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America Vs. America

January 6 wasn’t the first time the Capitol has been violently breached. History books mention 1814 — when the British army set fire to the Capitol. Less well known is what happened on March 1st, 1954.  That’s when four young Puerto Rican nationalists from New York, fired more than two dozen bullets into the House of Representatives chamber. The attack was meant to bring attention to the fight for Puerto Rico’s independence. Five members of Congress were wounded in the assault.

On the latest episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast we have two stories about the history of America Vs. America. Journalist Ray Suarez and eyewitnesses share what happened on that day in 1954. Plus, we go back to 1932 when the Bonus Army descended on Washington D.C. only to be kicked out in a violent crackdown.

Special thanks to Ben Shapiro who produced this story, with help from Joe Richman and Nellie Gilles. It was edited by Deborah George. Oral history interviews from the Office of the House Historian. The voices you heard in this story include congressional staffers Bill Goodwin, Mike Michaelson, Joe Bartlett and Paul Kanjorski, along with Washington, D.C., police officer Benjamin Jason.

Images: Four attackers are arrested outside the U.S. Capitol. (Associate Press)

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