Subversive Historian – 11/11/08

The Haymarket Martyrs

One-hundred and twenty-one years ago on this day in people’s history, four martyrs of the Haymarket Riot were executed by the state. On November 11th, 1887 anarchist labor organizers Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were all put to death before the hangman’s noose after a dubious show trial. The four condemned men had been activists involved in the Haymarket demonstrations in Chicago for the right to an eight hour workday. Four days later, the men would go on to organize a rally at Haymarket Square to denounce deadly police violence against workers on strike when an unknown assailant threw a bomb that exploded killing a policeman and causing chaos to ensue. The subsequent Haymarket Riot trial failed to prove that any of the executed men had actually thrown the bomb, but they were nevertheless convicted on the basis that their radical beliefs supposedly promoted such violence.

To the contrary, Spies defined his ideals by stating, “Anarchism does not mean bloodshed; it does not mean robbery, arson. These monstrosities are the characteristic features of capitalism.”


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