April 9: Coxey Puts Up Toll

“One dollar eighty-seven cents,” said Mrs. Clabaugh resolutely. Coxey paid the money in nickels and pennies, took a receipt, and the army marched on.

UNIONTOWN, Pa., April 9.-[Special.]– One lone woman met Coxey’s army of the commonweal in combat today and ignominiously defeated it. The woman’s name is Mrs. Annie Clabaugh and she is tollkeeper at the toll-gate two miles east of Brownesville. Mrs. Clabaugh, with no more deadly weapon than a woolen fascinator, hold up Coxey’s army on the high road and forced it to pay toll.…
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April 9: Army Must Return to the West; Utah Courts Order the Men Back Into the Car – They Must Be Moved.

While much of the media coverage centered on Jacob Coxey’s march from Massillon, Ohio, at least forty other “Industrial Armies” of unemployed workers were organized in 1894 for the purpose of marching to Washington, D.C.  Fry’s Army organized in Los Angeles; the Northwestern Industrial Army gathered in Seattle; Kelly’s Army marched from San Francisco, with Jack London among the marchers.

From The Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, April 10, 1894.

OGDEN, Utah, April 9.-This evening Judges Miner and Merritt signed a mandatory restraining order on the Southern Pacific railroad restraining them from keeping or allowing the industrial army brought by said company “unlawfully into said territory” and ordering them all back into the twenty seven box cars, or from keeping any portion of the army in the cars in this territory any longer than is absolutely necessary to carry them away.…
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April 14: Commonwealers Nigh Unto Riot

From The New York Times, Sunday, April 15, 1894:

FROSTBURG, MD., April 14 — Revolt in the ranks of Coxey’s army today leaves the Commonwealers in a state bordering on riot. Chief Marshal Carl Browne of California was deposed as Marshal, and Louis Smith, “The Unknown,” is in full charge.

[pullquote]During one of the halts, Smith ordered the men to march, and Browne called a halt. In a war of words, Browne denounced “The Unknown” as a Pinkerton detective. Smith called for support, and all but the wagonmen responded.…
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April 15: The “Unknown” Set Adrift

From The New York Times, Sunday, April 16, 1894:

CUMBERLAND, MD., April 15 — The once famous “Unknown” of Coxey’s army was stripped of his veiled glory to-day and likewise of his honors as a Commonwealer. Carl Browne, the deposed leader of yesterday, has entire charge of the body tonight.

Gen. Coxey next took the stump, and spoke at length on the necessity of peace, showing determination only on the statement that the “Unknown” would have to go. He said if the men wished to stick to the “Unknown” they could, but none of the commissary wagons would go with them.


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April 16: Coxey Charters Canalboats

From The New York Times, Monday April 17, 1894

CUMBERLAND, Md., April 16. — While the heads of the Commonweal Army have been pushing preparations for the coming exodus from Cumberland, the army has been resting and living luxuriously. The Spring sunshine has been, a tonic to the frost-bitten travelers. Many of the soldiers went into the river, where, stripped to the waist, they bathed in the ice water, to-day, with a liberal allowance of soap from the great stock contributed at Alliance…

…The estrangement of Jesse Coxey, the prodigal son, from his father, consequent on Jesse’s revolt the “Unknown” Smith on Saturday has been arbitrated, and the boy is back in the fold of the Commonweal…

…The army will go by water to Williamsport.…
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Mr Coxey’s attempt to storm the Capitol

In the meantime numerous police, both mounted and on the floor, had assembled at the east part of the Capitol, where Coxey had declared his party would assemble. On reaching the street skirting the Capitol grounds to the north the procession found that the police barred the entrance. Coxey thereupon alighted from his buggy and jumped over the wall of the Capitol grounds, being followed by Browne. The police pursued them, and a number of the mob from the street made their way over the wall, the police cordon having been broken for a moment by the rush of the people.


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The speech Jacob Coxey (almost) never gave

When participants in Coxey’s Army (estimated at 500 people) reached Washington on May 1, 1894, having started their march in Massillon, Ohio, they were met by 1500 soldiers, with more on call in case of trouble.  Jacob Coxey went to speak, but only managed to make it through the first two paragraphs, before getting arrested for walking on the grass.

May 1, 1894

The Constitution of the United States guarantees to all citizens the right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, and furthermore declares that the right of free speech shall not be abridged.


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Coxey Lays Depression to ‘Dumbness’ of Congress

General Jacob S. Coxey, organizer of the first army of the unemployed, blamed the business depression on Congress as he visited Pittsburgh today.

“It isn’t because the members of Congress are crooked,” he said. “It’s because they’re dumb. They don’t know what it’s all about.”

Coxey explained that he was en route to Washington for another attempt to get his bill for the alleviation of unemployment and business inertia before Congress.

Read the Pittsburg Press article…
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The protest that made Occupy DC possible

Chaltain ties the Occupy DC protest of 2011 to the Coxey’s Army march of 1894.  Notable is the mention of the Capital Grounds Act, a measure used to silence political speech in Washington D.C.

At the time of the parade, the United States was in the second year of a major economic depression and millions of Americans were unemployed; Coxey believed he had the answer to the nation’s economic woes. He proposed that the federal government issue $500 million in treasury bonds, that it apply those funds to initiate a massive program to build up the nation’s roads, and that it hire an army of workers, all of who would be guaranteed eight-hour days and daily wages of $1.50.


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