Headlines of Yore

An abbreviated tale of Smedley D. Butler, the ‘fighting Quaker’ recruited to overthrow President Roosevelt

The Marine Corps major general and onetime Philadelphia director of public safety later became an outspoken critic of war.

Smedley Butler (in the car) at Gettysburg during a Pickett's Charge reenactment by Marines in 1922

Smedley Butler (in the car) at Gettysburg during a Pickett's Charge reenactment by Marines in 1922

Library of Congress
aviwolfmanarent

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


West Chester native Smedley Darlington Butler started as a celebrated war hero and ended it as one of the military-industrial complex’s most outspoken critics.

Along the way, he became a Marine Corps major general, fought in World War I, was awarded 16 medals, and served as Philadelphia’s director of public safety.

Butler was also central to a controversy known as the “Business Plot,” in which a group of fascists allegedly tried to recruit him to lead an army of 150,000 and stage a coup to overthrow then-U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In the meantime, he found time to speak about…dating. Here’s a recap of some of the high points of the wild ride that was Butler’s time on this planet.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?

Tagged

History