Grand Army of the Republic
Annual Encampment (1924)
The Vermont Tribune, Ludlow, Vermont,
under date of 13 June, 1924:
"Civil War Veterans Meet In Annual Encampment - Commander-in-Chief George H. Hosely, Guest of Honor at 57th Meeting of Department of Vermont Grand Army of the Republic.--
With zeal for flag and country undiminished by the passage of 57 years, the veterans who wore the Union Blue in the Civil War, assembled in Burlington last Friday for the annual encampment of the Department of Vermont, Grand Army of the Republic. The honored guest of the encampment was Colonel George H. Hosely of Boston, commander-in-chief of the G. A. R. and there also were present one department commander, eight post commanders, and 78 veterans of the Union Army. Enthusiasm marked the opening session in Stannard Memorial Hall when the Woman's Relief Corps, Ladies of the G. A. R., Sons of Veterans and Soldiers of Vermont Auxiliary were present as guests.
There was an address by Comrade George P. Martin of Bennington and as enthusiastic welcome greeted Col. George Hosely when he rose to speak. Committee on greetings were appointed to visit the meetings of other patriotic societies in session in the city. At the afternoon session, Comrade C. H. Granger presided and Comrade C. H. Cota, adjutant of Stannard Post in Burlington, made the opening address. The chief business of the session was the election of officers and results were as follows: C. H. Stone, Fair Haven, Commander; R. H. Linsley, Middlebury, senior vice-commander; A. C. Stoughton, Burlington, junior vice-commander; Dr. C. M. Ferrin, Burlington, medical director; the Rev. Henry Crocker of Chester, chaplain. The council of administration is made up of W. W. Holden, Post 94 of Northfield, and F. B. Warner, Post 86 of Essex Junction; A. W. Downs of Bennington was chosen as representative to the National encampment at Boston in August. The alternate at large is W. W. Martin of Middlebury, and other alternates named are J. R. Leroy of Brattleboro, Elihu Fuller of Tunbridge, Vt., W. W. Conger of Springfield, and E. A. Howe of Ludlow.
An invitation was received from Bennington to hold the next annual encampment at that place. The business meeting adjourned at 4:30, and the veterans were guests of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, which provided automobiles to give the men a sight-seeing tour of the city. Scoring President Coolidge for vetoing the Bursum Pension Bill, Colonel Hosely, speaking at the campfire Friday night in the armory where a large crowd packed the hall to suffocation, shouted "Everyone who has a vote should resent the insult thrust upon the old boys who fought in the war of '60 to '64." Colonel Hosely also called peace talk 'nonsense' and charged that propaganda for peace is bought by money from abroad to weaken the United States as it cannot defend itself. He said the nation would have trouble with Japan within ten years and that Japan is now seeking an alliance with China with that end in view. Mrs. Bertha Macomber, retiring president of the Women's Relief Corps of Vermont, in her address, administered an antidote to the anti-Coolidge talk and lauded the President as a patriotic citizen who vetoed the Bursum bill out of motives of economy. Mrs. Macomber said: "I shall cast my vote for Calvin Coolidge," and applause broke out in response.
Follow up note from Linda Welch: This article is very interesting, and sheds some light on a complicated and 'touchy' subject brewing at the time. The country was gearing up for a Presidential election in November,1924, and Vermont's own son, Calvin Coolidge, was the Republican nominee. There was so much 'pro-Coolidge fever' throughout Vermont at this time, that many veterans of the nation's previous wars (Civil, Spanish-American, World War I), held their tongues and kept their opinions to themselves about their disagreement with the President's position on the relief bill for World War I veterans. The Bursum Pension Bill was supported by most veterans and families. When the President vetoed the bonus bill in May, 1924, after its overwhelming support from Congress, he gave his reasons thus:
1. Patriotism cannot be paid for.
2. The government does not exist for benevolent purposes
3. Service men sacrifice - that's the way it is.
4. The earnings of the people should not be used for those who are financially well and physically able.
5. Only urgent public necessity justifies taxation.
6. No need, moral justification or funds available for a bonus.
7. Tax reduction cannot be had if a bonus is granted.
Many Vermonters were not pleased with their President's position. But distention remained private for the most part. No one dared speak too strongly in opposition to his action, least they sustain the raft of the more powerful Vermont elite --mainly the Vermont press, the banks, the businessmen and corporations, who advocated blind support to Vermont's own "Cal Coolidge." Many editorials were written against the compensation bill. One of them in the Brattleboro Reformer reminded the public that "The President's judgment that 'the Country does not require a greater outlay of money, but a greater application of constructive economy,' would seem to apply to almost any small town as well as to the country. In a final analsyis, what is good for the country and town is good for the family, the individual, and the World War I veteran." However, the above article about the G.A.R. state-wide meeting clearly shows how the Vermont men who served their country in uniform held their own opinions on the matter. They were together as one group, united. It was good opportunity for the Civil War vets to express opinions and stand up in support of their comrades of the Great War, who sacrificed much and had received little in return.