Jacob Sechler Coxey

Jacob Sechler Coxey

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Coxey, Jacob Sechler, 1854-1951, American social reformer, b. Selinsgrove, Pa. He began his career as a stationary engineer, later turning to the scrap-iron business and then to sandstone quarrying in Massillon, Ohio. Interested in the problem of the unemployed, he advocated public works, financed by fiat money, as a remedy. He was Republican mayor (1931-33) of Massillon but was an unsuccessful candidate for many major public offices, including the presidency in 1932 and 1936. He was most famous, however, as the leader of Coxey's Army, a band of jobless men who marched to Washington, D.C., following the Panic of 1893, to petition Congress for measures that they hoped would relieve unemployment and distress. Coxey was aided by Carl Browne, a skilled agitator with curious religious notions. By wide advertising Coxey gathered more than 100 men and left Massillon with them on Easter Sunday, 1894, intending to reach Washington for a May Day demonstration. The "army," named the Commonweal of Christ by Browne, was met by crowds in every city through which it passed. It had an anticlimactic and ineffectual ending when, reaching Washington with c.500 men instead of the proclaimed 100,000, its leaders were arrested for walking on the Capitol lawn. Coxey's was only one of several industrial "armies" that in those months started from different sections of the country for the capital.

See D. L. McMurry, Coxey's Army (1929, repr. 1970).

Jacob Sechler Coxey Sr. (also Jacob Coxey or Jacob S. Coxey; sometimes known as General Coxey) (born April 16, 1854 in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania; died May 18, 1951) of Massillon, Ohio, was a socialist American politician, who ran for elective office several times in Ohio.

He had a son appropriately named Legal Tender Coxey.

He twice led Coxey's Army (in 1894 and 1914), bands of unemployed men, on marches from Massillon to Washington, D.C. to demand that the United States Congress appropriate money to create jobs for the unemployed. Coxey believed that the government should print unbacked paper money, or greenbacks, in order to finance public works projects. This idea was greeted with ridicule for the most part, but would have been praised by those of the New Deal era.

Coxey ran as the nominee of the Greenback Party in 1885 for a seat in the Ohio State Senate but lost in his first attempt at public office.

In 1894, he was nominated by the People's Party for the 18th district seat. In 1895 and 1897, the People's party nominated Coxey for Governor of Ohio.

In the 1916 election, Coxey unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the United States Senate.

Coxey ran as an independent in the 18th District again in 1922, against incumbent Republican B. Franklin Murphy and lost.

In 1924, Coxey ran against Democratic incumbent John McSweeney in the 16th District, losing again.

In the 1926 primary election, Coxey ran for the Republican Party's nomination for the 16th District seat and lost.

In the 1928 primary, Coxey again tried unsuccessfully to get the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. In the general election, he ran as an independent against McSweeney again (who lost his seat to the Republican challenger Charles B. McClintock). That same year he also received two votes in the race for Frank Murphy's seat. He also ran for President that year as the candidate of the Interracial Independent Political Party with Simon P. W. Drew as his running mate.

In the 1930, 1932, and 1934 primaries, Coxey again lost the contest to be the Republican nominee in the 16th district.

Coxey served as mayor of Massillon from 1931 to 1933 as a Republican but was defeated in the 1933 Republican primary.

In 1932, Coxey unsuccessfully ran for the office of President of the United States on the ticket of the United States Farmer-Labor Party.

In 1936, Coxey ran again, against Democratic incumbent William R. Thom, the successor to McSweeney and McClintock, this time under the banner of the Union Party, and again losing.

In the 1938 and 1942 primaries, Coxey contested for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 16th District and lost.

In the 1941 primaries, Coxey unsuccessfully tried to get the Democratic nomination for mayor of Massillon. The Democratic party nominated him in 1943, but he lost in the general election.

Although his march failed, Coxey's Army was a harbinger of an issue that would rise to prominence as unemployment insurance would become a key element in the future Social Security Act.

Jacob Coxey Sr. despite representing a Socialist platform in many ways was a devout capitalist, going as far as to name his first son Legal Tender.

See also

Jacob S. Coxey was ironic so he named his child Legal Tender Coxey.

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