Haymarket Bombing

Haymarket Bombing

On 1st May, 1886 a strike was began throughout the United States in support a eight-hour day. Over the next few days over 340,000 men and women withdrew their labor. Over a quarter of these strikers were from Chicago and the employers were so shocked by this show of unity that 45,000 workers in the city were immediately granted a shorter workday.

The campaign for the eight-hour day was organised by the International Working Men's Association (the First International). On 3rd May, the IWPA in Chicago held a rally outside the McCormick Harvester Works, where 1,400 workers were on strike. They were joined by 6,000 lumber-shovers, who had also withdrawn their labour. While August Spies, one of the leaders of the IWPA was making a speech, the police arrived and opened-fire on the crowd, killing four of the workers.

The following day August Spies, who was editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, published a leaflet in English and German entitled: Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!. It included the passage: "They killed the poor wretches because they, like you, had the courage to disobey the supreme will of your bosses. They killed them to show you 'Free American Citizens' that you must be satisfied with whatever your bosses condescend to allow you, or you will get killed. If you are men, if you are the sons of your grand sires, who have shed their blood to free you, then you will rise in your might, Hercules, and destroy the hideous monster that seeks to destroy you. To arms we call you, to arms." Spies also published a second leaflet calling for a mass protest at Haymarket Square that evening.

On 4th May, over 3,000 people turned up at the Haymarket meeting. Speeches were made by August Spies, Albert Parsons and Samuel Fielden. At 10 a.m. Captain John Bonfield and 180 policemen arrived on the scene. Bonfield was telling the crowd to "disperse immediately and peaceably" when someone threw a bomb into the police ranks from one of the alleys that led into the square. It exploded killing eight men and wounding sixty-seven others. The police then immediately attacked the crowd. A number of people were killed (the exact number was never disclosed) and over 200 were badly injured.

Several people identified Rudolph Schnaubelt as the man who threw the bomb. He was arrested but was later released without charge. It was later claimed that Schnaubelt was an agent provocateur in the pay of the authorities. After the release of Schnaubelt, the police arrested Samuel Fielden, an Englishman, and six German immigrants, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab. The police also sought Albert Parsons, the leader of the International Working Peoples Association in Chicago, but he went into hiding and was able to avoid capture. However, on the morning of the trial, Parsons arrived in court to standby his comrades.

There were plenty of witnesses who were able to prove that none of the eight men threw the bomb. The authorities therefore decided to charge them with conspiracy to commit murder. The prosecution case was that these men had made speeches and written articles that had encouraged the unnamed man at the Haymarket to throw the bomb at the police.

The jury was chosen by a special bailiff instead of being selected at random. One of those picked was a relative of one of the police victims. Julius Grinnell, the State's Attorney, told the jury: "Convict these men make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions."

At the trial it emerged that Andrew Johnson, a detective from the Pinkerton Agency, had infiltrated the group and had been collecting evidence about the men. Johnson claimed that at anarchist meetings these men had talked about using violence. Reporters who had also attended International Working Peoples Association meetings also testified that the defendants had talked about using force to "overthrow the system".

During the trial the judge allowed the jury to read speeches and articles by the defendants where they had argued in favour of using violence to obtain political change. The judge then told the jury that if they believed, from the evidence, that these speeches and articles contributed toward the throwing of the bomb, they were justified in finding the defendants guilty.

All the men were found guilty: Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg and George Engel were given the death penalty. Whereas Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 10th November, 1887, Lingg committed suicide by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth. The following day Parsons, Spies, Fisher and Engel mounted the gallows. As the noose was placed around his neck, Spies shouted out: "There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."

Many people believed that the men had not been given a fair trial and in 1893, John Peter Altgeld, the new governor of Illinois, pardoned Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab. Altgeld argued: "It is further shown here that much of the evidence given at the trial was a pure fabrication; that some of the prominent police officials, in their zeal, not only terrorized ignorant men by throwing them into prison and threatening them with torture if they refused to swear to anything desired but that they offered money and employment to those who would consent to do this. Further, that they deliberately planned to have fictitious conspiracies formed in order that they might get the glory of discovering them."

David Roediger has argued: "Haymarket's bomb echoed long and deep. The explosion and ensuing repression decimated the anarchist labor movement, though the martyred defendants became heroes to many and inspired countless individual conversions to anarchism and to socialism... The pardons ruined Altgeld's promising political career. The tactic of the mass strike was far less appealing to pragmatic U.S. labor leaders after Haymarket, and the idea of self-defense by labor never again received so broad a hearing on the national scale."

The eight hour system of labor had been agitated for some time, and the first of May, 1886, was the time set for it to go into effect by all the trade and labor unions. It was suspected by many that the insubordinate element of socialists and anarchists would take advantage of the already fermented state of the working classes, to make a bold stand to revolutionize and demoralize, by their treasonable and inflammatory speeches, the otherwise peaceful and respectable citizens of Chicago.

The McCormick reaper works, with over one thousand employees, mostly foreigners, had been out on a strike for several weeks, and being at fever heat the anarchists sought to produce a riot among these turbulent men. The troublesome element consisted largely of the ignorant lower classes of Bavarians, Bohemians, Hungarians, Germans, Austrians, and others who held secret meetings in organized groups armed and equipped like the nihilists of Russia, and the communists of France.

If we do not soon bestir ourselves for a bloody revolution, we cannot leave anything to our children but poverty and slavery. Therefore, prepare yourselves! In all quietness, prepare yourselves for the Revolution!

On May 3 everything was done that could be done to arouse the people to anarchy. The conspiracy was so large, the numbers so appalling, that it seems impossible to describe it. The men who have incited this bloodshed have been picked out and should be blotted out. In breaking up the meeting Inspector Bonfield did the wisest thing he could have done. If he had waited until the next night the Socialist would have gained strength, and hundreds would have been killed instead of the seven that did fall. The action was the wisest thing ever done in this city. The courage and strength of the police saved the town. The inflammatory speeches of these people decided Inspector Bonfield that the meeting should be broken up.

Captain Ward alone of all those policemen had a revolver in his hand. He stepped forward in the usual manner, and ordered the people to disperse. At this command Fielden stepped from the wagon and said in a loud voice: "We are peaceable." At this remark, as though it was some secret signal, a man who had before been on the wagon, taking a bomb from his pocket, lit the fuse and threw it into the ranks of the police. Fielden, standing behind the wagon, opened fire and kept it up for several minutes, when he in turn disappeared. Fielden was the only one of all the men who had a spark of heroism in him. The action of the police cannot be too highly commended. Not a shot was fired by them until many of their comrades had fallen.

I will try and show to you who threw the bomb, and I will prove to your satisfaction that Lingg made it. There are a great many counts in this case, but murder is the main one. It is not necessary to bring the bomb-thrower into the court. Though none of these men, perhaps, threw the bomb personally, they aided and abetted the throwing of it, and are as responsible as the actual thrower."

A man named Bishop introduced a resolution of sympathy for a girl named Sorell. Bishop stated that the girl had been assaulted by her master. She had applied for a warrant, which had been refused her on account of the high social standing of her master. August Spies said: "What is the use of passing resolutions? We must act, and revenge the girl. Here is a fine opportunity for some of our young men to go and shoot Wight." That was the man who had assaulted the girl.

Now, gentlemen, I desire to call your attention to what these defendants on trial are charged with. They are not charged with Anarchy; they are not charged with Socialism; they are not charged with the fact that Anarchy and Socialism is dangerous or beneficial to the community; but, according to the law under which we are now acting, a charge specific in its nature must be made against them, and that alone, must be sustained, and it is the duty of the jury to weigh the evidence as it bears upon that charge; an upon no other point can they pay attention to it. Now, gentlemen, the charge here is shown by this indictment.

The section of the law under which this indictment is framed is as follows: Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being in the peace of the people with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied. The unlawful killing may be perpetrated by poisoning, striking, stabbing, shooting, etc., or by any other of the various forms or means by which human nature may be overcome and death thereby occasioned. Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow-creature, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied when no considerable provocation appears, or when all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

It is not enough to warrant the conviction of the defendant Lingg that he may have manufactured the bomb, the explosion of which killed Mathias J. Degan. He must have aided, abetted or advised the exploding of the bomb, or of the doing of some illegal act, or the doing of the legal act in an unlawful manner, in the furtherance of which, and as incident thereto, the same was exploded and said Degan killed. If, as to the defendant Lingg the jury should find beyond all reasonable doubt that he did in fact manufacture said bomb, but are not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that he aided, advised, counseled or abetted the throwing of said missile, or the doing of any unlawful act which resulted in the explosion of said bomb, your verdict should acquit him as far as the establishment of his guilt is attempted by the manufacture of said missile or bomb.

Whatever may be our criticism upon the matter of manufacturing dynamite bombs for any purpose, there is no law within this State which makes the mere manufacture of such missiles a crime punishable by death or otherwise. Louis Lingg could not have been convicted of murder because of all this matter detailed by Seilger and his wife and Lehman, even if it were clear that the bomb thrown at Haymarket had come from his hands, if it had been thrown by a third party acting upon his own responsibility an without Lingg's knowledge, consent, aid , assistance, advice or encouragement.

The labor question is up for settlement. It demands and commands a hearing. The existing disorders threaten not only the peace, but the destruction of society itself. The movement to reduce the work hours is intended by its projectors to give a peaceful solution to the difficulties between capitalists and laborers. I have always held that there were two ways to settle this trouble-either by peaceable or violent methods. Reduced hours- or eight hours - is a peace-offering. It is for capitalists to give or laborers to take. I hold that capitalists will not give eight hours. Why? Because the rate of wages in every wage-paying country is regulated by what it takes to live on; in other words, it is subsistence wages. This subsistence wage is what political economists call the 'iron law of wages', because it is unvarying and inviolable. How does this law operate? In this way: A laborer is hired to do a day's work. In the first two hours of the ten he reproduces the equivalent of his wage; the other eight hours is what the employer gets and gets for nothing. Hence the laborer, as the statistics of the census of 1880 show, does ten work for two hours pay. Now, reduced hours, or eight hours, means that the profit monger is to get only six hours instead of, as now, eight hours for nothing. For this reason employers of labor will not voluntarily concede the reduction. I do not believe that capital will quietly or peaceably permit the economic emancipation of their wage-slaves. It is against all the teachings of history and human nature for men to voluntarily yield up usurped or arbitrary power. The capitalists of the world will for this reason force the workers into armed revolution. Socialists point out this fact and warn the workingmen to prepare for the inevitable.

The contemplated murder of eight men, whose only crime is that they have dared to speak the truth, may open the eyes of these suffering millions; may wake them up. Indeed, I have noticed that our conviction has worked miracles in this direction already. The class that clamors for our lives, the good, devout Christians, have attempted in every way, through their newspapers and otherwise, to conceal the true and only issue in this case. By simply designating the defendants as anarchists and picturing them as a newly discovered tribe or species of cannibals, and by inventing shocking and horrifying stories of dark conspiracies said to be planned by them, these good Christians zealously sought to keep the naked fact from the working people and other righteous parties, namely: that on the evening on May 4, 200 armed men, under the command of a notorious ruffian, attacked a meeting of peaceable citizens! With what intention? With the intention of murdering them, or as many of them as they could.

When I left Germany in the year 1873 it was by reason of my recognition of the fact that I could not support myself in the future as it was the duty of a man to do. I recognized that I could not make my living in Germany because the machinery of the guilds of old no longer furnished me a guarantee to live. I resolved to emigrate from Germany to the United States, praised by many so highly.

When I landed in Philadelphia, on the 8th January, 1873, my heart and my bosom expanded with the expectation of living hereafter in that free country which had been so often praised to me by so many emigrants, and I resolved to be a good citizen of this country; and I congratulated myself on having broken with Germany.

For the first time I stand before an American court, and at that to be at once condemned to death. And what are the causes that have preceded it, and have brought me into court? They are the same things that preceded my leaving Germany, and the same causes that made me leave. I have seen with my own eyes that in this free country, in this richest country in the world, so to say, there are existing proletarians who are pushed out of the order of society.

My ancestors came to this country a good while ago. My friend Oscar Neebe here is the descendant of a Pennsylvania Dutchman. He and I are the only two who had fortune, or the misfortune, as some people may look at it I don't know and I don't care-to be born in this country. My ancestors had a hand in drawing up and maintaining the Declaration of Independence. My great great grand-uncle lost a hand at the Battle of Bunker Hill. I had a great great great grand-uncle with Washington at Brandywine, Monmouth and Valley Forge. I have been here long enough, I think, to have rights guaranteed at least in the constitution of the country.

Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellowman. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.

We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day.

There was no evidence that any one of the eight doomed men knew of, or advised, or abetted the Haymarket tragedy. But what does that matter? The privileged class demands a victim, and we are offered a sacrifice to appease the hungry yells of an infuriated mob of millionaires who will be contented with nothing less than our lives. Monopoly triumphs! Labor in chains ascends the scaffold for having dared to cry out for liberty and right!

Well, my poor, dear wife, I, personally, feel sorry for you and the helpless little babes of our loins.

You I bequeath to the people, a woman of the people. I have one request to make of you: Commit no rash act to yourself when I am gone, but take up the great cause of Socialism where I am compelled to lay it down.

My children - well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage slavery and poverty. Bless them; I love them unspeakably, my poor helpless little ones.

Ah, wife, living or dead, we are as one. For you my affection is everlasting. For the people. Humanity. I cry out again and again in the doomed victim's cell: Liberty! Justice! Equality!

During our trial the desire of the prosecutor to slaughter me, and to let my co-defendants off with milder punishment was quite apparent and manifest. It seemed to me then, and a great many of others, that the persecutors would be satisfied with one life - namely mine. Take this, then! Take my life! I offer it to you so that you may satisfy the fury of a semi-barbaric mob, and save that of my comrades. I know that every one of my comrades is as willing to die, and perhaps more so than I am. It is not for their sake that I make this offer, but in the name of humanity and progress, in the interest of a peaceable - if possible - development of the social forces that are destined to lift our race upon a higher and better plane of civilization. In the name of the traditions of our country I beg you to prevent a seven-fold murder upon men whose only crime is that they are idealists, that they long for a better future for all. If legal murder there must be, let one, let mine, suffice.

Seldom, if ever, have four men died more gamely and defiantly than the four who were strangled today. Every eye was bent upon the metallic angle around which the four wretched victims were expected to make their appearance. A moment later their curiosity was rewarded. With steady, unfaltering step a white-robed figure stepped out from behind the protecting metallic screen and stood upon the drop. It was August Spies. It was evident that his hands were firmly bound behind him underneath his snowy shroud.

He walked with a firm, almost stately tread across the platform and took his stand under the left-hand noose at the corner of the scaffold farthest from the side at which he had entered. Very pale was the expressive face, and a solemn, far-away light shone in his blue eyes. Nothing could be imagined more melancholy, and at the same time dignified, than the expression which sat upon the face of August Spies at that moment.

Spies had scarcely taken his place on the scaffold when his place when he was followed by Fischer. He, too, was clad in a long white shroud that was gathered in at the ankles. His tall figure towered several inches over that of Spies, and as he stationed himself behind his particular noose his face was very pale, but a faint smile rested upon his lips.

Next came George Engel. There was a ruddy glow upon the rugged countenance of the old anarchist, and when he ranged himself alongside Fischer he raised himself to his full height, while his burly form seemed to expand with the feelings that were within him. Engel smiled down at the crowd, and then turning to Deputy Peters, who guarded him, he smiled gratefully toward him and whispered something to the officer that seemed to affect him.

Last came Parsons. His face looked actually handsome, though it was very pale. When he stepped upon the gallows he turned partially sideways to the dangling noose and regarded it with a fixed, stony gaze - one of mingled surprise and curiosity. Then he straightened himself under the fourth noose, and, as he did so, he turned his big gray eyes upon the crowd below with such as look of awful reproach and sadness as could not fail to strike the innermost chord of the hardest heart there. It was a look never to be forgotten. There was an expression almost of inspiration on the white, calm face, and the great, stony eyes seemed to burn into men's hearts and ask: "What have I done?"

The four men stood upon the scaffold clad from top to toe in pure white. For an instant there was a dead silence, and then a mournful solemn voice sounded from behind the right-hand mask, and cut the air like a wail of sorrow and warning. Spies was speaking from behind his shroud. The words seemed to drop into the cold, silent air like pellets of fire. Here is what he said: "There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."

A meeting was called for Haymarket Square on the evening of May 4, and about three thousand persons assembled. It was a quiet meeting, and as storm clouds gathered and the hour grew late, the crowd dwindled to a few hundred. A detachment of 180 policemen showed up, advanced on the speakers' platform, ordered the crowd to disperse. The speaker said the meeting was almost over. A bomb then exploded in the midst of the police, wounding sixty-six policemen, of whom seven later died. The police fired into the crowd, killing several people, wounding two hundred.

With no evidence on who threw the bomb, the police arrested eight anarchist leaders in Chicago. The Chicago Journal said: "Justice should be prompt in dealing with the arrested anarchists. The law regarding accessories to crime in this State is so plain that their trials will be short." Illinois law said that anyone inciting a murder was guilty of that murder. The evidence against the eight anarchists was their ideas, their literature; none had been at Haymarket that day except

Fielden, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty, and they were sentenced to death. Their appeals were denied; the Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction.

The event aroused international excitement. Meetings took place in France, Holland, Russia, Italy, Spain. In London a meeting of protest was sponsored by George Bernard Shaw, William Morris, and Peter Kropotkin, among others. Shaw had responded in his characteristic way to the turning down of an appeal by the eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court: "If the world must lose eight of its people, it can better afford to lose the eight members of the Illinois Supreme

Court."

On 1st May, 1886, a number of laboring men, standing not on the street but on a vacant lot, were quietly discussing the situation in regard to the movement (attempts to secure an eight-hour day), when suddenly a large body of police, under orders from Bonfield, charged on them and began to club them; that some of the men, angered at the unprovoked assault, at first resisted but were soon dispersed; that some of the police fired on the men while they were running and wounded a large number who were running as fast as they could; that at least four of the number so shot down died; and this was wanton and unprovoked murder, but there was not even so much as an investigation.

While some men may tamely submit to being clubbed and seeing their brothers shot down, there are some who will resent it and will nurture a spirit of hatred and seek revenge for themselves, and the occurrences that preceded the Haymarket tragedy indicate that the bomb was thrown by someone who, instead of acting on the advice of anybody, who simply seeking personal revenge for having been clubbed, and the Captain Bonfield is the man who is really responsible for the death of the police officers.

It is further shown here that much of the evidence given at the trial was a pure fabrication; that some of the prominent police officials, in their zeal, not only terrorized ignorant men by throwing them into prison and threatening them with torture if they refused to swear to anything desired but that they offered money and employment to those who would consent to do this. Further, that they deliberately planned to have fictitious conspiracies formed in order that they might get the glory of discovering them.

I am convinced that it is clearly my duty to act in this case for the reasons already given; and I, therefore, grant an absolute pardon to Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab, this 26th day of June, 1893.

He knew the cost to him; he had just come to the governorship of his state, and to the leadership of his party, after its thirty years of defeat, and he realized what powerful interests would be frightened and offended if he were to turn three forgotten men out of prison; he understood how partisanship would turn the action to its advantage. It mattered not that most of the thoughtful men in Illinois would tell you that the "anarchists" had been improperly convicted, that they were not only entirely innocent of the murder of which they had been accused, but were not even anarchists.

And so, one morning in June, very early, I was called to the governor's office, and told to make out pardons for Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab. I took them over to the governor's office. I was admitted to his private room, and there he sat, at his great flat desk. The only other person in the room was Dreier, a Chicago banker, who had never wearied, it seems, in his efforts to have these men pardoned.

The Governor took the big sheets of imitation parchment, glanced over them, signed his name to each, laid down the pen, and handed the papers across the table to Dreier. The banker took them, and began to say something. But he only got as far as "Governor, I hardly" when he broke down and wept.

I saw the Governor as I was walking to the Capitol the next morning. The Governor was riding his horse - he was a gallant horseman - and he bowed and smiled that faint, wan smile of his, and drew up to the curb a moment. I said: "Well, the storm will break now."

"Oh, yes," he replied, with a not wholly convincing air of throwing off a care, "I was prepared for that. It was merely doing right." I said something to him then to express my satisfaction in the great deed that was to be so willfully, recklessly, and cruelly misunderstood. I did not say all I might have said, for I felt that my opinions could mean so little to him. I have wished since that I had said more, said something that could perhaps have made a great burden a little easier for that brave and tortured soul. But he rode away with that wan, persistent smile. And the storm did break, and the abuse it rained upon him broke his heart.

The Eleventh of November has become a day of international importance, cherished in the hearts of all true lovers of Liberty as a day of martyrdom. On that day was offered to the gallows-tree martyrs as true to their ideal as ever were sacrificed in any age.... Our comrades were not murdered by the state because they had any connection with the bombthrowing, but because they were active in organizing the wage-slaves. The capitalist class didn't want to find the bombthrower; this class foolishly believed that by putting to death the active spirits of the labor movement of the time, it could frighten the working class back to slavery.

Parsons, Spies, Lingg, Fischer and Engel: Although all that is mortal of you is laid beneath that beautiful monument in Waldheim Cemetery, you are not dead. You are just beginning to live in the hearts of all true lovers of liberty. For now, after forty years that you are gone, thousands who were then unborn are eager to learn of your lives and heroic martyrdom, and as the years lengthen the brighter will shine your names, and the more you will come to be appreciated and loved.

Those who so foully murdered you, under the forms of law - lynch law - in a court of supposed justice, are forgotten.

Rest, comrades, rest. All the tomorrows are yours!


Haymarket Bombing - History

On May 4, 1886, a bomb went off amidst a group of policemen at a labor rally called by Albert Parsons and Samuel Feldman. The rally took place at the end of a peaceful four-day nationwide strike calling for an eight-hour work day. The bomb blast killed one policeman and wounded many more. This event discredited the labor movement.

In the aftermath of the Civil War the United States became more industrialized and more urbanized there was growing unrest with the long work days, and poor working conditions that the average worker had to endure. Chicago was a rapidly growing manufacturing center where thousands of immigrants worked. The average factory worker was earring $1.50 a day ( $40 in 2016 dollars) for a ten hour day and had to work six days a week. Chicago became a center of Union organizing. One of the main goals of the Union movement was to achieve an eight-hour day. May 1st was the target date to achieve that goal, which was not obtained. On May 1st strikes were held throughout the United States. Strikes continued throughout the country and those strikes led to violence on May 3 (1886) when there was a confrontation at the McCormick Harvesting Machine plant during which the police fired on the workers and two were killed. The next day workers called for a demonstration at Haymarket Square. A crowd of between 600 - 3,000 gathered at Haymarket Square, the rally was peaceful. At the end of the rally police entered the square and demanded that those in the square disperse. As the police entered a home made bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring six others. Shots were soon fired. It’s not clear who fired at who but by the end of evening seven policeman were dead as were 4 demonstrators. Many more were wounded.

Public opinion immediately turned against the Union organizers and eight people were arrested all involved in the anarchist movement. They were all charged with participation in a conspiracy, and convicted after what would be considered a show trial. Seven were sentenced to death and one to life in prison. The governor commuted two of the sentences to life in prison and a third committed suicide in prison. On November 11, 1887 the four remaining prisoners Engel, Fischer, Parsons and Spies were hung. None of those hung had actually threw the bomb and to this day it’s not known who threw the bomb.


American Labor on the Rise

American workers had begun organizing into unions following the Civil War, and by the 1880s many thousands were organized into unions, most notably the ​Knights of Labor.

In the spring of 1886 workers struck at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago, the factory that made farm equipment including the famous McCormick Reaper made by Cyrus McCormick. The workers on strike demanded an eight-hour workday, at a time when 60-hour workweeks were common. The company locked out the workers and hired strikebreakers, a common practice at the time.

On May 1, 1886, a large May Day parade was held in Chicago, and two days later, a protest outside the McCormick plant resulted in a person being killed.


May 4, 1886: Haymarket Tragedy

Portrait of 7 of the 8 Haymarket Martyrs from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

On May 4, 1886, a peaceful demonstration in Chicago for the eight-hour day ended in tragedy when the police barge in, and a bomb is thrown and explodes.

Although no one knew who threw the bomb, eight labor organizers, all known anarchists, were blamed and tried for conspiracy.

Despite there being no evidence tying the eight men to the bombing and the fact that several men were not even present at the demonstration that day, these men were singled-out for their political beliefs. Seven—Samuel Fielden, Albert Parsons, Louis Lingg, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel—were sentenced to death and one—Oscar Neebe—to 15 years in prison.

Labor activist Lucy Parsons led the campaign to win a new trial, one Chicago official called her “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.” When her husband Albert Parsons and three other comrades were executed, and four others were sentenced to prison, the movement for industrial unions and the eight-hour day was beheaded. Parsons, far from discouraged, accelerated her actions. Though she had lost Albert—and two years later lost her young daughter to illness—Parsons continued her crusade against capitalism and war, and to exonerate “the Haymarket Martyrs.” [This paragraph from “Lucy Parsons” by William Katz.]

Read a description of the Haymarket Affair by Howard Zinn in Commemorating Emma Goldman: ‘Living My Life.’ Justseeds offers an informational poster about Haymarket by Adam Fanucci.

Below are resources for teaching outside the textbook about Haymarket and labor, including a middle school book of historical fiction (Missing from Haymarket Square) and a collection of lessons on labor history (Power in Our Hands.)

Related Resources

The Power in Our Hands: A Curriculum on the History of Work and Workers in the United States

Teaching Guide. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 1988.
Role plays and writing activities project high school students into real-life situations to explore the history and contemporary reality of employment (and unemployment) in the U.S.

Missing from Haymarket Square

Book – Fiction. By Harriette Gillem Robinet. 2003.
Historical fiction chapter book on the Haymarket labor struggles and massacre.


THE HAYMARKET BOMBER

Maurer recalled that her late mother, Louise, once told her about the anarchist associates of her father, George Meng. Among them was a man named Rudolph, whom Louise, when she was a girl of 15, had seen hiding out at the Meng farm located in what is now the Hegewisch neighborhood on the Far Southeast Side.

''This was no doubt Rudolph Schnaubelt,'' Avrich said during a telephone interview.

So if Schnaubelt didn`t throw the bomb, he was no doubt present at the riot and apparently fled the scene with the man who did.

Schnaubelt`s name was more prominent than that of Meng in anarchist circles, and a month after the bombing police Supt. Frederick Ebersold issued a handwritten bulletin for Schnaubelt seeking his arrest for murder and inciting to riot.

The bulletin, which contained a photograph of the bearded suspect, read:

''Rudolph Schnaubelt, about 30 years of age, 6 feet high, 190 lbs. weight, slightly stooped (sic) shouldered, light brown hair, usually wears full light beard, but was shaved off when he left here, and wore light mustache.

''Depend more on photograph than above description. Works at making watchmakers tools.

''Schnaubelt was ane of the leading Anarchists who caused the riot and massacre in Chicago, May 4th.

''If found, arrest him and wire me.''

The bulletin bore Ebersold`s flowing signature.

After spending the night of the bombing on what was undoubtedly Meng`s tiny farm in Hegewisch, Schnaubelt took off for Canada and then Europe. Years later he turned up in Buenos Aires, according to Avrich, where he was photographed with his wife and children.

''Meng has never been mentioned before as a suspect. And while we cannot say for certain, I believe, after reviewing the evidence, that he probably threw the bomb,'' Avrich says.

Maurer, who taught at Hyde Park High School before leaving Chicago in 1961, recalls, ''My mother was ashamed and embarrassed, and thoroughly disliked her father.''

George Meng and his wife had two daughters, Kate and Louise, Maurer adds. Mrs. Meng died of consumption in 1873, when Louise was 2 years old and Kate was 5. Unable to care for them, their father had the two girls placed in a Catholic orphanage in Rochester, N.Y.

Ten years later, the same year that Meng is known to have attended the 1883 anarchists` convention in Pittsburgh, the girls` father reclaimed them from the orphanage and brought them back to Chicago.

Maurer believes her grandfather attended the congress and picked up the girls on the same trip East, possibly using his allowance as a delegate to the Pittsburgh meeting to finance the cost of the whole trip.

Back in Chicago, three years before the Haymarket bombing, a traumatic incident occurred that Louise Meng later narrated to her daughter:

''I was 12 years old and had never had a doll. There was a Christmas party at the Lutheran church in Hegewisch. The little boys all got tops, and each girl got a doll. My father took mine away from me and threw it in the stove. He said, `You`re too big for that stuff.` ''

''It broke my mother`s childish heart,'' Maurer says.

Few other memories of George Meng have survived the past hundred years.

''My mother only lived with grandfather for three years, and by the time she was 15, she was already earning a living as a housemaid,'' Maurer says.

''Her memories of him were rather short and, by and large, not too pleasant. I remember she said the family lived one whole winter on turnips.'' The Meng farm, where Louise as a teenager remembered her father`s anarchist friends hiding in the barn, was hardly a farm as we know farms today. ''It was probably only an acre or two,'' Maurer suggests. ''It was not very good land for growing and to this day it isn`t--too soggy. They lived in poverty that people nowadays simply can`t imagine.''

Based on her mother`s stories, Maurer believes her grandfather was around 45 when the bomb was thrown into the ranks of the blue-uniformed police that May evening in 1886.

Meng himself died a violent death a few years later, in the early 1890s.

''I remember that when my father`s parents died,'' Maurer recalls, ''I turned to my mother and asked, `What did your parents die of?` She was very embarrassed and all but choked. Then she said, `Well, your grandfather died in a saloon fire.` ''

Maurer says she pictures her grandfather like many men of the time, as a

''miserable creature . . . bone-weary and overworked.

''In those days people worked from sunup to sundown. The farmers worked that way, and it was transferred to the factories without much thought. Those men weren`t wild-eyed revolutionaries as we might think of such people today. They were fighting for better working conditions and free public education for the kids.

After exchanging information with Avrich, Maurer says she now believes her grandfather felt he never got enough credit for his role in the movement and so on the night of the Haymarket rally decided, ''I`ll show `em!''

Policeman John Bernett, who saw the bomb tossed into the ranks of his fellow officers, later described the man who threw it as being 5 feet 9 or 10 inches tall and wearing a mustache.

That testimony rules out Schnaubelt, who was ''6 feet high,'' according to the official police wanted bulletin.

Had it not been for that fateful saloon fire that prematurely took his life, Meng might have solved the mystery himself--perhaps by claiming credit for the deed in some kind of deathbed declaration years later.

Neither Bernard Kogan nor his brother, Herman Kogan, coauthor of

''Yesterday`s Chicago'' and ''Chicago, A Pictorial History,'' both of which contain chapters dedicated to the Haymarket affair, had ever heard of George Meng until Maurer named her grandfather as the likely bombthrower.

From his home in New Buffalo, Mich., Herman Kogan says, ''I`ve read everything available on the Haymarket riot. I never heard of Meng.''

Bernard Kogan says the only mention of Meng he could find in his own voluminous records is in a book written by police Capt. Michael Schaak, who investigated the Haymarket affair in 1889. In ''Anarchy and Anarchists,''

Schaack lists George Meng among the anarchists named in records of various meeting halls.

''There is a whole history (of efforts) in pursuit of the bomb thrower,'' Bernard Kogan says. The whole thing is so moot there is no conceivable way at this time of proving who did it. One of them (anarchists) did throw the bomb. It was the first time in the history of the American labor movement that dynamite was used.''

In 1893 a bronze monument was erected over the graves of the hanged anarchists in the Waldheim cemetery in Forest Park. It depicted a hooded figure of a woman laying a wreath on the brow of a fallen worker and was inscribed with a paraphrase of Spies` dying words: The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.''

A bronze statue of a helmeted 19th-Century Chicago policeman was erected in 1887 on the site of the Haymarket riot in memory of the eight officers killed in the blast.

Over the years the 9-foot-1-inch statue was moved five times, hit once, on the 41st anniversary of the riot, by an errant streetcar and defaced repeatedly by vandals. It was also blown off its pedestal by a bomb in 1969 and again in 1970. To protect it from further damage, it was moved that year to the lobby of the Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 S. State St., and then, in 1976, to the Police Training Center at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd., where it stands today.

Despite her years, George Meng`s granddaughter, who will be 81 in October, is an activist in her own right--something the old anarchist would have understood.

The mother of two and grandmother of five, Maurer heads a nonprofit organization, End Violence Against the Next Generation. She publishes a quarterly newsletter advocating the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, does consulting work and appears on radio talk shows to espouse her cause.


Messer-Kruse’s Haymarket History

The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists:
Terrorism and Justice in the Gilded Age
By Timothy Messer Kruse
NY: Palgrave McMillan, 2011, viii 236 pages,
$37 paperback.

The Haymarket Conspiracy:
Transatlantic Anarchist Networks
By Timothy Messer Kruse
Champagne-Urbana: University Press of Illinois,
2012, 256 pages, $32 paperback.

HISTORIANS HAVE BEEN known to remark that we write history in the context of present concerns. Timothy Messer-Kruse&rsquos recent revisionist histories of the Haymarket anarchists are written in a time when reality is framed by what many scholars call the carceral state, and produced for a competitive academic marketplace.

This context might explain why the author misrepresents the work of other historians, reads the trial transcript with a prosecutorial bias, and attacks the characters and political commitments of the Chicago anarchists of the International Working People&rsquos Association (IWPA) in a sectarian spirit.

In both The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists (Trial) and The Haymarket Conspiracy: Transnational Anarchist Networks (HC), Timothy Messer-Kruse asserts that he is representing the true ideals of the Haymarket anarchists whose legend has been defanged, and portraying them as actors instead of victims of history. In his portrait the Haymarket anarchists did, as the prosecution argued, aid and abet an unknown bomber (probably Rudolph Schnaubelt) in throwing a bomb at the police on May 4, 1886.

In addition, they provoked the police to attack them because they believed the moment for revolution had come. He claims further that the anarchists did not really support the labor movement but instead used it as an opportunity to stir up violence, and finally, that their trial was fair.

What Other Historians Wrote

Messer-Kruse writes that previous historians have found the Haymarket trial to be unfair because they followed the accounts of the original defense campaign instead of impartially reading the trial record. He sees today&rsquos historians, both academic and popular, as misrepresenting the anarchists: &ldquobomb talkers filled with revolutionary fervor but actually pacifists at heart&rdquo (HC, 5).

This claim is easy to disprove the example of Messer-Kruse&rsquos reading of Paul Avrich is typical of his representations of other historians. Messer-Kruse describes Avrich&rsquos Haymarket Tragedy as making a &ldquobrief reference to the fact that police officers discovered bombshells in the home of one defendant, Louis Lingg,&rdquo to argue that Avrich downplayed the anarchists&rsquo revolutionary ideology.

In the 17-page chapter &ldquothe Cult of Dynamite,&rdquo Avrich describes the Haymarket anarchists&rsquo belief in armed revolution and their celebration of dynamite as a social leveler. He draws from Captain Michael Schaack&rsquos account, Anarchy and Anarchists, and writes of Lingg:

&ldquoThere were some, however, for whom the impulse to violence was strong, and who were ready to immolate others as well as themselves in the service of what they believed to be just. Lingg, for example, is known to have made and accumulated bombs, and possibly Engel and Fischer as well. According to Captain Schaack, moreover, Neebe lost all five fingers of his right hand by the premature explosion of a bomb with which he was experimenting.&rdquo(1)

Avrich&rsquos chapter concludes that by the time of the eight-hour day strikes, anarchists were ready to &ldquoanswer violence with violence&rdquo and that the &ldquostage was set for the Haymarket tragedy&rdquo before the bomb was thrown.(2)

James Green also comes in for a drubbing for downplaying the importance of violence to the anarchists, even though Green describes Engel and Fischer, in Death at the Haymarket, as &ldquoultra-militants&rdquo with &ldquoapocalyptic views&rdquo and calls Lingg a &ldquodisciple&rdquo of the German assassin August Reinsdorf.(3)

Opportunistic Followers of Bakunin?

On the question of anarchist support for the labor movement, Messer-Kruse makes the case that the Chicago group were closer to Bakunin than Marx, and that they were not genuine labor movement advocates.

In The Haymarket Conspiracy, Messer-Kruse describes Marx&rsquos revolutionary theory as a kind of elitest gradualism involving the tutoring by socialists of the &ldquobenighted masses.&rdquo (HC, 33) For Bakunin, by contrast, he argues, revolution was not a future &ldquoabstraction&rdquo but an immediate goal.

Thus, if the anarchists made an argument for the use of force rather than advocating a gradual and &ldquointellectual&rdquo process, they were neither Marxists, nor genuine members of the labor movement. Instead, he reaches the damning conclusion that they were using the Chicago labor movement as a &ldquoTrojan Horse&rdquo to carry out Bakuninist ideology.

Rather than responding to police violence, he argues, they tried to &ldquofan strikes into violence&rdquo in order to provoke revolution by propaganda of the deed. He extrapolates from their speeches and writing criticizing the limitations of trade union reforms under capitalism, reading statements such as &ldquoWhether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave,&rdquo to mean that the anarchists&rsquo relationship to the labor movement was simply opportunistic. (HC, 156)

Despite this argumentative purpose, The Haymarket Conspiracy does have the value of producing a new narrative of 19th century anarchist history in the United States that includes the influence of German propagandists of the deed including August Reinsdorf, Johann Most, and Edward Nathan-Ganz, all of whom were mentioned in the American anarchist papers of the time, and two of whom came to America where they influenced not only German socialists, but also, as Messer-Kruse notes, &ldquoYankee&rdquo anarchists in New England.

Reading the Transcript

The most sensational claim Messer-Kruse makes, and why his book was promoted in such unlikely places for left history as The National Review, is that when he read the trial transcript he became convinced of the Haymarket anarchists&rsquo guilt. He finds the prosecution witnesses credible, the defense witnesses not so, and accepts the prosecution&rsquos theory of the bombing.(4)

That is: The anarchists met in Greif&rsquos Hall, formulated a plan to attack the police to ignite revolution, put the secret code &ldquoRuhe&rdquo into the newspaper as a signal that the moment for revolt had come, and then acted on May 4, 1886, first by throwing a bomb and then immediately by shooting the police.

Although Messer-Kruse goes to some length to show that it had to be anarchists who shot the police after the bomb was thrown, he qualifies his case by arguing that &ldquoaccording to the law that was operative at the time of the Haymarket trial, the most relevant act was not the throwing of the bomb but the meeting at which the attack was planned&hellipevery man present in the cellar was as legally culpable as the bomber himself.&rdquo (HC, 24)

Based on this theory, it was the prosecution&rsquos task to prove that the chain of events from the meeting of the Lehr und Wehr Verein (&ldquoEducation and Resistance Association&rdquo) in Greif&rsquos Hall led to the May 4 meeting, bomb throwing and subsequent shooting attack. According to the key prosecution witnesses, all of whom were originally among those indicted for the crime, the only defendants present at the meeting were Adolph Fischer and George Engel.(5)

William Seliger, who was named in the Grand Jury indictment as late as June 4, 1886, gave damning testimony. He said Louis Lingg was furiously making bombs as part of the Greif&rsquos Hall plan, and said that Lingg commented that if the word &ldquoRuhe&rdquo appeared in the paper it meant that everything would go &ldquotopsy-turvy.&rdquo

Seliger switched sides late and it seems likely that the defense team knew that he would testify about Lingg. Thus on June 21 the defense moved to separate the other four defendants from Fischer, Engel and Lingg. (Haymarket Affair Digital Collection [HADC] v. I, 128)(6) Messer-Kruse describes this defense motion as a mystery both for its timing and for the way the defense argued for separation — but Seliger&rsquos move to testify for the prosecution and thus escape being a defendant himself, is likely to have been the decisive factor. (Trial, 43)

Although Messer-Kruse presents the testimony about the Monday night meeting as conclusive, a review of the trial transcript shows it to have left room for reasonable doubt (in a fair-minded jury). Bernardt Schrade testified that there were about 30 people present. Speakers said the Lehr und Wehr Verein should &ldquobe prepared&rdquo if police were to &ldquogo beyond their bounds&rdquo but that there was no talk of bombs, dynamite, or shooting police. (HADC v. I, 140-167)

William Seliger testified that 70 members of the Lehr und Wehr Verein were at the meeting and swore to attack the police with force of bombs and pistols if the police attacked the workers. Gustav Lehman tells a similar story: the plan was to be ready and armed in case of police attacks on demonstrations. Gottfried Waller said the plan was more proactive — to attack police stations by throwing bombs into them, and then shooting down the police as they ran out. (HADC v. I, 53-75, 96-100, 101-140)

On cross-examination, neither Schrade nor Seliger said that they anticipated that the police would come to the Haymarket. They did not believe that an attack would take place there, nor did they understand the moment of revolution to be nigh on May 4th.

Messer-Kruse ends his discussion of Waller&rsquos testimony on page 111 of the transcript. (Trial, 206, fn. 22-25) However, Waller&rsquos cross-examination continued for another 28 pages, including this dialogue:

Q: And you say that nothing was said at the Monday night meeting with reference to any action to be taken by you on the Haymarket?
A: We should not do anything we were not to do anything at the Haymarket Square.
Q: Wasn&rsquot the plan that you should not be present there at all?
A: Yes.
Q: And you also say that you did not anticipate that the police would come to the Haymarket?
THE INTERPRETER — He said simply, no.
Q: What do you mean by no — it was not anticipated?
A: We did not think that the police would come to Haymarket.
Q: And for this reason no preparations were made for meeting any police attack on the Haymarket Square?
A: No not by us.
Q: And you say that the word &ldquoRuhe&rdquo was adopted as a signal to call all the members of the armed section to their meeting places in case of a downright revolution. That is what you want to be understood as saying?
A: It was to be the signal to bring the members together at the various meetings in case of a revolution, but it was not to be in the papers until the revolution should actually take place. (HADC, v. I, 112)

If Waller&rsquos testimony is accurate, the most that can be concluded from this testimony is that Adolph Fischer, who put the word &ldquoRuhe&rdquo in the paper, believed that the moment of revolution had come. In The Haymarket Conspiracy Messer-Kruse speculates that if Spies asked Adolph Fischer, who was after all the Arbeiter-Zeitung&rsquos typesetter, about why the word &ldquoRuhe&rdquo had been inserted, it meant that Spies &ldquorecognized this signal was associated with the planned Haymarket meeting&rdquo or at least knew of Fischer&rsquos association with it. (HC, 19)

During the same cross-examination, Waller described how he and several other men who had been at the Greif&rsquos Hall meeting, and had their names published in the paper as being indicted in the bombing, were blacklisted from work and living in fear of going on trial for bombing the police. Waller describes how, in this context, Captain Schaack got him off that blacklist to allow him to work and also paid his rent (HADC v. I, 123-125).(7) He describes a meeting of 14 of these indicted men in Folz&rsquos Hall with District Attorney Grinnell, Captain Schaack and some prominent Germans. On redirect, Grinnell made sure again to remind Waller of the content of the meeting, asking:

Did he not say to you people there then in German that the act of the 4th of May had been a disgrace to the German Nationality?
A: Yes.
Q: And it was now time in this free country for the laboring man, if he had any rights, to get them by agitation, legitimate agitation and proper legislation?
A: Yes.
Q: And not by bloodshed and riot?
A: Yes.
Q: And did he not say to you then, there, that if you told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that the police of the town would see that your person was safe, and that you would be fairly dealt by with the State?
A: Yes. (HADC v. I, 128, 135)

In Messer-Kruse&rsquos reading, the pressure of the indictment and the publication of the names of these indicted men in a city newspaper is minimized in favor of the theory that the witnesses had to overcome a much greater fear of murder by other anarchists for being squealers.

While Messer-Kruse makes sure that the reader knows about every threatening word uttered by an anarchist, nowhere does he discuss the context of police violence against the Chicago labor movement, the violent suggestions made in newspapers about strikers and union activists from the 1870s up to the events of May 1886, or the possibility that individual police might pose a threat to anarchists associated with the bombing.

From the beginning, the author removes the presumption of innocence for the men on trial and replaces it with his own certainty of guilt, swaying readers by describing the anarchists — but not the police whose attack on the demonstration preceded both the bomb throwing and the shooting that followed — as &ldquorioters.&rdquo Instead, we read that perhaps that the entire event that night &ldquowas planned to lure the police into an ambush.&rdquo (Trial, 106)(8)

To supplement the transcript, Messer-Kruse relies extensively on testimony recorded in Captain Michael Scaack&rsquos Anarchy and Anarchists, a book containing references to anarchist women as six-foot tall &ldquosquaws&rdquo and described by Chicago Police Superintendant Ebersold as a &ldquocomplete fabrication.&rdquo(9) While he argues that it is notable for how well it backs up the prosecution&rsquos case, this should not be surprising given that the book was published after the executions by the chief investigating officer in the case.

Legal Questions

While Messer-Kruse defends the trial&rsquos legality with the argument that it met the legal standards of its time, he does not include much legal scholarship in his analysis. Most left commenters have argued that it does not make sense to convict and sentence to death seven people on the charge of &ldquoaiding and abetting&rdquo a principal actor who was never identified.

This was a key point raised in Governor Altgeld&rsquos pardon. (Trial, 174) Messer-Kruse argues that it is not really a problem because by the standards of the law of Illinois in 1886, accessories were seen as equally guilty as principals. He does admit that &ldquono amount of lawyerly explanation could ever make a conspiracy trial without the main perpetrator in the conspiracy seem completely legitimate.&rdquo (Trial, 181)(10)

Until 1820 it was not possible to convict an accessory without finding the principal guilty. While lawyers and legal historians agreed at the time that it was legal to try people as accessories where principals had died or &ldquoescaped justice,&rdquo they did not discuss what it meant to try a case against an accessory without positively identifying the principal or providing evidence to connect a specific principal actor to the accessories.(11)

In light of this point, Lingg&rsquos own instruction to the jury (rejected by the court) that they should not convict him of the bombing unless they could tie him to the bomber, rather than to the bomb, makes sense. (HADC v.O, 39-40)

Messer-Kruse also argues that the defense lawyers&rsquo accusations of juror bias were irrelevant. Although the trial transcript reveals that many of the jurors expressed a belief in the anarchists&rsquo guilt during voir dire, he points out that the Illinois law at the time allowed the seating of jurors who believed in the guilt of the defendants.

While it is true that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the jury process on appeal, it is precisely because of the efforts of defense lawyers that standards for jury selection have changed. Today&rsquos legal standards are different because of activist lawyers who said the old standards were unfair, even if they lost the legal arguments until later in the 20th century.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the case&rsquos legal history was the anarchists&rsquo argument that it was legal to use armed self-defense against the police.(12) Messer-Kruse writes that making this argument was a concession to the prosecution.

Given the ongoing anxieties of the time, when urban police forces were relatively new and often seen as corrupt, and when armed vigilantism was sometimes endorsed in the national press, the case could be seen as a test of the legality of workers&rsquo fighting against police who were deemed to be &ldquounlawful&rdquo in their actions.(13)

To modern eyes it seems amazing that the judge entertained argument on the point, suggesting that it was a legal possibility to establish the right to armed self-defense against unlawful police action.

Messer-Kruse returns again and again to the notion that since the anarchists advocated force of any kind they were legally guilty of the May 4th bombing, erasing any distinction between calls for armed self-defense against the police and the advocacy of revolution by propaganda of the deed. He argues that they are guilty because their advocacy of force inspired someone to act that day.

An entire history of First Amendment law has tried to define the limits of the political advocacy of armed struggle. The Haymarket anarchists and their lawyers fit squarely within this history. In fact this case was one of those that influenced legal thinkers as the court moved from the &ldquoBad Tendency&rdquo to the &ldquoClear and Present Danger&rdquo doctrine.(14)

Judge Gary argued that the defendants had &ldquoexcited the people&hellipto sedition, tumult and riot, and to use deadly weapons against, and take the lives of other persons. &ldquo Gary later wrote that he had to make this argument because no law existed to preserve order against the dangerous ideas of the anarchists.(15)

Messer-Kruse seems to conclude that advocating revolution as anything other than an &ldquoabstract&rdquo notion in the far distant future should be illegal, and writes that the anarchists&rsquo advocacy of revolution was &ldquowell beyond the liberties of the first amendment&rdquo without consulting a single work of First Amendment history. (Trial, 124)

The State Supreme Court did find Gary to be in error on his instruction to the jury because of this description of general incitement. However wrong it was, the court concluded, it was not a significant error, since Gary also gave them more specific instructions later on. This is tortured reasoning.

Unsurprisingly, Messer-Kruse agrees with the court. (Trial, 127) After four hours of deliberation and a good night&rsquos sleep, the legally unbiased jury, according to the laws of the time, pronounced their sentence of &ldquoguilty&rdquo on all eight defendants.

Messer-Kruse is right that most historians have not consulted the full trial transcript, and that their work could benefit from doing so. It is also time for a book which takes the legal points involved in the Haymarket Affair into greater consideration. Neither The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists nor The Haymarket Conspiracy has accomplished this historical work.


Haymarket Affair

The Haymarket Affair was a clash between civilian and police that resulted in a bombing that took the lives of multiple officers and citizens, soldier and police search and seizures of homes for weeks after the event (red scare), and a lasting movement for labor and work time reformation nationally.

Background Information

Labor movements and protesting had been going on for a number of years up until the bombing in Haymarket Square. These movements spurred mainly following the Civil War during America’s first Great Depression, the Long Depression of 1873, also known as the Panic of 1873. During this time, America’s biggest industries, railroads and steel/iron production, saw a drastic decline in production. In Chicago, the Long Depression of 1873 hit especially hard as this was a sucker punch following the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871. This event left well over one hundred thousand residents homeless, including many immigrants, and took a financial and mental toll on the city. Between these two devastating tragedies, the system for maintaining current and producing new jobs crumbled, putting hundreds of thousands of laborers out of work. Throughout the mid-1800s to the time of the fire and depression, German immigrants showed a large boom in immigration numbers, particularly in Chicago where they would work little over ten-hour workdays, for six days a week. As workers began to demand better working conditions and pay from their employers, said employers would undermine their efforts through various methods. Such methods included disallowing known union sympathizers from coming into work, firing workers, hiring “strikebreakers,” workers who would not strike, but simply work, or even employing people specifically meant to disband or discourage demonstrations and protests. In the book by Henry David, he goes on to talk in quite a length about the methods employers would enforce against union sympathizers, including a blacklist, which “was the employers’ method of boycotting obnoxious workers. Names on the list were circularized among employers within the same trade, and workers thus distinguished found it impossible to secure employment within a given district or even in other regions,” (David 23-24). With tensions rising between bosses and their employees, the only logical solution was for the police forces to begin getting involved as violence became more and more common as a tactic between anti-union versus pro-union movements.

Initially, the conflict right before the bombing was solely between police and socialists who were peacefully protesting multiple problems common among citizens/unions. After the bombing from anarchists took place, federal and state involvement became more apparent as the event led to a “red scare” particularly of Germans in the community. Soldiers and police worked together through funding from the community and businesses to conduct an investigation of suspects directly tied to the Haymarket incident.

The incident took place in the heart of Chicago, in Haymarket Square. Originally protests took place at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company when protesters were planning on confronting McCormick strikebreakers and also protest in favor of an eight hour work day, but then evolved into protests against police brutality due to a fatality that occurred during prior mentioned protests at the McCormick Harvesting plant when police forces open fired on a group of strikers approaching aforementioned strikebreakers.

The event in which the bombing took place specifically happened on May 4 th , 1886. Subsequently, ransacks and searches for the following eight weeks led by the Chicago police force, and aided by soldiers. From June of 1886 to August of the same year, the trial of eight anarchists suspected of being in cahoots with the bombing that took place in early May of that year.

The Tragedy and its Outcome

As stated before, the event was a bombing that led to rioting and mass hysteria and chaos on May 4 th 1886 in Haymarket Square in Chicago Illinois. It was a peaceful protest demonstrating against police brutality that was result of a fatality days before in front of the McCormick Harvesting plant. The protest had multiple socialists speakers speak before hundreds of citizens and union enthusiasts. In the midst of the protest, police became involved as they tried to disperse the protesters, in which triggered anarchists in the crowd to throw a dynamite bomb. David writes, “Abruptly, and with no other warning than the dimly glowing light and slight sputtering of its fuse, a dynamite bomb hurtled through the air. It struck the ground, and with a fearful detonation exploded near the first rank of police” (David 204). Immediately after the bomb was thrown, police forces came to their senses and began open firing on the civilians and spectators in the crowd. The event swiftly found its end as “people fell right and left, struck by bullets or clubbed down… the meeting place was clear, and but for their moans and cries, quiet,” (David 204). Following the incident, the community reaction was more in favor of anti-union, and police support as homes, meeting places, and places of business were constantly searched by police in search of clues/suspects involved in the tragedy at Haymarket Square. After several months of arrests and trials, eight men were convicted of the bombing that took place that day. These men were well known radical leaders at the time, including August Spies, a labor activist who also edited a newspaper in Chicago. Ironically enough among the defendants, “three had never even set foot in Haymarket Square on that even of May 4, 1886. Three others left the rally before the explosion took place, and the remaining two were on the speakers’ platform and thus nowhere near the point were the bomb was thrown” (Chicago Tribune 1984). Since this information was not known at the time, nor was it known until years after, seven of the accused were sentenced to death by hanging while the remaining defendant was sentenced to a whopping fifty years in prison. After a series of appeals, another prisoner was sentenced to life in prison rather than by hanging. On the day of the executions, one of the prisoners committed suicide by sticking a bomb in his mouth where it blew his head off, and the other four remaining prisoners were killed by hanging in the gallows on November 11 th , 1887.

Lasting Effects

Overall, the lasting effect the Haymarket Riot had was a massive dent in the labor union’s efforts and public opinion. This is particularly true with one of the biggest labor unions at the time, the Knights of Labor. They were a more radical group of unionists who especially after the Haymarket bombings, were accredited with being mainly anarchists. They also lost favor as another labor union came into fruition, the American Federation of Labor, who took many if not all of the Knights of Labor’s followers. Another lasting effect was a profound feeling of xenophobia, basically an irrational fear of foreigners, from the public. Since Germans were linked to the bombing, as a group they were the target of prejudice from the public. Not only was their public backlash, but police forces started to retaliate as well. Police brutality was a newly coined term of this time and was used alongside the backlash against the German community of Chicago. Police and anarchist’s bad relationship did not end there, as the statue erected in honor of the seven policemen who died during the bombing has served as the host for a handful of acts of vandalism committed by anarchists. A Chicago Tribune article from one of said vandalism acts reads, “The monument has had a history almost as story as the rioting it commemorates. Since it was erected in 1887, it has been moved three times, almost moved two other times, was wrecked when a street car crashed into it in 1927, was defaced by vandals, and has been sandblasted and restored,” (Chicago Tribune 1969). This newspaper was written when the first of two bombings in 1969 and 1970, respectively, took place at the site of the statue in an effort to destroy it. The statue today stands at the Chicago Police Headquarters and has not received the same treatment as it had in the past.

Along with the lasting bad relationship between anarchists and police force, and an outbreak in xenophobia, the Haymarket Square still came to serve as a center for protests, and reminders. This can be attributed partially to the lasting memory of those that were hung in 1887. For example, Albert Parsons, one of those convicted, was quoted saying “We are revolutionists, we fight for the destruction of the system of wage-slavery,” (Chicago Tribune 1984), and August Spies is famously known for calling out, before being executed, “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strange today,” (Chicago Tribune 1984). Both these quotes truly show how die hard these anarchists were in their conquest to achieve fair labor laws and dispel police brutality so much so that they faced the gallows and still had the will to cast out against the status quo. An excerpt from Henry Demarest Lloyd’s, an american journalist at the time, journal exemplifies how much of an effect these men had on the working class and their stance on work reformation. After the executions he writes that the men “have died in vain, unless out of their death come a resurrection and a new life… They have been killed because property, authority, and public believed that they came to bring not reform but revolution, not peace but a sword,” (David 533). Nearly eleven years later, another protest was held in the square for more labor disputes. An anarchists who was around for the Haymarket bombing was quoted saying, “The men who are behind the movement were formerly connected with the local organization of the International Labor association, which was prominent in the labor troubles which led up to the Haymarket riot,”(Chicago Tribune 1897), and also noted that “the place was chosen because of its historic associations,” (Chicago Tribune 1897). Despite the tragedy of the bombings, and the backlash the labor movements received, they still harnessed the location for meetings and historical importance when protesting.


Haymarket Revisited

When Uruguayan novelist Eduardo Galeano visited Chicago on a book tour in the mid-1980s, he only had one special request: that local friends take him to the Haymarket district, near the corner of Randolph and Desplaines.

Galeano, also a journalist and an internationally celebrated human rights activist, had just returned to his homeland after eight years in exile. He wanted to see the site of the Haymarket Square tragedy of May 4, 1886, when someone--unknown to this day--lobbed a bomb at police who were massed near the square to break up a peaceful meeting of workers, labor leaders, and anarchists. The meeting had been called to protest a police attack on striking workers (two of whom were killed) at the McCormick Reaper plant the day before, and to rally support for the eight-hour workday. The bombing--which marked the first time a dynamite bomb had ever been used in the U.S., according to Haymarket scholars--and the resulting riot of random police gunfire and clubbing eventually killed seven policemen and four bystanders and wounded dozens of others.

Martial law was declared, and homes and union halls were raided. Seven men associated with trade unions, ethnic community groups, and the labor press--some of whom weren't even present at the time of the Haymarket riot--were rounded up one turned himself in. The "Haymarket Eight" were convicted in what has been called one of the most grossly unjust trials in American history. Four of the men were hanged in November 1887, one committed suicide in his cell, and the other three, sentenced to prison, were pardoned by Governor John Peter Altgeld in June 1893--a move that outraged the city's merchant princes and put an end to Altgeld's political career.

But Galeano--not unlike scores of other people who have pilgrimaged to the site as if it were a mythic shrine--got much more, or much less, than he had expected. He wrote a story about his "fruitless exploration" of the area for some sort of historic marker. It's called "Forgetting," and it's in his collection The Book of Embraces (Norton, 1991). "Chicago is full of factories," he writes. "Chicago is full of workers." But "no statue has been erected in memory of the martyrs of Chicago in the city of Chicago. Not a statue, not a monolith, not a bronze plaque. Nothing."

Galeano laments that May 1--adopted as International Labor Day a few years after the Haymarket episode--is just a day like any other in the U.S., and that "no one, or almost no one, remembers that the rights of the working class did not spring whole from the ear of a goat, or from the hand of God or the boss." Then he writes about going to a Chicago bookstore and finding a poster that seemed to be waiting just for him, a poster that summed up his failure to find a single marker at the Haymarket site. The poster displays an African proverb: "Until lions have their own historians, histories of the hunt will glorify the hunter."

A century later, the lions still don't have their own historians.

An ordinance adopted by the Chicago City Council on March 25, 1992, finally officially granted historic-landmark status to the area that was once Haymarket Square--the rather unremarkable one-block stretch of Desplaines between Lake and Randolph. These days there's not much around this fringy, formerly industrial area, the site of what some consider the most significant event in American--and world--labor history.

"I do not believe it is an overstatement to say that probably no event has had such a profound influence on the American labor movement or on the history of Chicago [as] what happened near Haymarket Square in 1886," writes William Adelman, professor emeritus of labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in his 1976 book Haymarket Revisited. "Through the association of the 'Haymarket Affair' and May Day the impact has been worldwide. Revolutions have taken place and many people's lives have been changed by the events that began on Saturday, May 1, 1886. . . . The battle for social justice, freedom of speech and assembly and democracy in the work place that the Haymarket Martyrs fought is still the battle today."

The City Council's Historic Landmark Preservation Committee approved landmark status for the site without dissent, following statements in February 1992 by Alderman Ted Mazola, in whose ward the site lies, and representatives of the Chicago Landmarks Commission, the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, and the Illinois Labor History Society, a private, not-for-profit organization that encourages historic preservation and the study of labor history.

"I've been told that people have come to the site and simply broken down into tears when they found there was absolutely no demarcation there," ILHS President Leslie Orear testified to the committee, adding that he often led foreign labor leaders to the unmarked area himself. "People come from all over the world to the site in awe, like it is a holy place."

But a year and a half later there's still no physical sign of the Haymarket area's new status as a landmark. The City of Chicago is still waiting for a bronze plaque to mark the site, which a spokesman says is on order. Meanwhile the ILHS is dreaming of more.

"We like to envision a mini park, a vest-pocket park, where there's an overgrown patch used as a parking lot now, an eyesore," says Orear, a former union staff worker, in the comfortable but not exactly humming offices of the Illinois Labor History Society on the tenth floor of 28 E. Jackson. An affable, surprisingly spry octogenarian, Orear cofounded the ILHS in 1969 and has helped wage a 24-year campaign to permanently mark the Haymarket site. "The park could be created by the city or the Park District, and would be dedicated to the Haymarket martyrs as a reminder of this tragedy. But we need to get together with the alderman in an effort to initiate an agenda to bring this about. We're beggars--we don't have the money--so we're still looking at all the options. We'll keep agitating."

Adds longtime union activist and ILHS secretary Mollie West: "We could put up a nice wall with a mural, and have a stone monument with the names of the people killed--the policemen on one side, and the workers on the other."

"We drafted a proposal [for a park] and tried to get it through the Park District, oh, about five years ago, when Walter Netsch was on the board," says Bill Adelman, ILHS vice-president. "But the park board said they didn't have the money to buy the lot, and that it was too expensive." It's currently a privately owned parking area.

The lead story of the May 1992 "Illinois Labor History Society Reporter," a monthly newsletter edited by Orear, features a photo of the Desplaines-Randolph street sign it looks northwest to the site of the proposed park. "Not much to look at, but real possibilities!" reads the caption. "This is the now official designated site of the Haymarket Tragedy in Chicago." The folks at the ILHS aren't the only ones who have thought about sprucing up the site. Sometime in the late 1980s, according to Joan Pomeranz, a former Landmarks Commission staffer who researched the Haymarket site, "the [city] Planning Department was looking at the opportunity to enhance the appeal of the area, and one possibility was to create a public space with historic commemoration." During the February 1992 hearings Mazola had testified in favor of upgrading and historicizing the area, re-creating the Haymarket era with quaint touches like gaslights and cobblestones to enhance tourism.

Currently, though, the city has "no plans afoot" to build anything, says Mazola. "They don't have the moneys to do these types of monuments. The Landmarks Commission only looks at the [historic] designations. They don't usually look at monuments or statues." But he has no doubt that eventually there will be something there. "No good deed will go unpunished."

Vince Michael, Chicago program director for the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, testified in favor of official designation in front of the City Council's Historical Landmark Committee last year he also wrote about Haymarket in the west-side section of the 1993 American Institute of Architects Guide to Chicago. Michael says that "the city designates five to ten historic landmarks a year, but they haven't put out any plaques for seven or eight years. They're supposed to be getting a number of plaques soon." By 1991, according to one source, 35 sites awaited markers.

A Planning Department spokesperson who refuses to go on record says that [a few dozen] bronze, 18-by-18-inch Chicago Landmark plaques (including one for the Haymarket site) "are being processed now." The city contracts with Wagner Brass Foundry, near Elston and Cortland each plaque costs about $500, including installation. Budgetary constraints have played no role in the historic plaque backlog. "We do get the money," he explains. "It's a special allocation, a lump sum, every five years. It's best to order in volume it pays to order 20 to 30 at the same time. We've found that's the most responsible way of dealing with these things." For the Haymarket plaque, he says, the inscription on the plaque and its location have "yet to be determined." Since historic designation plaques must be put on city-owned land, Michael, like Orear, assumes that the Haymarket plaque will be placed on a pedestal in the Randolph Street lane divider just west of Desplaines. (Randolph, at this point, is still one-way westbound the divider separates the street from one of the many parking lots in the Haymarket area.)

While Orear doesn't doubt that the "designation will eventually be made apparent to the public," it doesn't surprise him that the ILHS has been pursuing the issue for a quarter of a century the group initially formed as the Haymarket Workers Memorial Committee in 1968. The city and the police, he thinks, have been overly sensitive about memorializing the eight workers who died. Orear points out that in May 1970, a year after the ILHS recommended to the State of Illinois that the Haymarket Square area be declared a state historical landmark, the Chicago Police Department's Red Squad (which was disbanded in 1975) filmed the entire State Historical Society plaque unveiling ceremony. The plaque had been placed on the corner of the Catholic Charities Building at 126 N. Desplaines because the city wouldn't approve a spot on its property. The plaque was pulled off the wall some months later, presumably by persons on the conservative right--or "friends of the police," as Orear puts it. (You can still see the holes made by the missing plaque's bolts on the southwest corner of Randolph and Desplaines.)

The ILHS first requested official city designation for the Haymarket area in 1970, when it presented a petition to the Landmarks Commission. A report was written in 1971, but nothing more happened. Adelman and Orear attended a series of Landmarks Commission meetings between 1988 and 1991 to make a renewed bid for designation the Landmarks Commission had to approve it before the City Council could vote on it. "The police have always objected to a historic district [honoring the martyrs]," says Adelman. "I've gotten flak from them about it. The proposal kept disappearing. Each time, the City Council delayed discussion. Finally they took a year to decide to accept it."

Pomeranz, who left the Landmarks Commission two years ago and is now a free-lance historic preservation consultant, paints a less Machiavellian picture of the approval procedure--but one nevertheless full of bureaucratic shilly-shallying. "When [the commission] decides to pursue designation, they have a staff member write a research report," she says. Her 1988 report on the Haymarket site, she says, was basically a revision and expansion of the commission's original 1971 report. "Then it's evaluated as to whether or not to proceed with designation. Then they adopt a motion, a preliminary determination of eligibility, which triggers certain things. They go to the Planning Department and ask for an opinion, like how the designation fits in with their planning concerns in the area. They go to private owners. Then they decide to make a recommendation to the City Council, which takes the form of a lengthy document. When the council gets the proposed legislation, it's given to the [Historical Landmark] Committee." Once the proposed ordinance makes it to the City Council, says Pomeranz, there's no deadline they could conceivably sit on the recommendation for 20 years.

The delay in the case of the Haymarket site, she says, "didn't have anything to do with subject matter. Other things came along that were more urgent. Part of it was my fault. I didn't keep up with it. I could've moved faster. It was nothing deliberate."

To Mazola, it "makes a lot of sense" to designate the Haymarket area a historic landmark. "Are we honoring one side versus the other? The answer is no. We don't get into that. It's part of our history. I don't believe there is any controversy. If there was, the city wouldn't have looked for historic designation."

"Haymarket was a big, traumatic event in the history of Chicago, and it's been a sore spot in the psyche of city officialdom and the business establishment," says Orear, a former Chicago headquarters staffer of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen International AFL-CIO, and one of the original volunteer members of the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee of the CIO. "The business establishment has long forgotten it it doesn't give a rip anymore. It's mostly been a problem of the city. . . . It's all a part of a deliberate amnesia. Our story is that Haymarket was a police riot--nobody did a damn thing till the police came. Their story is that [the incident] saved the city from anarchist terrorism. Our position doesn't dishonor the police. But I can see how the police might be sensitive about it, and the city doesn't like to rock the boat."

Adds Mollie West, also an executive board member of Typographical Union Local 16: "If we had a park with the police getting their fair shake, and if there was some quote-unquote 'balance'--though that would be a hard act for us to attempt--then maybe (the police) would leave it alone." Harold Washington declared May 1986 Labor History Month in Chicago and, according to Adelman, was set to provide funds for a park before he died. "We're waiting for Mayor Washington to come back," says West. "If he was here, this would've been done by now."

Up until about 22 years ago, there was a statue in the area once known as Haymarket Square. The Haymarket Riot Monument was erected as a memorial to the seven policemen killed in the riot (one instantly by the bomb) and dedicated on Memorial Day 1889, a few weeks after the third anniversary of the explosion that blew the shorter-hour labor movement back a few decades. But just the base is there now, on the northeast corner of Randolph where it crosses the Kennedy. You'd barely give the ten-foot-high, stepped-stone monolith a second glance if you were driving to, say, one of the trendy dance clubs in the vicinity, like the Warehouse or Club Dread. The base is mostly forgotten now, filth-ridden and graffiti-scrawled, like a leftover urban relic that somehow never met the wrecking ball. It's invariably littered with empty bottles and often serves as temporary home to a sprawling drunk or two. A Virgin Mary icon has been known to mysteriously appear and disappear from the top of the base (it's there at this writing.) The statue itself--a life-size bronze figure of a 19th-century cop with an upraised arm--has been in the safe possession of the Chicago Police Department since early 1972.

Since the statue base doesn't mention Haymarket at all, casual passersby unfamiliar with the location's significance would be mystified by the pedestal's inscriptions. On the front of it, facing Randolph, it says: "In the name of the people of Illinois I command peace." These were the words supposedly spoken to the "rioters" by Captain Ward of the nearby Desplaines police station, moments before the bomb--thrown either by an agent provocateur or a radical anarchist--exploded. (Orear, however, says that Ward actually told the group "to disband in the name of the law.") On the back of the base, facing the Kennedy, it says: "Dedicated by Chicago May 4th 1889 to her Defenders in the riot of May 4th 1886."

The problem, say labor and Haymarket historians, isn't so much the fact that this was a monument to a riot but the fact that the monument, or a monument, wasn't dedicated to the Haymarket Eight or to workers' rights. (A Haymarket Martyrs' Monument was dedicated in suburban Forest Home Cemetery, on June 25, 1893--a day before Governor Altgeld pardoned the three men. Seven of the martyrs are buried here.)

"We have always felt that the police deserved a memorial," says Adelman. "But we always felt that it didn't belong in Haymarket Square. Over a hundred years later, there are still feelings on the part of the police that they were right in what they did at Haymarket." Over the years, he says, labor groups and police groups often held different ceremonies at the same time by the old police statue. "But it was like we were fighting over two historical perspectives, between our way of looking at things and their way of looking at things."

While Adelman maintains that the police have been resistant to the idea of a martyrs' memorial, Dennis Bingham says he doesn't know who they've been talking to. "I've been working here 15 years, and I never got that impression," says Bingham, a member of the Chicago Police Department's News Affairs Division who has researched the statue's rough-and-tumble history. He points out, however, that he can't speak for the entire police force.

"The statue hasn't just come to symbolize the seven officers who died a hundred-some years ago it wasn't just a Haymarket memorial," he says. "When an officer sees the statue, they see the symbol of 406 [Chicago Police] officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Most officers aren't familiar with the incident and the labor ramifications, that's the impression I get. It doesn't even enter into their heads. If you interviewed 100 officers, the labor issue wouldn't even come up. The average police officer wouldn't even give it a thought. . . . Sure, it's a sensitive subject, and it's not like we're trying to keep anything hidden or hurt the city's efforts. I couldn't see how that could be said."

Nevertheless the statue of the cop commanding peace has had anything but a peaceful existence. The recent controversy surrounding the potential installation of a statue commemorating Puerto Rican independence movement hero Pedro Albizu Campos in Humboldt Park hasn't got anything on the activity inspired by the police monument over the years. Repeatedly vandalized, moved five times, rammed by a runaway streetcar, blown up twice, and even guarded around the clock at one point during the Days of Rage riots, the statue was finally taken to the Central Police Headquarters in 1972 and then to the Chicago Police Training Center at 1300 W. Jackson in 1976. It's still there, in the academy's courtyard garden. You can view it by advance arrangement.

In the postfire 1880s Chicago was truly a city on the make, born of the prairie heartland and the Industrial Revolution. Flexing its big hog-butchering shoulders, it was the fastest-growing city in the world--an urban microcosm of rampant where's-mine capitalism and hardscrabble racial conflict. It was a seething cauldron of poor white ethnic immigrant workers since the 1840s the city had seen waves of Irish, German, and then Eastern European arrivals. Regarded by wealthy WASP settlers as inferior and easily exploited, these largely unassimilated groups fought among themselves for a piece of the American Dream. The glaring gulf between the city's Respectables and its Rabble, mostly slum-living and often unemployed, served as a seedbed for minority trade unions and workers'-rights movements--all of which set the stage for many pitched labor-related battles.

"By the 1880s," Adelman has written, "new machinery was destroying the jobs of even skilled workers, and with an ever increasing supply of surplus labor in Chicago there was always someone to take your place if you wouldn't accept a wage cut or longer hours."

Though the stereotype of the "bomb-throwing anarchist" arose largely as a result of the Haymarket affair, Adelman points out in his book that the 19th-century Chicago anarchists were really European-derived "syndicalists"--trade unionists who espoused worker control over industry. They saw government--and the increasing concentration of business wealth--in violation of American Revolution ideals. Concerned that the new machinery was replacing even the most skilled workmen, they believed in direct action and general strikes. And yes, some of them believed in bombs. Several of the Haymarket Eight--who represented a diverse sampling of the Chicago labor movement, running the gamut from conservative to radical--had talked of using dynamite as a defensive measure against attacking police. But it was newspaper editors and prominent businessmen of the day who first broached the idea of using dynamite against striking workers.

It's hard to imagine what the original Haymarket Square looked like more than a century ago, before parts of it burned down, were razed for urban renewal, or were sliced up by a superhighway. The Haymarket wasn't really a "square" at all, but rather a very wide stretch of Randolph Street (about twice as wide as it is today), from Desplaines to Halsted. It was once one of the busiest farmers' markets in the city--a far cry from today's near-west-side wholesale produce markets, or even from South Water Market. In her book So Big, Edna Ferber described the historic square as "a tangle of horses, carts, men . . . an unarmed army bringing food to feed a great city." Braving the hubbub of buggies and streetcars, truck farmers came from all over the countryside to sell food to the poor at dirt-cheap prices.

But Haymarket Square served another purpose as well: its proximity to working-class neighborhoods made it a favorite public gathering place. It was chosen for the May 4 protest meeting because it could hold 20,000 people. (About 2,500, many of them striking McCormick Reaper plant workers, initially showed up at the hastily planned meeting only 200 or so remained when the bomb was thrown a couple of hours later.)

Only one nearby building from the Haymarket era is still standing: the structure housing the Grand Stage Lighting Company, at 630 W. Lake. This building used to be Zepf's Hall, the meeting place of the Lumbershovers' Union. It was this lumberyard workers' union that had asked August Spies to speak at their strike rally at the McCormick plant May 3. Spies, a dedicated Socialist and editor of the German-language workers' paper Arbeiter-Zeitung, was the first labor activist to mount the speakers' wagon at the Haymarket protest meeting the following evening. Like the second speaker, Socialist Labor Party and union leader Albert Parsons, Spies was later executed for his alleged involvement in the Haymarket affair. (Militant Methodist lay preacher Samuel Fielden was addressing the crowd when the bomb went off he was arrested, convicted, and later pardoned.)

The third-floor meetinghall of the old Zepf's Hall is still intact, though it's now used to store stage lighting equipment. At one time the ILHS hoped to turn the building into a labor history museum. A 1988 effort to designate the building a Chicago historic landmark failed when the owner of the Grand Stage Lighting Company rejected the idea conferring landmark status on the building would've put it under strict rehabilitation restrictions.

Part of "Crane's Alley" is still there too, 30 or 40 feet north of Randolph on the east side of Desplaines. The speakers' wagon had been set up a few feet north of the alley, near the front of the Crane Plumbing Company the bomb came from a few feet south of the alley. The Crane Plumbing Company was one of the largest factories in Chicago at the time. Company owner Richard Crane, who opposed unions and shorter working hours and often hired strikebreakers during labor disputes, would later head the fund-raising committee for the police monument.

After the Crane factory burned down in the mid-80s, the ILHS had recommended to the Landmarks Commission that a small park bearing a monument to freedom of speech and assembly and to the struggle for the eight-hour day be erected on the site. But nothing ever came of that idea, either.

The Haymarket Eight aren't entirely forgotten their names are inscribed on a monument in a plaza in the town of Matehuala, Mexico. Diego Rivera painted a mural in Mexico City's Palace of Justice showing scenes of the riot, the conspiracy trial, and the "Black Friday" execution.

In the city of Chicago? Only Paula's Haymarket Restaurant and Saloon, on Randolph just east of Desplaines the Haymarket Urban Mass Transportation Substation, on the southeast corner of Randolph and Desplaines and the nearby Haymarket House social service center, 120 N. Sangamon, keep the memory alive.

Although Governor Altgeld and Chicago mayor Carter Harrison later criticized the police for cracking down on the assembled workers, as Adelman points out in Haymarket Revisited, public sympathy lay with the forces of law and order the Chicago Tribune easily succeeded in its campaign to raise over $10,000 for a statue "to glorify the police action." The so-called "Committee of Twenty-Five," a group of Chicago businessmen headed by Richard Crane, were charged with overseeing the commission.

John Gelert, a 35-year-old sculptor who had studied in Copenhagen, Paris, and Rome, arrived in Chicago from his native Denmark in 1887--just in time to compete for the Haymarket Riot Monument design. (He would later do a bronze portrait of Hans Christian Andersen and a bust of Beethoven, both installed in Lincoln Park the latter was stolen in 1970.) According to A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture by Ira J. Bach and Mary Lackritz Gray, Gelert wanted to portray the law as a female figure holding an open book over her head. But when the committee selected Gelert to execute the design in 1888, they insisted on the statue of a policeman with an upraised arm. Gelert modeled his life-size bronze, dressed in typical 19th-century uniform, after Thomas Birmingham, an officer he'd seen directing traffic outside the Union League Club, where he'd gone to pick up his commission. (As his project progressed, Gelert was forced to use other models as well, because Birmingham was often drunk and couldn't hold his head up. Some years later Birmingham was thrown off the force for working with crooks and selling stolen goods. He became a skid-row denizen and petty thief and died at the county hospital in 1912.)

The committee members were horrified by the sculptor's clay model: the statue looked Irish, and they wanted a Waspy cop. But Gelert refused to change it. The police monument was erected on a tall pedestal in the middle of Haymarket Square and dedicated on May 30, Memorial Day, 1889 176 policemen--the same number that had massed near the square three years earlier--took part in the ceremony. Two thousand people watched as the 17-year-old son of Mathias Degan, the only policeman killed immediately by the bomb blast, unveiled the statue. Mayor DeWitt Cregier said: "May it stand here unblemished so long as the metropolis shall endure."

A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture reports that by 1900 the statue had become such a traffic hazard--it was smack-dab in the middle of Randolph Street--that it was moved west to Randolph and Ogden, in Union Park. In May 1903, the crests of the city and state were stolen from the statue's base.

On May 4, 1927, the 41st anniversary of the Haymarket tragedy--and the first anniversary since the riot that the police survivors had failed to assemble at the statue (though there were still 23 alive)--a most curious thing happened. A speeding westbound streetcar carrying 20 passengers left the tracks and smashed into the monument, knocking the statue off its base. Two girls cut by flying glass were taken to the hospital. Some historical accounts of the accident say that the driver was named "O'Neil" and that he hit the statue on purpose because he said he was sick of seeing the policeman with his arm raised a Tribune story about the wreck identified the motorman as William Schultz and reported that his air brakes had failed and that he had escaped with a broken ankle. It didn't say anything about his not liking the statue.

The monument was repaired in 1928. It was moved around Union Park several times as streets were widened or moved, finally ending up on Jackson Boulevard it remained there, apparently unmolested, for three decades. In 1957 the Haymarket Businessmen's Association brought the statue back to the Haymarket district, hoping it would promote tourism in the area. The newly sandblasted statue was set atop a special platform built for it during construction of the Kennedy expressway, on the northeast corner of Randolph and the Kennedy (where the base remains).

On May 5, 1965, the City Council denominated the monument--and only the monument--a historic landmark. The original plaque listing the names of the seven dead policemen had been stolen or lost in transit, so the Haymarket Businessmen's Association installed a rectangular plaque on the base when they rededicated the statue on May 4, 1966. This plaque would be stolen in the mid-1980s.

During the social and political upheavals of the late 60s and 70s, the Haymarket Riot Monument became a symbol for police oppression--and a frequent target, hard and soft, for a newer wave of radical protesters. Writes Adelman: "With the coming of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Marches of the 1960s, police brutality during the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, the 'Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial' and Watergate, many people began to look again at the 'Haymarket Affair' and what it should have taught us."

On May 4, 1968, the statue was defaced with black paint following an incident at the Civic Center, where Vietnam War demonstrators faced off with the police. On October 6, 1969, someone placed several sticks of dynamite between the bronze policeman's legs, toppling the major part of the statue from its pedestal and throwing chunks of the legs onto the northbound lanes of the Kennedy. The blast also blew out about 100 windows in nearby buildings. (No one was injured.) Mayor Richard J. Daley called the bombing an "act of disrespect" toward the police and an "attack on all the citizens of Chicago." Sergeant Richard Barrett, president of the Chicago Police Sergeants Association, blamed the bombing on leftist groups (a few days later the memorial would be the starting point of a march to Grant Park by the Students for a Democratic Society), and said that it was now a matter of "kill or be killed" for the police. "The blowing up of the only police monument in the United States . . . is an obvious declaration of war between the police and the SDS and other anarchist groups," Barrett said. Police Superintendent James Conlisk, however, said that Barrett wasn't speaking for the Police Department when he declared all-out war. Barrett's statement, said Conlisk, was "irrational, irresponsible, and not condoned by this department. Nor does it reflect the attitude of the men of this department."

The bombing was investigated in connection with several bomb threats made to the Dirksen federal building, where the Chicago Eight were on trial for conspiracy to incite riots during the Democratic National Convention. (Coincidentally, the August '68 riot had occurred in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel's Haymarket Bar.)

Mayor Daley vowed to replace the statue. WGN radio announcer Wally Phillips led the restoration drive, eventually raising $5,500 from private individuals, police associations, and the city. On May 4, 1970 (the same day National Guardsmen killed four student protesters at Kent State), Daley unveiled the newly repaired statue, telling an audience of about 500 people, many of them Chicago and suburban cops: "This is the only statue of a policeman in the world. The policeman is not perfect, but he is as fine an individual as any other citizen. Let the younger generation know that the policeman is their friend, and to those who want to take law into their own hands, let them know that we won't tolerate it." The mayor also said: "Violence begets violence. This statue was destroyed by violence and parts of it landed on the expressway named in honor of a president who died by violence."

On October 6, 1970--exactly one year after the first bombing--the statue was bombed again. The next day federal authorities released a letter purported to have been written by members of the Youth International Party's Weathermen faction. Part of the letter, which had a Chicago postmark, read: "A year ago we blew away the Haymarket pig statue. Last night we destroyed the pig again. This time it begins a fall offensive of youth resistance." The letter went on to say: "We are not just 'attacking targets'--we are bringing a pitiful helpless giant to its knees." The missive was signed by Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Bill Ayers, who were then sought by police on a variety of bombing charges.

When the statue was restored again, Mayor Daley ordered a 24-hour police guard that cost the city $67,440 a year. (Nothing ever came of somewhat fanciful proposals to put a plastic dome over the memorial or to fashion a series of replaceable fiberglass statues.) The ILHS then suggested to the mayor, in a letter, that the statue be moved to "a more fitting and secure location." In February 1972, the statue was quietly removed from its base and placed in the Central Police Station at 11th and State streets. The statue remained in the police headquarters lobby until October 1976, when it was finally moved to the newly built Chicago Police Training Center. Installed along with the statue was a new base and a replica of the 1966 plaque bearing the names of the seven dead policemen the other one had been left behind at the old base.

During the first weekend of May 1986, on the 100th anniversary of the Haymarket bombing, Chicago served as the stage for both the Haymarket '86 Anarchists Gathering and commemorative events organized by the city-sanctioned Haymarket Centennial Committee. Five hundred anarchists from 28 groups around the world took part in what one participant called "the most significant anarchist event held in America in years." Predictably, the weekend was not without its confrontations and acts of civil disobedience.

On Friday, May 2, a hundred or so anarchists gathered behind a large black flag. According to newspaper accounts, they began at the Dirksen federal building, marched through the financial district, paused at the IBM building, then wended their way to the Tribune Tower and the South African consulate before heading north along the Magnificent Mile. Splinter groups stopped at Neiman-Marcus, Gucci (where they chanted "Eat the rich, feed the poor"), and Water Tower Place, where they were barred by police (and locked doors) from entering. Somebody burned an American flag. Thirty-eight marchers--12 women, 25 men, and a young girl--were arrested on charges of mob action and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. Police said that most of them refused to be fingerprinted, and 29 refused to give their names.

Early Sunday afternoon, several hundred people gathered for a Haymarket Centennial Committee event in Pioneer Court, outside the Tribune Tower. There were three hours of speeches and songs to commemorate the Haymarket affair and to show solidarity for three production unions that had then been striking against the Tribune for about ten months. After the rally, the group--with a handful of anarchists holding up the rear--marched to the old Haymarket Square for a 4 PM ceremony.

Earlier in the day, there'd been a confrontation between an ILHS-organized contingent and a few dozen anarchists at Forest Home Cemetery. "They'd been there since the morning and were sitting all over the place," Les Orear recalls. "They had draped the [Haymarket Martyrs] monument with a black flag and claimed it for their own. Our people started gathering in the afternoon. When it came time for our ceremony, we asked them to take down the flag. But they said no. I asked to talk to their leader. They said, 'We don't have a leader.'" When Orear tried to pull the flag off the statue, he was headlocked and pulled away, injuring his back. "Anyway, we went ahead with our meeting. They just wanted a place to speak, and we said they could have all the meetings they wanted after ours."

The ILHS and modern-day anarchists have some of the same goals: a wider recognition of the worker martyrs and of the cause for which they were executed and incarcerated. "The difference really is that they like to claim the monument for their anarchist philosophy, and they're interested in preserving the memory of the anarchists martyred," says Orear. "Their general line is that we don't give the [1880s] anarchists enough credit. We choose to emphasize that the martyrs were trade union leaders, and their leadership in the demand for an eight-hour day. We claim Haymarket for the eight-hour-day movement. They claim Haymarket for the anarchist movement."

That's why Adelman's book Haymarket Revisited--despite its unabashed progressive, prolabor slant--is anathema to some contemporary anarchists: they view it as an example of the organized labor movement co-opting late-19th-century anarchist beliefs. Adelman, who was one of Haymarket Centennial Committee's main organizers, says his life was threatened a few months before the anniversary weekend. "A small group of these people who called themselves real true anarchists but appeared to be skinheads" harassed him at a downtown restaurant in February, saying, "We're gonna get you in May!" Bodyguards were provided for him during the May 4 ceremonies, but nothing came of the threat. Adelman says the group that threatened him objected to the fact that his committee had chosen to work with the "establishment"--church groups, the mayor's office, the governor. "They said that I was doing it the wrong way," he recalls. "They said we should storm city hall and hold the mayor's office hostage."

He adds, "I really want to stress that it was only a small faction of these people who caused all the trouble. We've worked in the past with anarchist groups, anarchists in the tradition of the Haymarket martyrs. We did everything we could to compromise with them, because we wanted [the Haymarket Centennial Committee] to be representative of all groups, from the middle of the road to the far left. But because of my book and the fact that I was active on many [committees], I became the focal point and someone they criticized."

Also in 1986, Adelman says, he happened to mention to a church group that he knew what happened to the 1966 plaque listing the names of the seven dead policemen, which had been stolen from the police-monument base a year or so before: it was now enshrined at a community center in Nicaragua. (It still is, presumably.)

"Anyway, somebody wrote a letter to the police, or something," he says. "A plainclothesman came to my university office and questioned me about it. I said, 'It's not true I took it.' He started laughing, and said, 'Well, we have to investigate these things.'"

The Haymarket Martyrs' Monument in Forest Home Cemetery is less a publicly accessible historical monument than a decorative grave obelisk. The cemetery, formerly known as German Waldheim Cemetery, is right off the Eisenhower Expressway in Forest Park. When the monument, by sculptor Albert Weinert, was dedicated in June 1893, more than 8,000 people were present, many of them foreign visitors attending the Columbian Exposition who took special trains to the event. There were speeches in English, German, Bohemian, and Polish. The monument shows the female figure of Justice marching toward the future, one hand on her sword, the other placing a laurel wreath on the head of a fallen worker hero. The inscription is taken from "La Marseillaise," France's national anthem, which Albert Parsons had sung on his way to the gallows: "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today."

Seven of the eight Haymarket martyrs are buried beside the monument: August Spies, Albert Parsons, George Engel, and Adolph Fischer, all put to death November 11, 1887 Louis Lingg, who committed suicide (some say he was murdered) via a dynamite cap in his cell while awaiting trial and Michael Schwab and Oscar Neebe, two of the three men pardoned by Governor Altgeld a day after the Martyrs' Monument was dedicated. Samuel Fielden, the last of the eight to die, in 1922, was also pardoned. He's said to be buried at his former ranch in Colorado.

The Martyrs' Monument, held in trust by the ILHS, was rededicated in a centennial observance this past June 26. The main speaker was Heinrich Nuhn, author of a popular biography of August Spies recently published in Germany. In his speech, Nuhn compared the racist xenophobia prevalent in the U.S. toward German immigrants in 1886 to the recent neofascist hate crimes against Turks and other foreigners in Germany. The ceremony concluded with the laying of flowers at the monument.

"The monument," proclaims ILHS literature made available at the ceremony, "can be seen as a reminder that a great movement for a more humane workplace was also strangled with the Martyrs. When we gather in its presence, we also recall the untold millions of working men and women whose unremitting toil and suffering was prolonged for more than 40 years by the Tragedy of the Haymarket."

There's also a statue of John Peter Altgeld (1847-1902) in Chicago. It's in Lincoln Park, south of Diversey and just west of Lake Shore Drive. The sculpture--which shows the governor protecting the crouching figures of a man, woman, and child, representing labor--was created by Gutzon Borglum (of Mount Rushmore fame) and dedicated on Labor Day in 1915.

Altgeld was elected with strong labor and farm backing in 1892. The first Democratic governor of Illinois since the Civil War, he sacrificed his political career in the name of Haymarket justice. Though Jane Addams, William Jennings Bryan, and Altgeld's onetime law partner Clarence Darrow later eulogized him as a man who championed the rights of Illinois workers, Altgeld was vilified by the press and the establishment as an un-American anarchist and German-born radical when he freed the three men convicted at the Haymarket trial. "Although he promoted social reform legislation," says A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture, "his declaration that the Haymarket 'rioters' had not received a fair trial . . . aroused such public wrath that he was not reelected and died impoverished and forgotten in 1902."

The story goes that a local municipal art commission had objected to the Altgeld statue's content and aesthetics, even though a model had been displayed at the Art Institute for a year prior to its installation in the park. Labor leaders blamed the commission for being part of the same conservative cabal that had condemned Altgeld as an anarchist. Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson settled the matter by sacking the commission he himself had appointed. "The statue looks good to me," he said, "and the commission doesn't." The dedication took place on time.

While it's suggested that you call ahead to the Chicago Police Department's News Affairs Division to make an appointment to see the Haymarket Riot Monument at the Police Training Center, there's an off chance you can see it if you just walk in off the street--like I did not long ago. There's also a full-size plaster replica of the statue at the American Police Center and Museum, at 1717 S. State.) The information-desk staffers directed me to a woman across the hall, who turned out to be helpful but a tad wary. Despite my apprehensions, I wasn't frisked, visitor-ID-tagged, or walked through a metal detector--though my eventual police escort, who didn't want her name used, did dart her eyes when I reached, perhaps too quickly, into my back pocket for a notepad.

"This is, after all, a police facility," she said, leading me down the hall to the left of the main entrance, "and you're not allowed to just walk right through here. You can't just walk around the Central Police Station, either. But we haven't had any problems. We've had classrooms in here, and not long ago, an ancestor of one of the policemen who got killed came in and laid some flowers on the statue. If it stays here, it's taken care of. Let's face it: you and I both know that if it was still [in the Haymarket area] it would be covered with graffiti, and whatever else."

She opened a door, and there it was.

The monument is situated in the center of the academy's courtyard garden, a shady rectangular space that holds trees, shrubs, flowers, and picnic tables. The garden is surrounded on three sides by office windows. The courtyard, my escort explained, is used for graduations and awards ceremonies: cops have their pictures taken with the bluish green statue in the background. It stands about ten feet high including its marble base and looks south. The mustached policeman is attired in characteristic late-19th-century full-dress uniform, with helmet and knee-length coat. In person, the statue yields sculptural details not apparent in photo reproductions, such as the "CCP"--City of Chicago Police--on the belt buckle and the ornately carved billy-club handle. A few of the coat's buttons are unbuttoned. Here's the sculptor's signature, on the side: "J. Gelert 1888." The cop's slightly raised gaze is solemn and steady, not that of a man engaged in the saber-rattling heat of battle his calm eyes, stance, and mouth lend the statue a noble character--less menacing than I had been led to believe. Though the monument has suffered through decades of trial and tribulation and has been repaired numerous times, it doesn't look much worse for the wear. It has survived.

The plaque at the foot of the statue reads: "Standing in memory of seven Chicago Police officers martyred in the anarchist riot of May 4, 1886. Mathias Degan. Timothy Flavin. John J. Barrett. Michael Sheehan. George M. Miller. Nels Hansen. Thomas Redden."

The matter of just who was martyred and why is likely to be debated for years, if not decades, to come. And if Eduardo Galeano comes back to Randolph and Desplaines in a couple years, it's hoped he'll see that this city of factories and workers hasn't forgotten.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Mike Tappin.


The Judgment of History

SOON AFTER THE EXECUTION order arrived in Chicago, comrades of the condemned men began preparing for a funeral march and burial to take place on Sunday, November 13. Family members and friends planned simple wakes on Saturday for the deceased anarchists at three locations along Milwaukee Avenue they were unprepared for the public response that came on that morning. At eight o&rsquoclock hundreds of people lined up along the street in front of the flat Lucy Parsons had rented on Milwaukee Avenue. All day people filed through the little living room to gaze on Albert Parsons&rsquos colorless face with the faint smile the undertaker had put on his lips. At times Lucy burst out of her room, weeping uncontrollably and clinging to Lizzie Holmes for support. By the time William Holmes finally closed the Parsonses&rsquo door at 11:30 p.m., 10,000 people had filed through the parlor to pay their last respects. 1

A similar scene unfolded upstairs in the toy shop on Milwaukee Avenue where George Engel&rsquos body lay in a parlor next to Louis Lingg&rsquos corpse, with its poorly repaired face. During the day and evening 6,000 people viewed the remains. Even larger crowds pressed into Aurora Turner Hall, where August Spies lay in state surrounded by an edgy-looking honor guard of German trade unionists and militiamen.

The next morning, a clear, cold Sunday, elaborate funeral plans were put in motion, but within the strict limits set by Mayor John A. Roche, who prohibited speeches, songs and banners or &ldquoany demonstration of a public character.&rdquo The bands accompanying the funeral march could play only dirges.

The procession began at the home of August Spies&rsquos mother. His coffin was loaded onto a carriage, which then proceeded down Milwaukee Avenue, stopping at the homes of the other anarchists, where other carriages were loaded with their remains. Then the cortege, carrying five red-draped coffins, rolled away to the sound of several brass bands playing somber tunes the carriages were followed by a long line of 6,000 people who moved slowly down Milwaukee Avenue to the measured beat of muffled drums.

Along the parade route the streets and sidewalks were thronged with thousands of men, women and children others looked out of windows or stood on barrels. Some of them wore red and black ribbons as an expression of sympathy. The funeral procession grew even larger as it left the immigrant North Side and headed downtown to the railroad depot, where mourners would board a long funeral train bound for Waldheim Cemetery, a nondenominational graveyard in the German town of Forest Park. Along the way even thicker crowds, estimated at 200,000 overall, packed the sidewalks to observe the cortege. 2

After the procession turned off Milwaukee Avenue and headed down Desplaines Street, it passed within a block of the deadly spot where so many had fallen on May 4 of the previous year it then proceeded east on Lake Street past Zepf&rsquos Hall and Grief&rsquos Hall, where portraits of the dead anarchists draped in mourning hung on the walls. At this point one of the bands broke the mayor&rsquos rule and burst into the melody of &ldquoAnnie Laurie&rdquo in Parsons&rsquos honor. Another band struck up &ldquoLa Marseillaise&rdquo as it passed Grief&rsquos Hall. More than two decades later, the reporter Charles Edward Russell vividly recalled the somber scenes of that Sunday funeral procession. The black hearses, the marching thousands and the miles and miles of streets packed with silent mourners&mdashall left him with the impression that death had finally conferred amnesty on the anarchists. 3

Chicagoans had never witnessed such a massive public funeral. The crowds exceeded even those that had gathered to march behind Lincoln&rsquos coffin on May 1, 1865. Then, however, Chicago&rsquos citizens had walked together in common front, unified in their grief. Now, on November 13, 1887, one class of people grieved while another gave thanks for the moral judgment rendered on the gallows, as Chicagoans divided into separate spheres of sentiment determined largely by where they lived and worked and by how well they spoke English.

The sun was low by the time the procession wended its way into Waldheim Cemetery. After the five caskets had been lowered into the ground, Captain William Black offered a traditional eulogy&mdashone that would be fondly remembered by the dead men&rsquos sympathizers and bitterly denounced by their prosecutors. &ldquoThey were called Anarchists,&rdquo said Black. &ldquoThey were painted and presented to the world as men loving violence, riot and bloodshed for their own sake. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were men who loved peace, men of gentle instincts, men of gracious tenderness of heart, loved by those who knew them, trusted by those who came to know the loyalty and purity of their lives.&rdquo They had lived for a revolution that would create a new society based on cooperation instead of coercion. Black said he did not know if such a society was possible in America, but he did know that through the ages poets, philosophers and Christian believers had lived for the day when righteousness would reign on the earth, and when sin and selfishness would come to an end. 4

AS THE NEWS of the executions spread around the world in the weekend newspapers, those who had followed the trial reacted with extreme emotions, even though they had suspected for weeks that the anarchists would die. The defendants had gained widespread admiration in the eyes of European workers and radical intellectuals by maintaining their innocence and refusing to renounce their beliefs, even to save their lives. Their highly publicized hangings seemed to many Europeans to be nothing more than a ferocious attempt by the state to silence the strongest voices of dissent in America. 5

In cities all over the United States and in other nations, workers expressed their rage at what seemed to them a historic atrocity. At a gathering of laborers in Havana, speakers condemned the executioners, and organizers collected $955 to aid the anarchists&rsquo family members. In Barcelona, artisans and sailors met in their little centros and lit candles around the images of los mártiri. 6 In Boston a large crowd gathered in New Era Hall to hear a mournful address by the secretary of the Knights of Labor, the esteemed George McNeill, who had helped found the first eight-hour movement in 1863. The white-haired philosopher of labor reform told his depressed followers that the hanging of the anarchists in Chicago was the act of desperate, unthinking men and that it would not remedy the evil of social inequity or wash out the stain of anarchy from the nation&rsquos political fabric. In Newark, New Jersey, Reverend Hugh O. Pentecost, one of the few clergymen to speak out against the execution, told his congregation that it was &ldquoone of the most unjust and cruel acts ever perpetrated by organized government&mdashimmoral and illegal.&rdquo 7 And in Rochester, New York, a young Russian clothing worker named Emma Goldman nearly became deranged when she heard news of &ldquothe terrible thing everyone feared, yet hoped would not happen.&rdquo She had learned about the Knights of Labor, the eight-hour day and the Haymarket anarchists from other Russian Jews during her first year in America, 1886. After sewing garments in a factory for ten hours a day, she devoured every word on anarchism she could find and closely followed news of the Haymarket defendants during and after the trial. 8

Devastated by the news at first, the seventeen-year-old immigrant found that the &ldquomartyrs&rsquo ordeal&rdquo implanted &ldquosomething new and wonderful&rdquo in her soul, &ldquoa determination to dedicate myself to the memory of my martyred comrades, to make known to the world their beautiful lives and heroic death.&rdquo From then on, she would honor November 11, 1887, as the day of her &ldquospiritual birth.&rdquo After she plunged into the anarchist and labor movements in the next years, Emma Goldman met hundreds of other people whose lives were also changed by the executions on Black Friday. 9 For example, there was Abraham Bisno, a cloak maker living in Chicago&rsquos Russian-Jewish colony, who knew nothing about the anarchists until he and his fellow strikers were beaten by the police on May 5, the day of the first arrests. In the next days and months he frequently discussed the case with other workers, while studying all the evidence he could find and learning in the process to lecture on social questions and to lead in organizing unions among his people. 10

Mary Harris Jones, another Chicago resident, also followed the trial closely and attended the funeral. The widowed dressmaker heard the anarchists speak at Knights of Labor assemblies and at lakefront rallies, where she listened to what Parsons and Spies, &ldquothose teachers of the new order, had to say to workers.&rdquo And though she was opposed to their violent message, Jones was deeply affected by their execution and by their immense funeral procession with thousands of wage earners marching behind their hearses, not because they were anarchists but because they were regarded as soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the workers&rsquo struggle. Many years later, after Mother Jones gained renown, she recalled that time in Chicago. &ldquoThose were the days of sacrifice for the cause of labor,&rdquo she wrote. &ldquoThose were the days of the martyrs and the saints.&rdquo 11

Far away, in a mining camp at Rebel Creek, Nevada, high in the mountains, young Bill Haywood read about the hangings in a Knights of Labor paper. He called it a turning point in his life, a moment when he became entranced with the lives and speeches of Albert Parsons and August Spies. In the years that followed, no one did more to translate the words of Parsons and Spies into action than William D. Haywood did when he became the founder and notorious leader of the Industrial Workers of the World, a twentieth-century manifestation of the &ldquoChicago idea.&rdquo 12

While some young workers like Emma Goldman and Bill Haywood were inspired by the Haymarket martyrs, most trade union leaders, even those who had fought to win clemency for the anarchists, were utterly dismayed by how much damage the anarchist case had caused. Samuel Gompers said the bomb thrown in the Haymarket not only killed policemen, it killed the eight-hour movement and struck at the foundations of the new house of labor he was constructing as head of the new American Federation of Labor. A decade later Gompers and his followers found ways to revive unionism and re-create a more moderate eight-hour campaign, but for Terence Powderly and the Knights of Labor there would be no recovery. Indeed, for visionary workers and labor reformers inspired by the Knights and the Great Upheaval, Haymarket was an unmitigated disaster it sounded a death knell for the great hopes they shared in the spring of 1886 when they imagined their movement to be on the brink of achieving a new cooperative social order that would replace the wage system. 13

A few American intellectuals were radicalized by the events and found themselves pulled closer to the labor movement, though the process was a painful one. H. C. Adams, a young economics professor at Cornell University, was one of the few academics who criticized the Chicago trial. The professor denounced the anarchists as vile madmen who had no understanding of how democracy worked, but he also insisted that even their incendiary speeches needed protection. If freedom of expression was denied to dissenters, he reasoned, even law-abiding protesters might turn to violence. Adams did not stop at this: he even charged that industrialists were using the anarchist hysteria to stigmatize the socially constructive proposals made by the Knights of Labor. The New York newspapers printed sensational accounts of Adams&rsquos remarks, and a Cornell benefactor, the wealthy lumber king Henry Sage, demanded the professor&rsquos ouster. The university trustees met in secret and agreed that the offensive professor Adams had to go. In the aftermath of Haymarket, even defense of the First Amendment seemed threatening. Dr. Adams took his medicine and decided economists had better not speak out against social injustice. 14

Adams&rsquos case was one of several indicating that the Haymarket bomb marked a decisive event in the history of American free speech. After the Civil War, freedom of expression was denied to black citizens in the South, but other Americans were often able to express extreme opinions in speeches and writings without interference. This had been the case in Chicago, where Mayor Harrison had allowed the anarchists to make violent speeches on a regular basis. While some latitude prevailed for free speech during the Gilded Age, no one seriously examined the philosophical and political principles that underlay constitutional guarantees of liberty. As a result, legal precedent and tradition counted for little when the Haymarket affair precipitated a sharp turn against toleration for citizens expressing extreme opinions and for those, like Professor H. C. Adams, who defended their right to do so. 15

Henry Demarest Lloyd was one of the only prominent journalists to denounce the prosecution of the Haymarket case, and he paid a price for it. Disinherited by his father-in-law, Tribune co-owner William Bross, shut out of the paper for good and ostracized by his friends, Lloyd did not begin writing and speaking again until 1890, when he turned his formidable talents to producing a series of moral attacks on the &ldquocannibals of competition, tyrants of monopoly, devourers of men, women and children,&rdquo culminating in the publication of his Wealth Against Commonwealth, an exposé of John D. Rockefeller&rsquos Standard Oil Company, the first influential muckraking effort of the progressive era. 16

Lloyd&rsquos ostracism came at a repressive time in Chicago life. As a result of the red scare, the trial and the hangings, said the Illinois writer Edgar Lee Masters, the city&rsquos spiritual and civic life was &ldquofouled&rdquo as &ldquoHate and Fear and Revenge stalked about.&rdquo Outspoken journalists and public figures like Lloyd had been silenced the editors of the big newspapers who celebrated the anarchists&rsquo executions had won, but they too were fearful, and walked around the city with armed guards. 17

Only a few clergymen, like Hugh Pentecost in Newark, responded to the events of 1886 and 1887 by criticizing the use of capital punishment and by urging acts of Christian charity and moral reform to address the social evils that bred anarchism. The Great Upheaval of 1886, the bombing and the red scare that followed traumatized many clergymen and churchgoers, especially native Protestants, who saw these events not as a crisis that called for moral reform, but as the opening scene in a doomsday scenario for the American city. The Haymarket affair exacerbated the hostility to organized labor that already existed in Protestant churches, while it also helped to push many middle-class people and their ministers out of the cities and into streetcar suburbs, where they could escape the lava of a social volcano that seemed ready to blow again at any time. 18

UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, Chicago&rsquos dissenting voices remained quiet, and public discourse was dominated by those who celebrated the executions of the anarchists and venerated the memory of the police who died in the bombing and the shooting. A lavish history of the Chicago police appeared in 1887, supported by contributions from scores of businesses. The book, written in a vivid style by a Daily News reporter, John J. Flinn, featured heroic sketches of Inspector Bonfield, Captain Schaack and their brave men, along with a narrative of the strikes and riots that culminated in the Haymarket bombing, when the department &ldquoattracted the attention of all Christendom.&rdquo 19 George McLean&rsquos The Rise and Fall of Anarchy, published in 1888, another handsome volume with lifelike drawings of all the Haymarket participants, offered a comprehensive account of events leading to the bombing and of the trial and executions that followed. The author left no doubt about the moral of the story. After saluting the courageous policemen who fell in defense of American freedom, McLean turned his pen to the &ldquohideous cruel monsters&rdquo responsible for their &ldquocold blooded massacre&rdquo&mdashan act of treachery unparalleled in history. 20

A year later came the publication of Captain Michael Schaack&rsquos enormous book Anarchy and Anarchists: A History of the Red Terror and the Social Revolution in America and Europe. Composed largely by two professional writers, the volume offered a sweeping history of revolutionary activity in Europe beginning with the French Revolution, all of which is seen as prologue to the events in Chicago. The title page, faced by a heroic portrait of Schaack, is followed by extensive documentation of the &ldquoHaymarket conspiracy&rdquo and sensational reports of Schaack&rsquos undercover men, along with vivid police photos of bombs, fuses, guns, cartoon-like drawings of anarchists and a moving group portrait of the slain policemen. The seven official &ldquoHaymarket martyrs&rdquo were pictured with an eighth officer who was thought to have died later of wounds he sustained on May 4, 1886. Although the funerals of the dead patrolmen were barely noticed in the press at the time, Schaack&rsquos book reminded Americans that these men were &ldquoas worthy as the heroes of a hundred military battles.&rdquo 21

Soon after the riot, Joseph Medill, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, started a fund drive to erect a statue in the Haymarket to honor the fallen police officers. Donations came slowly at first, but eventually businessmen&rsquos clubs raised enough funds to pay for a statue&mdasha bronze figure of a policeman holding his right hand high. The model was Officer Thomas Birmingham, a statuesque Irish patrolman who had marched into the square that night. The monument was dedicated in somber ceremonies on Memorial Day of 1889, when speakers likened the slain officers to the Civil War heroes who defended the nation against the southern rebels. 22

The police statue in Haymarket Square symbolized more than heroic sacrifice, however. The bronzed officer mounted on its stone base also stood for a victory of the forces of law and order, not simply over anarchists who used public spaces so freely and spoke so defiantly of government, but also over the larger forces of disorder generated by the pitch and roll of an immigrant sea that had flooded urban America. A rough-and-tumble democracy had flourished in many cities since the age of Jackson, and had brought immigrant workingmen, and even some workingwomen, into the streets on various ceremonious and sometimes riotous occasions. Now, after the Great Upheaval and the Haymarket affair, the courts and the police would severely restrict urban workers&rsquo use of public spaces as arenas for self-expression and organization. 23

Police statue in Haymarket Square, 1892

Yet, for all the accolades Chicago&rsquos policemen received, they still seemed inadequate to the task of defending the city against what business elites feared would be the next mass insurgency. Marshall Field convinced members of the elite Commercial Club that they needed a U.S. Army fort close to the city, instead of a thousand miles away. While the anarchists awaited their fate in the jailhouse, the club raised money to buy 632 acres of land just thirty miles north of the city its leaders then persuaded the secretary of the army to construct such a fort on this site. In addition, Field and his associates hired the famous architects Daniel H. Burnham and John W. Root to design and build a massive armory in the city to guard their neighborhoods and businesses. Within a few years the imposing First Regiment Armory at 16th Street and Michigan Avenue rose like a stone monster with a huge open mouth, poised between the downtown business district and the insurgent Southwest Side. 24

While initiatives by the forces of law and order reassured an anxious bourgeoisie, they also heated up feelings of resentment that bubbled under the surface of plebeian life in Chicago. Labor leaders worried about the construction of military armories and criticized the use of militiamen to break strikes some even urged their members not to join the National Guard. A gnawing fear spread among trade unionists that the nation&rsquos armed forces would be used to protect employers&rsquo interests, not to defend workers&rsquo liberties. 25

Simmering working-class antipathy to the police also began to reach a boiling point. That sentiment spilled out when Chicago&rsquos Knights of Labor newspaper denounced the newly dedicated police statue in the Haymarket for honoring a police department its editor branded &ldquothe most vicious and corrupt the country has ever known.&rdquo The paper was referring not only to the police conduct in the Haymarket affair, but to a scandal that broke in 1889 when Captain Schaack was removed from the Chicago police force as a result of wrongdoing. The case also involved Inspector John Bonfield and two other commanders of the divisions that marched into the Haymarket on May 4. The Chicago Times revealed that the officers had been taking money from saloonkeepers and prostitutes, and had been selling items taken from arrested citizens, including some jewelry Louis Lingg had left to his sweetheart. When Bonfield reacted by arresting the Times&rsquos editors and attempting to shut down the newspaper, the public outcry was enormous. As a result, the mayor was compelled to remove the heroes of Haymarket Square from the police force. A short time later, former superintendent Ebersold revealed that Schaack had &ldquotried to keep things stirred up&rdquo in May of 1886 and &ldquowanted to find bombs everywhere.&rdquo He even sent out men to organize fake anarchist groups to keep the pot boiling. It is not clear how Schaack&rsquos demise affected the sales of his sensational book, Anarchy and Anarchists, but he retained many admirers in Chicago, including one editor who called his firing a triumph for the anarchists. 26

Even though working-class demonstrators lost much of the freedom they had enjoyed to gather in streets and public places after 1886, freedom of the press was suspended only for a brief time. Issues of the anarchist Alarm reappeared during the trial, and the Arbeiter-Zeitung resumed publication, although the German daily never regained the mass circulation it had achieved in August Spies&rsquos day. In addition, anarchists produced and disseminated printed works memorializing the martyrs, including The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs and The Famous Speeches of the Eight Haymarket Anarchists, first published in 1886. The following year, Lucy Parsons issued a collection of Albert&rsquos prison writings on anarchism, and then in 1889 she edited The Life of Albert R. Parsons, which became a sacred text for the party of remembrance and a conversion experience for many readers unfamiliar with the case. Introduced by George Schilling, the volume was filled with Parsons&rsquos speeches and articles, an autobiographical essay and ephemera, most memorably the letters he wrote to his children just before his death and to Schilling recalling his thrilling days as a militant in the battle for black equality in bloody Texas. 27 The Life of Albert R. Parsons, along with the anarchists&rsquo autobiographies, typified the sort of personal narratives that had exerted a hold on the popular mind throughout the nineteenth century. Such heartfelt stories of tramps and beggars, former slaves and former prisoners and other lost souls, offered truthful, &ldquounvarnished&rdquo accounts that presented compelling alternatives to official accounts and descriptions of reality. 28

This literature was reproduced and translated to keep the anarchists&rsquo memory alive in the minds of workers around the world, but it was also aimed at countering, indeed subverting, the official accounts of the Haymarket story that enjoyed much wider circulation. In these texts the condemned men appeared as martyrs who died for freedom and democracy, while their state prosecutors are seen as relying not upon truth and virtue, but upon deception and intimidation. 29 The autobiographies and speeches of the Chicago anarchists were translated into several languages and reprinted numerous times over the next few decades, when they were interpreted by many readers here and in other lands as stories that confirmed their suspicions that the United States was not a truly free country. 30

Lucy Parsons and the small company of anarchists who kept this literature in circulation did not, however, rely on the printed word alone. Lucy, for one, took to the road as often as she could in her own relentless and exhausting campaign to exonerate the anarchists and to venerate the life of her husband. She even embarked on a trip after she lost her daughter, Lulu, who died of lymphoma and whose body was placed in an unmarked grave near her father&rsquos tomb. She pressed on with her work even though she was criticized by socialists, excoriated by the mainstream press and harassed by the police, especially in Chicago, where the authorities seemed obsessed with the activities of this &ldquodetermined negress.&rdquo 31

A pariah in her own land, Lucy was treated as a celebrity when she traveled to the British Isles on a speaking tour in 1888. &ldquoThe heroic widow&rdquo of Albert Parsons was described by one English socialist as a &ldquowoman of American Indian origin, of striking beauty.&rdquo Having invented a purely native identity for herself, she spoke to a London meeting as &ldquoa genuine American,&rdquo one whose ancestors were indigenous people waiting to repel the invaders when they arrived from Spain. Lucy&rsquos violent speeches alienated some socialists, but her tour excited others and created an upsurge of support for anarchism in England. 32

WILLIAM MORRIS&rsquoS SOCIALIST LEAGUE had prepared the way for the famous Mrs. Parsons by distributing a pamphlet on the anarchist case and printing an edition of The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs. In his London publication Commonweal, Morris had previously reported on the entire trial and appeal process, which he described as a travesty of justice. When news of the executions reached England, he wrote that the Haymarket case exhibited &ldquothe spirit of cold cruelty, heartless and careless at once, which is one of the most noticeable characteristics of American commercialism.&rdquo By contrast, the editors of the London Times had praised the Chicago police and their use of armed force on the streets and suggested British police might well follow their example, and then cheered the death sentence when it was announced. 33

On November 13, 1887, two days after Black Friday, the London city police had attacked a peaceful demonstration of the unemployed in Trafalgar Square with extreme brutality. Two hundred people were treated in the hospital and three of them died. Working-class London was outraged. The trauma of London&rsquos &ldquoBloody Sunday,&rdquo following so closely on Chicago&rsquos Black Friday, galvanized British radicals and reformers and gave rise to a British anarchist movement. 34

The news of Haymarket exerted its greatest influence on Spanish workers, who had organized a powerful federation with anarchist leaders in the early 1880s. When their open trade unions were destroyed, anarchists formed hundreds of resistance societies that existed side by side with workers&rsquo circles, café clubs and choirs the Spanish anarchists also supported newspapers that published talented writers and presented an enormous volume of information in accessible forms like serials and novellas. As a result, the story of the Chicago anarchists became so well known that the first anniversary of the executions in 1888 was widely observed by workers and radical intellectuals all over Spain, usually at evening festivities. Halls were transformed into shrines to the martyrs of Chicago as their retratos (portraits) were hung along with those of anarchist fathers like Mikhail Bakunin. Indeed, as the anarchist Peter Kropotkin reported, there was not a city in Spain worth mentioning where &ldquothe bloody anniversary&rdquo was not commemorated by enthusiastic crowds of workers. 35

When Samuel Gompers appealed to Governor Oglesby to commute the sentences of the anarchists on death row, he predicted that executing them would cause thousands and thousands of workingmen all over the world to look upon the anarchists as martyrs. This is precisely what happened as workers created a ritualized memory of their heroes. When Gompers visited European cities in 1895, he noticed that in nearly every union hall there were pictures of Parsons, Lingg, Spies and the others, with the inscription: LABOR&rsquoS MARTYRS TO AMERICAN CAPITALISM. On later visits, he saw that the same pictures were still there. 36

The memory of the Haymarket victims was further perpetuated when it became associated with the celebration of May Day as the International Workers&rsquo Day beginning in 1890. In cities all over Europe, the icons of the Chicago martyrs appeared in the First of May processions along with red flags and crimson flowers: in Barcelona, for example, where a militant strike for an eight-hour workday swept the city, and in Italian towns and cities from Piemonte to Calabria, where socialists and anarchists celebrated Primo Maggio with marches, festivals and strikes. Rank-and-file workers quickly transformed May Day into a potent ritual event to demonstrate for the eight-hour day, to assert a new working-class presence in society and, particularly in the Latin world, to commemorate the lives of the Chicago martyrs. 37

Events took a different turn in Chicago on May Day 1890, when trade union members paraded in a dignified way that pleased the Tribune. There was no general strike like the one that paralyzed the city in 1886. By contrast, union carpenters struck for eight hours on their own four years later and then led other workers in an orderly march through the downtown. The marchers were mostly British, American, Scandinavian, Canadian and German craftsmen. There were no Bohemian lumber shovers or Russian clothing workers in the line of march, and no one carried red flags or black-bordered images of dead anarchists. 38

THE RESPECTABLE DEMONSTRATION the Chicago carpenters led on May 1, 1890, indicated to the Tribune&rsquos editor that the city had entered a new era of peace and quiet. To Jane Addams, who had recently arrived in the city to open her Hull House settlement for the West Side poor, it seemed clear that the repressive measures imposed after Haymarket were being lifted. But, she recalled, the riot and all that followed had had a &ldquoprofound influence on the social outlook of thousands of people,&rdquo especially of the city&rsquos reform community. Led by the financier Lyman Gage, the labor activist George Schilling and other liberal-minded individuals, citizens participated in regular public discussions of social problems in which, Addams recalled, &ldquoevery shade of opinion was freely expressed.&rdquo It seemed to her that many citizens of Chicago had decided that &ldquothe only cure for anarchy was free speech and open discussion of the ills of which opponents of government complained.&rdquo 39

During the early 1890s, as the eight-hour campaign resumed, the voice of labor made itself heard again in industrial America, especially in Chicago, where trade unionists of various political persuasions joined middle-class reformers in creating a new form of urban liberalism. What disappeared was the energetic working-class radicalism that had erupted during the Great Upheaval of 1886, along with the massive national labor movement the Knights of Labor had begun to mobilize. In the aftermath of Haymarket, the International Working People&rsquos Association was obliterated, while the Knights were scapegoated from the outside, divided on the inside and all but destroyed by aggressive employers&rsquo associations and court injunctions. And yet the ethic of cooperation and the practice of solidarity endured in the 1890s. New industrial unions of coal miners, hard-rock metal miners and railway laborers appeared and carried on the tradition of broad-based unionism in the nation&rsquos largest industries. Meanwhile, the contest for the political soul of the labor movement resumed. Socialists like George Schilling and his comrades offered a spirited challenge to the brand of unionism espoused by American Federation of Labor officials like Sam Gompers, who avoided visionary thinking and focused on immediate economic and political goals. Indeed, within the emerging labor movement, a majority of union leaders, whatever their partisan views, agreed that society &ldquoas presently constituted&rdquo was &ldquocorrupt and vicious&rdquo and required &ldquocomplete reconstruction.&rdquo 40

Many of these activists believed unions on the shop floor were an embodiment of direct democracy and that the larger house of labor was a structure prefiguring a new kind of cooperative republic governed by the people, not ruled by the elite. The trade union was, said Gompers, &ldquothe germ of the future state which all will hail with glad acclaim.&rdquo Albert Parsons and August Spies had died, but elements of their &ldquoChicago idea&rdquo survived them. 41

As the labor movement revived itself during the early 1890s, concern mounted in labor circles over the fate of the surviving carriers of the Chicago idea, the three Haymarket convicts languishing in Joliet Prison. George Schilling, Henry Lloyd and others active in the original Amnesty Association even held out hope that the last of the anarchists, Fielden, Schwab and Neebe, might be pardoned. In a revealing letter written to Lucy Parsons, Schilling warned against her continuing use of violent rhetoric that would roil the calming waters of Chicago politics. When Lucy wrote to him about a particularly violent speech she delivered to an enthusiastic group of Italian workers, Schilling replied, &ldquoThe open espousal of physical force&mdashespecially when advocated by foreigners&mdash as a remedy for social maladjustments can only lead to greater despotism. &rdquo When the public was terrorized, policemen like Bonfield and &ldquohangmen&rdquo like Judge Gary mounted their saddles and rode in like &ldquosaviors of society.&rdquo Fear was not &ldquothe mother of progress&rdquo but of reaction, he added. Schilling told Lucy that her agitation still inspired such fear and could again call forth brutal men who would respond to forceful words with repressive actions. And then he added this sermon: &ldquoAt Waldheim sleep five men&mdashamong them your beloved husband&mdashwho died in the hope that their execution might accelerate the emancipation of the world. Blessed be their memories and may future generations do full justice to their courage and motives, but I do not believe that the time will ever come when the judgment of an enlightened world will say that their methods were wise or correct. They worshipped at the shrine of force wrote it and preached it until finally they were overpowered by their own Gods and slain in their own temple.&rdquo 42

In the fall of 1892, Schilling and other reformers turned from talk to action when they helped elect John P. Altgeld governor of Illinois. Born in Germany and raised on an Ohio farm, Altgeld suffered a rough life on the road until he began a successful career as a Chicago lawyer in 1875. His law practice soon became lucrative, as did his endeavors in real estate. He began to participate in Democratic Party politics, expressing conventional, if not conservative, views. Yet, after he was elected to a judgeship, he revealed sympathies for the underdog when he advocated for prison reform, condemned police brutality and defended immigrants against the charge that foreigners were more inclined toward crime and disorder than native-born Americans. An unlikely figure for a politician, Altgeld had an oddly shaped head topped with matted hair and was afflicted with a harelip that impeded his heavily accented speech. He was often the subject of ridicule in the Yankee press, but when he campaigned with Schilling in the union halls and immigrant saloons, he seemed enormously attractive to the men in working clothes who embraced Pete Altgeld as one of their own. Despite vitriolic attacks on him by some Chicago newspapers, he won an impressive victory in 1892, in part because of the massive labor vote rung up in city wards by his friend Schilling and other union leaders. 43

Labor activists were nearly as excited in the spring of 1893 when Carter Harrison miraculously returned from the oblivion to which he was assigned after Haymarket and won a fifth term as mayor, even after being red-baited with unprecedented severity. Once again the magician of Chicago politics brought his fellow citizens into a circle of civil discourse. Harrison&rsquos surprising election came at a time when American eyes were turned on Chicago, where the World&rsquos Fair opened on May 1, 1893&mdasha day no doubt chosen to signal a new beginning for the city, if not to erase the memory of a troubled time seven years before when the Great Upheaval and the Haymarket crisis tore the city apart. To battle-weary activists like George Schilling, it suddenly seemed like the dark memories of the 1870s and 1880s might be erased by the bright lights that lit the grand buildings of the World&rsquos Columbian Exposition.

The fair was a colossal success, revealing to millions of Americans what Henry Demarest Lloyd called the possibilities of &ldquosocial beauty, utility and harmony of which they have not been able even to dream.&rdquo Carter Harrison, the mayor who had been driven from office for allowing free speech to anarchists, became the exposition&rsquos dominant personality, the embodiment of Chicago&rsquos tolerant soul and progressive spirit. 44

The Haymarket case assumed a surprisingly prominent place in all this excitement. After John Peter Altgeld&rsquos inauguration as governor, Schilling, Lloyd and a young Ohio-born attorney named Clarence Darrow mounted a public campaign to pardon Fielden, Schwab and Neebe, on the ground that they had been denied a fair trial. Darrow, who had arrived in Chicago in 1888 and had plunged into Democratic politics on the West Side, became a follower of Henry George&rsquos brand of radicalism and an avid supporter of Pete Altgeld. His sympathy for the underdog and his interest in socialism and anarchism led him to investigate the case of the Haymarket anarchists in Joliet Prison and then to play a leading role in seeking their pardon. It was his first involvement in pleading the cases of notorious troublemakers&mdashthe beginning of a long and unparalleled career as &ldquothe attorney for the damned.&rdquo 45

So, during his first months in office, Altgeld was lobbied assiduously by two formidable advocates: Schilling, who helped engineer his election, and Darrow, a brilliant young legal talent who had become the governor&rsquos acolyte. Altgeld remained unmoved by their pleas until March, when he summoned Schilling to Springfield and asked him to gather, as secretly as possible, affidavits from jurymen, witnesses and victims of police violence whose testimony might be relevant in his review of the Haymarket case. 46

In a few weeks, Schilling produced a huge stack of signed statements from citizens who had been beaten and shot by the Chicago police or who had been arrested without warrants and held without charges after the bombing. Among them were affidavits given by men to whom the police had offered their freedom, plus cash, for testifying against the indicted anarchists. Schilling also collected affidavits from members of the jury pool indicating that the special bailiff summoned only men who expressed prejudice toward the defendants. Altgeld now had all the ammunition he needed to fire off a legal salvo that would resound for decades to come. 47

During the same month the fair opened in 1893, Lucy Parsons&rsquos effort to raise money for a monument on the martyrs&rsquo grave at Waldheim proceeded to its conclusion thanks to the efforts of the Pioneer Aid and Support Association, a group organized to care for the grave site and assist the families of the Haymarket anarchists. A sculptor, Albert Weinert, created a statue in forged bronze. Inspired by &ldquoLa Marseillaise,&rdquo the monument took the shape of a hooded woman placing a laurel on the head of a dying man. The female figure looks and strides forward assertively as if to protect the fallen worker at her feet. A parade of 1,000 people retraced part of the anarchists&rsquo funeral procession to attend the unveiling on June 25, 1893. The crowd included many visitors, native and foreign, who came to town for the World&rsquos Fair. During the day that followed, the Tribune reported that 8,000 more went out to Waldheim to view the monument. 48

Haymarket Martyrs&rsquo Monument, Waldheim Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois

In the year after the fair it was estimated that almost as many people came to see the monument at Waldheim as to see the beautiful Saint-Gaudens statue of Abraham Lincoln in the lakeside park named after him. There was nothing like the Haymarket memorial in any other cemetery, park or city square in America. For the martyrs&rsquo followers, the Waldheim monument became a ritual site for preserving a sacred memory that, without commemorative vigilance, would soon be erased. The memorial provided an even more enduring symbol than Lucy Parsons and her supporters imagined the haunting statue guarding the graves of the Haymarket anarchists also became a mecca, a kind of shrine for socialists and other pilgrims who came to visit from all over the world. 49

The morning after the monument dedication Governor John Peter Altgeld announced that he was pardoning Fielden, Schwab and Neebe. His bluntly written statement declared that the trial of the Haymarket eight had been unfair and illegal because &ldquoa packed jury had been selected to convict,&rdquo because &ldquomuch of the evidence given at the trial was a pure fabrication,&rdquo because the defendants were not proven guilty of the crime charged in the indictment, and finally, and most provocatively, because &ldquothe trial judge was either so prejudiced against the defendants or else so determined to win the applause of a certain class in the community, that he could not and did not grant a fair trial.&rdquo Altgeld went even further, saying he believed the bomb thrower was not acting as a part of a conspiracy but as an individual seeking revenge against a police force that had been beating and shooting unarmed working people since the railroad strike of 1877. 50

This gubernatorial opinion did not, however, bring an end to speculation about the bomb thrower&rsquos identity. City officials and many others, including historians, continued to believe the fugitive anarchist Schnaubelt was the perpetrator, even though the evidence against him was not credible. (Schnaubelt&rsquos odyssey had taken him from Chicago to the back-woods of Canada, where he lived among native people, then to England, where anarchists sheltered him, and finally to Argentina, where he became a successful manufacturer of farm equipment and lived a life of quiet respectability.) On the other hand, many working people, as well as advocates such as Captain Black and Henry Lloyd, continued to believe the bomber was either a Pinkerton agent who knew an attack on law officers would provoke a riot and a reaction against the eight-hour movement, or an off-duty policeman who was actually attempting to hurl his projectile into the crowd or at the speakers&rsquo wagon. 51

Many years later the scholar Paul Avrich researched every lead in the case and tentatively concluded that the perpetrator was either a Chicago anarchist known to Dyer Lum or a German ultramilitant from New York. However, Lum, embittered beyond endurance by the fate of his comrades, committed suicide a few months before Altgeld issued his pardon and died without revealing the name of the individual he supposedly knew to be the bomber. The German suspect from New York died without ever being identified, except in a private conversation between two old anarchists. 52

In any case, what mattered to Governor Altgeld was not the bomber&rsquos true identity, but the fact that the prosecution never charged anyone with committing the act and instead charged men with murder for allegedly having knowledge of an assassination plot. In giving his reasons for pardoning the Haymarket survivors, the governor vehemently objected to Judge Gary&rsquos ruling that the defendants could be tried for murder without proof that they had direct connection to the perpetrator. &ldquoNo judge in a civilized country has laid down such a rule,&rdquo he wrote. Altgeld concluded by agreeing with those who said Judge Gary had conducted the anarchists&rsquo trial with &ldquomalicious ferocity.&rdquo 53

The Haymarket case, already a prominent event in the minds of Americans and many Europeans, now became even more memorable because of this historic pardon and because of the way in which the governor of Illinois came out of his office and deliberately exposed himself to the thunderstorm of abuse that would follow his decision.

The next day, Darrow recalled, &ldquoa flood of vituperation and gall was poured out upon Altgeld&rsquos head.&rdquo A United States Supreme Court justice compared the governor to the traitor Jefferson Davis, and Robert Todd Lincoln, an influential figure in the Pullman Company, declared Altgeld&rsquos pardon a disgrace to the state where his martyred father was buried. Newspaper editors far and wide joined the chorus of condemnation. The Tribune&rsquos Joseph Medill, who despised Altgeld, now attacked him for issuing the pardon to pay off his electoral debt to socialist and anarchist voters. The governor &ldquowas not merely alien by birth but an alien by temperament and attitude&rdquo and an anarchist at heart. 54

Altgeld had never shown the slightest degree of sympathy for anarchists, but he had expressed indignation when immigrants were stereotyped as lawless and disorderly. However, the governor&rsquos pardon statement was not motivated mainly by sympathy for fellow Germans but by what Clarence Darrow called his &ldquopatriotic love of liberty&rdquo and his belief that the methods used to convict the anarchists were a greater menace to the Republic than what they had done. Altgeld feared that when the law was bent to deprive immigrants of their civil liberties, it would later be bent to deprive native sons and daughters of theirs as well. 55

Not everyone in Chicago condemned Altgeld, however. Three Chicago newspapers, including the Republican Inter-Ocean, defended his decision to pardon the anarchists. Some members of the city&rsquos legal and business communities who felt ashamed of the miscarriage of justice in 1886 also welcomed the pardon. One of them, a businessman named E. S. Dreyer, had headed the grand jury in the Haymarket case. After the trial he changed his mind about the case and signed the letter requesting clemency. When Governor Altgeld called Dreyer to the capital and asked him to take the pardon papers to Joliet Prison and present them to the three convicts, Dreyer broke down in tears. 56

Governor John Peter Altgeld

Arriving at the penitentiary, Dreyer found the anarchists soldiering away at their assigned tasks&mdashNeebe serving food in the commissary, Schwab binding books, as he had done in Germany, and Fielden breaking stone in the sun, working on contract for the same firm that had employed him as a teamster when he was a free man. The three men were amazed by the tone of Altgeld&rsquos tough statement, and, in an outpouring of gratitude, they promised to live obscure lives, so much so that when they made their way back to Chicago, they jumped off their train in the freight yards to avoid the press. 57

The three anarchists made good on their promises. Michael Schwab returned to the Arbeiter-Zeitung, where for two years he wrote articles friendly to the workingman. He then resigned and opened a shoe store, but he failed at this and died of tuberculosis three years later. Schwab asked to be buried at Waldheim with his old comrades. Oscar Neebe, whose first wife had died when he was in the Cook County Jail, married a German widow and quietly tended bar in her saloon near the stockyards until he died in 1916. He was interred next to his former partner August Spies. Sam Fielden inherited a small legacy from an English relative and moved to Colorado, where he lived a solitary, robust life in a log cabin until he died in 1922 at the age of seventy-four. 58

Altgeld&rsquos pardon, for all the fury it caused in elite circles, removed a bone that had been sticking in the throats of liberal Chicagoans since the anarchist trial ended and the four bodies swung from the gallows. Now these concerned citizens could look forward more easily to a glorious summer when the Columbian Exposition would forecast the city&rsquos spectacular future of progress, reform and civic enlightenment. Indeed, before the summer ended, the miraculous White City erected on the lake had revealed Chicago&rsquos greatness to the world. The day before the fair closed in the fall of 1893, Mayor Harrison said this and more in a memorable speech predicting that the exposition would inaugurate a wonderful new era for Chicago.

THE EUPHORIC SPELL the fair cast over the city ended that same night, however, when a terrible event marred all the days of glory just past. The mayor was murdered in the living room of his mansion, felled by a bullet from the gun of a deranged office seeker. In death, even Carter Harrison&rsquos enemies extolled his virtues while all Chicago mourned his passing it even seemed as though the mayor&rsquos legacy as a great unifier might inspire Chicagoans to maintain the civic solidarity and communal joy the fair had evoked. However, this wish would not come true, because in the next few months the city slid into another depression, and during the summer of 1894 its residents suffered another trauma produced by what seemed an unending and distressingly bloody conflict between labor and capital.

The trouble began unexpectedly on May 11 in George Pullman&rsquos model industrial town when 2,000 palace-car workers left their shops to protest drastic reductions in the workforce and a sharp wage cut of one-third for remaining employees. These losses were difficult to accept, because they came at a time when Pullman paid dividends to his stockholders. Furthermore, a piece-rate pay system, designed to boost output, alienated shop workers because they had to work faster and harder to make up for reduced wages and, at the same time, endure personal abuses from hard-driving foremen.

The strikers sought assistance from a new inclusive union of railroad workers whose leaders carried on the Knights&rsquo tradition of organizing all crafts and trades together. Led by Eugene V. Debs, a lanky organizer for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, the American Railway Union revived the spirit of 1886 on the railroads. Debs resisted pressure to call his members out in a sympathy strike, because he knew that Pullman and his corporate allies had formed an association of the twenty-four lines operating in and out of Chicago&mdashperhaps the most powerful group of businessmen ever organized. Nonetheless, when Pullman refused to negotiate with his men, Debs ordered a boycott of trains hauling Pullman sleeping cars. In a few weeks a great sympathy strike had spread far and wide, paralyzing the nation&rsquos railroads west of Chicago, idling 50,000 workers and creating a panic among businessmen. 59

Never before had a union exercised this kind of strategic power over the levers of commerce. Unable to break the strike, railroad managers attached U.S. Mail cars to trains carrying Pullman cars, so that when workers refused to haul them federal authorities could intervene. The U.S. attorney general, a railroad lawyer named Richard Olney, persuaded Democratic president Grover Cleveland to send army troops into Chicago to break the strike, because, he insisted, the country was once again on the &ldquoragged edge of anarchy.&rdquo In a short time, 15,000 regular army soldiers arrived from nearby Fort Sheridan, a base intended for just this kind of emergency by Marshall Field and his associates when they purchased the land on which it was constructed.

The battles that ensued in Chicago between troopers and strikers were the worst the country had seen since the bloodbath in Pittsburgh that began the great uprising in 1877. Hundreds of Chicago workers were wounded and at least thirty-four were killed before the fierce resistance was put down by army troops. Debs was arrested and later, after he was tried, sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court because he had defied state authority. While he stood trial, he waited in a Cook County Jail cell next to the one where Albert Parsons had been held on similar charges. 60

Debs and his union brothers had been utterly defeated by Pullman and his allies in the federal government. But the victory was a costly one for Chicago&rsquos most famous industrialist, one that cost him his reputation, and, some would say, his life. Pullman had created a model company town outside of Chicago, hoping to avoid its furies he had resisted the winds of change when they penetrated the walls of his city during the upheaval of 1886 and when they came again eight years later, reaching hurricane force. Still, the violent events of 1894 signaled that the end was near for the great industrialist and his company town. In the aftermath a federal commission condemned Pullman for exploiting his own employees and for refusing to consider their grievances. Weakened by the strike, Pullman died of heart failure three years later in the midst of a legal battle with the state&rsquos attorney general to maintain his corporate charter and his private company houses. Family members commissioned a grand Corinthian column to top his grave, but also ordered that Pullman&rsquos iron-clad casket be buried in reinforced concrete because they feared that angry workers might vandalize his remains. 61

The battle of 1894 also transformed Pullman&rsquos adversary, Eugene Debs, who, during his incarceration, decided that Americans were losing many of their precious liberties and that only radical measures could recover them. In fact, in response to the Pullman boycott federal courts had outlawed two of the most effective forms of labor solidarity to emerge from the Great Upheaval: the boycott and the sympathy strike. The following year the Illinois Supreme Court obliterated another vestige of 1886 when it struck down an eight-hour law covering women and children working in industry. These court actions initiated an era of extreme judicial hostility to nearly all forms of union organization and collective labor activity, a time when some union leaders abandoned militant tactics and radical dreams in search of accommodation, while others turned to direct action and violent forms of resistance. 62

George M. Pullman in the mid-1890s

Eugene Debs refused to take either course after he was released from prison in November of 1895. Instead, he embraced democratic socialism and took the lead in building a popular movement that he hoped would regain workers&rsquo lost liberties. Debs expressed no sympathy for anarchy in his jailhouse interviews or in the many speeches he delivered after his release from prison. However, when he came to Chicago two years later to found a new socialist group, Debs met with Lucy Parsons and made a pilgrimage to Waldheim, where he visited the graves of the men he regarded as &ldquothe first martyrs to the cause of industrial freedom.&rdquo 63

The Pullman disaster also led some influential Chicagoans to recall the Haymarket tragedy, and to reassess its meaning in light of current events. A year later, as Clarence Darrow pled Eugene Debs&rsquos case before the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds, an impressive new history of Chicago was published. One of the editors, Joseph Kirkland, a noted writer, carefully reviewed the Haymarket case, which he regarded as a critical moment in the city&rsquos history. Kirkland&rsquos detailed account of the trial reiterated the criticisms of the police, the bailiff, the prosecuting attorneys and the judge that Governor Altgeld had leveled against the same men in his famous pardon. 64

The facts of the Haymarket case, wrote Kirkland, showed that the state had not only been unable to produce the bomber it had failed to prove the existence of an anarchist conspiracy. Indeed, it was now known that much of the evidence given at the trial was &ldquopure fabrication&rdquo and that prominent police officials had bribed some witnesses and even threatened to torture others unless they testified as they were told. 65 Kirkland&rsquos account of the Haymarket trial subverted the prosecution&rsquos case and vindicated the defense. George Schilling, William Dean Howells and others involved in the amnesty movement in 1887 had impatiently awaited the judgment of history now it came, sooner than expected, reversing in almost every respect the legal judgment rendered by the court.

Kirkland closed the case in another way, however, one that gave no comfort to Lucy Parsons and the anarchist party of memory. As the years passed, he explained, the awful Haymarket tragedy had begun to fade from people&rsquos minds, just like &ldquothe cloud of Anarchism,&rdquo which had once loomed in the sky like &ldquoa portentous menace to the peace of society,&rdquo and then had passed into &ldquoan innocuous vapor.&rdquo Now, he observed, the memory of the dead anarchists could only be &ldquorevived by their admiring disciples in feeble demonstrations on the anniversary of their execution.&rdquo 66

Indeed, every November 11, Lucy Parsons, Lizzie Holmes and other devoted custodians of the anarchists&rsquo memory faithfully gathered for the graveside ceremonies at Waldheim, where they sought to revive the martyrs&rsquo spirit with a passionate, almost religious, fervor. On one of these elegiac occasions, Emma Goldman proclaimed that these &ldquomartyrs of liberty&rdquo would continue to grow in their graves and &ldquowould live with us always unto all eternity.&rdquo She also believed their memory would be revived by a resurgent anarchist movement in the next century, when humanity would enter a new time without warring nations, conflicting classes and dominating authorities. And so, in the years after Black Friday, anarchists gathered in little circles on November 11&mdashnot simply to mourn their heroes but also to venerate the men whose martyrdom would revive libertarian beliefs and inspire new believers around the world. This memorial day became an occasion for the faithful to express joy about the lives of the martyrs whose deaths mystically ensured the ultimate triumph of anarchism. 67

And yet, as the nineteenth century ended with the trumpets of militarism and imperialism blaring in Cuba and the Philippines, and with the engines of corporate capitalism roaring from Pittsburgh to Chicago, even dedicated visionaries like Lizzie Holmes harbored doubts that anarchist beliefs were spreading. She and William had left Chicago for Denver, where their home became a refuge for traveling anarchists like Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman. On these visits Lizzie and Lucy recalled the &ldquostirring enthusiastic days&rdquo in Chicago, the loud rallies, colorful marches, the huge strikes and the desperate fight to save the lives of Albert and the other &ldquoHaymarket boys.&rdquo Lizzie Holmes and her husband had remained as keenly devoted to their anarchist ideals as they had been &ldquoin the days when their faith was young and their hopes were high.&rdquo As the November 11 memorial day of the Chicago anarchists approached in 1898, Lizzie wrote that she and William were &ldquostill looking longingly toward the east for the dawn of a new day for humanity.&rdquo But at the next anniversary ceremony at Waldheim, she confessed that her hopes were fading. &ldquoAs we clasp hands above their graves today,&rdquo she said, &ldquowe cannot say the dawn is brighter, that mankind is happier and freer.&rdquo As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Lizzie Holmes admitted that the anarchists buried at Waldheim no longer had a known following and that their lives and their ideas no longer held deep meaning for working people. A little more than a decade after the hangings on Black Friday, it appeared that the Haymarket martyrs had become lost in the past, forgotten and misunderstood. 68


Portside

Historians have been known to remark that we write history in the context of present concerns. Timothy Messer-Kruse’s recent revisionist histories of the Haymarket anarchists are written in a time when reality is framed by what many scholars call the carceral state, and produced for a competitive academic marketplace.

This context might explain why the author misrepresents the work of other historians, reads the trial transcript with a prosecutorial bias, and attacks the characters and political commitments of the Chicago anarchists of the International Working People’s Association (IWPA) in a sectarian spirit.

In both The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists (Trial) and The Haymarket Conspiracy: Transnational Anarchist Networks (HC), Timothy Messer-Kruse asserts that he is representing the true ideals of the Haymarket anarchists whose legend has been defanged, and portraying them as actors instead of victims of history. In his portrait the Haymarket anarchists did, as the prosecution argued, aid and abet an unknown bomber (probably Rudolph Schnaubelt) in throwing a bomb at the police on May 4, 1886.

In addition, they provoked the police to attack them because they believed the moment for revolution had come. He claims further that the anarchists did not really support the labor movement but instead used it as an opportunity to stir up violence, and finally, that their trial was fair.

What Other Historians Wrote

Messer-Kruse writes that previous historians have found the Haymarket trial to be unfair because they followed the accounts of the original defense campaign instead of impartially reading the trial record. He sees today’s historians, both academic and popular, as misrepresenting the anarchists: “bomb talkers filled with revolutionary fervor but actually pacifists at heart” (HC, 5).

This claim is easy to disprove the example of Messer-Kruse’s reading of Paul Avrich is typical of his representations of other historians. Messer-Kruse describes Avrich’s Haymarket Tragedy as making a “brief reference to the fact that police officers discovered bombshells in the home of one defendant, Louis Lingg,” to argue that Avrich downplayed the anarchists’ revolutionary ideology.

In the 17-page chapter “the Cult of Dynamite,” Avrich describes the Haymarket anarchists’ belief in armed revolution and their celebration of dynamite as a social leveler. He draws from Captain Michael Schaack’s account, Anarchy and Anarchists, and writes of Lingg:

“There were some, however, for whom the impulse to violence was strong, and who were ready to immolate others as well as themselves in the service of what they believed to be just. Lingg, for example, is known to have made and accumulated bombs, and possibly Engel and Fischer as well. According to Captain Schaack, moreover, Neebe lost all five fingers of his right hand by the premature explosion of a bomb with which he was experimenting.”(1)

Avrich’s chapter concludes that by the time of the eight-hour day strikes, anarchists were ready to “answer violence with violence” and that the “stage was set for the Haymarket tragedy” before the bomb was thrown.(2)

James Green also comes in for a drubbing for downplaying the importance of violence to the anarchists, even though Green describes Engel and Fischer, in Death at the Haymarket, as “ultra-militants” with “apocalyptic views” and calls Lingg a “disciple” of the German assassin August Reinsdorf.(3)

Opportunistic Followers of Bakunin?

On the question of anarchist support for the labor movement, Messer-Kruse makes the case that the Chicago group were closer to Bakunin than Marx, and that they were not genuine labor movement advocates.

In The Haymarket Conspiracy, Messer-Kruse describes Marx’s revolutionary theory as a kind of elitest gradualism involving the tutoring by socialists of the “benighted masses.” (HC, 33) For Bakunin, by contrast, he argues, revolution was not a future “abstraction” but an immediate goal.

Thus, if the anarchists made an argument for the use of force rather than advocating a gradual and “intellectual” process, they were neither Marxists, nor genuine members of the labor movement. Instead, he reaches the damning conclusion that they were using the Chicago labor movement as a “Trojan Horse” to carry out Bakuninist ideology.

Rather than responding to police violence, he argues, they tried to “fan strikes into violence” in order to provoke revolution by propaganda of the deed. He extrapolates from their speeches and writing criticizing the limitations of trade union reforms under capitalism, reading statements such as “Whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave,” to mean that the anarchists’ relationship to the labor movement was simply opportunistic. (HC, 156)

Despite this argumentative purpose, The Haymarket Conspiracy does have the value of producing a new narrative of 19th century anarchist history in the United States that includes the influence of German propagandists of the deed including August Reinsdorf, Johann Most, and Edward Nathan-Ganz, all of whom were mentioned in the American anarchist papers of the time, and two of whom came to America where they influenced not only German socialists, but also, as Messer-Kruse notes, “Yankee” anarchists in New England.

Reading the Transcript

The most sensational claim Messer-Kruse makes, and why his book was promoted in such unlikely places for left history as The National Review, is that when he read the trial transcript he became convinced of the Haymarket anarchists’ guilt. He finds the prosecution witnesses credible, the defense witnesses not so, and accepts the prosecution’s theory of the bombing.(4)

That is: The anarchists met in Greif’s Hall, formulated a plan to attack the police to ignite revolution, put the secret code “Ruhe” into the newspaper as a signal that the moment for revolt had come, and then acted on May 4, 1886, first by throwing a bomb and then immediately by shooting the police.

Although Messer-Kruse goes to some length to show that it had to be anarchists who shot the police after the bomb was thrown, he qualifies his case by arguing that “according to the law that was operative at the time of the Haymarket trial, the most relevant act was not the throwing of the bomb but the meeting at which the attack was planned…every man present in the cellar was as legally culpable as the bomber himself.” (HC, 24)

Based on this theory, it was the prosecution’s task to prove that the chain of events from the meeting of the Lehr und Wehr Verein (“Education and Resistance Association”) in Greif’s Hall led to the May 4 meeting, bomb throwing and subsequent shooting attack. According to the key prosecution witnesses, all of whom were originally among those indicted for the crime, the only defendants present at the meeting were Adolph Fischer and George Engel.(5)

William Seliger, who was named in the Grand Jury indictment as late as June 4, 1886, gave damning testimony. He said Louis Lingg was furiously making bombs as part of the Greif’s Hall plan, and said that Lingg commented that if the word “Ruhe” appeared in the paper it meant that everything would go “topsy-turvy.”

Seliger switched sides late and it seems likely that the defense team knew that he would testify about Lingg. Thus on June 21 the defense moved to separate the other four defendants from Fischer, Engel and Lingg. (Haymarket Affair Digital Collection [HADC] v. I, 128)(6) Messer-Kruse describes this defense motion as a mystery both for its timing and for the way the defense argued for separation — but Seliger’s move to testify for the prosecution and thus escape being a defendant himself, is likely to have been the decisive factor. (Trial, 43)

Although Messer-Kruse presents the testimony about the Monday night meeting as conclusive, a review of the trial transcript shows it to have left room for reasonable doubt (in a fair-minded jury). Bernardt Schrade testified that there were about 30 people present. Speakers said the Lehr und Wehr Verein should “be prepared” if police were to “go beyond their bounds” but that there was no talk of bombs, dynamite, or shooting police. (HADC v. I, 140-167)

William Seliger testified that 70 members of the Lehr und Wehr Verein were at the meeting and swore to attack the police with force of bombs and pistols if the police attacked the workers. Gustav Lehman tells a similar story: the plan was to be ready and armed in case of police attacks on demonstrations. Gottfried Waller said the plan was more proactive — to attack police stations by throwing bombs into them, and then shooting down the police as they ran out. (HADC v. I, 53-75, 96-100, 101-140)

On cross-examination, neither Schrade nor Seliger said that they anticipated that the police would come to the Haymarket. They did not believe that an attack would take place there, nor did they understand the moment of revolution to be nigh on May 4th.

Messer-Kruse ends his discussion of Waller’s testimony on page 111 of the transcript. (Trial, 206, fn. 22-25) However, Waller’s cross-examination continued for another 28 pages, including this dialogue:

Q: And you say that nothing was said at the Monday night meeting with reference to any action to be taken by you on the Haymarket?
A: We should not do anything we were not to do anything at the Haymarket Square.
Q: Wasn’t the plan that you should not be present there at all?
A: Yes.
Q: And you also say that you did not anticipate that the police would come to the Haymarket?
THE INTERPRETER — He said simply, no.
Q: What do you mean by no — it was not anticipated?
A: We did not think that the police would come to Haymarket.
Q: And for this reason no preparations were made for meeting any police attack on the Haymarket Square?
A: No not by us.
Q: And you say that the word “Ruhe” was adopted as a signal to call all the members of the armed section to their meeting places in case of a downright revolution. That is what you want to be understood as saying?
A: It was to be the signal to bring the members together at the various meetings in case of a revolution, but it was not to be in the papers until the revolution should actually take place. (HADC, v. I, 112)

If Waller’s testimony is accurate, the most that can be concluded from this testimony is that Adolph Fischer, who put the word “Ruhe” in the paper, believed that the moment of revolution had come. In The Haymarket Conspiracy Messer-Kruse speculates that if Spies asked Adolph Fischer, who was after all the Arbeiter-Zeitung’s typesetter, about why the word “Ruhe” had been inserted, it meant that Spies “recognized this signal was associated with the planned Haymarket meeting” or at least knew of Fischer’s association with it. (HC, 19)

During the same cross-examination, Waller described how he and several other men who had been at the Greif’s Hall meeting, and had their names published in the paper as being indicted in the bombing, were blacklisted from work and living in fear of going on trial for bombing the police. Waller describes how, in this context, Captain Schaack got him off that blacklist to allow him to work and also paid his rent (HADC v. I, 123-125).(7) He describes a meeting of 14 of these indicted men in Folz’s Hall with District Attorney Grinnell, Captain Schaack and some prominent Germans. On redirect, Grinnell made sure again to remind Waller of the content of the meeting, asking:

Did he not say to you people there then in German that the act of the 4th of May had been a disgrace to the German Nationality?
A: Yes.
Q: And it was now time in this free country for the laboring man, if he had any rights, to get them by agitation, legitimate agitation and proper legislation?
A: Yes.
Q: And not by bloodshed and riot?
A: Yes.
Q: And did he not say to you then, there, that if you told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that the police of the town would see that your person was safe, and that you would be fairly dealt by with the State?
A: Yes. (HADC v. I, 128, 135)

In Messer-Kruse’s reading, the pressure of the indictment and the publication of the names of these indicted men in a city newspaper is minimized in favor of the theory that the witnesses had to overcome a much greater fear of murder by other anarchists for being squealers.

While Messer-Kruse makes sure that the reader knows about every threatening word uttered by an anarchist, nowhere does he discuss the context of police violence against the Chicago labor movement, the violent suggestions made in newspapers about strikers and union activists from the 1870s up to the events of May 1886, or the possibility that individual police might pose a threat to anarchists associated with the bombing.

From the beginning, the author removes the presumption of innocence for the men on trial and replaces it with his own certainty of guilt, swaying readers by describing the anarchists — but not the police whose attack on the demonstration preceded both the bomb throwing and the shooting that followed — as “rioters.” Instead, we read that perhaps that the entire event that night “was planned to lure the police into an ambush.” (Trial, 106)(8)

To supplement the transcript, Messer-Kruse relies extensively on testimony recorded in Captain Michael Scaack’s Anarchy and Anarchists, a book containing references to anarchist women as six-foot tall “squaws” and described by Chicago Police Superintendant Ebersold as a “complete fabrication.”(9) While he argues that it is notable for how well it backs up the prosecution’s case, this should not be surprising given that the book was published after the executions by the chief investigating officer in the case.

Legal Questions

While Messer-Kruse defends the trial’s legality with the argument that it met the legal standards of its time, he does not include much legal scholarship in his analysis. Most left commenters have argued that it does not make sense to convict and sentence to death seven people on the charge of “aiding and abetting” a principal actor who was never identified.

This was a key point raised in Governor Altgeld’s pardon. (Trial, 174) Messer-Kruse argues that it is not really a problem because by the standards of the law of Illinois in 1886, accessories were seen as equally guilty as principals. He does admit that “no amount of lawyerly explanation could ever make a conspiracy trial without the main perpetrator in the conspiracy seem completely legitimate.” (Trial, 181)(10)

Until 1820 it was not possible to convict an accessory without finding the principal guilty. While lawyers and legal historians agreed at the time that it was legal to try people as accessories where principals had died or “escaped justice,” they did not discuss what it meant to try a case against an accessory without positively identifying the principal or providing evidence to connect a specific principal actor to the accessories.(11)

In light of this point, Lingg’s own instruction to the jury (rejected by the court) that they should not convict him of the bombing unless they could tie him to the bomber, rather than to the bomb, makes sense. (HADC v.O, 39-40)

Messer-Kruse also argues that the defense lawyers’ accusations of juror bias were irrelevant. Although the trial transcript reveals that many of the jurors expressed a belief in the anarchists’ guilt during voir dire, he points out that the Illinois law at the time allowed the seating of jurors who believed in the guilt of the defendants.

While it is true that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the jury process on appeal, it is precisely because of the efforts of defense lawyers that standards for jury selection have changed. Today’s legal standards are different because of activist lawyers who said the old standards were unfair, even if they lost the legal arguments until later in the 20th century.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the case’s legal history was the anarchists’ argument that it was legal to use armed self-defense against the police.(12) Messer-Kruse writes that making this argument was a concession to the prosecution.

Given the ongoing anxieties of the time, when urban police forces were relatively new and often seen as corrupt, and when armed vigilantism was sometimes endorsed in the national press, the case could be seen as a test of the legality of workers’ fighting against police who were deemed to be “unlawful” in their actions.(13)

To modern eyes it seems amazing that the judge entertained argument on the point, suggesting that it was a legal possibility to establish the right to armed self-defense against unlawful police action.

Messer-Kruse returns again and again to the notion that since the anarchists advocated force of any kind they were legally guilty of the May 4th bombing, erasing any distinction between calls for armed self-defense against the police and the advocacy of revolution by propaganda of the deed. He argues that they are guilty because their advocacy of force inspired someone to act that day.

An entire history of First Amendment law has tried to define the limits of the political advocacy of armed struggle. The Haymarket anarchists and their lawyers fit squarely within this history. In fact this case was one of those that influenced legal thinkers as the court moved from the “Bad Tendency” to the “Clear and Present Danger” doctrine.(14)

Judge Gary argued that the defendants had “excited the people…to sedition, tumult and riot, and to use deadly weapons against, and take the lives of other persons. “ Gary later wrote that he had to make this argument because no law existed to preserve order against the dangerous ideas of the anarchists.(15)

Messer-Kruse seems to conclude that advocating revolution as anything other than an “abstract” notion in the far distant future should be illegal, and writes that the anarchists’ advocacy of revolution was “well beyond the liberties of the first amendment” without consulting a single work of First Amendment history. (Trial, 124)

The State Supreme Court did find Gary to be in error on his instruction to the jury because of this description of general incitement. However wrong it was, the court concluded, it was not a significant error, since Gary also gave them more specific instructions later on. This is tortured reasoning.

Unsurprisingly, Messer-Kruse agrees with the court. (Trial, 127) After four hours of deliberation and a good night’s sleep, the legally unbiased jury, according to the laws of the time, pronounced their sentence of “guilty” on all eight defendants.

Messer-Kruse is right that most historians have not consulted the full trial transcript, and that their work could benefit from doing so. It is also time for a book which takes the legal points involved in the Haymarket Affair into greater consideration. Neither The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists nor The Haymarket Conspiracy has accomplished this historical work.


Watch the video: 14. únor 1945 bombardování Prahy