Green River plays special role in history’s first ever political march on Washington D.C.

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Under guard by federal troops, Coxeyites boarding the train in Green River for the return to Idaho to stand trial. (Photo courtesy of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.)

Wyo4News Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

GREEN RIVER, WYOMING (June 5, 2022) — A little-known chapter of Sweetwater County history is the subject of a new article at WyoHistory.org, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum said in a special release on Saturday.

“The Wyoming March of Coxey’s Army,” by Brigida (Brie) Blasi of the University of Wyoming’s  American Heritage Center and the museum’s former Executive Director, is the story of the movement/protest that came to be known as “Coxey’s Army,” named for its leader, an Ohio businessman and labor activist named Jacob Coxey.

By spring 1894, the four-year nationwide economic depression that became known as the Panic of 1893 was well underway. Unemployment was extremely high, and many protesting workers from around the country, loosely organized by Coxey and others, began traveling east by rail in what would become the first political march on Washington, D.C.

Most “Coxeyites” were peaceful and often welcomed by sympathizers as they traveled, but others were not. One contingent, numbering about 250, stole a train in Montpelier, Idaho, and wound up in Green River in May of 1894, where they were detained under guard in a tent camp by U.S. Marshal Joe Rankin and local law enforcement volunteers until troops could arrive to escort them back to Idaho, where all were found guilty and given minor sentences.

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Coxey himself made it to Washington, but his demands that the federal government assists workers by employing them in public works projects were refused and he was arrested, and charged with trespassing on public property. When he was taken into custody, his “army’ dispersed.

WyoHistory.org, an outstanding resource in Wyoming history, is the online platform for the Wyoming State Historical Society. Blasi’s article can be found at

https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/wyoming-march-coxeys-army.

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and there is no charge for admission.

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