Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




On 6 May 1932 the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to pass along for a full vote in the House a bill that would have provided for immediate and complete payment of the Soldiers' Bonus, a small sum of money due in 1945 to veterans of World War I. In doing so it set in motion a chain of events that led to one of the most sordid affairs in American history, the Bonus March of 1932, when tens of thousands of World War I veterans traveled to Washington to ask their government for their own money, and ended when the U.S. Army was called out to forcibly evict them from their shanties on the outskirts of Washington. The perceived justice of the veterans' cause, certainly as the years went by if not always at the time, combined with the government's violent response to their passive approach, somehow made the whole affair seem beneath the dignity of the government and some of the officials involved. At the heart of the matter lies the question; what was the government's obligation to able-bodied veterans home from war? Strongly held and differing opinions on that question eventually led to violence in the summer of 1932.

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