The Business Plot, 1933

A credibly true conspiracy story: The aim was to take over Washington DC in a military coup; there was just one man standing in their way. Read how one veteran US Marine General stood up to the political forces that lurk in the shadows even today.

It was November the 24th, 1934 and retired General Smedley Butler sat before a closed session of the Congressional Special Committee on Un-American Activities in New York.

This man had served in numerous military operations around the world, including WW1. With two Medals of Honour to his name, he was America’s most decorated soldier and his reputation was above reproach. However news outlets, such as the New York Times, dismissed his story as a “giant hoax” the moment it came out.

Prefacing his remarks by saying “I have one interest in all of this, and that is to try to do my best to see that a democracy is maintained in this country.” Butler then gave an incredible testimony that Gerald C. MacGuire attempted to recruit him to lead a coup, promising him an army of 500,000 men for a march on Washington, DC, and financial backing.

The pretext for the coup would be that the president’s health was failing. Butler said the plotters felt his good reputation and popularity were vital in attracting support amongst the general public and saw him as easier to manipulate than others.

Given a successful coup, Butler said that the plan was for him to have held near-absolute power in the newly created position of ‘Secretary of General Affairs’, while Roosevelt would have assumed a figurehead role.

General Smedley Butler was to lead a fascist coup of the USA if ‘hidden interests’ had their way (blurryphotos.org)

Those implicated in the plot by Butler all denied any involvement. MacGuire was the only figure identified by Butler who testified before the committee.

Others Butler accused were not called to appear to testify because the “committee has had no evidence before it that would in the slightest degree warrant calling before it such men”.

While historians have questioned whether or not a coup was actually close to execution, most agree that some sort of plot was contemplated and discussed. 

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