The Mayor of Shantytown: The Life of Father James Renshaw Cox
Father James R. Cox became the voice of Pittsburgh’s poor and jobless during the worst years of the Great Depression. Long lines of needy people were showing up daily at St. Patrick’s Church in the city’s historic Strip District but Cox turned no one away. He served more than two million meals to the hungry and was the “mayor” of a shantytown of homeless men.
In 1932, Cox led one of the first mass marches on Washington, D.C., confronting President Herbert Hoover in a face-to-face White House meeting. He later ran for president himself on the Jobless Party ticket—a quixotic campaign that ended in the deserts of New Mexico. Father Cox’s reputation as a humanitarian was ruined after he barely escaped a mail fraud conviction for running a rigged fundraising contest.