War is a Racket - Smedley Butler

Appendix II: Butler and the Wall Street Plot.

Lowell Thomas's contention that Butler's opponents saw integrity in his "public questions" fails to consider the excoriations of the New York Times and Time Magazine's in 1933 when Butler revealed a "Wall Street Plot to Seize the Government". The magazines denied the existence of such a plot, even thought it was investigated and confirmed shortly after by the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional Committee. The conspiracy to establish an American fascist dictatorship involved American Legion leaders and well-known men of Wall Street, including a major attorney for J.P. Morgan & Co.

Time Magazine (at the time controlled by J.P. Morgan & Co.), said, under a first-page headline on December 3, 1934, "PLOT WITHOUT PLOTTERS":

"Such as the nightmarish page of future United States history pictured last week in Manhattan by General Butler himself to the special House Committee investigating Un-American Activities. No military officer of the United States since the late tempestuous George Custer has succeeded in publicly floundering in so much hot water as Smedley Darlington Butler. . .

"General Butler's sensational tongue had not been heard in the nation's press for more than a week when he cornered a reporter for the Philadelphia Record and the New York Post, poured into his ears the lurid tale that he had been offered leadership of a Fascist Putsch scheduled for next year. . .

"Thanking their stars for having such sure-fire publicity dropped in their laps, Representatives McCormack and Dickstein began calling witnesses to expose the 'plot.' But there did not seem to be any plotters. . .

"Mr. Morgan, just off a boat from Europe, had nothing to say but partner Lamont did: 'Perfect moonshine! Too utterly ridiculous to comment upon!'. . . "

As George Seldes put it in his 1947 book, 1000 Americans, "Any reader comparing the testimony and the Committee report on this event. . . must conclude that the Time report consists of distortion and propaganda."

In his long out-of-print 1973 tome, The Plot to Seize the White House, Jules Archer shows how the New York Times denigrated Butler's whistle-blowing, and vastly underplayed the reality of the Congressional inquiry. Its November 21, 1934 headline said, hostile quote marks retained:

"Gen. Butler Bares 'Fascist Plot' To Seize Government by Force

"Says Bond Salesman, as Representative of Wall St. Group, Asked Him to Lead Army of 500,000 in March on Capital—Those Named Make Angry Denials—Dickstein Gets Charge'"

The complex saga behind the coup attempt, and the devious manner in which Butler was solicited to join the attempt to intimidate President Roosevelt into functional inactivity, was strikingly described by Archer in The Plot to Seize the White House (Hawthorn Books, 1973) and a bit less provocatively by a History Channel documentary titled The Plot to Overthrow FDR.

The most revealing details of the McCormack-Dickstein Committee report were suppressed in its original release. Though the report confirmed Smedley Butler's revelation of outrageous corporate plots, it failed to detail the names of prominent corporate entities, whose mention would have embarrassed the politicians they supported and the "patriotic" groups they helped form. Only after George Seldes released his obscure book, 1000 Americans, did their suppressed names come to light in two revealing appendices, reproduced below.


"[Seldes' Editorial Note: General Smedley Butler testified before a Congressional Committee that several Wall Street bankers, one of them connected with J. P. Morgan and Co., several founders of the American Liberty League, and several heads of the American Legion plotted to seize the government of the United States shortly after President Roosevelt established the New Deal. The press, with a few exceptions, suppressed the news. Worse yet, the McCormack-Dickstein Committee suppressed the facts involving the big business interests, although it confirmed the plot which newspapers and magazines had either refused to mention or had tried to kill by ridicule. In the following quotations the suppressed parts are in italics.

General Butler's Testimony regarding his interview with Gerald G. MacGuire, of the brokerage firm of Grayson M.P. Murphy:

Then MacGuire said that he was the chairman of the distinguished-guest committee of the American Legion, on Louis Johnson's staff; that Louis Johnson had, at MacGuire's suggestion, put my name down to be incited as a distinguished guest of the Chicago convention; that Johnson had then taken this list, presented by MacGuire of distinguished guests, to the White House for approval; that Louis Howe, one of the secretaries to the President, had crossed my name off and said that I was not to be invited—that the President would not have it.

I thought I smelled a rat, right away—that they were trying to get me mad—to get my goat. I said nothing.

"He (Murphy) is on our side, though. He wants to see the soldiers cared for.

"Is he responsible, too, for making the Legion a strikebreaking outfit?"

"No, no. He does not control anything in the Legion now."

I said: "You know very well that it is nothing but a strikebreaking outfit used by capital for that purpose and that is the reason we have all those big clubhouses and that is the reason I pulled out from it. They have been using these dumb soldiers to break strikes."

He said: "Murphy hasn't anything to do with that. He is a very fine fellow."

I said, "I do not doubt that, but there is some reason for his putting $125,000 into this."

Well, that was the end of that conversation.

I said, "Is there anything stirring about it yet?"

"Yes," he says: "you watch; in two or three weeks you will see it come out in the papers. There will be big fellows in it". . . and in about two weeks the American Liberty League appeared, which just about what he described it to be. We might have an assistant President, somebody to take the blame; and if things do not work out, he can drop him.

He said, "That is what he was building up Hugh Johnson for. Hugh Johnson talked too damn much and got him into a hole, and he is going to fire him in the next three or four weeks."

I said, "How do you know all this?"

"Oh," he said, "we are in with him all the time. We know what is going to happen."

General Butler's testimony of his interview with Robert Sterling Clark:

He (Clark) laughed and said, "That speech cost a lot of money." Clark told me that it had cost him a lot of money. Now either from what he said then or from what MacGuire had said, I got the impression that the speech had been written by John W. Davis—one or the other of them told me that—but he thought it was a big joke that these fellows were claiming the authority of that speech. . .

He said, "When I was in Paris, my headquarters were Morgan & Hodges (Harjes). We had a meeting over there.

I might as well tell you that our group is for you, tfor the head of this organization. Morgan & Hodges (Harjes) are against you. The Morgan interests say that you cannot be trusted, that you are too radical, you cannot be trusted. They are for Douglas MacArthur as the head of it. Douglas MacArthur's term expires in November, and if he is not reappointed it is to be presumed that he will be disappointed and sore and they are for getting him to head it."

I said, "I do not think that you will get the soldiers to follow him, Jerry. . . He is in bad odor, because he put on a uniform with medals to march down the street in Washington, I know the soldiers."

"Well, then, we will get Hanford MacNider. They want either MacArthur or MacNider. . . They do not want you.

But our group tell us you are the only fellow in America who can get the soldiers together. They say, 'Yes, but he will get them together and go the wrong way. ' That is what they say if you take charge of them."

I said, "MacNider won't do either. He will not get the soldiers to follow him, because he has been opposed to the bonus."

"Yes, but we will have him change."

And it is interesting to note that three weeks later after this conversation MacNider changed and turned around for the bonus. It is interesting to note that.

He said, "There is going to be a big quarrel over the reappointment of Mac Arthur" and he said, "You watch the President reappoint him. He is going to go right and if he does not reappoint him, he is going to go left."

I have been watching with a great deal of interest this quarrel over his reappointment to see how it comes out. He said, "You know as well as I do that MacArthur is Stotesbury's son-in-law in Philadelphia—Morgan's representative in Philadelphia. You just see how it goes and if I am not telling you the truth."

I noticed that MacNider turned around for the bonus, and that there is a row over the reappointment of MacArthur. So he left me saying, "I am going down to Miami. . . "

Testimony of Paul Comly French of Philadelphia Record, in the Smedley Butler-Legion hearing:

At first he (MacGuire) suggested that the General (Butler) 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 it would not be any trouble to raise a million dollars. He said he could go to John W. Davis (attorney for J.P. Morgan and Co.) or Perkins of the National City Bank, and any number of persons to get it.

Of course, that may or may not mean anything. That is, his reference to John W. Davis and Perkins of the National City Bank. During my conversation with him I did not of course commit to the General to anything. I was Just feeling him along. Later, we discussed the question of arms and equipment, and he suggested that they could be obtained from the Remington Arms Co., on credit through the DuPonts.

I do not think at that time he mentioned the connection of DuPonts with the American Liberty League^ but he skirted all around it. That is, I do not think he mentioned the Liberty League, but he skirted all around the idea that that was the back door; one of the DuPonts is on the board of directors of the American Liberty League and they own a controlling interest in the Remington Arms Co. . . He said the General would not have any trouble enlisting 500,000 men.

From 1000 Americans,(1947)by George Seldes. Appendix 21:


74th Congress, 1st Session House of Representatives Report No. 153
Investigation of Nazi and Other Propaganda

February 15, 1935—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. McCormack, from the committee appointed to investigate Nazi and other propaganda, submitted the following REPORT (Pursuant to House Resolution No. 198, 73rd Congress)


There have been isolated cases of activity by organizations which seemed to be guided by fascist principle, which the committee investigated and found that they had made no progress. . .

In the last few weeks of the committee's official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in this country. No evidence was presented and this committee had none to show a connection between this effort and any fascist activity of any European country.

There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.

This committee received evidence from Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler (retired), twice decorated by the Congress of the United States. He testified before the committee as to conversations with one Gerald C. MacGuire in which the latter is alleged to have suggested the formation of a fascist army under the leadership of General Butler (p. 8-114D.C. 6II).

MacGuire denied these allegations under oath, but your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made by General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement suggesting the creation of the organization. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principal, Robert Sterling Clark, of New York City, while MacGuire was abroad studying the various forms of veterans' organizations of Fascist character (p. Ill D.C. 6 II).

The following is an excerpt from one of MacGuire's letters:

"I had a very interesting talk last evening with a man who is quite well up on affairs here and he seems to be of the opinion that the Croix de Feu will be very patriotic during this crisis and will take the cuts or be the moving spirit in the veterans to accept the cuts. Therefore they will, in all probability, be in opposition to the Socialists and functionaries. The general spirit among the functionaries seems to be that the correct way to regain recovery is to spend more money and increase wages, rather than to put more people out of work and cut salaries.

"The Croix de Feu is getting a great number of new recruits, and I recently attended a meeting of this organization and was quite impressed with the type of men belonging. These fellows are interested only in the salvation of France, and I feel sure that the country could not be in better hands because they are not politicians, they are a cross-section of the best people of the country from all walks of life, people who gave their "all" between 1914 and 1918 that France might be saved, and I feel sure that if a crucial test ever comes to the Republic that these men will be the bulwark upon which France will be served.

"There may be more uprisings, there may be more difficulties, but as is evidenced right now when the emergency arises and part difficulties are forgotten as far as France is concerned, and all become united in the one desire and purpose to keep this country as it is, the most democratic, and the country of the greatest freedom on the European Continent (p. Ill D.C. 611).

"This committee asserts that any efforts based on lines as suggested in the foregoing and leading off to the extreme right, are just as bad as efforts which would lead to the extreme left.

"Armed forces for the purpose of establishing a dictatorship by means of Fascism or a dictatorship through the instrumentality of the proletariat, or a dictatorship predicated in part on racial and religious hatreds, have no place in this country.

Smedley Butler helped destroy a corporate Fascist Putsch in the mid-1930s, but how long did that last? In the 1960s, all four primary liberal leaders were assassinated. In the mid-'90s, a so-called Democrat President turned back the Bill of Rights and Constitution with a multitude of crime bills. And in the year 2000, Jim Crow laws were revived, and a Presidential election was swayed by disallowing over 50,000 eligible African-Americans to vote in the state of Florida. Corporations will not be denied their sway and profit. Regardless of one's political affiliation. War Is A Racket remains an astonishing reminder that America once stood for constitutional principles and not power-enhanced greed mongering.