Jerry Prout wrote his dissertation on Jacob Coxey, a wealthy Ohio businessman and entrepreneur who, in 1894, led "Coxey's Army" in a march on Washington. 1894 was marked by severe economic depression and extremely high unemployment. Coxey proposed the "Good Roads Program," which called for federally funded road construction to ease unemployment and facilitate commerce. To publicize his plan, he set out from Ohio with an "army" of followers, who would walk to Washington, "a petition in boots," and deliver the proposal to Congress. The march was sensational news and was widely covered in newspapers and magazines. The Secret Service sent multiple agents to infiltrate the marchers. His book represents the first serious reconsideration of Coxey in many years, and emphasizes the role of the press in revising Americans' attitudes about mass unemployment.
Since he received his PhD from George Mason, Prout has retired from his position as vice president of government and public affairs for FMC Corporation,and has been teaching political economy at Marquette University where he is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. His classes on US capitalism join his practical experience for 40 years as a lobbyist, with his academic experience that concentrate on the Gilded Age. His new research focuses on the role played by six prominent American historians during the tumultuous 1960's. For this project he is currently auditing a class by Professor Zachary Schrag on the Post War US.
January 21, 2016