The Bonus Army
In 1924, a bill was passed for the veterans of WW1 to get a bonus by 1945. The veterans were to get $1.25 for each day served overseas and $1.00 for each day served in the United States. By 1932, our nation was going though The Great Depression. Most of the veterans were poor and wanted their bonuses early. Representative Wright Patman came up with the Patman Bill, also known as the Bonus Bill, to try to give them their bonus.
Then, the veterans of World War One formed the Bonus Army. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force. They were known as the Bonus Army to the public. Their leader was Walter W. Walters (former army sergeant). He was included in the group of unemployed veterans from Oregon that helped form the Bonus Expeditionary Force. Private Angelo was also part of the Bonus Army. He saved Major George S. Patton on a battlefield in France. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.
They went to Washington D.C and protested. During May 1932, 15,000 veterans went to Washington D.C to protest. They raised camps at various places in Washington D.C. The largest was in Anacostia Flats. It was across the river from the Capitol. 10,000 veterans and their families lived there. The shelters were made from junk such as old lumber, packing boxes, and scrape tin covered with roofs of thatched straws. These places were sometimes called ???Hoovervilles???. Newcomers to the Bonus Army had to register and prove they were veterans upset about not having with their bonuses early. They had rules of no pan handling, no drinking, and no radicalism.
The Bonus Bill was a bill to make their bonus come earlier. President Hoover thought it wouldn??™t help the economy because of the depression. The Bonus Bill went through the House in a vote from 209 to 176. It didn??™t t go through the 62 to 18 vote with the Senate on June 17.
The Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF) was stunned by the defeat. Right after it was denied, they had a silent march. On July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered all the marchers to be evacuated by the Washington Police. Two marchers were killed. At lunch, President Hoover heard about it and ordered the army to clear the marchers. The army didn??™t fire any shots, but they had swords. The swords caused injuries. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower went with the police and Major George Patton lead the cavalry. Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of it all. The Army had six tanks.
By 4:45 p.m. the Army troops were on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and went on the streets to watch. They thought it was a shame for the Army to hurt the veterans. The veterans saw the Army and thought they were there for their honor. They started cheering.
The troops then charged at them. They threw tear gas at them. By night, the Bonus Army retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Hundreds were injured by sabers, bricks, clubs, and bayonets. MacArthur ignored the command and they went to the main camp. Secretary of War Hurley sent orders twice for Hoover. MacArthur thought he was pretending because Hoover didn??™t tell him himself. They burned the camp so they couldn??™t go again. Two babies died. One marcher was killed in this attack. 50 marchers and Washington Police were injured.
During this time there was a campaign for president between Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and Herbert Hoover. President Hoover was going for his second term. It was unlikely for him to get a second term because of the evacuation of the veterans. After the evacuation FDR said to friend, ???Well Felix, this elects me. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the election.
After a couple months, a smaller group of BEF members marched in Washington D.C. There were about 1,000 of them. The newly-elected president FDR opposed giving a bonus to the veterans early. President Franklin D. Roosevelt still showed concern for the World War I veterans. Later, he enrolled 25,000 veterans to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for work in the forest. The CCC was a public relief program for unemployed men to work on natural resource conservation.
The bonus issue faded away from the news. World War II was going on. Later on, the Bonus Army helped the G.I Bill pass in 1944 because of what they went through. The G.I Bill gave the veterans of WWII home loans, pay for college, and an unemployment pay. It helped several veterans. The G.I Bill helped our economy. It also helped create the nation??™s middle class.
The Bonus Army fought their best to get their bonus. The only way to get the marchers out was to use force evacuation with the U.S Army. They helped change America with the G.I Bill. Congress wanted to find a better way to repay the WWII veterans. They didn??™t want to go through another Bonus Army rebellion.
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