Hooverville burns, July 27, 1932
It passes with not much general observation, but on today's date in 1932, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Maj. George Patton turned the full wrath of the U. S. Army on World War I veterans on the streets of Washington, DC and Anacostia.
NPR had a feature on this event this afternoon, an interview with the author of a book on the Bonus Marches, and an interview with a surviving eyewitness, who at the time was a boy of eight and a resident of the city. I had no idea the event was so significant; it was the negative example of the Bonus Army that was most responsible for the passage of the GI Bill, for instance, that did so much to create a post-WW II middle class. It happened during a Presidential campaign, and had Katrina-like effects on Hoover's presidency. Afterward, Roosevelt's electoral strategy changed drastically; he no longer had to even mention his opponent in his communications. Another new fact for me: The Bonus Army was entirely integrated. Black and white folks camped together in the Hoovervilles -- very disciplined places, apparently, run by veterans who knew a thing or two about hygiene in the field -- sleeping side by side in tents.