- Hardcover: 268 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (December 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814762131
- ISBN-13: 978-0814762134
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,716,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill: How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era
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“This book should be on the reading list of any course that touches upon the 1920s and 1930s. Ortiz examines the pivotal role the bonus question played in stoking the anti-New Deal movement lead by Charles Coughlin and Huey Long and how settling this issue proved essential for FDR’s decisive electoral victory in 1936.”
-G. Kurt Piehler,Remembering War the American Way
“Moving beyond other well documented examples of activism by former servicemen . . . Ortiz traces the fortunes of the two major U.S. veterans’ organizations, the first the patrician American Legion . . . the second the older, smaller and scrappier Veterans of Foreign Wars.”
-Times Literary Supplement
“So much has been written about America in the 1930’s that it is hard to say anything new. But, mounting a vigorous argument, Ortiz demonstrates convincingly that scholars have neglected a very important development in this period. Thanks to him, historians will be compelled to rewrite their accounts of the age of Roosevelt.”
-William E. Leuchtenburg,author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940
“Stimulating, clearly written, and meticulously documented.”
-The Journal of Military History
“Ortiz (Bowling Green State Univ.) has written an interesting account of a neglected component of politics during the New Deal era-- the impact of organized WWI veterans... This book will be required reading for anyone interested in the history of veteran politics and New Deal politics.”-CHOICE
"Ortiz's book is an excellent contribution to a historical episode in need of political contextualization."-Jeremy M. Teigen,Political and Military Sociology
About the Author
Stephen R. Ortiz is an associate professor of history at Binghamton University in New York.
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STEPHEN R. ORTIZ
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2009
HARDCOVER, $47.00, 264 PAGES, NOTES, INDEX, PHOTOGRAPHS, ILLUSTRATIONS
In March, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began the relief and recovery program of the New Deal. Remarkably, though, the second law signed by FDR, the "Bill To Maintain The Credit Of The United States Government," has been mostly forgotten. Better known as the Economy Act, the law led to a $460 million cut in veterans' benefits. This huge reduction triggered a strong political backlash by veterans against the New Deal. And leading this backlash was the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). A drive for reductions in Federal spending began in the final months of President Herbert Hoover's administration. In November, 1932, Hoover proposed budget cuts of $500 million to $700 million to address the growing Federal budget deficits caused by the Great Depression. The Economy Act cut Federal spending by $243 million, not the $500 million requested by FDR. This aspect of the Act proved deflationary as the Federal government purchased fewer goods and services, and led to a worsening of the Great Depression. The Economy Act also gave FDR limited authority to re-organize executive branch agencies to achieve efficiency, but this power wasn't utilized much before the Act expired in 1935. By March 3, 1935, FDR had issued 27 re-organization orders, most of them minor in nature. FDR didn't engage in extensive re-organization efforts until the passage of the Reorganization Act of 1939 gave him that authority. Its most important provisions, however, repealed all Federal laws regarding veterans' benefits. However, the Act allowed FDR to re-establish these benefits for two years via executive order at levels FDR deemed appropriate. Benefits for non-disabled veterans fell more than 40%, creating deep resentment among former soldiers and officers leading to the establishment of the VFW as a major force in American politics. The Economy Act caused a second Bonus Army to form. But FDR handled this protest much more carefully than Hoover did; his administration set up an encampment for the protesters (albeit too far from the Capitol to make their protest effective), prohibited loitering in the District of Columbia (forcing the marchers to stay outside the city), sent Eleanor Roosevelt to deliver food and medicine to the marchers and hear their grievances, and encouraged the veterans to seek work with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (which many did). Veterans nonetheless sued to have their benefits restored. In LYNCH v. UNITED STATES, 292 U.S. 571 (1934) and UNITED STATES v. JACKSON, 302 U.S. 628 (1938), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had violated Federal law in Eliminating certain insurance guarantees formerly offered to veterans by the War Risk Insurance Act (as amended December 24, 1919; Chapter 16, Section 12, 41 Stat. 371), and these benefits were restored. The Economy Act had little effect on either the Federal deficit or the economy. Spending in other areas rose so substantially that it dwarfed the cuts imposed by the Economy Act. In March, 1934, the passage of a second Independent Offices bill all but repealed the Economy Act. Veterans political power over a Congress facing re-election proved too much for FDR's Administration to squash. BEYOND THE BONUS MARCH AND GI BILL: HOW VETERAN POLITICS SHAPED THE NEW DEAL ERA is an important book on a major but hitherto neglected chapter in American social, cultural, and economic history of the 20th Century, with fascinating insights into the American political process into the bargain.
Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard