Skip to main content

Adapted from an excerpt from Presidents' Body Counts: The Twelve Worst and Four Best American Presidents Based on How Many Lived or Died Because of Their Actions, available at http://www.amazon.com/...

        Impeachment mania, contrary to the claims of a few Republican leaders, is very strong within their party and among conservatives. Three fifths of both conservatives and Republicans favor impeaching Obama, led largely by those outside the party leadership but still popular, such as Sarah Palin. Some want impeachment over Obamacare. For others it is fear inspired by conspiracy theories, claiming gun control or immigrants or Benghazi are sinister plots.

       Others frankly can't tell you why they want impeachment, except they hate the man, their not very well concealed racism just below the surface. No president in over 60 years has been the target of such hatred. Clinton did not face heavily armed rallies publicly threatening to overthrow him, nor nearly as many death threats. One has to go back to Franklin Roosevelt to find worser examples.  

    This is one of the lesser known but important episodes in US history. The American Liberty League plotted to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt, sometimes referred to as the Business Plot. Some US businessmen were so opposed to the New Deal they planned to bring down Roosevelt by force using a private army and install a fascist government.

    The list of plotters included some of the most prominent businessmen in the country. Irenee Du Pont of the Dupont family, one of the wealthiest in the nation, worth hundreds of millions, was a white supremacist and founder of the American Liberty League. Grayson Murphy was the treasurer for the League, Director of Goodyear, mining and rail companies, and on the boards of Bethlehem Steel and JP Morgan. William Doyle and Gerald McGuire were both leaders in the American Legion, one of the largest veterans' organizations, one much further to the right than the VFW. John Davis and Al Smith were both former Democratic presidential candidates. John Raskob was an officer in Du Pont and the former Chairman of the Democratic Party. Robert Clark was a Wall Street banker and stockbroker who provided $15 million in funding for the plot. Alfred Sloan was the President, CEO, and Chairman of General Motors. He also owned Remington and would supplies arms for the coup as well as $300 million in funds.

    The plot was exposed by General Smedley Butler, former Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Butler was approached by Gerald Maguire, who offered him command of an army of half a million World War I veterans from the American Legion. The plan was to hand an ultimatum to Roosevelt: pose as sick while a newly created office of the Secretary of General Affairs takes over and runs the country in his name.

    What kind of a government did the League want? Gerald MacGuire was quite open that, "We need a fascist government in this country," modeled on Mussolini's fascist state, the French fascist group Croix de Feu, and Dutch fascists.

    When Butler was offered command of this army, he refused and went to Roosevelt with the details of the plot. But Roosevelt feared the arrest of famous figures such as a Du Pont on treason charges would crash the Stock Market again. Roosevelt dealt with the coup by leaking the story to to the press. The plot was publicly exposed and could proceed no further.

    The media had mixed reactions to news of the plot. The New York Times claimed it was all a hoax. Douglas MacArthur, allegedly named as the second choice for commanding the League's army if Butler refused, called the claim a joke. Congress formed a special committee to investigate. The committee never summoned almost any of the plotters. Maguire was the only one to testify. Likely, the committee feared, much like Roosevelt, that public exposure of treason by leading elites might crash the economy again.

     The committee published its report after a delay of four years. All of Butler's claims were substantiated with extensive bank records, letters, and witnesses. But the committee issued no indictments for treason as they deserved. Again, trials and convictions of elites for treason would trigger economic panic. Most historians agree there was a plot. The evidence is clear. Where many disagree is how far the plot had gone. Historian Arthur Schlesinger argued it was a “cocktail plot,” talk that was still in the planning stages.

    If the plot had gone forward, if they had found a commander who would not expose the plot, could it have succeeded? Between the world wars, the US Army only numbered 140,000, less than a third of the size of the League's army. The US government was more decentralized in 1934. State governors controlled the militias and National Guard much more than today. It took time for governors to transfer control to the President.

    But it is virtually certain Roosevelt would not back down. Rejecting the ultimatum leads to a second civil war, one likely more destructive than the first. While Roosevelt was the most popular president in US history, those opposed to him and his New Deal were a solid 35-40% of the nation. Many of them were fanatic, and some were violent. Groups like the KKK, German-American Bund, Silver Shirts, and Christian Front were fanatically anti Communist, seeing “reds” where there were none, and many also openly fascist. The League would unite all these with substantial financial backing and weaponry. The League's leader Du Pont argued for uniting “all property owners” with the Ku Klux Klan.

    We might find a model of what would happen in the Spanish Civil War at about the same time. In Spain there was a fascist coup aimed at a popular government that united the left and center. The Spanish Civil War killed from 600,000 to 1.2 million. The US population at the time was three times that of Spain. As in Spain, the great majority of the US population favored the democratic left government and would fight fiercely to hold onto it. Thus casualties from a second US civil war might have reached as high as 3.6 million.

    How would this second civil war end? In Spain, the fascist party the Falange won. They won because other fascist governments aided them while most democracies stood by and let Spain's popular government be destroyed by force. Germany sent weapons and bombers, who most infamously destroyed the city of Guernica. Italy sent weapons and troops. Both nations likely would send the same to the US.

    In Spain, the civil war was so devastating they remained neutral during World War II. Spain stayed fascist until the 1970s. Over time Spanish youth grew increasingly cynical under fascist rule and the nation returned to democracy. We might see the same for the US, neutrality during World War WII, and fascist until the 1970s.

    It is uncertain who would have been the de facto president. Du Pont was head of the League. Maguire may have been commander of the League's army and thus de facto president. One central difference between the League and Spanish fascists is that Falangists were militarists but not racists. Moorish troops took the fascist side. The League believed in not just white supremacy but eugenics.

    Eugenics was pure pseudo science, the claim that one could improve humanity by sterilizing supposed inferior peoples. Eugenics and forcible sterilization already was widely practiced in the US since 1907, in over 30 states, and had a huge influence on Nazi Germany. In most cases the targets were supposed mental defectives or criminals. But in North Carolina many poor Black women were targeted. As late as the 1970s, Native women were sterilized without their consent or knowledge.

    With the League in power, one could see eugenics widely applied to anyone not white. US eugenics included both sterilization and “euthanasia.” Euthanasia is a euphemism for mass murder by gas chambers, which were proposed by eugenics advocates but never widely practiced. Minorities could either flee to avoid mass murder and sterilization, hide in remote areas, or if possible try to pass as white.

    The US would be ethnically cleansed. For 40 years, the only remaining nonwhites in the US would either be unable to produce children or in hiding. Blacks might flee to the Caribbean, Latinos to Latin America, American Indians to either Canada or Mexico, Asians to Asia or Hawaii (which likely would no longer be part of the US), and Jews to any country that would take them, most likely Canada, Argentina, or Bolivia.

    It is quite possible other powers may choose to take advantage of the Second US Civil War. The Soviets under Stalin may see a chance to take Alaska. Hawaii may be taken by Japanese fascists, or the British may take Hawaii as well as Puerto Rico and the Panama Canal to prevent other powers having them.

    The most disturbing possibility of all is that the Holocaust may have come to America. Jews in Nazi Germany's allies of Italy and Spain were not targeted in the beginning. But fascist Spain did draw up lists of Jews and watch them closely. In Italy, as the war continued and German influence became stronger, Jews were rounded up and sent to death camps much like in the rest of occupied Europe. The League leaders were anti Semites. Though the League issued a public declaration against anti semitism in 1936, in fact they allied with and funded a number of organizations that hated Jews, including the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Silver Shirts.

    Except for nuclear war, this scenario is the most horrifying possibility in American history that luckily never came true. Even a Confederate victory in the Civil War leading to slavery continuing does not end in as high a death toll. The US population in 1940 was almost 132 million, about 116 million of them white. That means as many as 16 million nonwhites may be sterilized, executed, or have to flee, hide, or pass as white.

    It is virtually impossible to guess how those numbers would break down. The chaos of a recent civil war might make it easier to flee and more difficult to be tracked down. Sterilization was much more widely practiced by eugenics advocates than execution, so mass deaths might not happen until later. or at all. The isolation of many rural Black, Latino, and Native communities might protect them, but it also might make it more difficult to hear of the coming atrocities in time to escape.

    I often teach my students that this episode actually shows just how much of a difference one man can make. One man, Smedley Butler, prevented this by simply speaking out. It should make a fitting epitaph for him, “He saved America from fascism.” This episode should be taught as evidence of the worst side of America's right wing and business leaders.

----------
Al Carroll is Assistant Professor of History at Northern Virginia Community College, a former Fulbright Scholar, and the author of Presidents' Body Counts. He is a longtime activist for www.newagefraud.org. More information on him is at http://alcarroll.com.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (49+ / 0-)

    Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

    by Al Carroll on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:52:51 PM PDT

  •  So, nothing has changed? (10+ / 0-)
    those opposed to him and his New Deal were a solid 35-40% of the nation. Many of them were fanatic, and some were violent. Groups like the KKK, German-American Bund, Silver Shirts, and Christian Front were fanatically anti Communist, seeing “reds” where there were none, and many also openly fascist. The League would unite all these with substantial financial backing and weaponry. The League's leader Du Pont argued for uniting “all property owners” with the Ku Klux Klan

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:17:10 PM PDT

    •  The owners of the Republican Party... (16+ / 0-)

      ...are still fascists.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:26:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If You Run a Straight Curve Between the Left (11+ / 0-)

      and right sides of a bell curve several standard deviations out on each side, you might conclude "nothing" has changed.

      But in between the early 1930's oligarchy and today's oligarchy was created the only large comfortable middle class ever known to the human race, open to roughly a billion people across the developed world, in humanity's only-ever successful attempt at controlling and moderating ownership for the benefit of nations and a major fraction of humanity's ordinary people.

      In contemplating where and how to go forward from here, I wouldn't want to miss that blip.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:27:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And what created that? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David54

        Unions created that. FDR helped create that. World War II helped create that also because American competition in trade was very weak. Every other major power had been bombed or invaded.

        It's not true that no other nation has been as prosperous. The obvious example is Scandinavia, where democratic socialism created very equal societies. The other lesser known examples were the Aztec and Incan societies.

        Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

        by Al Carroll on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 05:47:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I love Scandinavia, but they haven't had the (0+ / 0-)

          ethnic/social pressures a lot of other countries have had. They also didn't have the millstone of imperialism around their necks to the extent the rest of Europe did.

          Right now we have everything we need, here in the US, to solve all our major problems. We have the wealth, the technology, the knowledge, etc. We also have the wisdom.
          We have wise people here, if we would just listen to them.
          Ignorance and ideological brainwashing are holding us back.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 06:41:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You realize you just blamed the victims? (0+ / 0-)

            Blaming minorities for American problems is not only morally wrong, it's inaccurate. The US economy was built on two pillars, stolen Native/Mexican land and stolen African people.

            Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

            by Al Carroll on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 06:28:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not much... (0+ / 0-)

      Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and some Tea Party people all called for Obama's overthrow. Obama is far less a reformer than FDR. Had Obama pushed for changes like single payer, prosecution of Bush admin war criminals, etc that many including me wanted, there might have been a coup attempt.

      Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

      by Al Carroll on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 05:43:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is a social injustice that whole chapters... (24+ / 0-)

    about Butler are not included in history books available in every school in America.

    One man, Smedley Butler, prevented this by simply speaking out. It should make a fitting epitaph for him, “He saved America from fascism.”
    I thank the diarist for filling in some of the details I didn't know about.

    Butler is a hero

    "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

    by markthshark on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:30:48 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget Prescott Bush. (12+ / 0-)

    Father of George H W and Grandfather of W and Jeb

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 09:31:22 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I was wondering why his name didn't pop up. (5+ / 0-)

      I had heard that he was the executive of this cabal, one of the core plotters and a real mover and shaker, that it was he that pitched Butler.
      Of course, at the time, he also was the Nazi's Wall Street Banker, Hariman-Brown tending to Theisen and Krupp's investments right up into the war.

      If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

      by CwV on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 06:03:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  P Bush was not one of the plotters (0+ / 0-)

      He did business with fascists, but was not one. This is a conspiracy theory I've had to debunk in my classes for students for the past ten years.

      P Bush did help funnel money to the Nazis and was in business with several of the coup plotters. There's no credible evidence of his involvement with the coup I know of.

      P Bush was a middle of the road Republican, back when there used to be such a thing. He was later elected a Connecticut Senator, where he spoke vs McCarthyism and also chaired United Negro College Fund.

      Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

      by Al Carroll on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 06:00:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Snark Tag? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't see the tag so I am forced to believe this is serious.

    Let's not make ourselves a laughing stock. Before lots of readers here jump on the bandwagon, I hope they look into this.

    The heroes vs. villains game US politics has been reduced to is probably useful. The right wing does pose a real threat to the US and the world, and exaggeration and oversimplification are legitimate tools in the intellectual battle against them. But we need to stay somewhere in the vicinity of reality. Sure, the other side doesn't, but unlike them, there is some honor in our position.

  •  I love "what if?" History. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, blueoasis, 4Freedom

    You nailed it.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 01:33:07 AM PDT

  •  Wonder if someone could interest Spielberg in (4+ / 0-)

    making the movie? ::sigh::

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:27:12 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't Fred Koch part of this group too? (0+ / 0-)

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 08:43:46 AM PDT

    •  Koch's John Birch days came later (0+ / 0-)

      His involvement with them starts about 1940. He spent much of the late 1920s and 30s in the Soviet Union, fleeing lawsuits in the US.

      Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

      by Al Carroll on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 06:07:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And if Capt. Kirk had saved Joan Collins' life, (0+ / 0-)

    Hitler would have won the war.

    Love and tips on the first part, the real life stuff that happened, who some of the players were, and our lack of response to it (we did it in the late 19th century as well).

    The analysis of the Spanish Civil war is so simplistic, so incomplete, the whole thing breaks down from there.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:04:27 PM PDT

    •  Horsefeathers (0+ / 0-)
      The analysis of the Spanish Civil war is so simplistic, so incomplete, the whole thing breaks down from there.
      I'm afraid much of what comes before, related to the diary title, is mostly horsefeathers.

      The notion that the (by then) liberal/socialist/anti-business Smedley Butler, a man who saw Roosevelt as being a tool of Big Business, would have been chosen by the Right to become the fascist dictator of the United States does not meet the laugh test.

      I'm sure Smedley heard some wing nut chatter at parties (tea parties undoubtedly). I'm sure there were wing nuts who hated democracy then as they do now and, given a chance (and at zero risk to their own skin), might put some money behind a coup. Add in a dose of understandable activism at the time for veterans benefits (sound familiar?), mix all this up together in the mind of a disgruntled passed-over major general and failed politician and you have the makings of "The Right Wing Tried to Overthrow FDR."

      •  Congress disagreed (0+ / 0-)

        They substantiated the plot with letters, bank accounts, and testimonies.

        That's right there in the original post. But then that would require you actually reading. You'd prefer to substitute a sneer for an actual argument or evidence.

        Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

        by Al Carroll on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 06:10:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  More Horsefeathers (0+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:
          Al Carroll
          Congress disagreed. They substantiated the plot with letters, bank accounts, and testimonies.

          That's right there in the original post. But then that would require you actually reading. You'd prefer to substitute a sneer for an actual argument or evidence.

          Even the members of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities most sympathetic to your opinion would call most of your original post hearsay. Your original post would not pass academic scrutiny.

          It's fine for you to write a book with opinions and promote your book here; this is, after all, the Internet. But to claim your wild accusations about these "plotters" as historic fact, rather than simply hearsay from a bond salesman/con man, is disturbing.

          •  Again, you don't bother read (0+ / 0-)

            Read my profile. I'm a historian, assistant professor, and Fulbright Scholar. Everything I write must pass academic scrutiny to continue to be employed. Not only that, the Fulbright is rewarded based on outstanding teaching ability and writing.

            All you have is ad hominem attacks on myself and Butler, neither of which are credible.

            Let us all know if you choose to grow up and debate evidence rather than simply troll.

            Homepage- http://alcarroll.com Presidents' Body Counts- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419159 An eye opening look at evil done by presidents, mass murder, incompetence, terrorism. An insightful damning expose of presidents by a history professor.

            by Al Carroll on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 06:36:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Smedley Butler (0+ / 0-)

              I have some respect for Smedley Butler’s military career. I, as others over the years, referred to him as later becoming “disgruntled” when he was passed over for promotion. I regret using that word; I do not in fact know his state of mind during the various activities of his post-military life.

              It is appropriate and deserved for you to criticize me for using that word.

Click here for the mobile view of the site