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Life of Albert Parsons

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beavers. For this we were called carpet-baggers and imported foreigners, because some of us interfered in the politics of a ward in which we did not live. We polled over 400 votes –not enough to elect our candidate, but the good impression we made on the more thoughtful citizens was regarded as a great moral victory. Our influence as a part, however, both in Chicago and elsewhere, was very limited until the great railroad strike of 1877. Before this the labor question was of little or no importance to the average citizen. The large mass of our people contended themselves with the belief that in this great and free Republic there was no room for the real complaint. The idea that all Americans were on equal footing seemed to be recognized as an incontrovertible fact in the halls of legislation, in the press, and the pulpit.

But when the mutterings and demonstrations of discontent at the Martinsburg, West Virginia, caused by a 10 per cent reduction in wages on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, belched forth a few days later in the City of Pittsburg in fire, bloodshed, and destruction, with its frenzied populace on one side and its frightened, retreating militia on the other, and from there swept across the entire continent, with such rapidity that within a few days the whole country was enveloped and presented a condition of social and industrial mutiny that overwhelmed and surprised in its spontaneity and extent the closest observers of economic development, it no longer permitted us, as Americans, to thank God –with our former vanity- that we were not like other nations.  Pittsburg, with its sea of fire, caused by its burning freight cars, round-houses, and depots, was the calcium light that illuminated the skies of our social and industrial life, and revealed the pinched faces of the workers and the opulence, arrogance,, and unscrupulousness of the rich.

The labor question, which up to this time was considered insignificant, rose to a grave and important problem. The strike reached Chicago in all its fury July 23.

The members of the Workingmen's Party of the Untied States everywhere took advantage of this tidal wave of popular discontent, and called meetings for the purpose of presenting to an astonished populace the cause and the remedy of this general upheaval. On

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