Song of the Times (III), A
DESCRIPTION: "There's a deep and growing murmur Going up through all the land." The workers will gain justice: "Rally, rally, all ye voters (x3), And vote for home and right. The rich may dislike Coxey's Army, but its cause is right. "Shylock's reign is o'er."
AUTHOR: Words: Luna E. (Mrs. J. T.) Kellie (1857-1940)
EARLIEST DATE: 1939 (Nevada Folklore pamphlet; probably written 1894)
KEYWORDS: nonballad derivative hardtimes money political
1894 - In the aftermath of the Panic of 1893, Coxey's Army tries to march on Washington seeking work. Only a few hundred marchers arrive; Coxey is arrested and nothing accomplished
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Welsch, pp. 72-73, "A Song of the Times" (1 text, tune referenced)
ADDITIONAL: Nebraska Folklore, Pamphlet Twenty, "More Farmers' Alliance Songs of the 1890's," Federal Writers' Project, 1939, p. 20, "A Song of the Times" (1 text)
cf. "John Brown's Body" (tune)
NOTES: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., editor, The Almanac of American History, revised edition, Putnam, 1993 (I use the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition), p. 378: "30 April 1894. NATIONAL Jacob Sechler Coxey leads 400 people from Ohio to Washington, D. C. Known as Coxey's Army, the motley crew marches to protest unemployment; underlying that is their sense that the government refuses to legislate in favor of working people, but feels no compunction to refrain from legislating in favor of large corporations. Arriving in Washington amid great applause from a waiting crowd, Coxey and his lieutenants are arrested for trespassing on the grass. The 'army' melts away."
Dictionary of American Biography, supplement V (1977), pp. 139-141:
COXEY, JACOB SECHLER (Apr. 16, 1854-May 18, 1951). businessman, perennial monetary reformer, and leader of "Coxey's Army " of the unemployed, was born in a log house in Selinsgrove, Pa, north of Harrisburg, the son of Thomas Coxey, a sawmill engineer, and Mary Sechler Coxey.... At sixteen he went to work in a local iron mill and advanced to stationary engineer. He left in 1878 to go into the scrap-iron business and three years latter settled in Massillon, Ohio, where he bought a sandstone quarrey and founded a company providing silica sand to iron and steel mills....
A Democrat by heritage, Coxey had turned in 1877 to the Greenback party, the start of a lifelong devotion to the goal of a non-metal-based legal-tender currency. His active pursuit of that goal began in the depressed 1890's. Taking his cue from the adherents of the new sport of bicycling... Coxey proposed a federal road-building program, financed by $500 million in new greenbacks, to give work to the unemployed.... A second... proposal [was for state public works programs financed by interest-free federal loans].
Coxey's initial efforts to publicize his plans met with scant success.... Coxey lacked eloquence or charisma. He found those qualities in an ally whom he met at a free-silver meeting in Chicago in 1893 -- Carl Brown... who affected the dress and style of Buffalo Bill. It was Brown who conceived the idea of a "petition in boots," a march of jobless men to Washington to seek enactment of Coxey's two proposals....
The march had been well publicized, and Coxey hoped for a turnout of thousands, but only about a hundred workers and farmers set out on a cold Easter Sunday (Mar. 25, 1894), accompanied by some forty newspaper reporters.... Officially the 'Commonweal of Christ," the group was dubbed by the newspapers "Coxey's Army," with Coxey as "General," a title he carried for the rest of his life. The marchers covered about fifteen miles a day and slept at night on straw under a small circus tent (Coxey and Browne put up at hotels).... [T]he men relied mainly on donated food, sometimes from nervous local authorities eager to speed them on their way....
Other "industial armies"... were also headed for Washington.... Their militancy, combined with contemporary fears of the tramp, contributed to the tense reaction in Washington when Coxey and his followers marched toward the Capitol on ay 1. Leaving his men peaceably in rank outside the grounds, Coxey and two of his lieutenants made their way to the Capitol steps, where Coxey sought to speak. The three were arrested, sentenced to twenty days in jail for carrying "banners" (Coxey's a mere badge on his lpel), and faind for walking on the grass....
Coxey's good-roads bill, introduced by Populist Senator William a. Peffer [of Kansas], progressed no farther than an adverse committee report....
For the rest of his long life Coxey combined business affairs with periodic new attempts to promote currency expansion through non-interest-bearing bonds....
[Coxey lived to see the New Deal enacted, containing many of his ideas, but by then he was largely forgotten. He did manage to be elected mayor of Massillon in 1931, but he was dropped in 1933. A quixotic presidential run on the Farmer-Labor ticked in 1932 went nowhere.] - RBW
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