American University Library Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of materials relating to early national protests in Washington, D.C.
The Army of the Commonwealth in Christ/Coxey’s Army
Ohio businessman Jacob Coxey led the first significant popular protest march on Washington, D.C. The purpose of the march was to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893 and to lobby for the government to create jobs and pay the workers in paper currency. The march originated with 100 men in Massillon, Ohio. Various groups of unemployed workers from the around the country joined en route eventually establishing a camp site in Colmar Manor, Maryland. Items acquired include Volume 1 Number 1 of The Industrial Army News (April 20, 1894) and a copy of the song Coxey’s Commonweal.
The Bonus Expeditionary Force/Bonus Army
17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups gathered in Washington, DC, in June of 1932 to demand cash-payment redemption of their service certificates. The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 awarded veterans bonuses in the form of certificates that they could not redeem until 1945. Each service certificate’s face value was equal to the soldier’s promised payment plus compound interest.
The first veterans to arrive were accommodated in abandoned buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue that were owned by the government. As the numbers of veterans grew, they established integrated camps on the Anacostia Flats. Veterans were required to register and prove they had been honorably discharged before they could move into the camps. The camps were built from scavenged materials and had streets and sanitation facilities. The veterans held daily parades. The camps were extremely popular with tourists.
In addition to a scrapbook featuring photos and postcards of the camp, we recently acquired a lantern slide show which contains a combination of photos and newspaper articles including several images of the Toledo, Ohio contingent and the main protest at the United States Capitol on June 17.
Bonus Army Lantern Slide Show Introductory Slide
If you would like to see more, several of these items are currently on display on the third floor of Bender Library.