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

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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.

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