June 22, 2005
Library of Congress contacts: Donna Urschel (202)
707-1639; Abby Yochelson (202) 707-2138
Veterans History Project Contact: (202) 707-4916
Authors of "The Bonus Army: An American Epic" Will
Speak on June 22
Authors Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen will talk
about their book, “The Bonus Army: An American Epic,” at
noon on Wednesday, June 22, in the West Dining Room on the sixth
floor of the Library's James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence
Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C.
The event, cosponsored by the Humanities and Social Sciences Division
and the Veterans History Project, is free and open to the public; no tickets
Dickson and Allen will discuss the compelling story of the World War
I veterans whose demands for better treatment became the Bonus Army March.
In the depths of the Depression in the summer of 1932, more than 45,000
veterans descended on Washington from all over the country to demand payment
of a cash bonus promised them eight years earlier for their wartime service.
For more than two months they lived peacefully in shantytowns, rallying
support in Congress and around the country for the passage of a bonus
Government officials believed the group was controlled by communists
and were astonished by the integrated living of the black and white veterans.
Media and public support, however, ran high for the underdog veterans,
fighting for justice in desperate economic times. Upon defeat of the bill
in the Senate, on July 28, 1932, Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur
shocked the nation by using troops to violently drive the veterans from
Washington. Mistreatment of the veterans continued in work camps in Florida,
again rallying the American people to the former soldiers’ cause.
The bonus was finally paid in 1936, but its ultimate importance lay in
paving the way for the passage of the G.I. Bill of Rights on June 22,
1944. Dickson and Allen’s book talk marks the 61st anniversary of
that bill’s passage.
Although many of the names attached to this American epic—Herbert
Hoover, J. Edgar Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight
Eisenhower, Roy Wilkins, Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos—are
legendary, Dickson and Allen also interviewed several of the few surviving
witnesses and bring to light the stories of the ordinary veterans and
their extraordinary organization of the Bonus Army.
Dickson is the author of “Sputnik: The Shock of the Century” and
numerous books about history, the American language and baseball.
Allen is the author of “George Washington, Spymaster, The Blue and
the Gray” and several other books about military and intelligence
The Humanities and Social Sciences Division provides reference service
and collection development in the Main, Local History and Genealogy, and
Microform Reading Rooms at the Library of Congress. It regularly sponsors
programs in the art, humanities and social sciences.
Through the Veteran’s History Project, established by Congress
in 2000, the Library collects oral history interviews, memoirs,
letters, diaries, photographs and other original materials from veterans
Wars I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, and
the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. For more information, visit their
Web site at http://www.loc.gov/vets.
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