Seventy three years ago the depression was causing pain across America. The economy struggled much like and much worse than our recession today. Jobs were hard to find. People needed money.
Years earlier, World War One soldiers were granted a veterans bonus. Extra money for services rendered. It was a grant by congress during the happier times of 1924. Payment, however, was postponed until 1945, the theory being it would help the vets in their old age.
The depression made many veterans feel old. Many were homeless and hungry and they wanted their money. Twelve to fifteen thousand of them marched to Washington and set up tents within sight of the capitol. The demand was shouted to congress. Money.
After three months about 5-thousand hard core vets remained to continue to pressure Congress for the money. Tension built and in July the men rioted. President Hoover called in the troops. General Douglas MacArthur led the army’s horses and tanks to push the bonus demanding veterans out of Washington.
No serious injuries resulted, but the country was shocked at the image of the standing army attacking veterans.
Hoover was in the midst of his presidential campaign against Franklyn D. Roosevelt. Many believe the action against the old soldiers cost him dearly in the campaign. Hoover lost the election and in 1936 the Vets won. Congress voted to pay the bonuses.