Year
1932

Bonus Marchers arrive in Washington

At the height of the Great Depression, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, arrive in Washington, D.C. One month later, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong, most of them unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman.

While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, to evict them forcibly. MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Wisconsin enters the Union

Following approval of statehood by the territory’s citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state. In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet landed at Green Bay, becoming the first European to visit the lake-heavy northern region that would later become Wisconsin. In 1763, at ...read more

The sinking of the Empress of Ireland

In one of the worst ship disasters in history, the British liner Empress of Ireland, carrying 1,477 passengers and crew, collides with the Norwegian freighter Storstad in the gulf of Canada’s St. Lawrence River. The Storstad penetrated 15 feet into the Empress of Ireland‘s ...read more

Hillary and Tenzing reach Everest summit

At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. The two, part of a British expedition, made ...read more

John F. Kennedy is born

One of America’s best-loved presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born into a politically and socially prominent family in Brookline, Massachusetts, on this day in 1917. He was the first American president to be born in the 20th century. In 1935, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard ...read more

Ships crash in heavy fog

Heavy fog causes a collision of boats on the St. Lawrence River in Canada that kills 1,073 people on this day in 1914. Caused by a horrible series of blunders, this was one of the worst maritime disasters in history. The Empress of Ireland left Quebec on May 28 with 1,057 ...read more

Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder

Judge John Wood, known as “Maximum John,” is assassinated outside his San Antonio, Texas, home as he bent down to look at a flat tire on his car. Actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was charged with the murder after evidence revealed that drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, ...read more

Reagan arrives in Moscow for summit talks

President Ronald Reagan travels to Moscow to begin the fourth summit meeting held in the past three years with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Though the summit produced no major announcements or breakthroughs, it served to illuminate both the successes and the failures achieved ...read more