death of the haymarket BY eperez86881 The Haymarket Rally was not a random happening. It was the end result of nearly a decade of protesting and strikes. The beginning point of this long road, if there ever was one, would be the campaign for the eight hour work day. The eight hour work day for skilled labor was championed by one William Sylvis. Sylvis was an iron molder who was the President of the National Union of Iron Molders, when he decided to have all skilled laborers in unions. He felt that it would be beneficial to owners to employ union worker because they had the proper level of skills to perform the Jobs ecessary.
One of his largest successes was the agreement of employers agreeing to only hire men who carried a union card. His next idea, one that ultimately fell flat, was the idea that skilled workers should only work for eight hours. When employers complained that there would be a decreased amount of production from the two hours lost, and that they, the employers had already been gracious enough to lower the working period down from twelve hours. Sylvis believed that the workers, being more rested because of the shorter work day, would be more productive.
Sylvis went n to organize the National Labor Union, sadly, Sylvis died at the age of 41, and all his plans fell apart after his death. Even as the grand plan fell, the embers did not die out. The cause were taken up by one Albert Parson. Parson was born in Texas, and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Upon returning home after the war had ended, he started farming long enough to pay his way through college. Much to the surprise of his friends and family, after college Parson started a paper that championed the cause of the colored person.
This was quite a dangerous stance to ake, as he was the only outspoken Republican in Democrat Texas. He spent his days dodging the Ku Klux Klan, and the nights speaking out to hordes of freed slaves as he started a political campaign. Because of all this, the officials in charge of Reconstruction appointed him to be a Federal Revenue Inspector. Sadly, roughly right after this happened, the Democrats returned to the political sphere of Texas, and worked hard and fast to undue all of the progress made by the Reconstruction. Albert and his new young wife, Lucy Parson, fled the Deep South and traveled to the ooming city of Chicago.
They moved into the growing German North Side, uncaring of racial hostility as Albert looked for a Job, his skills as a minor political official meaning nothing to the employers of Chicago. Also entering Chicago at this time was one August Spies. A German born emigrant born of a government employee, Spies had a good childhood until his father died, after which he and his mother decided to move to the United States where he had many successful relatives who had made it large. Upon moving to the United States, he settled in New York, where he learned kills in upholstery.
After a while, he took up the life of an itinerant laborer. On his travels he noticed how many people were slaves to work, lacking in manhood, and were servile to the wishes of their arbitrary employers. Eventually, he blew into Chicago, as many itinerant workers were wont to do. There, he Joined the Socialist Labor Party, and eventually led the radical aspect of the party. After being denounced by the national leaders, Spies Joined the staff of the Arbeiter-Zeitung. From here he was able to proclaim his socialist values to the people of Chicago.
The bid bad, the employers of the city. There were some among this elite class which listened to the mass of workers, like Pullman who created a new town from which he based his factories, and had his workers live in company owned housing. He had a ten hour work day, and was held as a forward thinking man. Sadly, his ideas were not popular among his colleagues. A collision occurred when Cyrus McCormick, founder of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, died in 1884, leaving the business to his wife, who then gave it to her son within a year.
Cyrus McCormick Junior did not fully nderstand the tensions surrounding the working class and big business when he cut the waged of his workers in 1885. When they went on strike demanding a return to the previous pay level, he hired strike breakers and the Pinkertons to protect the scabs from the striking workers. Another thing he did not realize was the poor blood between the Pinkertons and the Irish that made up a part of his workforce. The Irish rose up in force against the Pinkertons, who broke ranks when they saw trolley cars of Irish coming at them. At this point Cyrus Jr. egged the Mayor of Chicago for more olice officers to protect the strike breaker that he was employing, but the office of the Mayor refused. During all of this, other business owners heard and understood that there was the beginnings of a great strike in progress because the workers felt for their unemployed brethren. The other business owners met with Cyrus Jr. and advised him to fold, that holding out against his workers would likely mean another great workingman’s strike in the city of Chicago. As a result, Cyrus Jr. offered to return the wages to their previous level for the skilled laborers.
The strikers knew that the all was in their court, so they refused. They demanded that all of the strike breakers be fired and that the unskilled laborers also had their wages restored. Cyrus Jr. capitulated, but came away from the ordeal with the belief that all unionists needed to be gotten rid of in all of his factories. On May 1, 1886, there was a series of mass strikes in the City of Chicago. Hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike for the May Day celebration. The Upholstery Union, the Freight Handlers, and the Lumber yard workers all planned on taking the Monday of May first off.
In response, even those who had their demands met planned to strike to show their support for those who still did not have the eight hour work day. Some groups, like the sheet metal workers and the packinghouse workers had no plans to strike because of the fact that they got the eight hour work day, and believed to show their employers their thanks. Sadly, there was yet another situation underway at the McCormick manufacturing plant, one where all the Union workers were locked out, and that non- unionists were employed, protected by the police.
The city wide strike held until May rd, when the Knights of Labor unilaterally ended the strike because the leaders felt they would fail. When this happened, employers holding out strengthened their resolve to tough it out against the unions. August Spies was raising the workers spirits with rousing speeches when he was asked to come down to the lumber yards to speak. This impromptu rally took place near the McCormick manufacturing plant, and so some o those workers attended Spies spiel. Everything was subdued until the work shit ended.
At this point, the Unionist McCormick workers rushed the gates o heir plant and were met by gunfire from the police, which in turn scattered the lumber workers, despite Spiels calls to aid their brethren in labor. The papers, assaulted the McCormick plant urged on by a ranting man named August Spies while the Gallant Police defending the grounds. It was in this turmoil filled atmosphere that the papers reported more and more riots going across the city, from school children breaking windows when denied a demand for 1 hour less of school to girls working in clothing shops dismanteling the machines.
On the evening of May 4 there was a rally rganized to take place at the Haymarket on Randolph Street. The rally was a peaceful one until near the end, when workers started to head home. At this point, when there might have been 500 people left when the street was filled with police demanding they break up the rally. The remaining workers agreed when someone threw a bomb into the block of police. Almost instantly the bomb exploded, causing the police to open fire on the crowd. Parsons, who was enjoying a beer, watched the rally end when he suddenly saw a white sheet on light, then a hail of bullets.
Ater the gunire died down, Parsons was convinced to go into hiding because his friends believed that there would be a witch hunt soon and they feared for his life. In the aftermath, there were 7 dead policemen, and 3 or more workers dead from the police gunfire. The next morning the papers called for blood; the blood of the anarchist labor union organizers. Many reporters worked through the night to put out an early edition listing the crimes of all the radical, wild haired, shifty eyed Godless heathens who needed to be hung, or deported away from the United States.
As the press across the nation raged at the immigrants who dare to attack the nation that welcomed them, the Chicago police were busy at work trying to collect evidence from the bombing. When it turned out that they did not have enough to convict anyone, they started to threaten and pay off people to have them testify against the trial that was starting up. On trial were eight people; August Spies, Samuel Fieldon, Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons, Michael Schwab, George Engel, Louis Lingg, and Oscar Neebe. They were charged with the murder of 7 police officers.
While setting up for the trial, the first Judge had to recuse himself, because he felt that he could not be impartial. The second Judge, the Honorable Judge Gary, went forward with the trial while ignoring the concept of a impartial Jury of one’s peers. After a while of trial, Judge Gary told the prosecutors to charge the defendants with enabling an atmosphere conducive to making a bomb. This was because there was no evidence to be had for making a murder charge stick. Eventually the populace at large was appeased, and the defendants were sent to hang.