The Business Plot was an alleged conspiracy in 1933, to overthrow FDR, and replace him with fascist regime. While most conspiracy theories only have a grain of truth to them, the Business Plot is a conspiracy that has some teeth. The evidence (which I am going to dig into) is overwhelming and in my opinion this is a conspiracy that is true. The man who blew the whistle on it was none other than Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler.
At the time newspapers like the New York Times, were calling it a "gigantic hoax". But was it? Let's first take a look at Smedley Butler. He wasn't just some conspiracy guy off the streets, he was a politically connected General, and very well known in his time. He not only received the "Medal of Honor" once, he was awarded it twice,which is unheard of. At the time he was the most decorated Marine of all time. To this day only Chester Puller surpasses him. In 1934 he testified before the House of Representatives under oath that there was a plot to overthrow FDR, by some very powerful and rich individuals. Something indeed went down, I find it nearly impossible to believe that he had made it up.
Why would some very wealthy individuals want to overthrow FDR? Let's take a look at the world in 1933. The stock market had just crashed a few years earlier. America and the world were in "The Great Depression". People everywhere were struggling. Europe was a mess as Communism was spreading like a plague. The poor and the rich were pitted against one another. Wealthy individuals in Europe were afraid of losing it all to Communism and were financially siding with fascist regimes. Poor people that had lost everything they had worked for were angry and backing socialistic and Communistic movements, to get back what they felt was stolen from them. The world was at the brink of war in Europe, and these types of plots were already at work there.
So what did Smedley testify to? He testified that a man by the name Gerald C. Macguire was working as a middleman, a go between for some very wealthy individuals. They were scared that the FDR administration's "New Deal" was taking it too far and would lead to socialism. They were also worried that going off the "Gold Standard" would cause hyperinflation, and that they would lose their family fortunes.
They allegedly wanted Butler to lead a coup on the White House with a group of WW I Veterans known as the bonus army, that had earlier been protesting in 1931 to get their pensions. Butler was very popular with them. They were 500k strong. Butler would become a puppet fascist leader controlled and funded by these wealthy business men. Butler pretended to go along at first and got a second meeting. He would learn that these businessmen were also allegedly connected with the fascist movements going on in Italy and Germany.
So who were these wealthy individuals? The alleged suspects, were of both Democrats and Republicans. They were some big names in Wall Street with some big money. J.P. Morgan, the DuPont Family, Prescott Bush, William Randolph Hearst, Howard Heinz, E.F Hutton, Andrew Mellon, and J. Howard Pew. These were some big names, probably the biggest in Wall Street, but at this point it was all hearsay.
The media went on a smear campaign against Butler. Making headlines insinuating he was making it up for attention. These papers were in my opinion influenced by big money. In the end, the final report of the investigation was clear. There was strong evidence that Butler was telling the truth. Lots of the information had been redacted. Smedley Butler was no idiot and after reading the final report, he must have had an "Ace in the hole."
The Congressional committee's final report was this: "In the last few weeks of the committee's official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in the country. No evidence was presented and this committee had none to show a connection between this effort and any fascist activity of any European country. There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed expedient."
The evidence was strong that wealthy American men were indeed plotting. Not my words, this was according to the Congressional committee. And just because there wasn't evidence that Italy and Germany were involved, doesn't mean that they weren't. Smedley was proved to be telling the truth about other parts of the plot, and most likely he was also telling the truth about European nations being involved. Smedley Butler was without a doubt vindicated. The papers never covered that part though.
The Department of Justice never filed any charges against anyone. Why weren't charges filed? I have a theory which I'll get into in a bit, and I'm pretty certain that it's correct. FDR could have had the Department of Justice go after these wealthy businessman, but he chose not to. It would have consumed his entire presidency. These men had the financial resources to keep it in court for a long time. They were connected, and there was no guarantee that they would be convicted. I believe a backroom deal was done. No charges would be brought, but FDR was going to get the legislation he wanted, and secure his legacy. I'll admit I have no evidence, but it's weird that these guys got off scott free, and FDR got his unpopular "New Deal" passed. Things might have turned out very differently, and it's fun to think about the "Butterfly Effect".
Another weird note on this is that there was only one man that could really tie all these people together, and that was the middleman, Gerald MacGuire. He ended up dying two years later, of natural causes, at the ripe old age of 37. That's right 37, something to ponder.
What would have happened if Smedley Butler hadn't blown the whistle? It's hard to say. But if we indeed became a fascist regime, there's a good chance we would have ended up on the other side of World War II. World War II might have had a different ending, and the world would be a totally different place.
This act of valor doesn't get much play in the history books and Smedley Butler doesn't get the props he deserves. The evidence is hard to dispute. Smedley Butler not only in all probability saved America from fascism, he probably pushed the domino that saved the world.