Patriotism and Protest: Joseph T. Angelo and the Bonus March


  • Phillip Papas
  • Michele Rotunda



Joseph T. Angelo quit a well-paid job at the DuPont Powder Works in Carney’s Point, New Jersey, to join the army. On September 26, 1918, he saved the life of then Lt. Colonel (temporary) George S. Patton Jr., an act that earned him the Distinguished Service Cross and provided him with a lifetime of minor renown. By 1931, during the Great Depression, Angelo was unemployed. He walked 160 miles to Washington, DC, from his hometown of Camden, New Jersey, to testify in front of Congress in support of immediate payment of the wartime bonuses promised to veterans of World War I. The following summer, he was among the Bonus Marchers who were brutally driven out of their encampments in the nation’s capital by the same U.S. military in which they had served during wartime.

This article tells Angelo’s story, and by doing so, it tells the story of the tens of thousands of desperate veterans of the Great War who united to form an ethnically and racially diverse movement to protest for what they believed was right and just. They had made sacrifices to defend American values on the battlefield and now sought to be treated in a manner they saw as fair.