The Bonus Army

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by melbo, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    The Bonus Army
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    <!--Begin Article-->In 1924, a grateful Congress voted to give a bonus to World War I veterans - $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. <table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td>[​IMG]</td></tr><tr><td align="center">Members of the Bonus Army
    encamp within sight of the
    Capitol, 1932</td></tr></tbody></table>However, by 1932 the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately.
    In May of that year, some 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D.C. to demand immediate payment of their bonus. They proclaimed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force but the public dubbed them the "Bonus Army." Raising ramshackle camps at various places around the city, they waited.

    The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river from the Capitol. Approximately 10,000 veterans, women and children lived in the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby - old lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw.

    Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents who spread unfounded "Red Scare" rumors. Streets were laid out, latrines dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their leader, Walter Waters, stated, "We're here for the duration and we're not going to starve. We're going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran's organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition."

    June 17 was described by a local newspaper as "the tensest day in the capital since the war." The Senate was voting on the bill already passed by the House to immediately give the vets their bonus money. By dusk, 10,000 marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome. Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to 18. The crowd reacted with stunned silence. "Sing America and go back to your billets" he commanded, and they did. A silent "Death March" began in front of the Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned.

    A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers killed. Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army to clear out the veterans. Infantry <table align="left" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td>[​IMG]</td></tr><tr><td align="center">Troops prepare to evacuate the
    Bonus Army
    July 28, 1932</td></tr></tbody></table>and cavalry supported by six tanks were dispatched with Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in command. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major George Patton led the cavalry.

    By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton's troopers turned and charged. "Shame, Shame" the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd.

    By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, "the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity."

    Bartlett, John Henry, The Bonus March and the New Deal (1937); Daniels, Roger, The Bonus March; an Episode of the Great Depression (1971).
    How To Cite This Article:
    "The Bonus Army" EyeWitness to History, (2000).
  2. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Regretably, shit happens, circumstances change, and Murphy rules. All you can do in this life is try to prepare and roll with the punches. And, as if it isn't obvious, try to remember that conditional rewards are one sided promises that may not be fulfilled for reasons out of the control of the promissor.
  4. BRONZ

    BRONZ Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    many don't know about what IKE and Patton did.
  5. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    That is absolutely the most sanatized version of what they (We) did to the Bonus Army that I have ever read; must have been written by a republican spin-doctor.
  6. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Hoover is one of the most incompetent presidents we ever had. Plenty of blame to go around, though, don't forget the Democratic Congress role in causing the Great Depression, giant tariff hike, large tax increase, tightened the money supply.
  7. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I think it was a couple of years after the Bonus Army was defeated, during an election year, that they were finally paid their bonuses and as a plus, the G.I. Bill was passed.
  8. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    :mad: Our vets never have been treated the way they should. Just go to a VA Hospital.
  9. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    I think you're correct on the payments, but the GI Bill didn't happen until WWII.
  10. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    According to Wikipedia, we are both correct.
    Roosevelt did not want to pay the bonus early, either, but handled the veterans with more skill when they marched on Washington again the next year. He sent his wife Eleanor to chat with the vets and pour coffee for them, and he persuaded many of them to sign up for jobs making a roadway to the Florida Keys, which was to become the Overseas Highway, the southernmost portion of U.S. Route 1. A disastrous hurricane swept many of them and their flimsy barracks away in 1935. After seeing more newsreels of veterans giving their lives for a government that had taken them for granted, public sentiment built up so much that Congress could no longer afford to ignore it in an election year (1936). Roosevelt's veto was overridden, making the bonus a reality.
    It can be argued, however, that the Bonus Army's greatest accomplishment was actually the piece of legislation known as the G. I. Bill of Rights. Passed in 1944, it immensely helped veterans from the Second World War to secure needed assistance from the federal government to help them fit back into civilian life, something the World War I veterans of the Bonus Army had received very little of.
  11. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Yean, I was thinking the GI Bill was '44 or '45, educating the vets coming back had more to do with the post-war boom, the growth of the IBMs, and our emergence as a superpower than anything.
  12. Panhead

    Panhead On the Loose Founding Member

    It’s a shame man, but all part of the learning experience you have to make mistakes to get it right.
    And if you all don’t admit to it about your self then you are a liar.
  13. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Amen brother Panhead. Good to see you again.

    The best version of the Bonus Army story I ever read was in Ross' book 'Unintended Consequences'
  14. TailorMadeHell

    TailorMadeHell Lurking Shadow Creature

    Some good came from the bad. Yay, let's throw a friggin' party. Seriously doesn't this happen a little too often for it to be circumstance? Oops, our great leader has once again stepped on some small people to get to the gold. Well maybe he'll learn next time. This is a perfect example of the government doing what they want to do regardless of the public sentiment towards a certain action as they all think the public be damned. If I beat up Joe, then another day beat up Larry, then yet another day I beat up Fred, when will it stop?

    You do not learn from your mistakes alone. That is the worst line I have ever heard because people take it literally. 'Learn from your mistakes.' Ha. How about you being something other than a brain-dead maroon and actually learn from someone else's mistakes? You offer people money, you need to pay them. I don't think Hoover or any of the other idiots actually went without anything. Oh, maybe they missed a caviar luncheon, though you can bet they weren't in line at a soup kitchen.

    Also, yes it is true that you go down to the VA and see the dismal state of affairs of some of our brave and noble Soldiers. It's enough to pess you off to the point you want to reach out and choke the nearest BS artist you can find. How many of them do I see on the streets here in San Fran living out of garbage cans, eating in soup lines and begging for coins. The majority of them are there because their country deserted them when they needed it most. The big political, financially motivated, moron lead war machine did that to them and the sheep all passed judgement on every Soldier from the media's display of a few.

    I am seriously hoping that I see something like Independence Day happen, except the majority of the idiots spread across the world are wiped out for good, gene pool and all. Then we'll give the aliens what they came after, chocolate chip cookies, and send them on their way. Who doesn't love chocolate? :D As much as we try to plan and be safe, no matter what we learn and try to teach, no matter how hard we work for change, it's not coming soon if at all except for the bad.

    As long as there are people who care more about themselves than others in office this will continue to happen. It is my desire that I will see the action of the war before it's over. I'm also hoping that some bomb-jockey will be so careless as to reveal his intentions to me so I can put one where it belongs. I want to do my part to take down these extremists, though I will also be doing my part by keeping an eye on all the soon to be treasoners that are disguised as elected officials. The more breath they breathe means the more liberties from us they squeeze.

    There is no excuse for this or any of their behavior. There should be a reckoning. There needs to be an awakening of the sheeple. There needs to be an elimination of the problem. There also needs to be a full course change to get us back on a moral ground that is so far behind us that we couldn't see it with the hubble.

    And to top it all off, I bet that bumpkin in the oval would tell you that he's a good christian.

    Just a couple thoughts. Something that makes you go.... @#%$#$%^&%&^%%$%^$$%^&%^&%%$^&%^&(%()_^(%^$^&$^%#$&^!!!!!!!!!
  15. ChemicalGal

    ChemicalGal Monkey+++

    So when they call out the militia, you certainly will not for one minute think that they won't attack civilian citizens .... or are you still so blind.

  16. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Jesus I gotta get go back and read my recent american history. It doesn't surprise me some no good here- for- myself and as- many- years-as- I- can- get re-elected sombitch politician would promise something like this oneday and find a loophole to snatch it back after exploiting the american honest citizen who happens to become a soldier one way or another. Oughtta' be a law no one can aspire to political office with out serviing x years in one of the branches of military service, mebbe they'd learn somethings are more imorportant than their own weasley butts and money. How could that congress sleep that night? Ordering people to die for something important and pissing someone's life away for greedy corporate shills are two different things. Maybe next war no one will show up? they can fight it themselves. Politicians make me wanto to puke every last one of'em...The Kerry's, schumers and clintons are the absolute worst ( in my book anyway)..I don't know how to get back to the citizen politician who ( like our forefathers and even jesse ventura( ex-navy seal) are not there as a full time occupation, but serve one term and move on.
  17. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Theres TOOO many people who still dont even know this ever happened. I was discussig it with a couple of folks today and neither had ever heard about it (ones father was a WW1 vet even) so once I managed to find it decided to bump it up for those who may not have read it yet and so others didnt forget.
  18. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    A Congress that will vote itself a pay raise in the middle of the night and decline payment to deserving soldiers does not need to be explained, because actions speak louder than any words ever spoken. It does not matter which people voted down the soldiers' pay, it matters not that this took place generations before. The animal is the same, and the point was made. The right thing to do was for the armies sent to disperse the peaceful protest to turn and join the crowd, from top to bottom...but this is not a perfect world. The orders were simple enough, and I imagine there were enough within Pattons ranks who believed that requesting a bonus in such desparaging times seemed to be less than noble. Even so, the depression served its purpose well, and soon Roosevelt became the "valiant hero", as was planned.

    The Bonus Army were little more than collateral damage. The greater scope was finally realized, and the constitutional dictatorship was born, both out of careful well as necessity. The starving, desperate masses were all too thankful for the helping hand of government intervention. It appears as if we have had a difficult time tearing ourselves away from this pattern. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that those with power have long used this tactic. No matter how many times we are warned, our mistakes always seem to be repeated.
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