World War Adjusted Compensation, billion dollar words that generated 20 years of controversy and bloodshed in the United States. Although Sherburne witnessed no violent protest, the law passed in 1924 impacted Elk River and the county for a generation.
In 1924, Congress pass legislation awarding veterans of the World War a bonus for their service. Veterans received promises of bonds to be paid after 20 years maturity. President Calvin Coolidge opposed the legislation, arguing “patriotism bought and paid for is not patriotism.” Despite his veto, Congress passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act, promising veterans money in twenty years.
The arrival of the economic depression in the 1930s, unemployed and homeless veterans asked for their money earlier than promised. In 1932, Bonus Army protests in Washington, D.C. led to riots and the deaths of two veterans. In 1936, Congress passed a new legislation promising the veterans their money.
In Sherburne County, the promised money reached an estimated 300 veterans. The Sherburne County Star News estimated the county veterans would receive $181,000. Over a third of that money, $75,000 would be paid to Elk River veterans.
With the assistance of American Legion Posts throughout the county, veterans applied for, and received bonds from the Federal government. The vets redeemed the bonds at any post office or bank.
In 1936, in the midst of the economic crisis; unemployment high; and civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA maintaining projects in the county, this monetary windfall surely delivered hope to a number of Sherburne County residents. The full amount paid to Sherburne County veterans remains unknown, the implied economic impact played a significant role for Sherburne County veterans and their families.