Butler rallied the spirits of World War I vets as they camped in Washington D.C. demanding to be compensated. Douglas MacArthur then Mubaraked the veterans with bullets and teargas and chased them out of town, earning the scorn of all survivors, forever shaming the U.S. government, preventing a second term for Hoover, and making the GI Bill following the next global spree of mass-murder almost inevitable. (And you thought starting a war in Korea and trying to get a THIRD world war going was the ugliest thing MacAurthur had done.)
When the war profiteers and Wall Street plutocrats who had opposed compensating the veterans later hatched a plot to create a fascist dictatorship and remove FDR from office, MacArthur promised them the support of the US Army, but even the banksters understood that the half-million angry veterans they sought to use wouldn’t follow MacArthur as far as they could throw him. There was only one man they would follow unquestioningly, and that was Smedley Butler.
The society “to maintain the Constitution” (the Tea Party couldn’t have named it better) tried to recruit Butler. He led them on and then ratted them out to a congressional committee. Too big to jail, then as now, the plotters, including George W. Bush’s grandpa, were not prosecuted for treason but did agree to stop fighting against the New Deal. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Time Magazine attacked Butler, and the history books obediently excised this little incident from our children’s education during the past 75 years, but Congressman John W. McCormack, chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee credited Butler with saving the republic.