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Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ June 21, 1940) was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, an outspoken critic of U.S. military adventurism, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.
During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. By the end of his career, he had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only man to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.
In his 1935 book War is a Racket, he described the workings of the military-industrial complex and, after retiring from service, became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.
In 1934, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purported plot woud have had Butler leading a mass of armed veterans in a march on Washington. The individuals identified denied the existence of a plot, and the media ridiculed the allegations. The final report of the committee stated that there was evidence that such a plot existed, but no charges were ever filed. The opinion of most historians is that while planning for a coup was not very advanced, wild schemes were discussed.
Butler continued his speaking engagements in an extended tour, but in June 1940 checked himself into a naval hospital, dying a few weeks later from what was believed to be cancer. He was buried at Oaklands Cemetery in West Chester, Pennsylvania; his home has been maintained as a memorial and contains memorabilia collected during his various careers.