Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. R. Barry Westin

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert C. Kenzer

Third Advisor

Dr. David C. Evans


This thesis offers the first historical study specifically focusing on Franklin Roosevelt's battles with Congress over veterans' care and compensation from 1933 to 1936. The historical problem addressed in this thesis is, why did the New Deal congresses, with overwhelming Democratic majorities, rise in opposition to Roosevelt's policies and push for passage of veteran benefit programs that were known to be unacceptable to their President? Although most historians explain away the veterans' issue by attributing congressional efforts to pay the "bonus" to simple election-year pressure, this thesis provides a markedly different conclusion. Based on the Congressional Record, manuscript collections of several congressmen, autobiographies and public papers, and contemporary newspaper accounts, this thesis demonstrates that Roosevelt's problem-solving brilliance during the banking crisis and the Depression was to some extent offset by his inept handling of veterans' compensation issues and his overbearing manner of dealing with Congress. In fact, the first attacks on New Deal agencies by Democrats in Congress arose precisely because of Roosevelt's stubborn refusal to allow for the compensation of veterans despite the votes of an overwhelming majority of his own party.

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