The Bonus Army March on Washington 1932

In spring and summer 1932, approximately 45,000 World War I veterans marched on Washington and camped in unoccupied lands. Many had not worked since the beginning of the Great Depression. Desperate for financial help, they sought early payment of a bonus due in 1945. The members of the “Bonus Expeditionary Army,” as they called themselves, claimed they were exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble peacefully and petition the Government for “a redress of grievances.” Fearing violence after Congress denied their request on July 28, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s troops used tanks to clear the camps. The brutal response to the veterans’ protest contributed to President Hoover’s dramatic defeat by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 election.