The Mayor of Shantytown

The Life of Father James Renshaw Cox


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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

Richard Gazarik has been a journalist in western Pennsylvania for more than 40 years. He lives near Pittsburgh.

Bibliographic Details

Richard Gazarik
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 33 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7339-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3384-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface: “Plump Little Priest” 1
Introduction: Cox’s Army 11
1. “A Town Big with Its Work” 15
2. Seminary Years 21
3. “Hell Was Not Made for Us” 31
4. “Metropolis of Corruption” 38
5. Celebrity Priest 45
6. Labor Priest 53
7. “God Help Us All” 61
8. The Mayor of Shantytown 68
9. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” 79
10. Washington or Bust 85
11. Invasion 93
12. The Bonus March 104
13. Cox for President 110
14. “No Weapons, No Grouches, No Liquor” 119
15. ­Shepherd-in-Chief 126
16. “Roo, Roo, Roosevelt” 134
17. Up in Smoke 139
18. The Trial 145
19. “A Hitler Hatchet Man” 150
20. Final Days 159
Appendix: The World According to Father Cox 167
Chapter Notes 179
Bibliography 199
Index 205