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The American Liberty League was a United States organization formed in 1934 by conservative Democrats such as Al Smith (the 1928 Democratic presidential nominee), Jouett Shouse (former high party official and US Representative), John W. Davis (the 1924 Democratic presidential nominee), and John Jacob Raskob (former Democratic National Chairman and the foremost opponent of prohibition), Dean Acheson (future Secretary of State under Harry Truman), along with many industrialists, and members of the Du Pont family. Also members were Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors, Jouett Shouse (later Chairman of the Democratic Party), Jay Cooke II, Captain William Stayton, and about one hundred thousand other members.[1]

The League stated that it would work to "defend and uphold the Constitution" and to "foster the right to work, earn, save and acquire property." The League spent between $500,000 and $1.5 million in promotional campaigns; its funding came mostly from the Du Pont family, as well as leaders of U.S. Steel, General Motors, General Foods, Standard Oil, Birdseye, Colgate, Heinz Foods, Chase National Bank, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. It reached over 125,000 members and supported the Republicans in 1936, though it did not make a formal endorsement at the request of the Alf Landon presidential campaign.

In the year of its founding, 1934, the League was accused by Smedley Butler of being involved in a fascist Business Plot to overthrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Butler was a retired Marine Corps general and strong supporter of President Roosevelt. Butler said that he was approached to lead a group of 500,000 veterans to take over the functions of government. Butler speculated in his congressional testimony that the League was somehow involved with a plan to found a para-military fascist veterans organiztion, an 'American version' of the 1930s French Croix-de-Feu. The final McCormack-Dickstein Committee report refused to include this "hearsay" material. No prosecutions or further investigations followed, and historians[2][3] and contemporary journalists[4] largely rejected the idea that any such plan was near execution.[5]

The League labeled Roosevelt's Agricultural Adjustment Administration "a trend toward Fascist control of agriculture." Social Security was said to "mark the end of democracy." Lawyers for the American Liberty League challenged the validity of the Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act), but in 1937, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute. The League faded away and disbanded in 1940.

References

  1. ^ Wall Street: a history : from its beginnings to the fall of Enron, Charles R. Geisst, Oxford University Press US, 2004 ISBN 0195170601, 9780195170603 438 pages page 238
  2. ^ Burk, Robert F. (1990). The Corporate State and the Broker State: The Du Ponts and American National Politics, 1925-1940. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-17272-8. 
  3. ^ Sargent, James E. (November 1974). "Review of: The Plot to Seize the White House, by Jules Archer". The History Teacher 8 (1): 151–152. doi:10.2307/491493. 
  4. ^ Author unknown (December 3, 1934). "Plot Without Plotters". Time Magazine. http://www.livejournal.com/users/bailey83221/47109.html. 
    Author unknown (November 21, 1934). "Gen. Butler Bares 'Fascist Plot' To Seize Government by Force; Says Bond Salesman, as Representative of Wall St. Group, Asked Him to Lead Army of 500,000 in March on Capital -- Those Named Make Angry Denials -- Dickstein Gets Charge.". New York Times: 1. ;
    Philadelphia Record, November 21 and 22, 1934
  5. ^ Schmidt, Hans (1998). Maverick Marine (reprint, illustrated ed.). University Press of Kentucky. pp. 224. ISBN 0813109574. 

References

  • John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner and David Brody, eds. The New Deal: The National Level. Ohio State University Press. 1975.
  • Douglas B. Craig, After Wilson: The Struggle for the Democratic Party, 1920-1934 University of North Carolina Press. 1992.
  • Frederick Rudolph, "The American Liberty League, 1934-1940," American Historical Review 56 (October 1950): 19-33. online at JSTOR
  • George Wolfskill. The Revolt of the Conservatives: A. History of the American Liberty League, 1934-1940. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962).
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