Hanford MacNider (1889-1968)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Within the coup plotters’ circle, the Morgan faction saw General Douglas MacArthur as their best choice to lead a veterans’ army against FDR. Their second choice was Hanford MacNider, who had twice been the American Legion’s national commander (1921-1922, 1931). General Butler told Gerald MacGuire that “MacNider won’t do…. He will not get the soldiers to follow him, because he has been opposed to the bonus.” MacGuire replied: “Yes, but we will have him change.” Butler told the Congressional Committee that “three weeks later, after this conversation, MacNider changed and turned around for the bonus.” So, it seems MacNider was in their pocket. Why was he a top choice and why would he go along with their plot?

MacNider, one of Iowa’s best-known war heroes, projected the image of a down-to-earth “Iowa farm boy” but he was actually born to bank. Son of Charles MacNider, a prominent banker and leader in the cement business, Hanford graduated from Harvard in 1911. He then took up bookkeeping in his father’s Mason City bank. In 1912, MacNider became a Master Mason and then rose to the penultimate (32nd) degree, called Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. Throughout his life, he kept his Masonic ties and his connection to Northwest States Portland Cement, being its president for 53 years.

In 1916 and 1917, when U.S. General Pershing was chasing Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, MacNider was among 160,000 national guardsmen who patrolled the border. He was soon off to France (1917-1919). The story goes that military charges were laid against MacNider when one of his men disagreed with a Colonel. MacNider then supposedly went AWOL to get to the front. When authorities finally caught up to him, he had already risen through the ranks and won 14 medals, so charges were dropped. While in France, MacNider took part in forming the banker-funded American Legion as a bulwark against radicalism.

Upon returning to the U.S., MacNider became the Legion’s Iowa State Commander (1920-1921) and then its National Commander (1921-1922). In 1924, with his dad’s money, MacNider created the Republican Service League (a committee of the supposedly non-partisan Legion) and fought to defeat Senator “Wildman” Brookhart, a Republican renegade who advocated cooperative banking and housing and was denounced by editorialists as that “insurgent, Bolshevik, lusty bedouin, buffoon.” MacNider was President Calvin Coolidge’s assistant secretary of war, and Maj. Dwight Eisenhower was MacNider’s executive assistant (1925-1928).

In 1928, MacNider was considered as a Republican vice presidential candidate. When his father died that year, he took command of family business interests, which thrived during the Depression.

Between 1930 and 1932, MacNider was President Herbert Hoover’s envoy to Canada. He presented himself for duty in full-dress Army uniform. While here, he set the groundwork for the St. Lawrence Seaway Treaty. In the process, he became a close confidant of MacKenzie King, Canada’s anti-Semitic, Liberal Prime Minister. King, who confided in his diary that “We must seek to keep this part of the continent free from unrest and from too great an intermixture of foreign strains of blood,” had pleasant meetings with Adolph Hitler, and his henchman Hermann Goering, in 1937. Deeply impressed by Hitler, King wrote in his diary: “he [Hitler]…truly loves his fellow-men, and his country….a man of deep sincerity and a genuine patriot…. distinctly a mystic” (Diary, June 29, 1937). King’s Minister of Immigration, Frederick Blair, bragged about his efficiency in keeping Jewish refugees, that were fleeing genocide in Germany, from entering Canada.

In 1932, MacNider resigned his ambassadorship to Canada and was an unsuccessful Republican vice presidential candidate. In 1940, he failed as a Republican contender for the presidential nomination.

He was a member of the America First Committee until December 4, 1941, three days before Pearl Harbour. In WWII, he was promoted to brigadier general (1942) and was a major general upon resigning (1951). The next year, he turned down a request to manage Douglas MacArthur’s campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination. When Eisenhower won the Presidency, MacNider turned down his offer of a cabinet post.


Don Lavender
http://www.srmason-sj.org/.../ feb00/lavender.html

The Search for Smith Wildman Brookhart

The Diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King

L. Wolfe, FDR vs. the Banks, The American Almanac, July 11, 1994

Tom Longden, "Famous Iowans," DesMoines Register

Smith Wildman Brookhart

Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

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