Bonus Army: Protesting for Veterans Benefits

Shacks that members of the Bonus Army erected on the Anacostia Flats burning after its confrontation with the army. (Image by U.S. Signal Corps via Wikimedia Commons)

Shacks that members of the Bonus Army erected on the Anacostia Flats burning after its confrontation with the army. (Image by U.S. Signal Corps via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1932, U.S. President Herbert Hoover ordered the army to forcibly evict a group of veterans which had gathered in Washington, D.C.

Here are some things you may not have known about the Bonus Army.

In 1924, The U.S. Congress overrode a veto by President Woodrow Wilson to allow World War I veterans bonuses for service, up to $500 for domestic service, and $625 for service overseas. The  bonuses would be paid out in 1945.

As the Great Depression got worse, the demand to redeem the certificates grew.

Marchers descended on Washington in June 1932 as the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the veterans to be paid early. The bill was defeated in the Senate and the veterans remained unpaid.

The group set up a camp in a swampy area south of the core of Washington. They built the camps with garbage from a nearby dump and designed streets and built sanitation facilities. Only honorably discharged veterans and their families were allowed to live in the camp.

The marchers stayed in their camp, waiting for  action from President Hoover. On July 28, Hoover took action, just not the action the veterans had hoped for.

Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered police to clear the camp. During the conflict two veterans were shot and killed. After hearing of the shootings, Hoover ordered the Army to clear the site.

The troops, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, along with tanks under the command of then-Major George S. Patton charged into the camp with bayonets and tear gas.

In the struggle, 55 veterans were hurt, one veteran’s wife miscarried and a 12-week-old boy died later as a result of the tear gas attack.

Hoover, who. was running for re-election, went on to lose to Franklin Roosevelt in a landslide.

Roosevelt, who also opposed the early payment of the bonuses, provided a later group of protesters with an area to camp and three meals a day. He also allowed 25,000 veterans to enroll in the Civilian Conservation Corps, waiving the requirements that enrollees be unmarried and under the age of 25.

In 1936, both houses of Congress passed an act to pay the bonus early. Roosevelt vetoed the bill, but it was over-ridden by Congress.

Our question: What future president was a junior aide to MacArthur during the Bonus Army Conflict?

 

Today is World Hepatitis Day, and World Nature Conservation Day.

It’s unofficially National Chili Dog Day, National Hamburger Day, and National Milk Chocolate Day.

It’s the birthday of writer Beatrix Potter, who was born in 1866; artist Marcel Duchamp, who was born in 1887; and former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was born in 1929.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1995, the top song in the U.S. was “Waterfalls” by TLC.

The No. 1 movie was “Apollo 13,” while the novel “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Before the break we asked: What future president was a junior aide to MacArthur during the Bonus Army Conflict?

Weekly question

What is the largest number of in vitro fertilized babies to be born following one pregnancy?

 

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Sources

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_28

https://www.checkiday.com/07/28/2016

http://www.biography.com/people/groups/born-on-july-28

http://www.billboard.com/archive/charts/1995/hot-100

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_1995_box_office_number-one_films_in_the_United_States

http://www.hawes.com/1995/1995-07-23.pdf

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