One frosty dawn in November 1935, 500,000 War veterans rolled out of their blankets in the pine barrens around the CCC camp at Elkridge, Md. The brassy bugle notes of "Assembly" hurried them to the camp's parade ground, where, mounted on a white horse and surrounded by his staff, they found their leader, Major General Smedley Darlington ("Old Gimlet Eye") Butler, U. S. M. C., retired.
"Men," cried General Butler, "Washington is but 30 miles away! Will you follow me?"
The answer was a mighty shout: "We will!"
Squad by squad, half a million men tramped briskly out onto U. S. Highway No. 1 and turned south. A lumbering ammunition train, supplied by Remington Arms Co. and E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., brought up the rear. At the head of the long column as it swung along through the misty morning rode General Butler with his high command. Straddling a charger was that grim, oldtime cavalryman, General Hugh Samuel Johnson. General Douglas MacArthur, who only a year before had been the Army's Chief of Staff, trotted jauntily beside him. Behind them clop-clopped three past commanders of the American Legion Hanford MacNider, Louis Johnson and Henry Stevens. Between them and the first squad of marching men glided a shiny limousine. On its back seat, with a plush robe across their knees, were to be seen John P. Morgan and his partner, Thomas William Lament, deep in solemn talk.
It was nearly sundown before Washington was reached and Pennsylvania Avenue was filled from end to end with this citizen army. His spurs clinked loudly as General Butler strode into President Roosevelt's study. "Mr. President," barked the general, "I have 500,000 men outside who want peace but want something more. I wish you to remove Cordell Hull as Secretary of State."
The President promptly telephoned across the street for Mr. Hull's resignation.
"And now, Mr. President," continued General Butler, "I ask you to fill the vacancy which has just occurred in your Cabinet by appointing me Secretary of State." It took Mr. Roosevelt less than a minute to sign the commission. "Let it be understood," the new Secretary of State told the President, "that henceforth I will act as the nation's executive. You may continue to live here at the White House and draw your salary but you will do and say only what I tell you. If not, you and Vice President Garner will be dealt with as I think best. In that event, as Secretary of State, I shall succeed to the Presidency, as provided by law." The President nodded assent and the U. S. became a Fascist State. Such was the nightmarish page of future U. S. history pictured last week in Manhattan by General Butler himself to the special House Committee investigating Un-American Activities.