This story is about an attempt to over throw the U.S. government, and a extreme division between the left and the right politically. It discusses the benefits of capitalism versus socialism. The story attempts to provide solutions for poverty and the shrinking middle class. It features issues about racism and white supremecy. The story discusses the fears about old age pensions, and corruption in capitalist policies. Sounds familiar right? It is right off the internet, these topics appear in social media and news outlets on a daily basis. Except my story takes place in the 1930s.
This is the story of the "business plot". With the depression underway, people were literally starving on the streets of the United states. In 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped right into the mess. President Roosevelt’s family were wealthy, though not as wealthy as the Astors, Vanderbilts or Rockefellers. As he took office, he became focused on improving life for entire population of the U.S. not just his wealthy companions. Which brought criticism from those with wealth, who feel he abandoned his own people. Why? The first 100 days Roosevelt enacted:
- Emergency Banking Act(March 9, 1933)
- Cullen–Harrison Act(March 16), modifying the Volstead Act
- Economy Act(March 20)
- Civilian Conservation Corps(March 31)
- Federal Emergency Relief Act(May 12)
- Agricultural Adjustment Act(May 12)
- Emergency Farm Mortgage Act(May 12)
- Tennessee Valley Authority(May 18)
- Securities Act(May 27)
- abrogation of gold clausesin public and private contracts (June 5)
- Homeowners Refinancing Act(June 13)
- Glass-Steagall Act(June 15)
- Farm Credit Act(June 15)
- Emergency Railroad Transportation Act (June 15)
- National Industrial Recovery Act(June 16)
Photo two President Roosevelt-northcountrypublicradio.org
Though Roosevelt was part of the elite as he campaigned on an 'us against them' philosphy, the wealthy came to despise him. They labeled him as a liar, a thief, a madman given to great burst of manical laughter, an alcoholic, a syphilitic, and a bolshevik. (Denton, 2019) When he removed the gold standard in 1933, their quest to remove him from office began. Though this plot is drastic during the time it was more common. President McKinley was assassinated in office and there were plots to assassinate Herbert Hoover. I think it is not understood how close to danger our presidents live.
On my first podcast I will discussing each of these programs in depth. They served as programs to assist put men back to work on government projects like Hoover Dam in Nevada.
The business plot came about as a group of wealthy and well-connected men formed a group called the American Liberty League in 1934. These wealthy elites, politicians, military leaders, and businessmen were conservative. They were opposed to President Roosevelt and the “New Deal” programs he set up. They believed a leader in the style of a dictator needed to take charge during the depression and help get the country upright. It was the government’s responsibility to support business and encourage citizens to work hard to get going again. Work, earn, save, and acquire property was the way through the depression. Prescott Bush, father of President H.W. Bush was one of those men, as was Huey Long, Arthur P. Sloan of General Motors and Howard Pew of Sun Oil Company, President Calvin Coolidge, and General McArthur to name a few.
Photo four-Smedley Butler-www.theIrishsentinel.com
A bond salesman by the name of Gerald MacGuire approached retired Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler. He told Butler that the Liberty League wanted him to lead 500,000 veterans in a coup to overthrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They thought upon the show of force Roosevelt would quietly become a puppet president for the league or leave office. They approached Butler several times and the last time he told MacGuire, “If you get 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and kick the hell out of you, and we will have a real war right at home.” (Denton, 2012)
First Butler went to the press, Tom O’Neil of the Philadelphia record and the New York Evening Post. He asked O’Neil to assign reporter Paul Comly French to the story. French investigated Butler first discovering he was a whistleblower so he moved forward with the interviews. He also discovered Butler was frequently in hot water for speaking the truth, which gave credibility to his accusations. French was shocked when the truth of the plot was uncovered. Then Butler went to J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. Roosevelt and Hoover were already looking into assassination rumors, though they did not reveal it to Butler.
The U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee called Butler (At the behest of Hoover) to speak to congress on what he knew. As Smedley recounted the story, once it was researched congress believed he was telling the truth. It was strategic play by the Liberty League, hoping midterm elections would sway the position, creating more support for their cause. Turns out that Franklin Delano Roosevelt won his term easily and it was a sweep for congress too. In Fact, Roosevelt was the only president to serve as president for three consecutive terms. The coup had been thwarted and more will be covered in detailed in my first podcast. That will be released September 15, 2022.
photo four- https://theirishsentinel.com/2020/02/23/where-have-you-gone-smedley-butler-the-last-general-to-criticize-us-imperialism/
Denton, Sally, (2019) The plot against the president, Nevada Smith Press.
Rudolph, F. (1950). The American Liberty League, 1934-1940. The American Historical Review, 56(1), 19–33. https://doi.org/10.2307/1840619
Brockell, Gillian, (2021), Wealthy bankers and businessmen plotted to overthrow FDR. A retired general foiled it, Washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2021/01/13/fdr-roosevelt-coup-business-plot/
Amadeo, Kimberley, (2022), Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic policies and accomplishments, www.thebalancemoney.com, https://www.thebalancemoney.com/fdr-economic-policies-and-accomplishments-3305557
Garai, Neith, (2014), Roosevelt and the New Deal, www.slideserve.com, https://www.slideserve.com/neith/roosevelt-and-the-new-deal
Staff, (2013), Roosevelt's polio wasn't a secret: He used it to his advantage, northcountrypublicradio.org, https://northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/247155522/roosevelt-s-polio-wasn-t-a-secret-he-used-it-to-his-advantage