Bonus Expeditionary Force (Camp Marks) 1932

Labor Struggles/History

(exact location TBD) Most of the 20,000 Bonus Marchers -- broke and starving WW1 veterans and their families -- who arrived in Washington in 1932 stayed in camp Marks, a shantytown that rose on the Anacostia flats, described by John Dos Passos as "built out of old newspapers, cardboard boxes, packing crates, bits of tin or tarpaper roofing, old shutters, every kind of cockeyed makeshift shelter from the rain scraped together out of the city dump." Marchers spent most of their time protesting in front of the Capitol, returning to Camp Marks or Camp Glassford (see 24) to eat, sleep and listen to speeches, like one Dos Passos reports from "a tall scrawny man with deeply sunken cheeks": "Here's a plant that can turn out everything every man, woman and child in this country needs, from potatoes to washing machines, and it's broken down because it can't give the fellow who does the work enough money to buy what he needs with. Give us the money and we'll buy their bread and their corn and beans and their electric iceboxes and their washing machines and their radios. We ain't holding out on 'em because we don't want those things. Can't get a job to make enough money to buy 'em, that's all." After their petition to Congress was denied, the veterans were evicted. In an attack led by general Douglas MacArthur, Camp Marks was burned to the ground (photo).




Anacostia Dr SE

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