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  • Business Coup Against F.D.R.

    Even though the actual events surrounding the event are highly speculative, I always wondered what it would have been like had the event taken place. Let's say that the military takes power then hands it to someone they consider a Constitutionalist. That means minimal Federal Gov. and etc. This takes place around 1938-9. How do you all think this would play out in WWII and history in general? Do you think the U.S. would have entered the war and why? Would the U.S. have won and why? What would the world look like afterwards if the U.S. won WWII? Would there even be a Cold War? Would the United States win it as well? I suspect there may have been an American civil war or at least something along the lines of massive disorder all over the country. Since the business plot would put up a businessman and probable isolationist, it would mean that the U.S. would not have exerted any pressures on Japan, possibly prompting it to choose to attack the U.S.S.R. over the U.S.A. If that occurred, then I doubt the U.S. would've gotten involved in WWII unless the Germans did something completely ridiculous. That means that the Axis may have been able to win the war. But would it last that long or would it fall apart like the Soviet bloc?
    The most you can ever control is yourself.

  • #2
    Could we have bit more background? Why the coup? Who promoted it? What happens to the elected government?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
      Could we have bit more background? Why the coup? Who promoted it? What happens to the elected government?
      This one sounds waaaaayyyy too whimsical for me.

      But I agree with your take to wait and see.

      Regards,
      Dennis
      If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

      Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
        Could we have bit more background? Why the coup? Who promoted it? What happens to the elected government?
        I believe he is talking about this:

        The Business Plot (also the Plot Against FDR and the White House Putsch) was an alleged political conspiracy in 1933. Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler claimed that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans' organization and use it in a coup d'état to overthrow United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler as leader of that organization. In 1934, Butler testified to the Special Committee on Un-American Activities Congressional committee (the "McCormack-Dickstein Committee") on these claims.[1] In the opinion of the committee, these allegations were credible.[2] No one was prosecuted.

        While historians have questioned whether or not a coup was actually close to execution, most agree that some sort of "wild scheme" was contemplated and discussed.[3][4][2][5][6] Contemporaneous media dismissed the plot, with a New York Times editorial characterizing it as a "gigantic hoax".[7] When the committee's final report was released, the Times said the committee "purported to report that a two-month investigation had convinced it that General Butler's story of a fascist march on Washington was alarmingly true" and "It also alleged that definite proof had been found that the much publicized Fascist march on Washington, which was to have been led by Major. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, retired, according to testimony at a hearing, was actually contemplated."[8]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot
        Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

        That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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        • #5
          Yes that is it. One error I noticed...


          Originally posted by Polsci View Post
          Even though the actual events surrounding the event are .... Let's say that the military takes power ....
          The military was not directly involved in this plot. While the plotters did approach USMC Brigadier Gen Beutler, their expectation was he would lead a group primarily of organized civilians. Most of those may have been veterans, and they may have expected Beutler to recruit a few active service officers, but they were not expecting a 'military coup'. Rather Beutlers group would 'persuade' Roosevelt to sign over power to a "co president". At least that is the gist of Beutlers testimony. since everyone else named refused to admit anything all we have is what Beutler related.

          Originally posted by Polsci View Post
          ...then hands it to someone they consider a Constitutionalist.
          Hard to see a "constutionalist" accepting power from a president signing it over under duress. If the folks implicated in this plot are named correctly then one has doubts about many of them being interested in the Constitution. Some were admirers of the nazi party, & others were among those who thought the Constitution a flawed document at the heart of all wrong with the US.

          How this would actually play out depends on what folks think MacAurthur would do. Some might guess he would be a supporter and stand by while this 'co President' took power. Or Mac might free Roosevelt and have the dupes executing the plot shot in the Rose Garden, thus saving the Republic and becoming a hero (...and Presidential candidate later).

          A few years later Sinclair Lewis had published his book 'It Can Happen Here' which describes the destruction of the US Republic through a series of coups by inept groups until the Army steps in & establishes a Franco style dictatorship.

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          • #6
            From my limited reading, the Du Pont family were strongly anti-FDR. Depending how people see this scenario playing, they would make solid backers of such a coup.

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            • #7
              One thing I can see here is that a Constitutionalist might, emphasis, might be convinced to take over a 'provisional government' for the purpose of getting new elections underway. He could not be considered a constitutionalist if he wanted anything else.

              By 1938, FDR had made several major legislation pushes which had gone through. I'll harp on only one, that being the legislation he pushed for in relation to the Gold Standard. First he demanded all private gold outside of jewelry and coin collections be delivered to the Federal Reserve in exchange for paper. Second, he took us off the Gold Standard. Third, six months later he devalued the dollar to .50 cents worth of gold. In essence FDR embezzled half of the country's money. I could see a push to remove him from power for high crimes and misdemeanors, and if a coup was successful a provisional president taking over temporarily while new elections were organized.

              Anything besides a provisional president to allow for new elections would be a move to a dictatorship....and I see it very difficult to get someone competent and patriotic to take over the provisional job.
              Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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              • #8
                Not quite up to the level of armies of flying monkeys and alien technology falling into the hands of the ratzis.

                I don't see much likelyhood of this at all.

                Regards,
                Dennis
                If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I can imagine a business junta sort of being in power unless there was major unrest which there would have had to have been. MacArthur may have acted like Caesar as well. There could have been a civil war between pro-Roosevelt and pro-Junta forces. MacArthur could have played kingmaker, so to speak. How that determines the fate of WWII would be interesting.
                  The most you can ever control is yourself.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                    ... Second, he took us off the Gold Standard. Third, six months later he devalued the dollar to .50 cents worth of gold. In essence FDR embezzled half of the country's money.
                    As I understand it that was part of a recognition of a severe monetary/price deflation that was occuring outside of anyones control. Deflationary pressures are something people are loathe to recognize, no one wants to accept that prices will not soon recover to those of the previous boom times or bubble.

                    In any case the economic trends and events of the interwar years are far more complex than commonly understood and not well examined by historians. The 1920s represents a truly earthshaking change in US demographics and capitol investment but no one has got to grips how those two & several other large changes created a sort of irresistable force in economic change. My take is Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, and the rest of US business leadership were in the position of batting at flying rocks in the middle of a fifteen year avalanche.

                    But, I digress. The reaction of Congress and the Judiciary is a companion to that of the Army. If the rest of the government does not support, or passively accept the coup attempt then the plotters will have to resort to force to obtain compliance. Congress & the Supreme Court along with individuals from Roosevelts Cabinet & other Dept. heads, assemblying in Baltimore or somewhere while the plotters thugs roam the Capitol will go a long way to making such a coup illegitmate. One might think that there would be like minded members of Congress who would support the plot. In principle there would be, but Senators and Reps are very jealous of their power and alarm at the implications in a forceable removal of the President would probablly override 'conservative' political or 'class' sympathies.

                    Were Congress to sucessfully convene elsewhere in opposition to the coup I'd think Mac would read the signs in favor of clearing yet another mob from the DC streets or White House lawn.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Carl,

                      There's also the issue of how the states react. You have to figure that more than a few are not going to be OK wiht this. If they start moblilzing National Guard units this could get messy. Then there is the issue of how the rest of the military reacts. Even if Mac does go along, will other generals? will the Navy? I would have thought that in a place with as many folks as committed to defending the constitution as the US there would be some mighty strange bedfellows opposing this. Would seem to me a genuine risk of something close to civil war.
                      Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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                      • #12
                        It might make for an interesting book. A coup against a future president based on his unconstitutional actions.
                        How would the country react? It raises a lot of questions.
                        Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                          Carl,

                          There's also the issue of how the states react. You have to figure that more than a few are not going to be OK wiht this. If they start moblilzing National Guard units this could get messy.
                          In some cases the people organizing this 'coup' controled a state themselves. The guvnor was their boy. In other cases there were still some poplulist, or antifederal/states rights sorts who as govenors & state legislators would look askance. Then there is the nature of the folks backing this takeover. I may be wrong but my impression is they were largely from the NE states. Southerners & Westerners would not care much for a group of New York bankers (Jewish ?) having such overt control of the Presidency.

                          Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                          Then there is the issue of how the rest of the military reacts. Even if Mac does go along, will other generals? will the Navy? I would have thought that in a place with as many folks as committed to defending the constitution as the US there would be some mighty strange bedfellows opposing this. Would seem to me a genuine risk of something close to civil war.
                          Strangers got in bed fifteen years earlier when the nation united over entry into the Great War. With a bit of positive leadership there could be a united popular front against the coup. Or it could be a lot more divisive if such leaders are not heard.

                          What I missed in the descriptions of Beutlers testimony was a media plan by the plotters. One can guess they owned or controled a fair number of newspapers, but folks were a bit vague then about the possibilities in radio. Without a plan or ability to control radio the plotters are risking public communication by counter coup leaders. Clever radio newsmen and other speakers can inflame the public against the coup, if the plotters do not have a effective plan for controling radio they are in trouble.

                          Lets consider for the moment the Co President is installed by Roosevelts signature (forged perhaps), Congress is in confusion as are the military leaders. So what happens then? What happens if this Co President statrs issuing unilateral decrees reversing legislation previously voted into law by Congress? Or if this CP submits a legislative package proposing this. While unpopular with many (but not all) millionares and conservatives in the middle class Roosevelts policies and early programs were supported by a significant part of the legislature and were popular among the remainder of the middle class and urban laborers. The CP & his backers could be very well be nonplussed to find their decrees or legislation unevenly complied with or rejected. Where that might lead suggests trouble.

                          Conversely how will the nation react if the day after the coup the plotters 'legion' are corpses being carted off the DC streets, the surviors hered to the railroad for transport to Ft Meade & Quantico, and the Co President under military guard in a DC jail? If the nation and the leaders of the restoration are badly frightened things are going to get scary for the coup plotters. The investigation may not stop with a ambigious Congressional investigation.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Assuming the planners of the 'business plot' manage to pull it off & a more or less legit accepted & Republican government is in place in 1939.

                            Originally posted by Polsci View Post
                            ..... How do you all think this would play out in WWII and history in general? Do you think the U.S. would have entered the war and why?
                            Eventually/Probablly. The alternative would be for the Axis nations to push the US 'off the sidewalk' so to speak both politcally and economically as they pick off more & more of the globe. While some US businessmen benefitted, or thought they benefitted, from good relations with the nazi leaders the vast majority of US overseas business lost a lot of revenue due to German, Facist, or Japanese economic policies in the territories they controlled. Even in the worst of the global Depression the US depended on exporting approx half the goods and raw materials produced here. Japanese & Facist ideas of monopoly and state controled business ran counter to the US fundamental of free trade. So, while some millionares bankrolled the American First and other isolationist groups other found themselves aware of the declining revenues and markets in the gowing Japanese & German empires.

                            Another factor was aggresive German influence in South and Central America. Taken to their logical conclusion German intervention would come into direct conflict with the Monroe Doctrine, and lead back to the economic thing.

                            Third was a strong personal connection with the subjugated nations. a very large portion of the US population were either immigrants, decended from recent immigrants, or otherwise had family connections with folks in France, Poland, Norway, China, Urkraine, ect...

                            Bottom line here is the interventionists have the same incentives as in OTL & the Isolationists the same disadvantages.



                            Originally posted by Polsci View Post
                            Would the U.S. have won and why?
                            Depends on what one defines as victory. If the US reaches a economic advantageous position for the long haul that would be a victory. It need not be as great as in OTL, but just enough that US survival and economic growth will be unhindered for the remainder of the 20th Century. I can see a much slower mobilization, less cooperation with Britain and Soviet Union, and a different course in military/economic mobilization. All those might lead to a less decisive outcome and survival of badly weakend but viable Facist & Japanese governments.

                            Originally posted by Polsci View Post
                            What would the world look like afterwards if the U.S. won WWII? Would there even be a Cold War? Would the United States win it as well?
                            If the US does not go for unconditional surrender & total control of Axis nations then there may be surviving Axis/Facist governments and nations. That implies no bipolar world of two super powers & possiblly less US economic growth and power through the nineteensixties.

                            Originally posted by Polsci View Post
                            Since the business plot would put up a businessman and probable isolationist, it would mean that the U.S. would not have exerted any pressures on Japan, possibly prompting it to choose to attack the U.S.S.R. over the U.S.A.
                            Here is a fundamental misunderstanding of the isolationists. While a few opposed support of China or opposition to Japan the isolationist movement in general was entirely aimed at Europe. The America First organization leaders were far less opposed to intervention in the Pacific because they saw the US directly threatened there. Few people saw a contradiction in opposing help to Britain vs favoring defending the Phillipines or sending weapons to China.

                            Originally posted by Polsci View Post
                            If that occurred, then I doubt the U.S. would've gotten involved in WWII unless the Germans did something completely ridiculous. That means that the Axis may have been able to win the war. But would it last that long or would it fall apart like the Soviet bloc?
                            Hitler was fair adept at ridiculous things. Had the FBI been as aggresive at hunting down and publicising German agents, spies, and sabatouers the voters would have been a lot more outraged at nazi activites in the US. The nazi efforts at these things were inept politically and they were lucky the US government was so poor at exploiting nazi blundering here. nazi economic policies in Europe were guaranteed to put off the bulk of the US business community. And, of course there was the entirely uncessary DoW of 10 December. That was more than a bit emotional and lacked much in the way of rational thinking.

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