What was the Bonus March of 1932
Answer: Great Depression Era Protest
The Bonus March of 1932 was led by the Bonus Army which “was the popular name for an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers—17,000 U.S. World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups—who gathered in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1932 to demand cash-payment redemption of their service certificates.” Close to 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington because they had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression. “The World War Adjusted Compensation Actof 1924 had awarded them bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1945. Each service certificate, issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier's promised payment plus compound interest. The principal demand of the Bonus Army was the immediate cash payment of their certificates.”
When FDR signed the GI Bill into law on this day in 1944, he desperately wanted to avoid a second Bonus March after the second World War.
History - The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and–most importantly–funding for education. The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.
Photo: Chicago Tribune