United States and American History: 1894

About the history of the United States in 1894, biography of William Hope Harvey, a Miner's strike, Coxey's Army.


--William Hope Harvey, lawyer, speculator, money crank, published a 152-page 25cent book entitled Coin's Financial School. This book, Review of Reviews editorialized, will "sway public opinion from the Alleghenies to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico."

It did. It sold 300,000 copies in a year, with later sales totaling 2 million. Through use of a character named Professor Coin--who is shown teaching bankers and merchants at his fictitious financial school why silver was a important as gold, and how silver and gold could remain at a fixed ratio to each other--Harvey converted William Jennings Bryan. Thereafter, Bryan ran for President as a free-silver advocate against McKinley, and lost. Author Harvey, himself, was the Liberty party candidate for President in 1932. He died in 1936.

--One hundred thirty-five blacks were lynched.

--Hugh Duffy, of the Boston National League baseball club, set an all-time single-season major league batting average, hitting .438. He won the batting championship twice.

Apr. 21 Approximately 125,000 miners from Tacoma, Wash., to Birmingham, Ala., to Springhill, Nova Scotia, joined a strike called by the 20,000-member United Mine Workers. This left no more than 24,000 bituminous miners still at work. At 1st, the strike was peaceful as strikers marched with brass bands to nonstriking mines. But when the mine operators tried to reopen with strikebreakers, violence erupted. Freight trains were captured and derailed, and bridges were burned. In Pennsylvania, strikers were shot dead. In Spring Valley and La Salle, Ill., strike leaders who had been arrested were liberated from jail by their fellow workers.

Coal shortages appeared in many parts of the country, and trains, Missouri River steamers, and St. Louis flour mills were forced to burn wood. But the strike was ultimately defeated because it did not become universal and because increased coal production in the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania and Virginia kept the nation's businesses going long enough to force the miners and their families to the brink of starvation.

May 1 Coxey's Army marched on Washington, D.C. In fall, 1893, in Massillon, O., Jacob Sechler Coxey, a Theosophist, Populist, horsebreeder, and owner of a sandstone quarry, announced a march on Washington by the unemployed. At 1st, the press treated it as a joke, but by spring of 1894, 20,000 "Coxeyites" were Washington-bound by a dozen routes. Hordes of laughing and singing tramps with no supplies begged their way across the West and Midwest where they were fed and encouraged to go on by sympathetic farmers. But the people of the East were more hostile, and most of the "army" fell away, leaving only 600 to march through Washington, D.C., to the Capitol where mounted police barred their way. Coxey was arrested for walking on the grass, jailed, and not allowed to speak.

June 13 W. E. B. DuBois became the 1st black person to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard.

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