- Coxey's Army
- Jacob Sechler Coxey (1854-1951), the wealthy owner of a quarry in Massillon, Ohio, had bills introduced in Congress to stimulate employment. The year following the Panic of 1893, a time when many people were unemployed, Coxey wanted Congress to enact bills for road building and public construction to put the unemployed to work. To publicize his ideas, he arranged for a march on Washington that would dramatize the need for congressional action and exert pressure on congressmen to vote for the bills.Coxey began his march with a band of unemployed workers from Massillon on Easter Sunday, 1894. About 100 marchers and a six-piece band began the trek. The group swelled to about 500, but not the 100,000 that Coxey had expected. In any event, upon reaching the capital, about 50 marchers were clubbed by the police, and Coxey, who sought to read a speech that he had prepared, was denied the privilege. He was arrested for carrying a banner and walking on the Capitol lawn and was sentenced to twenty days. That was the grand finale of this makeshift army that was given the name Coxey's army. The bills died in committee.Coxey was obsessed with a desire to hold public office. Although a perennial candidate, he was elected only once, as mayor of Massillon, 1931-1933. But his ideas were similar to those adopted by the New Deal under President Roosevelt, and on May 1, 1944, on the Capitol steps, Coxey achieved his long-delayed goal: He delivered his speech. And this time without interference.People sometimes call a motley, ragtag group "Coxey's Army." The name is particularly evocative when a bunch of kids with bats slung over their shoulders, with torn pants, with their caps turned backywards, are seen marching off to the baseball field.Coxey, who lived for ninety-seven years, had at one time become so fascinated with monetary problems that he wrote several books on the subject and named one of his sons Legal Tender.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.