The Bonus Army Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The so-called Bonus Army was made up of World War I veterans who demanded payment of war bonuses promised them through previous Congressional actions. The matter was not finalized under President Hoover owing to fears about bankrupting the US Treasury. To force the issue, in the summer of 1932 over 12,000 veterans and their families marched in the Capitol and camped in tents and shanties. Ultimately, the Bonus Bill was defeated and most of the protesters left to return home. When those staying behind became louder in their calls for assistance, Hoover sent in Army troops under General Douglas MacArthur. The camps were burned and the protesters were driven out. Press coverage of the event spurred outcries from the public and contributed to Hoover's defeat in the 1932 presidential election. A smaller group of veterans returned to protest in 1933, but again the bonuses were turned down. Finally, in 1936 Congress passed legislation authorizing about $2.5 million in veterans bonuses–a somewhat modest but not insignificant amount at the time.

The so-called Bonus Army was made up of World War I veterans who demanded payment of war bonuses promised them through previous Congressional actions. The matter was not finalized under President Hoover owing to fears about bankrupting the US Treasury. To force the issue, in the summer of 1932 over 12,000 veterans and their families marched in the Capitol and camped in tents and shanties. Ultimately, the Bonus Bill was defeated and most of the protesters left to return home. When those staying behind became louder in their calls for assistance, Hoover sent in Army troops under General Douglas MacArthur. The camps were burned and the protesters were driven out. Press coverage of the event spurred outcries from the public and contributed to Hoover's defeat in the 1932 presidential election. A smaller group of veterans returned to protest in 1933, but again the bonuses were turned down. Finally, in 1936 Congress passed legislation authorizing about $2.5 million in veterans bonuses–a somewhat modest but not insignificant amount at the time.

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