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Coxey, Jacob J. 1854-

Political agitator; born in Snyder county, Pa., April 16, 1854. The spring of 1894 was marked by one of the most unique popular uprisings ever witnessed in any country. Coxey, then living in Massillon, O., organized what he called “The army of the commonwealth,” to be composed of men out of work, for a march to Washington in [413] order to influence Congress to take some action for the benefit of trade in the country. Coxey appointed March 10 as the day the army would start from Massillon, and early in the year a great number of small companies started from the South and West to join him. For a time it seemed as if the movement would be an impressive one. Fully 1,500 men, composing the Western detachment, under Colonel Fry, reached the Mississippi. This detachment was constantly growing in numbers, and was well received by the people through the States as it progressed towards Massillon to join Coxey. But at this time three weeks of constant rain interfered, the army was unable to progress, and soon scattered, as did many smaller detachments. Thus it was that Coxey was obliged to make his start with but 400 men, and about the same number, despite another rainy spell, arrived in Washington on May 2. Coxey attempted to make a speech from the steps of the Capitol, was arrested for violating a local ordinance, and obliged to spend a month in jail. The movement ended in a perfect farce, although at one time it was estimated that 20,000 men were marching to join the army. Coxey had hoped to make Congress pass a law allowing each State to issue legal-tender certificates to citizens, whenever the citizens could give personal or real property as security. In 1895, Coxey was the unsuccessful Populist candidate for governor of Ohio, and received 52,675 votes.

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