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An Army of Unemployed Camp in Davis

John Lofland tels how 2000 hungry people came and demanded food

Submitted by:  John Lofland, 10/16/2006
This entry relates to the past
Category(ies) of this entry:  Old Davis, Army

In 1913 and 1914, unemployment in America reached a scale such some of the unemployed began to conceive themselves as an “unemployed army.” In California, what was called the Thorne division of this army began to travel east to the national capital. Wednesday, March 18, 1914 some two thousand of them arrived by train in Davis and camped in the cattle yards along the east side of the tracks north of third street. At daylight on Thursday, they marched south and camped along the north side of Putah Creek, just south of town.

County Constable C. M. Ray visited the camp in the early morning and reported back that they were hungry and food should be collected to feed them.  He solicited food of the business establishment but with little success.

On being told this, at about 10:30 that morning, “the army decided to march into town in a body and demand food . . .  First up the main street, where a halt was called and . . .  [foraging] committees went forth with burlap bags and continued the canvas for some time . . . gathering quite an amount of eatables but not enough for a square meal" (DE, March 21, 1914).

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