Part 2: The Haymaker Affair

About the actual events of the Haymaker affair an event that led to the eight hour work day but started with bloodshed.

On the Way to the 8-Hour Day--The Haymarket Affair

By David Wallechinsky

Only 1,200 to 1,300 persons showed up, so the rally was moved to a truck wagon in front of the Crane Brothers' factory nearby. The 1st speaker was Spies, who gave a relatively mild 20-minute speech in which he attacked the "capitalistic" press "for misrepresenting the cause of labor." He blamed the employers and the police for the violence: "McCormick is the man who created the row Monday, and he must be held responsible for the murder of our brothers." (Cries of "Hang him!") "Don't make any threats, they are of no avail. Whenever you get ready to do something, do it and don't make any threats beforehand."

At 9 P.M., the 2nd speaker, Albert Parsons, mounted the truck. Parsons, a noted anarchist leader, was born in Alabama and served in the Confederate Army. He then alienated his distinguished family by marrying a Mexican-Indian woman named Lucy Gonzales and becoming involved in radical causes.

This evening, sensitive to the volatile atmosphere, he was less incendiary than usual, choosing to speak on the general state of labor. Filling his speech with lots of statistics, he pointed out that the worker received only 15cent out of every dollar, while the rest went to the capitalists.

The last speaker was Samuel Fielden, a 40-year-old teamster who had immigrated from England. His main theme was a statement that had been made by Congressman Foran of Ohio that the workingman could expect no relief or aid from legislation. After 10 minutes, a cold wind and rain convinced 3/4 of the crowd not to wait for the end of Fielden's speech.

At 10:20 he began, "In conclusion . . ." and then, to everyone's amazement, 180 police appeared in formation, led by Captains Bonfield and Ward. A short interchange took place.

Ward: "In the name of the people of the State of Illinois, I command this meeting immediately and peaceably to disperse."

Fielden: "We are peaceable."

He, Spies, and others began to descend from the truck wagon. Without warning, a dynamite bomb flew through the air, hit the ground, and exploded in front of the police. The police re-formed and opened fire. There was a feeble response from the crowd, which quickly dispersed.

One policeman, Mathias J. Degan, died immediately and 6 others died in the hospital. Over 70 law officers were injured. The civilian casualties were 2 dead and an estimated 60 injured.

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