The March

  • March 24, 1894: 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. But the powers in Washington are taking notice.
  • March 25, 1894: Coxey’s Army on the Move
    On March 25, 1894, Jacob Coxey and his 75 member army stepped off from Massillon, Ohio on their march to Washington D.C. By the time they reached Canton, about eight miles away, the number had reached 50. The New York Times reported that Coxey’s life insurance policy had been revoked, with “officials of the company fearing that he may meet with a violent end in his present enterprise,” and that “everyone regarded the affair as a huge joke.”
  • March 26, 1894: Coxey’s Army is Straggling Along
    Coxey’s Army left Massillon, Ohio on March 25, 1894.  By the 26th, there were troubles.
  • March 27, 1894: Lacks But Two Of A Hundred
    It has been two days since the march began, and Coxey’s Army of the unemployed is still in Stark County, Ohio.  The army has picked up some new members, but they have also lost quite a few.  And Jacob Coxey is gone; he’s headed to Chicago.  Meanwhile, some deserters have already made it as far west as Richmond, Indiana.  And … Read more
  • March 28, 1894: Weary and Worn
    On March 29, The San Francisco Call carried wire reports from across the country, covering the march and those who were traveling to participate in it. From the headlines: WEARY AND WORN Coxey’s Ragged Army Is Straggling On. BOYS GIFTED WITH PITY. They Were Prepared to Snowball the Soldiers. BUT WERE MOVED TO SORROW. So Far the Deserters Along the … Read more
  • April 2, 1894: Coxey’s Army Grows
    By April 2, Coxey’s Army had crossed into Pennsylvania. The Chicago Tribune reported that the group was now numbering nearly 250 men. The media was also picking up on the rivalry between marshal Carl Browne and “The Great Unknown.” Beaver Falls, PA., Contributes To Commonweal Provisions Pour Into the Camp and the Leaders Are Sanguine and Happy Again – Coxey … Read more
  • April 4, 1894: Lock Up Coxey’s Men.
    With ten days in, this is not quite the welcome that the army has experienced in earlier cities. The media, previously having ridiculed the group, is now reporting from a slightly different perspective, that of sympathy. But that will change, soon enough… From The Chicago Tribune – April 5, 1894: Allegheny City, Pa., April 4 — [Special] Coxey’s Army is … Read more
  • April 6, 1894: Afraid of His Army
    Now over 500 strong, the Commonweal is ready to head into the mountains, where the terrain will be rugged, and supplies will be few.  The marchers appear to be able to make it through. But, is Coxey himself up to the task? From The Chicago Tribune – April 7, 1894: McKeesport, Pa., April 6 — [Special] Gen. Coxey is growing … Read more
  • April 7, 1894: Coxey’s Advance Cohort Arrested
    WASHINGTON, April 7. – The advance guard of Coxey’s Army, forty-one in number, got within two miles of Washington this evening, and were taken in charge by the police and locked up. They came in on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in freight cars, and when they reached Eckington, a suburb of the city, a squad of police took them … Read more
  • April 8, 1894: Jail Yawning for Gen. Coxey
    Note the change of tone in the news coverage of (and government response to) the Coxey movement, as compared to that at the beginning of the march: from crackpot, to harmless, to drama. And now, perceived as a threat. Plans are being put into motion which will ultimately thwart the efforts of citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to … Read more
  • April 9, 1894: 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 … Read more
  • April 9, 1894: Army Must Return to the West; Utah Courts Order the Men Back Into the Car – They Must Be Moved.
    Embed from Getty Images 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 … Read more
  • April 14, 1894: 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 … Read more
  • April 15, 1894: 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 … Read more
  • April 16, 1894: 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 … Read more
  • Mr Coxey’s attempt to storm the Capitol
    Embed from Getty Images 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 … Read more
  • 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. … Read more