The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.
- August Spies
in remembrance of the Haymarket Martyrs, my beautiful comrades of anarchy…
thank you for paving the road for today’s resistance. I hope to come pay my respects in person soon.
[excerpted from The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs, edited by Philip S. Foner, Pathfinder: NY, 1977.]
On the night of May 4, 1886, a dynamite bomb was thrown into a group of policemen who had just begun to disperse a small crowd of workingmen still milling about in the Haymarket in Chicago’s West Side. One policemen was killed instantly by the bomb, several others were wounded so severely that they died later. The police immediately opened fire, and before the Haymarket riot ended, several workers were killed (how many is unknown) and at least 200 were wounded.
A wave of hysteria swept Chicago and the rest of the nation. During it a number of anarchists were indicted.
No proof was offered by the State that any of the indicted men had thrown or planted the bomb, and at no time during the trial was the State able to connect the defendants directly with the throwing of the bomb, or even to establish that they had in any way approved or abetted this act.
State’s Attorney Grinnell’s summation speech to the jury:
"Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial. These men have been selected, picked out by the grand jury and indicted because they were leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society.”
[excerpted from the trial speech by August Spies]
"Anarchism is on trial!" foams Mr. Grinnell. If that is the case, your honor, very well; you may sentence me, for I am an Anarchist. I believe with Buckle, with Paine, Jefferson, Emerson, and Spencer, and many other great thinkers of this century, that the state of castes and classes – the state where one class dominates over and lives upon the labor of another class, and calls this order – yes; I believe that this barbaric form of social organization, with its legalized plunder and murder, is doomed to die, and make room for a free society, voluntary association, or universal brotherhood, if you like. You may pronounce the sentence upon me, honorable judge, but let the world know that in A. D. 1886, in the State of Illinois eight men were sentenced to death, because they believed in a better future; because they had not lost their faith in the ultimate victory of liberty and justice!
Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe petitioned and were pardoned as innocent after 6 years of imprisonment.
Lingg committed suicide by blowing up a bomb in his mouth just one day before the execution.
Despite appeals, countless petitions, protests, pleas and defense movements from both national and international workers, unions, and supporters, the four anarchists Parsons, Spies, Engel, and Fischer were hanged to death on November 11, 1887.