In 1934, on this day Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (retired ) was appointed to the newly created position of Secretary of General Affairs.
Arriving at a time of grave national crisis, the "Fighting Quaker" would play a key role in re-establishing both the authority and also the prestige of the Federal Government. Recognition would soon follow, Times Magazine named Butler Man of of the Year, 1934, acknowledging that "for better or for worse, ...[he] has done the most to influence the events of the year".
Business Plot Part 1: Two Legends Struggle for the Mastery of AmericaFranklin Delano Roosevelt, who had won the award in 1932, was not under consideration because he had effectively been reduced to a figurehead role as a result of this sweeping re-distribution of powers. Because the business elite had brought FDR's plans for a "New Deal" to a sharp halt.
Veterans of Foreign Wars commander James E. Van Zandt confired "he [General Butler] had been approached by agents of Wall Street to lead a Fascist dictatorship in the United States under the guise of a Veterans Organization"."
"Every man a king, but no one wears a crown"In a 1995 History Today article Clayton Cramer argued that the devastation of the Great Depression had caused many in the US to question the foundations of US-style democracy. Many traditionalists, here and in Europe, turned to the ideas of Fascism and National Socialism; many liberals dallied with Socialism and Communism". Cramer argues that this explains why some US business leaders viewed fascism as a viable system to both preserve their interests and end the economic woes of the Depression.
And yet all was not lost for organized labor. Huey Pierce Long would electrify the nation with his "Every man a King" campaign for the White House in 1936. And as the thirty-third President of the United States, Long's first order of the day was to abolish the office of the Secretary of General Affairs.
In 1935, on this day the US Secretary of General Welfare, Smedley Butler announced the long-expected retirement of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Press photographs of the wheel-chair ridden and clearly sick President had convinced many Americans that Roosevelt was not in good health. Fortunately, since his appointment, Butler had succeeded in "taking all the worries and details off of his shoulders", and consequently FDR had spent much of the previous year "christening babies, dedicating bridges and kissing children".
Business Plot Part 2: Roosevelt RetiresFormer bond trader and current US Secretary of the Treasury, Mr Gerald MacGuire would be moving forward with improved plans for the New Deal. Especially for First World War Veterans - because the planned reversion to the Gold Standard would ensure that the 1945 bonus would be paid in gold. Compensation for all workers in defence industries, from the lowest labourer to the highest executive, would be limited to "thirty dollars a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get".
"We want to see the soldiers' bonus paid in gold. We do not want the soldiers to have rubber money or paper money".The constructive dismissal of the thirty-second President of the United States presented an unexpected opportunity for Huey P. Long.
The disgraced former Governor of Lousiana had been impeached in 1929. According to the Kingfish, his removal from office was the result of illegal political manoerves by Standard Oil who contested his proposal for five cents tax per barrel to pay for his "Share the Wealth" programme. Long would claim with some merit that FDR's removal was the result of a similiar business plot, but on a national scale.
Under the banner of "Every Man a King, but none wears the Crown", Long would seize upon popular resentment, launching an audacious bid for the White House in 1936.