When Jacob Coxey's army marched into Washington, D.C., in 1894, observers didn't know what to make of this concerted effort by citizens to use the capital for national public protest. By 1971, however, when thousands marched to protest the war in Vietnam, what had once been outside the political order had become an American political norm. Lucy G. Barber's lively, erudite history explains just how this tactic achieved its transformation from unacceptable to legitimate. Barber shows how such highly visible events contributed to the development of a broader and more inclusive view of citizenship and transformed the capital from the exclusive domain of politicians and officials into a national stage for Americans to participate directly in national politics.
Lucy G. Barber is Director for Technology Initiatives, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, National Archives. She has taught United States history at the University of California, Davis; Rhode Island School of Design; and Brown University.
“Barber reconstructs [the tradition of marching on Washington] through a series of engaging, well-researched and well-crafted chapters. . . . A careful storyteller, Barber impressively combines a keen eye for fascinating narrative detail with informed historical analysis in her mini-case studies to how that the path toward acceptance of this kind of protest was not easy. She shows that protest was not simply about exercising a constitutional right or the forceful presentation of demands. It also evolved as a kind of theater whose performance -- that is, dramatic timeing, message and script, and acting -- greatly influenced its reception by the public and the powers that be.”—Chicago Tribune Book Review
“Barber should be commended for the elegance and provocative nature of the volume, which adds tremendous depth to our understanding of public opinion communication in the U.S.”—Susan Herbst American Historical Review
“This is a beautifully written book and a pleasure to read.”—Elizabeth (Betsy) Reid Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Qtly
"Beautifully written. Lucy G. Barber has taken different stories and woven them together so that each builds into a larger narrative about the history of political protest. By looking across a series of marches, Barber explores issues that escape more focused studies, such as the development of marching on Washington as a political strategy, and the changing conception of Washington as a public space. The scope of the research and the author's craft in telling these stories sheds new light on important moments in American history."—Mary L. Dudziak, author of Cold War Civil Rights