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Self-Help In Hard Times
The United States in the Great Depression and Beyond
A Hearts of Iron 2 AAR



Chapters

1929 - 1936
The Hoover Administration
Chapter I - The Stock Market Crash
Chapter II - Lost Oppurtunities
Chapter III - The Bonus Army
Chapter IV - The General Strike of 1932
The 1932 Election
Chapter V - The 1932 Election, Part I
Chapter VI - The 1932 Election, Part II
Chapter VII - The 1932 Election, Part III
The New Deal
Chapter VIII - The New Deal
Chapter IX - The Dust Bowl
Chapter X - Communists and Trotsky
Chapter XI - Alphabet Soup & Labor Unrest
Interlude I
The Oval Office I - USS Texas
1936
A Few Months of Disaster
Chapter XII - A Few Months of Disaster
The 1936 Election
Chapter XIII - The 1936 Election, Part I
Chapter XIV - The 1936 Election, Part II
Chapter XV - The 1936 Election, Part III
Interlude II
Chapter XVI - Germany During The Great Depression
Chapter XVII - The 1936 Military Budget
The 1936 Election (Continued)
Chapter XVIII - The 1936 Election, Part IV
Chapter XIX - The 1936 Election, Part V
Chapter XX - The 1936 Election, Part VI
1937
The Debs Administration
Chapter XXI - The Debs Administration, Part I
Chapter XXII - The Debs Administration, Part II
Chapter XXIII - The Debs Administration, Part III
Chapter XXIV - The Socialist Deal
Attempting A Revolution
Chapter XXV - Interregnum to Revolution
Chapter XXVI - Revolution, Part I
Chapter XXVII - Revolution, Part II
Chapter XXVIII - Revolution, Part III
Chapter XXVIX - Revolution, Part IV



0018sp.jpg


Chapter One: The Stock Market Crash of 1929​

The most critical event in United States history was to occur in 1929. Late in October of that year the Dow Jones Industrial Average dramatically fell from its peak of 321.17 only a few weeks before. Within hours eleven prominent investors had committed suicide, the first of many to come. Only a few days later the entire capitalist structure that had held aloft the nation for decades self-imploded. Meanwhile President Herbert Hoover had continued to endorse the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that was to dramatically increase tariffs on over twenty-thousand goods, a move that only furthered an increasingly alarming situation. While the fortunes of the rich were dramatically worsening, the losses felt by the middle and lower classes were worse. John Galbraith, in his book The Wild Crash was to say, “the economy was fundamentally unsound.” Moreover he linked many of the problems to a “bad distribution of income” where a mere five-percent of the population was to control over thirty-percent of the nations wealth. Prominent historian Howard Zinn would go further stating:

”Howard Zinn” said:
A socialist critic would go further and say that the capitalist system was by its nature unsound: a system driven by the one overriding motive of corporate profit and therefore unstable, unpredictable, and blind to human needs. The result of all that: permanent depression for many of its people, and periodic crises for almost everybody. Capitalism, despite its attempts at self-reform, its organization for better control, was still in 1929 a sick and undependable system.

Despite attempts by prominent Wall Street bankers such as Thomas W. Lamont, Albert Wiggin, and others, the crisis worsened on the 28th – Black Monday. Newspaper reports had ignited panic over the weekend, culminating in a rush to sell stocks on the floor. In the resulting financial explosion the Dow Jones lost over thirteen-percent of its value. The next day it was even worse, losing another twelve-percent despite salvation attempts by William C. Durant and members of the Rockefeller family. The rush of sales had driven almost every stock price dramatically down – General Motors quickly saw its stock fall by more then fifty-percent. Less then three years after the event the Dow Jones was to rest at a mere 41.22 points.

Banks in New York found themselves hemorrhaging money in every conceivable fashion. Swamped with thousands of clients wishing to remove their money the American banks keeping the German economy running canceled their loans. In response the Germans were to shortly cancel their war reparations, spreading the financial panic in all directions. Even with the increase in capital generated by such moves, the public attempting to remove their saving plunged thousands of banks into bankruptcy. The New York Daily on the 25th was to the picture lines, stating it was “panic in the streets”, adding “during the conference of bankers that halted the decline, the steps in front of the sub-treasury were filled with interested watchers.” Even after such events many did not understand the magnitude of the financial implosion, one broker was recorded as saying, “when the smoke has cleared away and stoke trading is done again on a reasonable basis, today's activity will be described as the Panic of 1929.” The Daily reported the Stock Exchanger ticker two hours behind trading on the floor, trading as they described was “done in the dark. Reporter Waldo Young who had observed several previous panics was to state:

”Waldo Young” said:
It is over. We have seen the worse. Heaven forbid that anything worse then yesterday on the Stock Exchange should be possible!
I have been personally through the decline of 1903, 1907, 1914, and 1920. As I recall the worse days of those panicks, none of them was as wicked on the floor of the exchange then the artificial panic of 1929 – at midday yesterday. The whole country was involved in the trading.
The ticker did not finish recording the days prices until 7:07 p.m. Total sales were roundly 13,000,000. It was a “volume day” with a vengeance.

0022ex.jpg

Panic was to grip Wall Street, requiring more then four-hundred additional officers to maintain any sembelence of order

With the tickers continuing to work for hours after the markets closed, the Chairman of the National City Bank, Charles E. Mitchell was to say, “I still see nothing to worry about, I still stand back of the statement I made when getting off the ship last Tuesday.” While many of the rich closed their eyes of the crisis, over five thousand banks were to shut down, and as a result businesses financially dependent on them followed suit. Those businesses that could continue to employ workers did so, but slashed wages again and again as the depression continued into the next year. Industrial production spiraled downwards:

”Howard Zinn” said:
Industrial production fell by 50 percent, and by 1933 perhaps 15 million (no one knew exactly) – one-fourth or one-third of the labour force – were out of work. The Ford Motor Company, which in the spring of 1929 had employed 128,000 workers, was down to 37,000 by August of 1931. By the end of 1930, almost half the 280,000 textile mill workers in New England were out of work. Former President Calvin Coolidge commented with his customary wisdom: “When more and more people are thrown out work, unemployment results.” He spoke again in early 1931, “This country is not in good condition.”

Unknown to Coolidge, Hoover, and everyone else in the United States the worst was yet to come. Middle and lower class workers could not rely on the government. Even President Hoover a devout Quaker and believer in charity could grasp the gravity of the situation seen and did almost nothing to rescue the situation. Finding themselves alone the workers knew they would need to rely on self-help in hard times.

The Great Depression had arrived.

Next: Herbert Hoover and the Rise of Hoovervilles
 
Last edited:

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Fenwick said:
Nice start. What is the direction of your AAR?

One never gives away the secrets of his story, its ruins the surprise. :)

Don't worry, the ride will be fun, just don't rule anything out. Things will be revealed in the next few posts, the only fellows that possibly know anything about my plans are Mettermrck and Yogi.
 

unmerged(47162)

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does that mean that your british aar and Mundus Exardesco 2 is abandoned? :( ah well this will be just as good :)
 

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Great start. :)
 

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0043br.jpg


Lost Opportunities and Weak Presidents

Known as the Panic of '29 to many at the time, the beginning of the Great Depression came with a financial bust not yet seen in world affairs. The bubble which had been filling since the end of the Great War finally burst, sending banks, businesses and most importantly - the American worker - into an endless financial free fall. “Nothing is particularly hard, as long as you divide it into small jobs" Henry Ford once stated, yet only two years after the crash almost one-hundred thousand jobs had been cut while the companies founder continued to live in opulence. John D. Rockefeller was quoted to say, "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again." Yet as the first year slipped by no prosperity was on the horizon, and more importantly the Federal Government had done almost nothing to stem the losses.

President Herbert Hoover was by 1929 a mere fifty-five years old. The first President to hail from California, Hoover had won the Republican nomination a mere year and a half before Black Tuesday. Son of a Quaker, the Republican candidate had boldly pronounced in Kansas City that "we in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of this land... We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this land." Facing him was Al Smith, an Irish Catholic from New York. Several issues were to ensure the Democratic loss including perceived connections to the Tammany Hall political ring, but more importantly an anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment throughout most of the United States. In the election Hoover was to win a large electoral victory, 444 to 87. Smith was to win only a few Southern and isolated Northeast states. More importantly the Democratic stronghold in the south suffered deeply from perceived “Papal Plots” should a Catholic win. Hoover as a result entered office pledging to continue the economic windfall seen under Calvin Coolidge, going so far as to promise "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

With the beginning of the Great Depression all eyes turned toward Hoover. Having run on an economic platform, and being a devout Quaker and philanthropist, American workers forced out of work expected their President to act. Hoover responded with attempts to balance the federal budget, cutting taxes, and most importantly – rely on volunteerism to solve the problem. Such a stance did nothing to quell the increasing tension seen throughout the country. Henry Ford attributed the crisis to “the average man won't really do a day's work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it. There is plenty of work to do if people would do it.” A few weeks later he laid off 75,000 workers. With the unemployment rate skyrocketing from three-percent to almost thirty in the space of two years many could not find the funds to provide their families with the most basic of services:

”Howard Zinn” said:
There were millions of tons of food around, but it was not profitable to transport it, to sell it. Warehouses were full of clothing, but people couldn't pay the rent, had been evicted, and now lived in shacks in quickly formed “Hoovervilles” built on garbage dumps.

Brief glimpes of reality in the newspapers could have been multiplied by the millions: A New York Times story in early 1932:

After vainly trying to get a stay of dispossession until January 15 from his apartment at 46 Hancock Street in Brooklyn, yesterday, Peter J. Cornell, 48 years old, a former roofing contractor out of work and penniless, fell dead in the arms of his wife.
A doctor gave the cause of his death as heart disease, and the police said it had at least partly been caused by the bitter disappointment of a long day's fruitless attempt to prevent himself and his family being put out on the street...
Cornell owed $5 in rent in arrears and $39 for January which his landlord required in advance. Failure to produce the money resulted in a dispossess order being served on the family yesterday and to take effect at the end of the week.
After vainly seeking assistance elsewhere, he was told during the day by the Home Relief Bureau that it would have no funds with which to help him until January 15.

0054lj.jpg

Thousands of Americans forced out of their homes created primative shanty towns known as Hoovervilles

Thousands were thrown out of their dwellings in such circumstances throughout the first years of the crisis. Government help did not arrive until the most damage had been done. The Home Relief Bureau, part of the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration created by the Wicks Act in 1931 came too late for many, and suffered chronic funding shortages throughout its lifespan. Without an effective social net, and having lost all of their funds, the dispossessed in urban areas congregated into crude shanty towns. Mockingly coined “Hoovervilles” these small villages sprouted across the country. Composed of stone, wood, and metal shacks and tents, they provided temporary shelter for the masses thrown out into the streets. Conditions in some areas came dangerously close to starvation, unemployed workers in New York City were forced to beg for food, and many housed themselves in watermains. Herbert Hoover, once a symbol of philanthropy became a figure to be slandered and insulted in the Hoovervilles, his name was eventually attached to a variety of terms. Newspapers were used as privative insulation, known by the early thirties as “Hoover Blankets”. Penniless workers mingled throughout the nation with their pockets turned inside out to make “Hoover flags”.

The President could not bring himself to invest the government with a large investment of social programs. A strict view on volunteerism was to make the public view Hoover as a “do-nothing” laissez-faire President. Even before 1929 ended however the government had taken its first steps in combating the growing financial problems. The Department of Commerce grew to include a Division of Public Construction. Moves like this were hurt continually by the Hoover administration in which the President never let his volunteerism slip far from mind. Government was concerned that its citizens should not suffer from cold and hunger, but instead of taking direct control of the situation more calls were issued for local care and volunteers. The President, Congress, and most sections of the government continued their lives of wealth despite the shocking losses of 1929. Hoover himself continued to host regal dinners at the White House, catering to thousands of upper-class guests, while only miles away the dispossessed struggled to survive the winter of 1930.

John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath would chronicle the losses seen during the Depression era. Farmers had lost their farms, their very tools sold by auctioneer's, all the while the Dust Bowl began to strip away the top soil that had fed generations of Americans:

”John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath” said:
And the dispossessed, the migrants, flowed into California, two hundred and fifty thousand, and three hundred thousand. Behind them new tractors were going on the land and the tenants were being forced off. And new waves were on the way, new waves of the dispossessed and the homeless, hard, intent, and dangerous. . . .
And a homeless hungry man, driving the road with his wife beside him and his thin children in the back seat, could look at the fallow fields which might produce food but not profit, and that man could know how a fallow field is sin and the unused land a crime against the thin children. . . .
And in the south he saw the golden oranges hanging on the trees, the little golden oranges on the dark green trees; and guards with shotguns patrolling the lines so a man might not pick an orange for a thin child, oranges to be dumped if the price was low. . . .

0061ed.jpg

Poverty, Farm Foreclosures, and the Dust Bowl persuaded thousands of Americans west into California

The scenes described by Steinbeck could attest to the dangerous new elements seen in American society. While the Great Depression had ruined millions of Americans, it was the lack of affordable housing, clothing, and most importantly – food – that galvanized many into taking steps only a year before they would not have fathomed. Mauritz Hallgren in Seeds of Revolt cataloged newspaper reports on just such sedition:

”Mauritz Hallgren in Seeds of Revolt” said:
England, Arkansas, January 3rd, 1931. The long drought that ruined hundreds of Arkansas farms last summer had a dramatic sequel late today when some 500 farmers, most of them white men and many of them armed, marched on the business section of this town. . . . Shouting that they must have food for themselves and their families, the invaders announced their intention to take it from the stores unless it were provided from some other source without cost.

Detroit, July 9, 1931. An incipient riot by 500 unemployed men turned out of the city lodging house for a lack of funds was quelled by police reserves in Cadillac Square tonight. . . .

Indiana Harbor, Indiana, August 5, 1931. Fifteen hundred jobless men stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Company here, demanding that they be given jobs to keep from starving. The company's answer was to call the police, who routed the jobless with menacing clubs.

Boston, November 10, 1931. Twenty persons were treated for injuries, three were hut so seriously that they might die, and dozens of others were nursing wounds from flying bottles, lead pipe, and stones after clashes between striking longshoremen and Negro strikebreakers along the Charlestown-East Boston waterfront.

Detriot, November 28, 1931. A mounted patrolman was hit on the head with a stone and unhorsed and one demonstrator was arrested during a disturbance in Grand Circus Park this morning when 2000 men and women met there in defiance of police orders.

0035yp.jpg

Corporate reliance on strikebreakers helped to expand the Ku Klux Klan

Much disturbances brought revulsion by much of the populace against not only police forces, but also strikebreakers. In this respect, African-American workers became the focal point. Since the premier of the film, The Birth of a Nation, the Ku Klux Klan had burgeoned. Spreading into the northern portions of the country, by 1924 well over four million Americans were involved in the racist organization. Organizations such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) were powerless to stop an reinvigorated Klan as it grew in strength throughout the twenties. With the Depression, many unions became increasingly belligerent as its members were laid off, and a series of large strikes began. Corporations, needing to salvage any sort of profits at the time began to rely on colored workers and other strikebreakers to restart production. As a result, the KKK found itself awash in new converts from both the AFL and IWW, despite pleas by liberal union leaders. As the thirties began, lynchings increased dramatically throughout the country, culminating in the murder of six African-American strikebreakers outside a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan.

While the violence done to African-Americans, Mexican and other non-European immigrants began to rise, events began to move out of government control. Thousands of Great War veterans, out of work and desperate for money began to march to Washington. Money scarce, and with families to support these veterans demanded the bonuses granted to them by the Adjusted Service Certificate Law put into law in 1924. Although not to be paid until 1945, Yip Harburg vocalized the discontect and despair seen by everyone that marched with the Bonus Army in his song ”Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Once in khaki suits,
Gee, we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodle-de-dum.
Half a million boots went sloggin' through Hell,
I was the kid with the drum.

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al--
It was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember I'm your pal--
Brother, can you spare a dime?


Next: The Bonus Army
 

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Is their a revolution in the wings?
 

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Sir Humphrey said:
Is their a revolution in the wings?

You'll have to revisit this thread in the coming days to find that out.

In regards to another question. The British AAR is not dead, just on hold. Mundus 2 is on hiatus for awhile.
 

unmerged(47162)

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great update! yay the others are not abandoned :)
 

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0079rx.jpg


The Bonus Army

Herbert Hoover entered his last year in office at the lowest ebb of his term. The measures that were being put into place by the governments growing social safety net, had begun to provide relief, but at an extremely slow pace. One institution in particular was to stand out - the RFC (Reconstruction Finance Corporation). Unlike previous measures like the National Credit Corporation which were entirely voluntary, or offered little real help to the working man. The RFC had developed within months of another similar organization folding in the late weeks of 1931 – the NCC (National Credit Corporation), which had been a loose collection of banks that would support other faltering financial institutions. Lacking funds, and more importantly marking outrageous asset demands to those they loaned, the NCC folded within a year of its creation. In comparison, the RFC quickly became the most important part of federal relief, starting in late 1932. This organization was to be financed with nearly $2 Billion in loans to states, local governments, as well as a wide assortment of private businesses such as banks or railroads. From the very beginning the RFC cut a different mold then its predecessor as Professors James Butkiewicz states:

”James Butkiewicz” said:
The original legislation authorized the RFC to make loans to banks and other financial institutions, to railroads, and for crop loans. While the original objective of the RFC was to help banks, railroads were assisted because many banks owned railroad bonds, which had declined in value, because the railroads themselves had suffered from a decline in their business. If railroads recovered, their bonds would increase in value. This increase, or appreciation, of bond prices would improve the financial condition of banks holding these bonds.

Through legislation approved on July 21, 1932, the RFC was authorized to make loans for self-liquidating public works project, and to states to provide relief and work relief to needy and unemployed people. This legislation also required that the RFC report to Congress, on a monthly basis, the identity of all new borrowers of RFC funds.

Problems began to arise within the new agency almost immediately however. Many of the appointments made by President Hoover lacked financial discretion, and several had no background in finance at all. More importantly several of the largest banks in the country had not gotten into contact with the agency as late as December that year, critically delaying any sort of relief to businesses across the nation. The real crisis came early the next year, when through all the troubles caused by the Bonus Army, an even larger crisis began:

”James Butkiewicz” said:
In mid-February 1933, banking difficulties developed in Detroit, Michigan. The RFC was willing to make a loan to the troubled bank, the Union Guardian Trust, to avoid a crisis. The bank was one of Henry Ford's banks, and Ford had deposits of $7 million in this particular bank. Michigan Senator James Couzens demanded that Henry Ford subordinate his deposits in the troubled bank as a condition of the loan. If Ford agreed, he would risk losing all of his deposits before any other depositor lost a penny. Ford and Couzens had once been partners in the automotive business, but had become bitter rivals. Ford refused to agree to Couzens' demand, even though failure to save the bank might start a panic in Detroit. When the negotiations failed, the governor of Michigan declared a statewide bank holiday. In spite of the RFC's willingness to assist the Union Guardian Trust, the crisis could not be averted.

0085zf.jpg

Henry Ford was unwilling to prevent another round of bank closures

In the days following banking firms in Michigan almost totally collapsed, spreading next into Ohio and Indiana before spreading nationwide in early March. The President, unable to curtail the crisis with the RFC or any other government organization took the desperate step of ordering a two-week bank holiday to stop the rapidly deteriorating financial situation. Yet, the RFC and government attempts to fight the Great Depression were a small sideshow compared to the Bonus Army marching on Washington.

The root of the Bonus Army lay in the Adjusted Service Certificate Law, signed into law in 1924. The measure, passed by Congress, gave each Great War veteran a retirement bonus of $1.25 for every day served overseas, as well as $1.00 for each day in the army on American soil. Not scheduled to be paid until 1945, most veterans founds themselves in desperate need of such a payout by 1932. Out of cash, with hungry wives and children, most lacked any semblance of shelter, and all agreed on one point – the government should pay its veterans now, at their most dire time of need. In waves they came to the capital, in old Ford automobiles, stealing rides aboard freight trains, or even hiking from one end of the nation to another. In all over fifteen-thousand descended on the capital, erecting a series of shanty towns around the city. The collection of ex-soldiers named themselves the “Bonus Expeditionary Force”, but soon they were dubbed the “Bonus Army” by papers all across the country.

There was almost no violence as the petitioners entered into the District of Colombia, but there was anger. Yip Harburg who had written “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, commented on the anger felt in the song:

”Yip Harburg” said:
In the song the man is really saying: I made an investment in this country. Where the hell are my dividends? . . . . It's more than just a bit of pathos. It doesn't reduce him to a beggar. It makes him a dignified human, asking questions – and a bit outraged, too, as he should be.

0090sn.jpg

Walter Waters addresses the Bonus Army outside the Capitol Building

Walter Waters, who led the movement from a small shack at Anacostia Flats, across the river from the capital. Speaking with one reporter he stated the goals that needed to be achieved before any would leave, "We're here for the duration and we're not going to starve. We're going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran's organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition." The Lower House of Congress began to debate whether to give the veterans the money within days, and quickly the bill past onto the Senate. Waters led thousands of followers onto the very steps of the Capital building to await news of the vote, only to hear disappointingly a vote of 62 to 18 against passage. Dejected the veterans began to march back to their shanty towns across the river, many began to sing America the Beautiful as they went...


Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.


Yet, many did not see the brotherhood spoken of in the song, the vote against had shown many what they had suspected for some time – the government could not be trusted to protect its citizens. Within the ranks of the returning the hoarse singing of America the Beautiful began to be joined by Communist, Leninist, Socialist, and Union songs. While minor, the incidents of left-wing patriotic hymns caused uproar in several right-wing papers – William Randolph Hearst called the songs “an attack against America, against its founding principals.” Alarmed by both their refusals to leave the area, and with a “Red Scare” once again gripping the country, Washington police forces attempted to evict the Bonus Army. Isolated skirmishes occurred for three days in late July, most of the BEF members that had taken up residence in the city were evicted – often with bloodshed – but when police attempted to move into Anacostia Flats they met a brickwall.

0103ld.jpg

Smedley Butler, former Brigadier-General would join the Bonus Army in late July

Walter Waters and others of the Bonus Army had been joined by several prominent officers including the Fighting Quaker – Smedley Butler. A member of the Marine Corps, Butler was one of the most respected soldiers in the army, he had fought in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion and in Honduras before becoming a Brigadier-General during the Great War. His chest was adorned with medals when he arrived at Washington – the Medal of Honor had been given to him twice, joining a Distinguished Service Cross, a Haitian Medal of Honor, and the French Order of the Black Star. Despite decordated service, by 1932 the retired officer was a staunch proponent against profit motives, eventually writing War is a Racket:

”Smedley Butler” said:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

Bolstered by the appearance of Butler the forces of the Bonus Army had no intention of leaving without their demands being met. Following the retreat of city police, President Hoover was informed by local officials that peace could no longer be achieved by the civil authorities. Hoover as a result called upon the military to evict the Bonus Army from Anacostia Flats and the few government buildings they still controlled near the Capital Building.

Troops from Fort Howard, Maryland and Fort Myer, Virginia soon reached the capital. Well over two regiments of troops were put together to evict the protesting veterans. The men leading these forces were to become important in the American lexicon:

”Howard Zinn” said:
Four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a machine gun squadron, and six tanks assembled near the White House. General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the operation, Major Dwight Eisenhower was his aide. George S. Patton was one of the officers. MacArthur led his troops down Pennsylvania Avenue, used tear gas to clear veterans out of the old buildings, and set the buildings on fire. Then the army moved across the bridge of Anacostia.

While MacArthur moved onto the main Bonus Expeditionary Force camps at Anacostia the few buildings that had remained in veteran hands burned. Inside hundreds of them were trapped, including a sizable group of Communists. With no way out, the men cried for help from the passing soldiers and finding none began to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic...


He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

...reaching its crescendo the screams of dying veterans pierced the air, several jumping from the building while at least one Soviet flag fluttered away.

0119yi.jpg

The Bonus Army ends in disaster

This scene of carnage continued at Anacostia Flats, MacArthur already paranoid of a potential Communist plot had sent his six tanks at the fore, along with orders to open fire at any sign of resistance. Tear gas, along with the confusion that came with the dispersement naturally afforded the tank commanders little means to take stock of the situation and eventually the situation imploded. Well over a hundred veterans were killed as the tanks began to fire their machine guns into the jumbled masses, soon to be christened a massacre.

Next: General Strike
 
Last edited:

Sir Humphrey

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Not being as familar with the Bonus Army, how close to what happened here happened in RL?
 

CSL_GG

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Sir Humphrey said:
Not being as familar with the Bonus Army, how close to what happened here happened in RL?

I killed a lot more people and trumped up the communist factor.
 

unmerged(47162)

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excellent update! yay for US History A! i knew i took that class for something :p
 

Vann the Red

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Very intriguing start, CSL.

/subscribed

Vann
 

CSL_GG

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0128ul.jpg


The General Strike of 1932

The Bonus Army Massacre as it was to eventually be called shocked the entire nation. Well over three-hundred former soldiers had been killed, including twenty-one officers. Brigadier-General Smedley Butler had himself been shot by an errant bullet, shattering his hand, the blood loss was to make him seem a ghost to several that saw him thereafter. Walter Waters, the main organizer of the Bonus Army was unhurt, leaving the area however soldiers under George Patton arrested him under the laughable charge of treason. In the coming days none in Bonus Army were to know what had happened to Waters, unknown to all he had been secretly charged under the Espionage Act for “attempting to impair the United States government and military”.

Reaction in the media to the Massacre was swift and almost unanimous. Besides the few Conservative reactionaries such as William Randolph Hearst, each paper was shocked and dismayed that a peaceful march on Washington would be met with such alarming violence. The New York Times ran an extra issue devoted to the Massacre, calling it “an affront to every Americans morale fiber, it spits in the face of the Constitution.” Other papers ran similar stories, some even calling for President Hoover to resign over the issue. The government, needing to find a scapegoat looked to the military and selected the man chosen to evict the Bonus Army from Washington – General Douglas MacArthur. The stereotypical rough-and-tumble southern soldier, Douglas MacArthur was in 1932 at the nadir of his career which reached back as far as 1903. During the Great War he had managed to become the youngest Brigadier-General in United States history. Noted for his bullheadedness, MacArthur was heard to say “that bastard Waters is the most despicable traitor this country has seen in decades.” He was in essence – the best possible scapegoat. It took Hoover only a week to place the blame solely on MacArthur, yet this move did nothing to placate the press and even the populace in general.

0135pi.jpg

General Douglas MacArthur and his aide Dwight D. Eisenhower, before the Bonus Army Massacre

Even before the Bonus Army Massacre several sympathy strikes had been called in Virginia to put pressure on the Federal Government. Consisting of several textile factories around Richmond, over two-thousand workers were already on strike without the orders of their Union supervisors. One of these workers – a Joseph Walking epitomized the spirit, “ain't none of us don't love our country, half of us fought in the Great War and now that we are in trouble the government doesn't want to repay our patriotism?” Union leaders, many of them conscientious objectors during the war were aghast at the prospect of the uncalled strikes. An AFL agent for textile workers came on record as saying:

”Samuel Glick” said:
You'd be sitting in the office any June day of 1932, and the phone would ring and the voice at the other end would say: “My name is John Herbert; I'm a textile worker at Chitwood's; we've thrown the manager out and we've got the keys. What do we do now?” And you'd hurry over to the company to negotiate and over there they'd say, “I think it's the height of irresponsibility to call a strike before you've ever asked for a contract” and all you could answer was, “You're so right.”

While these isolated strikes in Virginia were discouraged and the union leadership did little to help the workers. After the Bonus Army Massacre this mood changed drastically. Within two weeks union leaders of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), WFM (Western Federation of Miners), IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters), along with other unions met in New York City to discuss a potential General Strike. Joining them were several prominent political figures. Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party of America. Floyd B. Olsen, Governor of Minnesota and representative of the Farmer-Labor Party. Other prominent Socialists including David Dubinsky, Andrew Biemiller, and Daniel Hoan all attended. Most importantly however was the Communist Party, as both William Z. Foster and Earl Browder appeared at the Conference. The outcomes of these meeting were immense. The AFL and IWW unexpectedly agreed to conduct a joint General Strike throughout the United States. Several other unions including the IBT agreed to conduct sympathy strikes throughout the next month. Both the Communist and Socialist Parties agreed to fund the efforts in part, also using their influences to spread the word amongst dissatisfied workers.

0145pa.jpg

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were to call a General Strike after the Bonus Army Massacre

A week later the General Strike was called. Pennsylvania coalminers to California orchard pickers walked off the job – over two million in total. Whole cities were shutdown for over a week. Farmers in the Midwest refused to sell their produce to canneries and other large companies in sympathy. Railroad workers in the American South called a similar strike within days called for President Hoover to resign. Workers in unions that had decided to not join revolting against their leadership and voted to join with the AFL or IWW. Across Michigan sit-downs occurred throughout several industrial plants as Howard Zinn attests:

”Howard Zinn” said:
The Firestone rubber plant in Akron, makers of truck tires, their wages already too low to pay for food and rent, were faced with a wage cut. When several union men were fired, others began to stop work, to sit down on the job. In one day the whole of plant #1 was sitting down. In two days, plant #2 was sitting down and the management began to panic. In the next ten days there was a sit-down at Goodyear. A court issued an injunction against mass picketing. It was ignored, and 150 deputies were sworn in. But they soon faced ten thousand workers from all over Akron.

The idea spread throughout the month. Later that month began the longest sit-down of all, at Fisher Body plant #1 in Flint, Michigan. It started when two brothers were fired, and it lasted until after the 1932 election. For fourty days there was a community of two thousand strikers. “It was like war,” one said. “The guys with me became my buddies.” Sidney Fine in Sit-Down describes what happened. Committees organized recreation, information, classes, a postal service, sanitation. Courts were set up to deal with those who didn't take their turn washing dishes or who threw rubbish or smoked where it was prohibited or brought in liquor. The “punishment” consisted of extra duties; the ultimate punishment was expulsion from the plant. A restaurant owner across the street prepared three meals a day for two thousand strikers. There were classes in parliamentary procedure, public speaking, history of the labor movement. Graduate students at the University of Michigan gave courses in journalism and creative writing.

Most important for these strikers was the help given by Socialist and Communist Party members. At the aforesaid Fisher Body strike several dozen Socialists taught additional courses on the Socialist movement and the works of Eugene Debs. Many of them helped prepared food for strikers upwards of sixteen hours a day and many considered thought the help offered by Socialists was crucial in allowing the sit-down to go on as long as it did.

0156ys.jpg

Detroit was hurt significantly by the General Strike, enjoying mass demostrations throughout the city

The government was by now in full crisis mode. Deaths in the Bonus Army Massacre had already been the body blow to a flagging administration, but a full blown countrywide General Strike was quite another matter. President Hoover was distraught and initially pondered using the Sedition or Espionage Act to curtail the strikes but thought better of it. Lacking any resolve the President retired to the West Wing and an inevitable defeat elections that were only weeks away.

Next: The 1932 Elections