The Fascist Plot to Overthrow FDR
Ample Funding and Support from Big Business
Paul Comly French took the witness chair to report on his own investigation of the plot, in which a candid two-hour conversation with MacGuire at the latter's office figured prominently.
Describing these talks on the premises of Grayson M.P. Murphy and Company, French verified every allegation about the plot the general had attributed to MacGuire. In addition, French reported the more open statements MacGuire had made to him about the nature of the conspiracy and how it would work. Apparently more frank with French than he had dared to be with the general, MacGuire made little attempt to disguise the Fascist nature of the proposed putsch with euphemistic phrases about "supporting the president."
FRENCH: We need a Fascist government in this country, he insisted, to save the Nation from the communists who want to tear it down and wreck all that we have built in America. The only men who have the patriotism to do it are the soldiers and Smedley Butler is the ideal leader. He could organize a million men overnight.
During the conversation he told me he had been in Italy and Germany during the summer of 1934 and the spring of 1934 and had made an intensive study of the background of the Nazi and Fascist movements and of the part played by the veterans, to properly set up one in this country.
He emphasized throughout his conversation with me that the whole thing was tremendously patriotic, that it was saving the nation from communists, and that men they deal with have the crackbrained idea that the communists are going to take it apart. He said the only safeguard would be the soldiers. At first he suggested that the general organize this outfit himself and ask a dollar a year dues from everybody. We discussed that, and then he came around to the point of getting outside financial funds, and he said it would not be any trouble to raise a million dollars.
French's use of the phrase "crackbrained idea" to describe the notion by financiers and captains of industry that the country needed to be saved from communism was obviously his own and MacGuire's expression.
Censored in French's testimony was his revelation of the sources to which MacGuire had said that he could turn for the funds to finance the veterans' army.
FRENCH: He said he could go to John W. Davis [attorney for J.P. Morgan and Company] or Perkins of the National City Bank, and any number of persons to get it.
Of course, that may or may not mean anything. That is, his reference to John W. Davis and Perkins of the National City Bank.
French testified that MacGuire had sought to impress him by indicating high-level support for the conspiracy from important movers and shakers of the American Legion.
FRENCH: He then pushed a letter across the desk and said it was from Louis Johnson, a former national commander of the American Legion
CHAIRMAN: Did he show you the letter?
FRENCH: I did not read it. He just passed it over so I could see it, but he did not show it to me. He said that he had discussed the matter with him along the lines of what we were now discussing, and I took it to mean that he had talked of this Fascist proposition with Johnson, and Johnson was in sympathy with it.
During the conversation he also mentioned Henry Stevens, of Warsaw, North Carolina, a former national commander of the American Legion, and said that he was interested in the program. Several times he brought in the names of various former national commanders of the American Legion to give me the impression that, whether justly or unjustly, a group in the American Legion were actively interested in this proposition.
CHAIRMAN: In other words, he mentioned a lot of prominent names; and whether they are interested or not, you do not know, except that he seemed to try to convey to you that they were, to impress on you the significance of this movement?
FRENCH: That is precisely the impression I gained from him.