Synopses & Reviews
In 1933, at the height of the Depression, a confederation of wealthy industrialists and political reactionaries looked to fascism for deliverance from their woes. They had lost their fortunes on Wall Street and their power structure of political favor in Washington. They thought they stood to lose everything if they condescended to allow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to enact the New Deal and the silver standard. And they would stop at next to nothing in order to continue their grip on the levers of Americas most powerful institutions. In The Plot to Seize the White House
, veteran author Jules Archer details tells this sordid, secret history of the most shocking act of sedition and intrigue since workmen drained the swamps to lay the foundation for Washington D.C.
The plotters studied Mussolini's rise to power on the shoulders of nationalistic veterans' groups, and devised a strategy to subvert or replace the leadership of the American Legion. If that failed, they would pull Legion's funding and create their own. This would be followed by a call to law-and-order, local chapters deputized to break strikes and crush opposition demonstrations, and a brazen military organization arrayed against FDR and the U.S. Army. It would be a paramilitary police force beholden only to the party leaders; a fifth column: the American equivalent of Hitler's Brown Shirts. Under the pretext of helping the ailing FDR with his duties, they would pressure him to appoint a strong-man dictator. They were linked to nationalist organizations with patriotic-sounding names, anti-Semitic groups, and the Ku Klux Klan. And they were led and bankrolled to the tune of millions of dollars by a constellation of industrialists and financiers whose inclusion is still shocking even today.
Their selection for dictator was tough-talking two-time Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, a thirty-five year veteran of global U.S. gunboat diplomacy who was once a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. He was also a patriot, and having misplaced their trust in him, Butler broke the news through trusted journalists and friends on Capitol Hill. The McCormack-Dickstein Committee took testimony, some of which was under seal and is revealed only here. There were no consequences for the instigators however. The entire affair was swept under the rug, left out of history books, and conveniently forgotten, until the publication of The Plot to Seize the White House.
"Fascinating and alarmingly true." Time
Most people will be shocked to learn that in 1933 a cabal of wealthy industrialists—in league with groups like the K.K.K. and the American Liberty League—planned to overthrow the U.S. government in a fascist coup. Their plan was to turn discontented veterans into American "brown shirts," depose F.D.R., and stop the New Deal. They clandestinely asked Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Major General Smedley Darlington Butler to become the first American Caesar. He, though, was a true patriot and revealed the plot to journalists and to Congress. In a time when a President has invoked national security to circumvent constitutional checks and balances, this episode puts the spotlight on attacks upon our democracy and the individual courage needed to repel them.
"The long-forgotten story of what would have been America's first serious armed insurrection since the Revolution."—Boston Sunday Herald
About the Author
Born in New York City, Jules Archer is a graduate of City College of New York. During World War II he served four years in the Pacific with the Army Air Corps and was also a freelance correspondent by order of General MacArthur. He is the author of many books on political events and personalities, including Mao Tse-tung; The Dictators; Hawks, Doves, and the Eagle; The Extremists; and Chou En-lai.