Pay the Bonus

PAY THE BONUS
- A GREAT DEPRESSION TIMELINE BY JAMES MADISON KOHLER (NAPOLEON53) -

"I told that trigger-happy fool not to go down there. I told him it was no place for a Chief of Staff. If only we could have foreseen what tragedy it would have become, I would have disobeyed orders. May God forgive us."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower, aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur during the Bonus Army Massacre of July 28, 1932

"Flash news bulletin! This is Jerome Jenkins for WFED, 1500 on the dial. Chaos has struck our fair Washington today after the Bonus Expeditionary Force march was brutally and utterly crushed by military and police forces. Chief of Staff MacArthur claimed he was under orders from President Hoover to disperse the throngs of angry Great War veterans and restore law and order. He also claimed that the makeshift organization had become a wing of Communists. General MacArthur personally led 1000 troops to remove the protesting vets from government property. However things have rapidly spiraled out of control after the Army opened fire on the mobs, killing and injuring at least 30, including several children. Reports of violence and civil unrest all across Washington are coming in now and we are getting told that a bomb inside of an automobile has exploded in front of the White House. We will bring you more as we have it. Now back to the Roaring Ragtime Orchestra Hour."


"Get me MacArthur! I will have that man's arrogant neck!" declared a vexed and panicking Hoover, pounding his fist against the desk of the Oval Office. His assorted staff of some twenty officials and officers were in there with him, sweat stains clearly showing through their uniforms and suits. "I tell that man to restore order and coax those people into going home and he shoves a bayonet in their back and mows them down like they were some of the Kaiser's boys!"

"Mr. President," an Army Captain barged in, "We need to evacuate, sir. We need to secure the capital and we can't do that with our President in danger. I would ask you all to-"

A ball of fire erupted on the White House lawn, rattling the windows and sending everyone to the floor, hands clutching their heads.

"Mr. President! We need to leave! Now!" shouted Vice President Curtis. "We need to evacuate immediately! We need to ensure continuation of government."

"Yes," said Hoover, picking himself up off the floor. "This is an attack on the US government. This is MacArthur's doing, and he's going to stay here and clean this disaster up. Prepare to leave."

It was July 28, 1932. Just days before in Germany, Reichswehr troops under Gerd von Rundstedt had seized control of Prussia following severe civil unrest and rioting. Political violence seemed to be sweeping the globe. And it was about to jump off Americans' newspaper pages and into their everyday life. It was July 28, 1932. At 12:03, the first shots rang out. Within seconds, total pandemonium gripped the US capital. At 1 pm, as Army troops began destroying the camps of the homeless BEF marchers, a 1925 Ford parked in front of the Hoover White House exploded, killing two police officers with a homemade bomb and maiming several civilians. The White House's iron fence was blown open by the homemade bomb and dozens of BEF rioters ran through the wreckage and began pelting President Hoover's residence with rocks and bottles.

President Hoover, Vice President Curtis, and hundreds of members of the government fled to a military base in Delaware. Violence erupted nationwide and angry veterans and citizens took to the streets overnight and when July 29 dawned, the world was watching as the United States teetered on the brink of total civil breakdown. How President Hoover handled the situation from this point on would determine the fate of the troubled nation. Whatever happened, a political storm was on the horizon that had not been seen since 1865...
 
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Guys it is so nice to be back!! After a year of having a broken computer I finally can get back to my favorite hobby!
 
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Even if Hoover had been astute enough to negotiate at least partial payment of the Bonus and preempt the whole march, I don't think it would be more than a zigzag in a history that would proceed as OTL with his failure to be reelected and barring the assassination or other worse than OTL impediment on FDR, Roosevelt is going to get elected. And if not FDR, some other Democrat--the only thing to preempt a Democrat would be if some ATL third party leader were so persuasive as to steal a lot of the "change now!" vote.

OTOH while being generous and conciliatory with the Veteran's Bonus would not be nearly enough to buy the chance of reelection (unless perhaps this act is seen as capitulation, as it likely would be, and this triggers a cascade of support for a third party more radical than the Democrats offer, which might undercut both mutually letting Hoover limp into a second term on a split opposition, handling the Marchers worse than OTL, with higher death tolls or other exacerbating circumstances, seems likely to create a firestorm of extra trouble. It might not be a sure route to a socialist revolution (that wins anyway) but it will involve loads of hooraw. And if Hoover manages to dance his way past it, presumably presenting the nation Dougie's head on a platter being part of it, the best he can do is perhaps restore status quo ante--in which his entire Administration is lame duck unless as mentioned radical left and moderate left fratricide each other in the election.

So my own vision suggests are the options anyway. It would be interesting indeed if you have a twist no one has thought of! Or are writing a "4 more years for Hoover due to some left wing third party stealing FDR's oxygen" or some such.
 
Just a start. More tonight when I get off work.

HOOVER'S GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS

Bonus Army supporters rally at the Capitol in defiance of the government, August 1, 1932

"It has become clear that the people of the United States no longer have confidence in my administration. As such, I will not be seeking reelection this fall. My last act as Commander in Chief is to call for national peace, national brotherhood, and national compassion. In recent days, unrest has gripped the core of our nation, and many Americans don't know what to think about our future, or how to survive in the present. It is clear to me that by only laying down our arms and working toward a brighter, industrious future, can we once again live fulfilling lives and get our economy roaring back to what it once was or greater. Civil unrest and targeting law enforcement officials is no way to deal with our problems. I also wish to apologize for the actions of my Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur, and the men under his command. He has been arrested, and will be charged for his actions at a proper military tribunal. He has been stripped of rank and all honors have been removed. We are sorry. My government made mistakes. And we deeply apologize. Furthermore, I feel that I can no longer fulfill the duties entrusted in me as President, and effective at noon tomorrow, I will step aside in favor of my Vice President Charles Curtis. It has been an honor to be President of the greatest country on earth. God bless you all, and God bless America."

-President Herbert Hoover, August 1, 1932

 
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Some observations. General MacArthur would face a court-martial instead of a military tribunal. No military member can lose rank unless as a result of the military justice process. Enlisted members can lose stripes. Officers cannot lose their rank per se. If the offense is serious enough, upon conviction the officer is dismissed from the service, on top of any prison sentence. Dismissal from the service is the same as a dishonorable discharge for an officer. Retired officer here.
 
Some observations. General MacArthur would face a court-martial instead of a military tribunal. No military member can lose rank unless as a result of the military justice process. Enlisted members can lose stripes. Officers cannot lose their rank per se. If the offense is serious enough, upon conviction the officer is dismissed from the service, on top of any prison sentence. Dismissal from the service is the same as a dishonorable discharge for an officer. Retired officer here.
Thank you! That's enormously helpful. I wrote that over lunch break and didn't have time to research the procedures. I'll fix it! :)
 
Thank you! That's enormously helpful. I wrote that over lunch break and didn't have time to research the procedures. I'll fix it! :)

No sweat. Just wanted to help. One thing you can add, that will help you later in the story. The President should say General MacArthur has been fired as Army Chief of Staff and replaced by General Malin Craig. IOTL this was the succession, just happened in 1935. Now, with that General MacArthur reverts to his regular two-star rank, or Major General. The US military has no permanent three-star or four-star generals/admirals on active duty. These ranks go with specific jobs. So when you leave the job you revert to your regular two-star rank. Not only that, Congress has to agree to your being put in the job, or your being kept in the job after a certain amount of time. Normally, if you are a serving three-star, it will be up to a four-star job, over to another three-star job, or out, retired normally as a three-star. If you are a four-star, it will be over to another four-star job or retired, usually as a four-star. Another thing - in the US military you don't always retire at the rank you hold at that time, but at the highest rank held successfully. I retired as a major, which was my final rank and held successfully. But there have been generals who retired minus a star, and I know of one brigadier general who ended up retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He had gotten in trouble and went through military justice proceedings.
 
Anyone think we might see a upswell in Communists? I mean, if I was getting shot at for that....

Well, why not exploit it?
 
HOOVER'S GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS

Bonus Army supporters rally at the Capitol in defiance of the government, August 1, 1932

"In recent days, unrest has gripped the core of our nation, and many Americans do not know what to think about our future, or how to survive in the present. It is clear to me that by only laying down our arms and working toward a brighter, industrious future, can we once again live fulfilling lives and get our economy roaring back to what it once was or greater. Civil unrest and targeting law enforcement officials is no way to deal with our problems. I also wish to apologize on behalf of my entire administration for the actions of my Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur, and the men under his command. He has been arrested, and will be administrated military justice at a court-martial. I never wished or ordered for him to fire upon protestors and I was mortified by it beyond belief. He has been replaced as Chief of Staff by General Malin Craig, an honorable Missouri native and a true patriot. We are sorry. My government made mistakes. And we deeply apologize. It has become clear that the people of the United States no longer have confidence in my administration. As such, I will not be seeking reelection this fall. My last act as Commander in Chief is to call for national peace, national brotherhood, and national compassion. Furthermore, I feel that I can no longer fulfill the duties entrusted in me as President, and effective at noon tomorrow, I will step aside in favor of my vice president, Charles Curtis. It has been an honor to be President of the greatest country on earth. May God bless you all, and may God bless America."

-President Herbert Hoover, August 1, 1932

It had been just a handful of days since the Bonus Riots had broken out, and violence and unrest had swept the nation. The already tanking global economy stood on edge as they watched America descend into violence. Hoover was a villain to over half of America. Millions cried out for him to be impeached. His government, now operating out of Dover, Delaware, at a small military base. Navy ships floated just off shore, ready to evacuate the entire government to sea if there was a further escalation. Hoover was fearing all-out civil war as he took to the airwaves on the first of August to announce he would become the first president in US history to resign from office. The news was greeted at first with jubilation by many, and then by concern. Charles Curtis was a relatively unknown quantity. He hadn't actually said much of anything nice about Hoover before he had been pacified with the vice presidency. He was infamous for his 1930 remark, "Good times are just around the corner." He seemed like most people's bungling, but lovable, uncle.

Except many viewed him just as culpable as Hoover for the "Bonus Massacre." To the hardliners, he was guilty too. Everyone in the government was held up by the veterans as part of the problem. And they wouldn't stop until everyone who held office on July 28, 1932. They were going to "drain the swamp," at gunpoint if need be. And so it was that multiple groups of disgruntled citizens around the country had commenced a vigilante war on the establishment. Congressmen received death threats by the hour. The Washington Metropolitan Police Chief, Henry Pratt, was assassinated in his office by a Polish-American Great War veteran, Henry Poniatowski, who had served as his janitor for two years. The man emptied a Colt revolver into Pratt before being blown away by several nearby officers.

In the South, as the economy and politics had tensions running high, race relations weren't getting better either. A showdown between several KKK-linked groups and some liberal socialist and communist organizations was getting bloody. Many local blacks took to the communist cause as they suffered through possibly the worst of the Depression. Black unemployment was quadruple the national average, and many saw the Republican Party as the emancipation party but also as the party of mistreating veterans and tanking the economy. However they also scorned the casual racism of the Democrat Party. It was in the deep south that the first Communist Leagues began to form. However, the same could be said of the radical militant right that began to resent that the conservative Republicans were letting violence get so out of hand without it being crushed. It was to that end that radical pseudo-fascist militias formed almost instantly to confront the communists. Everyone seemed hated Hoover. The Republicans wanted him gone and never to talk about him again, and the likely 33nd President-to-be, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his Democrats wanted to beat the Hoover horse long after it was dead. And dead it soon would be, with all seriousness.

On August 2, 1932, at high noon, Charles Curtis was sworn in as the 32nd President of the United States, in Dover, Delaware. Hoover shook the man's hand, wished him well, and then retired to his quarters on the base. There he typed out a quick note:

"I, Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st President of the United States, wished nothing but good for the world, and the people of America. I strove every day for excellence, and I regret the many mistakes I made personally that led our nation down this path of violence and troubles. I feel every day for the families mourning their fathers and sons that were so brutally slain by my Chief of Staff. I should have never let it get that far. I cry every day for the failures I have wrought upon this my nation. I see us about to go over the brink into the abyss, and so I go to meet that abyss, in an effort to hopefully make amends and remove my tainted name from the public discourse. I, Herbert Clark Hoover, am a patriot. And a failed President. I wish nothing but love to my wonderful wife Lou, and my amazing sons Herbert Junior and Allen. I am sorry I failed everyone around me and my country. I go now to the abyss. Goodbye."

After sealing the note in an envelope and handing it to an army sergeant stationed to guard his quarters, he did a brisk salute and told the soldier he was to go give the note to President Curtis. And then he retired to his quarters, and at 4pm on August 2, 1932, former President Hoover ended his life at his desk, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He died instantly.

To the entire world, this was absolutely stunning, and everything everywhere seemed to screech to a halt. And now a new President had one hell of a mess to clean up. And three months to do it.
 
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Hoover pulled a Dwyer ( have to Google it as remembered the incident but not the name) So you're happy? A trastorned man just killed himself because his guilt... things Will get worse isn't it?
 
As far as it will go! Open to all suggestions!

Hoover pulled a Dwyer ( have to Google it as remembered the incident but not the name) So you're happy? A trastorned man just killed himself because his guilt... things Will get worse isn't it?
Budd Dwyer is exactly who I based that off of. I recently watched a documentary on him and it stuck with me.
 
And now a new President had one hell of a mess to clean up.
Eh, not that bad. I mean, Delware's not that ho-


Ooooh. You don't mean like that. But yeah, he needs to handle this, ASAFP. My advice:

1. Make damn sure Mac and his little buddies go down for the Bonus Army. If need be, drag up every bit of dirt on the man, so even if by some miracle, he gets off, his career is so far sunk, Alaska will seem like a nice chance to restart his career.

2. Clamp down on the Klan. They're not only fueling Communists, which is not something he wants, his party literally cut their teeth on shutting the bastards down, and could be used to toss the casual racism.

3. Somehow fix the economy.

4. Pray to God that FDR doesn't get too big a winning vote.
 
@Napoleon53, have you read the book The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester? There are several ideas there...

Man, Douglas MacArthur gets the short end of the stick in most TLs on this board (in @fester's Keynes' Cruisers, for example, he was killed in a plane crash a few weeks before war broke out in the Philippines)...

It's almost like it--wait, it is mandatory to hate MacArthur on this board.:D Sorry...

Waiting for more...
 
I still don't think the gesture of resignation will win the election for Curtis or anyone else the Republicans nominate. Even paying the bonus as the title suggests before the election probably won't do that--a whole lot of men would get it, but a whole lot more who were not veterans of WWI will not, so unless a Bonus payout is connected with a general bailout payment to everyone, I don't think that the notion that the Republicans blew it and it is time for a change with a Democrat in charge will be much blunted. Even the veterans who get paid, if that can even happen, will still stand with their fellow citizens who don't, perhaps not with individuals who could have served in their generation but didn't, but anyway with everyone who was too young to have served.

I have to wonder what retired USMC General Smedley Butler would make of the apology and the disgrace of MacArthur. He took strong leadership of the Bonus March, OTL, and maintained very strict control to prevent the marchers from inadvertently giving the authorities a plausible excuse to crack down violently. Since it appears the death toll was higher than OTL, perhaps he was one of the victims? If not--he has a more outrageous situation to react to--though I don't know that makes a difference really. OTL the limited number of casualties were quite outrageous enough for him and I don't know that multiplying them would change anything as far as his initial reaction goes. The difference here is that Hoover does something meaningful to atone. Still despite his being a lifelong Republican, being the son of a career Representative from Pennsylvania, he probably will judge in a cold blooded way that the administration must change drastically for the good of the veterans he cared so much about, bonus or no bonus.

Anyway though Butler did make a large effort to support FDR's election OTL, I don't suppose his actions were pivotal, just in line with the general drift. Removing his efforts and advocacy from the equation, either because Hoover's apology mollifies him, the Republican nominee proves acceptable to him, or because he was struck dead at the Massacre, might make a measurable difference, but probably not large enough to change the outcome, unless voters in general are considerably impressed with the Republican nominee and his platform.

Conceivably the right Republican saying the right things can swing things, but I rather doubt it.

Let's see, the OTL statistics are such that FDR had a popular vote margin of 7 million out of 39 million votes cast; as we all know what legally matters is the Electoral vote, where he got 472 versus Hoover's 59; 207 would have to flip to elect the Republican nominee. (I cannot guess how likely that would be Curtis-if the R's want a prayer of winning they better run someone who can plausibly project a drastic change of course from Hoover, and Curtis better start helping with getting started on that immediately, along with Congress and state governments too--personally I doubt they can turn on such a small dime fast enough! Curtis himself changing the administrative tune immediately might get him the nomination, or he might get it on sheer inertia, or the author perhaps has in mind someone who is impeccably Republican yet not irretrievably marked with the 1920s "normalcy" laissez faire mentality or at least has shown what a later generation would term "compassionate" conservatism, again out of step with the "ride it out and don't corrupt our republic with mob-ingratiating character destroying charity" agenda Hoover projected. (Hoover was a charitable man, but his advisors often were not, and he didn't fire them and do otherwise than they insisted he must). I don't know. But the Republicans are coming from a place of very low credibility now and must dig themselves out of it very very fast to make a difference by November!

Wikipedia articles on US Presidential elections generally include a state by state chart which is sortable, and include a column that gives the margin of victory of the general winner over the second runner up; sorting the 1932 chart found in this article highlights that Hoover OTL won just six states out of 48. FDR's thinnest margin of victory was in New Jersey, which he won by 1.9 percent or just under 31,000 votes. (Interestingly with respect to General Butler, his home state of PA gave Hoover his largest margin in absolute numbers, of over 150,000, but this was 5.5 percent, a third of Hoover's relative margin in small Vermont. Clearly if Butler had any effect on the outcomes anywhere it wasn't successful in his home state, but then I don't suppose he concentrated his efforts there either). In order to flip 207 EV, ranked by percentage it would be necessary for him to flip every state from NJ up to Iowa, 14 states including the largest, New York which was of course FDR's home state (though he got less than the average percent victory margin there). Adding up the numerical margins, to flip just those states by winning the barest majority in each, the Republican would need to pick up just over 2 million out of almost 21 million votes cast in those 14 states; almost 9.7 percent would have to flip in his favor in those states. Assuming one cannot get a near 10 percent flip in 14 very diverse and crucial states without a general flip in the PV of the nation as a whole of that size, he'd have to convince about 3.84 million who voted for FDR OTL to vote for him. But even such a flip, if were uniform across the nation giving him nearly 10 percent more in each state, would not win him a victory unless he could also target the eight states of Iowa, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and Indiana to flip by even larger percentages, ranging up to a total margin of nearly 18 percent in Iowa (still just below the national average!) so he'd need at least a million more, and for a uniform percentage shift to get the job done, it would have to be greater than Iowa's 17.71 percent--just over 7 million, slightly more FDRs PV margin, would be needed to do the trick. If we look instead at FDR's smallest margins in absolute numbers, to flip the outcome Hoover would have to win the lowest 26 states, flipping a mere 2.1 million--but 5 of these states were Solid South states very unlikely to vote for any Republican, two with "margins" near 100 percent; exempting other Solid South states and some dubious border states he'd have to win the entire margin of all but the top 4 states for FDR in numbers that are not exempted Southern states. In the 25 states this leaves in play, he'd need to switch over 13 percent.

I also forgot to omit the Solid South states from my tabulation of necessary shifts to win by percentage basis; the true number to flip is thus even more than 7 million I believe. Something over a fifth or even a quarter of all votes would have to change to enable any Republican to win against FDR.

Still in reserve, perhaps the Democrats do not nominate FDR or FDR is killed or exposed as "too crippled" to serve (these were not good days for disability rights after all) and the Democrats are left with someone much weaker like FDR's chosen running mate Garner of Texas.

I leave the thread to evolve as its author wills, but if it is claimed that mere last minute reforms by the Republicans are enough to shift the vote from FDR to any Republican, well the explanation had better be pretty spectacular.
 
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