Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 10: Yearning to Breathe Free
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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Coxey's Army
Segment 6
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Eighteen ninety-three was an awful year; 1894 was worse. Some 1,400 strikes were called. Workers were protesting low wages and poor working conditions. Then along came Jacob Coxey. See It Now - J.S. Coxey Behind the Bars He was a Civil War veteran, a farmer, a quarry owner, and a devout Christian. He thought the government should help its out-of-work citizens find jobs. So, in 1894—when things had gotten really bad—he marched an army of See It Now - Coxey's Army unemployed men from Massillon, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. Democratic President Grover Cleveland See It Now - Grover Cleveland refused to see them. The police arrested Coxey for walking on the grass outside the Capitol. Check The Source - Jacob Coxey's Speech The President ordered the National Guard to disperse the men who had led the nation's first protest march on Washington. See It Now - "General Coxey Escorted from the Capitol" An outraged newspaper, the Topeka Advocate, had this to say: "These men have as much right to go to Washington and demand justice at the hands of Congress as bankers, railroad magnates, and corporation lawyers have to go and lobby for measures by which to plunder the public."

That summer, the highly profitable Pullman Car Company cut workers' wages for the fifth time. See It Now - Crushing the Pullman Strike George Pullman's company made railroad sleeping cars in a town near Chicago. When the company cut wages, it didn't cut the fees it charged workers for rent, heat, and lights, or to use the company church. The workers were angry, and went on strike. See It Now - Pullman Railroad Workers on Strike Soon the strike spread to 50,000 workers throughout the railroad industry. Check The Source - "Father Knows Best?" Federal troops were sent to take action against the workers and the union, which led to violence, death, and arrests. Check The Source - George Pullman Answers His Critics

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Did You Know?
George Pullman did not claim to have invented the sleeping car, but he did claim to have invented "railroad comfort." Pullman car conductors and porters worked by a rule book, and company "spotters" strictly enforced the rules. After each run every car had all movable objects removed, and charwomen used soap and disinfectant to scrub the interior.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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