Stock footage courtesy The WPA Film Library Adjusted Compensation certificates, or bonuses, had been voted by Congress in but were not scheduled for full payment until Waters, managed to maintain order and to oust agitators. The bonus bill was defeated in Congress, however, and most of the veterans left for home discouraged. The rest, variously estimated at 2, to 5, over the next few weeks engaged in protests and near-riots, producing an atmosphere of restlessness and threats of turbulence.
At the time, the sight of the federal government turning on its own citizens -- veterans, no less -- raised doubts about the fate of the republic.
It still has the power to shock decades later. Bonus Army marching to the Capitol; Washington, D. Library of Congress From the start, promised to be a difficult year for the country, as the Depression deepened and frustrations mounted. In December ofthere was a small, communist-led hunger march on Washington; a few weeks later, a Pittsburgh priest led an army of 12, jobless men there to agitate for unemployment legislation.
Thus, when a band of jobless veterans, led by a former cannery worker named Walter W. Walters, began arriving in the capital in May, tensions were high. Calling themselves the "Bonus Expeditionary Forces," they demanded early payment of a bonus Congress had promised them for their service in World War I.
Army Chief of Staff MacArthur was convinced that the march was a communist conspiracy to undermine the government of the United States, and that "the movement was actually far deeper and more dangerous than an effort to secure funds from a nearly depleted federal treasury.
And the percentage within the rank and file was likely even smaller; several commanders reported to MacArthur that most of the men seemed to be vehemently anti-Communist, if anything. According to journalist and eyewitness Joseph C. Harsch, "This was not a revolutionary situation.
This was a bunch of people in great distress wanting help These were simply veterans from World War I who were out of luck, out of money, and wanted to get their bonus -- and they needed the money at that moment.
Glassford treated his fellow veterans with considerable respect and care. But by the end of June, the movement had swelled to more than 20, tired, hungry and frustrated men. But on June 17 the bill was defeated in the Senate, and tempers began to flare on both sides. On July 21, with the Army preparing to step in at any moment, Glassford was ordered to begin evacuating several buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue, using force if necessary.
President Hoover ordered the Secretary of War to "surround the affected area and clear it without delay. Although no weapons were fired, cavalry advanced with swords drawn, and some blood was shed. By nightfall, hundreds had been injured by gas including a baby who diedbricks, clubs, bayonets, and sabers.
Next came the most controversial moment in the whole affair -- a moment that directly involved General MacArthur. Secretary of War Hurley twice sent orders to MacArthur indicating that the President, worried that the government reaction might look overly harsh, did not wish the Army to pursue the Bonus Marchers across the bridge into their main encampment on the other side of the Anacostia River.
But MacArthur, according to his aide Dwight Eisenhower, "said he was too busy," did not want to be "bothered by people coming down and pretending to bring orders," and sent his men across the bridge anyway, after pausing several hours to allow as many people as possible to evacuate.
A fire soon erupted in the camp.The Bonus Army Draft Notice, The saga of the Bonus Army was born out of the inequality of the Selective Service Act (), the failure of the government to provide any meaningful benefits to the veterans of the First World War, and the fear and anxiety produced by the Great Depression.
The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43, marchers—17, World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups—who gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of to demand cash-payment redemption of their service certificates.
Its organizers Bonus Army: United States Army. Bonus Army, gathering of 12, to 15, World War I veterans who, with their wives and children, converged on Washington, D.C., in , demanding immediate bonus payment for wartime services to alleviate the economic hardship of the Great Depression.
Butler said the Bonus Army was exercising their rights. He said they had the sympathy of the American people, and not to lose it.
Bonus army definition, a group of 12, World War I veterans who massed in Washington, D.C., the summer of to induce Congress to appropriate moneys for the payment of bonus certificates granted in See more. In World War I veterans seeking a bonus promised by Congress were attacked and driven out of Washington, D.C., by troops of the U.S.
Army under the command of Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton.