Part 3: Rounding up the Suspects in the Haymaker Affair

About the days after the Haymaker affair, the police's effort to round up those involved and the actions of one Albert Parsons.

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

By David Wallechinsky

The public was shocked by the affair, and the nation's press almost universally condemned radicals, anarchists, socialists, and aliens, particularly Germans. On May 5, The New York Times declared that the anarchists were guilty of the bomb throwing. Within 2 days the police, under the command of the infamous Captain Michael J. Schaack, raided 50 supposed "hangouts" of anarchists and socialists and arrested or questioned over 200 people.

Chief of Police Ebersold, speaking 3 years later, said, "Schaack wanted to keep things stirring. He wanted bombs to be found here, there, everywhere. . . . Now here is something the public does not know. After we got the anarchist societies broken up, Schaack wanted to send out men to organize new societies right away. . . . He wanted to keep the pot boiling, keep himself prominent before the public."

The police were more concerned with getting evidence against those arrested than in finding the bomb-thrower. They offered money and jobs to those who would be witnesses for the State. The atmosphere in Chicago was so hostile to radicals that the color red, symbolic of revolution, was cut out of street advertisements.

A grand jury of businessmen indicted 31 persons, but they concentrated their prosecution on 9 men: August Spies, Albert Parsons, Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, Louis Lingg, who was accused of having made the Haymarket bomb, and Rudolph Schnaubelt, who was accused of having thrown it. They were charged with: 1. being accessories before the fact to the murder of Mathias J. Degan by means of a bomb; 2. murder by pistol shots; 3. accessories to one another in the murder of Degan; 4. general conspiracy to murder. The remaining 22 never came to trial. Several purchased immunity by becoming witnesses for the State. Most were released on $400 bail.

But when the trial opened on June 21, only 7 defendants were in court. Parsons and Schnaubelt were missing. Schnaubelt presumably spent the rest of his life in Europe, but he was never officially located.

At 2:30 P.M. on the 21st, Parsons, who had been hiding in Waukesha, Wis., walked into the courtroom and sat down with the other defendants. His friend William Holmes said, "When I heard that he [Parsons] had gone to Chicago to stand trial, I hastened . . . to the jail. I said to him, 'Do you know what you have done?' and he said, 'Yes, thoroughly. I never expect while I live to be a free man again. They will kill me, but I could not bear to be at liberty, knowing that my comrades were here and were to suffer for something of which they were as innocent as I. . . .'"

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