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For The Record  

FTR #448 The Coup Attempt of 1934

Recorded March 7, 2004
MP3 One segment
NB: This stream contains both FTRs #448 and #449 in sequence. Each is a 30 minute broadcast.

  • Listen to the BBC Radio programme: The White House Coup
  • In observation of the 70th anniversary of the event, this program recounts the 1934 fascist coup attempt in the United States. Appalled at President Roosevelt’s New Deal, powerful industrialists and financiers grouped around the Morgan industrial and financial interests attempted to recruit World War I veterans into an army of insurrection. The goal of the conspirators was the overthrow of American democracy and the institution of a fascist government. Because they selected Marine Corps general Smedley Buter to lead the coup, the attempt was foiled. Although a critic of Roosevelt, Butler (a two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor) betrayed the coup plotters to the President. Following a badly attenuated Congressional investigation by the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, the matter was laid to rest. It is worth noting that proof of the plot was concrete and well-documented, but none of the plotters was imprisoned, because the conspirators were among the most powerful and prestigious industrial and financial magnates in the country.

    Program Highlights Include: The role of General Douglas MacArthur in the conspiratorial process leading up to the coup attempt; MacArthur’s relationship to the House of Morgan; the role of the Du Ponts in the coup preparations; Remington Arms’ agreement to provide weapons to the conspirators; the sympathy of key General Motors executives for the coup attempt; the profound sympathy on the part of the conspirators for Hitler and Mussolini; the critical aid given by the coup plotters’ associated business interests to the Third Reich; the domestic fascist organizations organized and financed by some of the conspirators and the businesses that they ran; the mainstream press’ cover-up of the story and its significance. Note that this program is excerpted from Radio Free America Program #10, recorded on 7/11/1985. For more information on the MacArthur group in the military and its fascist tendencies, see RFA#’s 10-13—available from Spitfire—as well as FTR#’s 426, 427, 428, 446.

    1. One of the main elements in the story of the 1934 coup attempt is the pivotal role of a group of powerful industrial and financial interests—many of which were openly supportive of Hitler and doing business with the Third Reich—in organizing the plot. Members of the Du Pont family, executives with General Motors (controlled at the time by the Du Ponts), key figures in the Morgan banking constellation and members of the National Association of Manufacturers attempted to translate their hatred of FDR and his New Deal into action. (Note that the Morgan banking interests financed the Du Ponts’ industrial operations to a considerable extent. The Morgan interests were the primary element in financing the Du Ponts’ establishment and operation of General Motors. Pinning their hopes on Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler—a two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor—the conspirators sought to enlist unemployed and desperate World War I veterans into a fascist army of insurrection, modeled after the French Croix de Feu (“Cross of Fire”.)
    (Trading with the Enemy; by Charles Higham; Dell [SC]; Copyright 1983.)

    2. Because he had supported the granting of a promised bonus payment to World War I veterans, Butler—a “soldiers’ general”—was the coup plotters’ eventual choice to lead the conspiracy. The plotters preferred General Douglas MacArthur (a son-in-law of Edward Stotesbury, a key Morgan partner), but MacArthur had opposed the bonus and then led the bloody suppression of the “Bonus Army” that assembled in Washington D.C. to demand their promised payment. According to Butler, MacArthur was aware of the plot, and was involved in the planning. (Idem.)

    3. Weapons for the actual coup were to have been provided by Remington Arms, also owned by the Du Ponts. The Du Ponts admired Hitler, and both Du Pont Chemicals and General Motors were heavily involved in business enterprises in Germany that contributed to the Third Reich’s war preparations and also helped to finance the Nazi Party. (Idem.)

    4. In addition to their enthusiasm for Hitler and Mussolini, many of the plotters and their associates were very active in the establishment, financing and operation of domestic fascist groups. The Du Ponts helped to establish the fascist Liberty League, the brutal Black Legion and the associated Wolverine Republican League to help break labor unions and terrorize workers in their various industries, particularly General Motors. (Idem.)

    5. When general Butler exposed the conspiracy and the story broke in the papers, the conspirators dismissed the reports, the McCormack-Dickstein Committee’s report was suppressed for several years and the plotters got off scot-free. No one was ever imprisoned for their role in the treasonous insurrection, despite concrete evidence of their guilt. (Idem.)

    6. In addition to their attempted overthrow of the constitutional authority, many members of what author Charles Higham calls “the fraternity” instituted labor policies that were diametrically opposed to President Roosevelt’s economic agenda. (Idem.)

    7. Pressure by the conspirators helped to get MacArthur re-appointed as Army Chief of Staff, a highly unusual development. The program presents an interview with former Speaker of the House John McCormack, who co-chaired the congressional committee that investigated the coup. He affirms the accuracy of the charges made by Butler, and the grave danger that the plot posed to the republic.
    (The Plot to Seize the White House; by Jules Archer; Hawthorne Books [HC]; Copyright 1973.)

    8. MacArthur’s father-in-law (key Morgan partner Edward Stotesbury) helped to finance domestic American fascist groups. (1000 Americans; by George Seldes; Boni & Gaer [HC]; Copyright 1947.)


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