(For a brief and interesting historical synopsis of the coup attempt, listen to the BBC Radio program: The White House Coup.)
Introduction: Supplementing previous coverage of the U.S. fascist coup attempt of 1934, this broadcast is an emotional professional milestone for Mr. Emory. When first undertaking this field of research, he read investigative reporter, author and anti-fascist Jules Archer’s The Plot to Seize the White House, published in hardcover by Hawthorne books.
After learning that Mr. Archer was alive, well and 90-years young, Mr. Emory was delighted to find out that The Plot to Seize the White House is being republished in paperback by Skyhorse Publishing. This interview commemorates Mr. Archer’s work and celebrates the publishing of the paperback edition of his book.
Program Highlights Include: Discussion of the Liberty League, a consortium of wealthy and powerful industrialists and financiers who were the core of the coup plot; the coup plotters’ enthusiastic support for Hitler and Mussolini; the nomenclature of the members of the coup cabal; an overview of the career of General Smedley Butler, the patriotic hero who betrayed the coup plot; the media’s suppression of accurate reportage on the coup plot; the role of a small number of investigative reporters who brought the coup to light; the suppression of part of the report of the McCormack-Dickstein Committee (formed to investigate the coup).
1. Beginning with analysis of the career of Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, the program highlights Butler’s singular popularity among enlisted men. “A soldier’s general” Butler stood up for the “grunt” and didn’t automatically favor the “Brass” (the officer corps). This quality made him the choice to be “The Man on the White Horse” to lead the coup attempt. Men who served with Butler (such as former Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup) praised Butler in the most extravagant terms. It is worth noting that Butler was a practicing Quaker who came to feel that war, in general, was “a racket.”
2. After noting Butler’s extraordinary career, the discussion sets forth two issues that might be unfamiliar to younger listeners: the “bonus” from World War I and the Gold Standard. Soldiers who enlisted in World War I were promised a cash bonus, which they never received. When the Great Depression struck, many of the veterans organized and mobilized in order to pressure the government to grant them the bonus to which they were entitled. A march by the “Bonus Army” in Washington, D.C. was violently broken up by troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, the first choice of the plotters to lead the coup. Franklin Delano Roosevelt removed the U.S. from the Gold Standard, a decision which alienated many of the wealthy. The coup plotters wanted Smedley Butler to make a speech at an American Legion convention in favor of the Gold Standard, the theory being that Butler could present this as desirable to the bonus marchers. Their “bonus” would then be backed by gold.
3. Much of the program highlights points of information set forth in FTR#448 about the coup attempt itself. In particular, this portion of the broadcast centers on the Liberty League, a domestic fascist organization that was the backbone of the coup plot.
“ . . . Heading and directing the organization were Du Pont and J.P. Morgan and Company men. . . . Heavy contributors to the American Liberty League included the Pitcairn family (Pittsburgh Plate Glass), Andrew W. Mellon Associates, Rockefeller Associates, E.F. Hutton Associates, William S. Knudsen (General Motors), and the Pew family (Sun Oil Associates). J. Howard Pew, longtime friend and supporter of Robert Welch, who later founded the John Birch Society, was a generous patron, along with other members of the Pew family, of extremist right-wing causes. . . . Two organizations affiliated with the league were openly fascist and antilabor. One was the Sentinels of the Republic, financed chiefly by the Pitcairn family and J. Howard Pew. Its members labeled the New Deal ‘Jewish Communism’ and insisted ‘the old line of Americans of $1,200.00 a year want a Hitler’. . . . ‘The brood of anti-New Deal organizations spawned by the Liberty League,’ the New York Post subsequently charged, ‘are in turn spawning fascism.’”
4. An important point of information for younger listeners concerns the American Legion. Originally formed as a reactionary organization used by the National Association of Manufacturers to break strikes, the American Legion eventually cast off its reactionary leadership and became the respectable veterans organization that it is to this day. In Butler’s time, the Legion was seen as a possible recruiting ground for soldiers for the coup plot.
5. Jules highlights some of the key figures in this drama including: coup figure Gerald McGuire (a wealthy bond salesman who was selected by the coup plotters as their primary contact with Smedley Butler); Robert S. Clark (another coup plotter who had known Butler when serving in the military in China); Grayson M-P.Murphy (another of the wealthy coup plotters, Murphy was a Morgan partner and had been decorated by Benito Mussolini); Hanford McNider (a wealthy former leader of the American Legion, seen as a possible second choice to Butler to lead the coup.)
6. In addition, Jules Archer sets forth some of the journalists who worked to expose the coup: Philadelphia Record journalist Paul Comly French (assigned to help cover the story as it was being revealed by General Butler); George Seldes (the venerable anti-fascist writer whose work has been accessed by Mr. Emory for decades, Seldes was an early and prolific writer about the coup attempt); John L. Spivak (another early anti-fascist writer who revealed that the report of the McCormack-Dickstein Committee contained key omissions about the coup plot).
7. Sadly, the mainstream media did not give effective coverage to the coup attempt—in fact they helped to cover it up. Jules Archer cites The New York Times and Time as two of the many publications that exercised willful censorship of the coverage of the coup plot. It is also worth noting that American academia has also remained largely oblivious to this pivotal event.