March 24, 1894: In dreams, he sees an army. Then Coxey awakes, and sees only fifty tramps.

Members of Coxey's Army: men and boys, with flag bearer in center
Members of Coxey's Army: men and boys, with flag bearer in center. , 1894. Photo from Library of Congress

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. The headquarters of the Commonweal consist of one unfurnished room in a new block in West Main Street, one small desk, which when new, cost $7.25, one small soft-coal stove, one nail keg, two chairs, and one saloon table, which has recently seen some service. Here the mail is opened every morning, and plans for the great movement are talked over.

But the powers in Washington are taking notice. From the same article:

WASHINGTON, March 24 – Nothing but ridicule is is heard in regard to the Coxey movement among well-informed persons here.
There is not the remotest prospect of any Congressional action to grant a permit for any mob to assemble in the Capital grounds in violation of a specific act of Congress. The police are keeping a close watch upon certain persons here, who claim to be Coxey’s lieutenants and to be actively participating in the movement. At the first overt act which can be taken advantage of the vagrant laws of the District will be put into operation.

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