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Bonus Marchers

Bonus Marchers, in U.S. history, more than 20,000 veterans, most of them unemployed and in desperate financial straits, who, in the spring of 1932, spontaneously made their way to Washington, D.C. They demanded passage of a bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman providing for immediate payment of their World War I bonus. Calling themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force, they camped in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by police superintendent Pelham D. Glassford. The veterans conducted themselves in a peaceful and orderly way, but when the Senate defeated the Patman bill (June 17, 1932) the marchers refused to return home. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army, under the command of Douglas MacArthur, to evict them forcibly. MacArthur had their camps set on fire, and the army drove the veterans from the city. Although Hoover ordered MacArthur's eviction stopped and was ignored by the general, the president was much criticized by the press and the general public for the severity of the government response.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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