The Plot To Seize The White House

By Jules Archer


This is the true story of a remarkable American who, during the early New Deal years, was sought by wealthy plotters in the United States to lead a putsch to overthrow the government and establish an American Fascist dictatorship.

According to retired Representative John W. McCormack, former Speaker of the House, if the late Major General Smedley Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps had not been a stubborn devotee of democracy, Americans today could conceivably be living under an American Mussolini, Hitler, or Franco.

An ironic aspect of the conspiracy General Butler unmasked is that few Americans have ever heard about it, or even know anything about the general. As children all of us were taught about the treason of Aaron Burr and Benedict Arnold, whose betrayals were safely cobwebbed by the distant past. But school texts that deal with the New Deal are uniquely silent about the powerful Americans who plotted to seize the White House with a private army, hold President Franklin D. Roosevelt prisoner, and get rid of him if he refused to serve as their puppet in a dictatorship they planned to impose and control.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the conspirators may have been too important politically, socially, and economically to be brought to justice after their scheme had been exposed before the McCormack-Dickstein Committee of the House of Representatives. The largely anti-Roosevelt press of the New Deal era scotched the story as expeditiously as possible by outright suppression, distortion, and attempts to ridicule General Butler's testimony as capricious fantasy.

Smedley Butler's whole life, however, was proof that he was a man of incorruptible character, integrity, and patriotism, with a deserved reputation for bluntly speaking the whole truth at all times, regardless of the consequences. He was named by Theodore Roosevelt "the outstanding American soldier." The official Marine Corps record calls him "one of the most colorful officers in the Marine Corps' long history" and "one of the two Marines who received two Medals of Honor for separate acts of outstanding heroism." He was decorated no fewer than twenty times.

Former Speaker McCormack told the author, "In peace or war he was one of the outstanding Americans in our history. I can't emphasize too strongly the very important part he played in exposing the Fascist plot in the early 1930's backed by and planned by persons possessing tremendous wealth."

The crucial events of the plot to seize the White House unfolded between July and November, 1933, with hearings before the McCormack-Dickstein Committee begun in New York City on November 20, 1934. On November 26 the committee released a statement detailing the testimony it had heard, and its preliminary findings. On February 15, 1935, the committee submitted to the House of Representatives its final report, verifying completely the testimony of General Butler.

This book may help break some of the seals of silence that have kept Americans from knowing the truth about that conspiracy. As the first effort to tell the whole story of the plot in sequence and full detail, it may serve as a fresh reminder of Wendell Phillips's warning about the price of liberty.

No American was ever more dedicated to eternal vigilance in preserving our freedom under the Bill of Rights that the remarkable war hero, pacifist, and Republican democrat-Smedley Darlington Butler.


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