1932 July 28

Veterans’ “Bonus Army” Rousted by Army in D.C.

 

The rousting of the Bonus Army from its camp in Washington, D.C., by army troops on this day was one of the worst violations of freedom of assembly in American history. On May 29, 1932, about 43,000 people — WWI veterans, their families and supporters — converged on Washington, D.C., to demand early payment of veterans’ bonuses, to which they were entitled.

The “Bonus Marchers” established a village in the Anacostia area of Southeast Washington, D.C. Military intelligence, believing that radicals would foment a revolution, sent undercover agents into the encampment as spies.

In response to some acts of violence, President Herbert Hoover ordered protesters evicted from their encampment. The eviction was overseen by the military, led by General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur disobeyed Hoover’s specific instructions to not arrest any veterans or people who were peacefully picketing the White House. Somehow, he managed to avoid discipline for this insubordination.

In addition to being one of the most notorious violations of freedom of assembly in American history, it immediately became an indelible symbol of President Hoover’s administration during the Depression.

Read: Paul Dickson and Paul B. Allen, The Bonus Army: An American Epic (2004)

View Documents on the Bonus March (photographs, sheet music, etc.):
http://www.authentichistory.com/1930-1939/1-hoover/2-bonusarmy/index.html

Watch documentary footage of the Bonus March:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkmo4ygPTjc

Learn more about marching on Washington: Lucy Barber, Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition (2002)

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