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.