Coxey, Jacob

Coxey, Jacob (Sechler)

(1854–1951) businessman, monetary reformer; born in Selinsgrove, Pa. Owner of a silica sand company in Massillon, Ohio (1878–1951), he sought to promote non-metal-based legal-tender currency. In the 1890s he championed make-work projects for the unemployed, to be financed by "greenbacks." Inspired by Carl Browne, a sideshow medicine man who injected the theme of reincarnation of souls into the crusade, Coxey marshaled a group of 100 unemployed to march on Washington to raise awareness of the greenback issue (1894). Numbering 500 by the time it reached Washington, "Coxey's army" was allowed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, but not to the Capitol itself. Coxey made a dash for the Capitol steps and was seized; he was sentenced to 20 days in jail. Between 1894 and 1943 he constantly ran for major offices, from the Ohio governorship to president of the U.S.A.; the only office he held was mayor of Massillon, Ohio (1932–34).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.