The Bonus March was one of several grassroots movements of the unemployed during the Great Depression that galvanized thousands of men and women and helped focus attention on the role of the federal government in alleviating economic hardship. Twenty thousand World War I veterans marched to Washington to demand the immediate release of promised cash bonuses and set up camp until their demands were met. With President Herbert Hoover’s authorization, federal troops, armed with tanks and cavalry, attacked the homeless veterans and burned their encampment. When images like this photograph, which shows the Bonus Marchers’ shantytown burning down in sight of the Capitol on the afternoon of July 28, 1932, reached the public, Hoover’s image was permanently tarnished.
Source: National Archives.