now, about this super organization—would you be interested in heading it?" I said, "I am interested in it, but I do not know about heading it. I am very greatly interested in it, because you know. Jerry, my interest is, my one hobby is, maintaining a democracy. If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of Fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and lick the hell out of you, and we will have a real war right at home. You know that." "Oh, no. We do not want that. We want to ease up on the President." "Yes; and then you will put somebody in there you can run; is that the idea? The President will go around and christen babies and dedicate bridges, and kiss children. Mr. Roosevelt will never agree to that himself." "Oh yes; he will. He will agree to that."
In other words, the Wall Street plot was not to dispose of President Roosevelt at all, but to kick him upstairs and install an Assistant President with absolute powers. Just why it was necessary to go to the trouble of installing an Assistant President is unclear because the Vice President was in office. In any event, it was planned to run the United States with a Secretary of General Affairs, and the gullible American public would accept this under the guise of necessary protection from a communist take-over.
At this point it is interesting to recall the role of many of these same financiers and financial firms in the Bolshevik Revolution—a role, incidentally, that could not have been known to General Butler and the use of similar Red scare tactics in the 1922 United Americans organization. Grayson M-P. Murphy was, in the early 1930s, a director of several companies controlled by the J.P. Morgan interests, including the Guaranty Trust Company, prominent in the Bolshevik Revolution, the New York Trust Company, and Bethlehem Steel, and was on the board of Inspiration Copper Company, National Aviation Corporation, Intercontinental Rubber Co., and U.S. & Foreign Securities. John W. Davis, the speech writer for General Butler, was a partner in Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Gardner & Reed of 15 Broad Street. Both Polk and Wardwell of this prestigious law firm, as well as Grayson Murphy, had roles in the Bolshevik Revolution. Further, Davis was also a co-director with Murphy in the Morgan-controlled Guaranty Trust Co. and a co director with Presidential hopeful Al Smith in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., as well as director of the Mutual Life Insurance Co., the U.S. Rubber Co., and American Telephone and Telegraph, the controlling unit of the Bell System.
Fortunately for history. General Butler discussed the offer with an impartial newspaper source at a very early point in his talks with MacGuire and Doyle. The McCormack-Dickstein Committee heard testimony under oath from this confidant, Paul Comley French. French confirmed the facts that he was a reporter for The Philadelphia Record and the The New York Evening Post and that General Butler had told him about the plot in September 1934. Subsequently, on September 13,1934 French went to New York and met with MacGuire. The following is part of French's statement to the Committee:
MR. FRENCH. [I saw] Gerald P. MacGuire in the offices of Grayson M.-P. Murphy & Co., the twelfth floor of 52 Broadway, shortly after 1 o'clock in the afternoon. He has a small private office there and I went into his office. I have here some direct quotes from him. As soon as I left his office I got to a typewriter and made a memorandum of everything that he told me. "We need a Fascist government in this country," he insisted, "to save the Nation from the communists who want to tear it down and wreck all that we have built in America. The only men who have the, patriotism to do it are the soldiers and Smedley Butler is the ideal leader. He could organize a million men over night." During the conversation he told me he had been in Italy and Germany during the summer of 1934 and the spring of 1934 and had made an intensive study of the background of the Nazi and Fascist movements and how the veterans had played a part in them. He said he had obtained enough information on the Fascist and Nazi movements and of the part played by the veterans, to properly set up one in this country. He emphasized throughout his conversation with me that the whole thing was tremendously patriotic, that it was saving the Nation from communists, and that the men they deal with have that crackbrained idea that the Communists are going to take it apart. He said the only safeguard would be the soldiers. At first he suggested that the General organize this outfit himself and ask a dollar a year dues from everybody. We discussed that, and then he came around to the point of getting outside financial funds, and he said that it would not be any trouble to raise a million dollars. During the course of the conversation he continually discussed the need of a man on a white horse, as he called it, a dictator who would come galloping in on his white horse. He said that was the only way; either through the threat of armed force or the delegation of power, and the use of a group of organized veterans, to save the capitalistic system. He warmed up considerably after we got under way and he said, "We might go along with Roosevelt, and then do with him what Mussolini did with the King of Italy." It fits in with what he told the general [Butler], that we would have a Secretary of General Affairs, and if Roosevelt played ball, swell; and if he did not, they would push him out.
The American Legion Edit
The American Legion credits a group of twenty officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in World War I with planning the Legion. AEF Headquarters asked these officers to suggest ideas for improving troop morale. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. proposed an organization of veterans. In 1919, this group formed a temporary committee and selected several hundred officers. About 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended the first organization meeting in Paris in March 1919. The meeting, known as the Paris Caucus, adopted a temporary constitution and the name "The American Legion." It also elected an executive committee to complete their organizational work. It considered each soldier of the AEF a member of the Legion. The executive committee named a subcommittee to organize veterans in the U.S. The Legion held a second organizing caucus in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1919.
The first post of the American Legion, General John Joseph Pershing Post Number 1 in Washington, D.C., was organized on March 7, 1919, and obtained the first charter issued to any post of the Legion on May 19, 1919. The St. Louis caucus that same year decided that Legion posts should not be named after living persons, and the first post changed its name to George Washington Post 1. The post completed the constitution and made plans for a permanent organization. It set up temporary headquarters in New York City and began its relief, employment, and Americanism programs. Congress granted the American Legion a national charter in September 1919. Among the founders was Ernest O. Thompson (1892–1966) of Texas, later Lieutenant General of the Texas National Guard, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, and an expert on petroleum issues. Another Texan founder was Clayton W. Williams, Sr., an oilman, rancher, geologist, and historian from Fort Stockton.
The first national convention of the American Legion was held from November 10–12, 1919, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at which time the attendees adopted a permanent constitution and elected officers to head the organization. The original purpose of the Legion was to "preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the great war". Prior to World War I, few rural, working-class, or even middle-class Americans traveled to Europe. For a majority of urban Americans, their understanding of Europe had been acquired through the European immigrants they knew. Thus the 2 million Americans who had served in the American Expeditionary Forces had very different experiences than their families, friends and neighbors. The American Legion allowed these young men who had served "Over There" to re-integrate into their hometowns and to still remain in contact with others who had been abroad. The Legion served as a support group, a social club and a type of extended family for former servicemen.
On November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of Armistice Day, a new American Legion group in Washington was involved in the Centralia massacre. The American Legion was very active in the 1920s. It was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Veterans' Bureau, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Legion also created its own American Legion Baseball Program. Commander Travers D. Carmen awarded Charles Lindbergh its "Distinguished Service Medal," the medal's first recipient, on July 22, 1927. American Legion national convention was held in Paris, France in September 1927. A major part of this was drum and bugle corps competition in which approximately 14,000 members took part. In 1923, American Legion Commander Alvin Owsley cited Italian Fascism as a model for defending the nation against the united forces of the left:
Owsley said: If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy!...The American Legion is fighting every element that threatens our democratic government – Soviets, anarchists, IWW, revolutionary socialists and every other red....Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.
The Legion invited Mussolini to speak at its convention as late as 1930
The New York Times at first dismissed Butler's story as "a gigantic hoax" and a "bald and unconvincing narrative." Thomas W. Lamont of J.P. Morgan called it "perfect moonshine." Time magazine and other publications also scoffed at the allegations
History Channel - In Search Of History - The Plot To Overthrow FDR - is a documentary the represents the plot as a coup by fascist New York business interests to overthrow Roosevelt. As a result there are a few confusing admissions which dont add up. Contributors include: Jules Archer and Leo Ribuffo.
BBC - The WhiteHouse Coup - takes a similar but more liberal line. Incredibly, the documentary quotes from the Committee archives but does so selectively, editing out key parts, to intentionally distort the testimony and make it fit their version of events. Contributors include: Jules Archer, John Buchanan, Prof. Tony Badger