Smedley Butler quotes are some of the most influential in the world in regard to military and war. At the time of his death in 1940 Major General Smedley Darlington Butler was the most decorated Marine in American history. His 16 medals included two Medals of Honor and the Brevet Medal, all for separate acts of heroism. Following his military service Butler revealed a supposed plot to overthrow the U.S. government, as well as published War Is a Racket, a scathing criticism of American wars for profit.
Butler was born to Quaker parents in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1881. His father Thomas Butler, who later was elected to congress and acted as chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, did not approve of Butler dropping out of high school to join the Marines – but Butler did precisely that.
Butler lied about his age to become a second lieutenant during the Spanish-American War. He continued on to serve during the Philippine-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Banana Wars, the Mexican Revolution, and finally the First World War. A general by 1924, Butler was appointed Philadelphia’s director of public safety in order to weed out corruption. He organized raids on over 900 speakeasies in his first two days on the job.
Don’t imagine for even a moment that we believe one paragraph could do justice to Butler’s military and public service.
In 1934 Butler reported the existence of a military industrialist plot to overthrow the U.S. government, then presided over by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Butler claimed that the “Business Plot,” as the media would dub it, was backed by a private soldiery consisting of half a million veterans and intended to set up a fascist dictatorship. Butler further claimed that he had been asked to lead the coup to install General Hugh S. Johnson as dictator, and that it was backed financially by J.P. Morgan. Despite evidence that corroborated some of Butler’s claims, the media painted the Business Plot as a great hoax and no prosecutions followed.
Butler had started delivering public lectures against war profiteering in 1933. He began serving as spokesman for the American League Against War and Fascism in 1935, delivering his speech “War Is a Racket” around the country. He published his book of the same title that year as well.
Informed by its author’s own military service, War Is a Racket elaborates several examples of industrialists exploiting public funding to profit from war and human suffering. Butler decries war as possibly the oldest money making scheme in human history, in which a shadowy cadre of misanthropes conspire to create mass casualties in exchange for money. Butler endorsed removing any opportunity to profit from war, primarily by conscripting industrialists for the same $30 a month that men fighting in the trenches earned. He further advised allowing only those eligible for military service to vote on whether to go to war, and to end wars of aggression by restricting military operations solely to defense.
Butler died of an illness that was very likely cancer, surrounded on his deathbed by his family. Today the United States is the largest operator of military bases abroad.
General Smedley Butler Quotes
War Is a Racket Quotes
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Teddy, as he was affectionately called (although seldom to his face) was the 26th president of the United States, and considered by more than a few to have been the greatest. He was also a statesman, writer, conservationist, naturalist, hunter, ornithologist, taxidermist, cowboy, and war veteran – he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001.