During the 1893 financial panic, Jacob Coxey wrote a bill proposing that the federal government issue bonds for a national highway system to be built by the unemployed. To rouse support, he initiated a march of the unemployed to Washington, DC in 1894. “General” Coxey was jailed for trampling the Capitol lawn.
Although the arrest diluted the impact of the march, it remains significant as the nation’s first protest march. Coxey lived long enough to see the WPA program, the decline of the interest rate on public bonds, and the development of interstate highways.
The consummate campaigner, Coxey ran for office eleven times (including President) on six different tickets, but was elected only once–as Massillon’s mayor in 1931.