In dreams, he sees an army. Then Coxey awakes, and sees only fifty tramps.

The New York Times ran a number of wire service reports immediately before Coxey’s Army left Massillon, Ohio on March 25, 1894. Coming from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C., the tone of the writing can best be described as bewildered amusement.

It is claimed by Marshal Browne that nearly fifty recruits have arrived in Massillon, but up to last night, none of them had been discovered, and reputable Massillonians asserted that the arrivals were all in the mind of the the “Seer and Prophet” as the Marshal styles himself. 


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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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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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