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Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition Hardcover – December 16, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1St Edition edition (December 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520227131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520227132
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,709,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ever since Coxey's Army brazenly (so it seemed at the time) marched on Washington in 1894, millions of Americans have pushed into the capital to build support for a cause, register protest or attempt to influence federal legislation. Demonstrators naturally adopted a wide variety of styles: thousands of women activists in 1913 staged a silent, "beautiful and dignified" pageant for women's suffrage; Vietnam War veterans in 1971 performed mock search-and-destroy missions on Pennsylvania Avenue; and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. uplifted hundreds of thousands of marchers in 1963 with his "I Have a Dream" speech. Barber, archivist for the California State Archives, attends closely to the definition of success for these high-profile marches. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, for example, may have been massive, peaceful and orderly, with extensive media coverage and an unforgettable speech, but Barber notes that the march yielded no immediate legislative gains. That kind of critical analysis elevates this book from a mere historical chronicle to a more analytical account of marching as a form of political action and enduring change. Barber examines six notable marches, with special attention to the activists and organizers, politicians and public officials, and, finally, journalists and the general public. In her conclusion, Barber asks: "What political purposes do these protests serve now that they have become so pervasive? To what degree are they effective?" Although she does not have answers to those questions, her historical perspective on the successes and failures of previous marches provides a useful starting point. 33 b&w photos, 4 maps.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

With antiwar marchers once again filling the streets of Washington, DC, this selective history of past protest marches is both timely and illuminating. Barber (California State Archives) looks at the phenomenon of the protest march on two levels: generally, as a strategic use of citizenship, and specifically, taking six influential marches as case studies. The marches she analyzes and describes include Coxey's Army (1894), the Woman Suffrage Procession (1913), the Veterans' Bonus March (1932), the aborted Negro March on Washington (1941), the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), and the antiwar Spring Offensive (1971). In each case, the organizational strategies, in-fighting, and decision making provide fascinating reading-as do the responses from the administrations in power at the time. In an epilog, Barber presents a brief overview of recent marches and causes. Her research is impressive (she is, after all, a librarian!): 65 pages of detailed notes followed by a ten-page bibliographical essay. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.
Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Sweet on February 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is fantastic. Barber tells great stories. The book focuses on five different marches from the last century, and each of them is fascinating and surprising. What she shows is how these dramatic events helped make marching an American political tradition. Her analysis of how everyone became obsessed with numbers is truly revealing. At a time like the present, everyone should read this book to understand both the power--and the limits of marching--as a political strategy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jersey Kid on November 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
For those of us born in the latter half of the 20th Century, large demonstrations in our nation's capital are common-place. The first item that leapt out from Ms. Lucy Barber's Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition was the fact that this right was not available until the last few years of the 19th Century!

It began with the so-called Coxey's Army march in 1894. No more than 500 demonstrators sought to access The Capital grounds to voice their demands for government-sponsored work projects. As doing so was against the law at the time, the leaders were arrested and the followers dispersed. The book then goes on to describe similar, ever larger events: The 1913 Women Suffrage Parade and Pageant; the 1932 Bonus Army March; the cancelled 1941 Negro March on Washington; the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the 1971 Spring Offensive.

All the actions are covered using an absolutely perfect format that entails describing the purpose, the people, the plan, the program and the aftermath of each event. But, the true value in Barber's work lies not in her detailed descriptions of the events, but rather its understanding and narration of the human condition that lead - in more cases than not - one individual to conceive, organize and execute the plan of action. It is in this aspect that the book reaches a transcendent level of explanation.

We learn of Walter Waters and his quest to aid those suffering from the Depression by obtaining the - for the time - grandiose sum of $1000 for veterans of World War One. After the request was rejected by the US Senate, his followers, known as the Bonus Army, were driven out of their encampment by armed troops using tear gas.
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