April 26, 2005 Authors of "The Bonus Army: An American Epic" Will Speak on June 22
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Abby Yochelson (202) 707-2138
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 are required.
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 bill.
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 history.
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 of World 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 www.loc.gov/vets.