“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In the summer of 1932 twenty five thousand WW1 veterans are camped in Washington D.C. to petition the government, a redress of grievances is in fact taking place. A bit of context needs to be laid out first. In 1924 the WW1 veterans were promised by congress a compensation bonus for their service in “The War to End All Wars” but with the promise there’s a catch. Anyone who would receive $50 or less would be paid their bonus immediately but for those with more than $50 of bonuses owed would have to wait until 1945 to redeem their bonus certificate that was given ti them. Twenty One years is a long time to wait to be paid a bonus. Five years later the stock market crash of 1929 sets off the Great Depression and now these veterans are in financial ruin with no work
So our WW1 veterans now feeling the crippling effects of the Great Depression want to be paid their bonuses now, not in 1945. Walter Waters spearheaded the rally and amassed up to 45,000 demonstrators to ask Congress to pass legislation to award the bonuses. The papers started labeling these veterans as communist and red army, but would later change their headlines as the demonstration progressed. Everything was peaceful at first. These were patriots who fought for their country and they only wanted to be paid what was owed to them. On June 15th 1932 The U.S. House passed legislation sending it to the Senate where the legislation died at 9:30pm. The demonstrators determined that their voices be heard decided to stay and press on until the President and Congress helped them with their cause. This is where things start to get ugly. Under orders the police first tried to disperse the WW1 veterans their presence would no longer be tolerated. This lead to restlessness, marches and tension started to settle in. A few veterans lost their lives and several people both veterans and police were injured. President Herbert Hoover ordered the U.S. Army to dispatch the WW1 veterans.
Patton, McArthur and Dwight Eisenhower armed with tanks, Calvary with sabers drawn and infantry with bayonets fixed, dispersed tear gas and razed the demonstrators camp, burning it to the ground. The U.S Army under the orders of President Hoover violently chased off WW1 veterans who were peacefully assembling to redress their grievances. When their presence was no longer tolerable, violence by the State was used against them. Was this a violation of the First Amendment to you?? Did our government ignore the Constitution because 45,000 peaceful demonstrators were making the government look bad? If we peacefully demonstrate today against the obviously corrupt action of our government would they get violent with us?? Are you doing what it takes to ensure our government honors and follows the Constitution?? Join us next week as we explore other possible instances of our government violating the First Amendment. Write in and tell us what you think.