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Haymarket History

The Haymarket Massacre was a result of violent riots in Chicago's Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. The riots began in reaction to police brutality during a strike for eight-hour workdays at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company the previous day. In an attempt by the police to shield strikebreakers from the strikers, one person was killed and others were wounded. On May 4, laborers demonstrated en masse and peacefully against the police action; however the protest became violent when police tried to dissolve the gathering, and an unknown person tossed a bomb into the crowd. The subsequent riot resulted in the deaths of seven policemen and an unknown number of protestors. In the aftermath of the incident, eight anarchist labor leaders, known as the Haymarket Martyrs, were arrested and convicted of instigating violence and conspiring to commit murder. However, no evidence was ever found that they were connected to the bomb. On November 10, 1887, one of the eight committed suicide while in prison, and the next day four others were hanged. In 1893, the remaining three were pardoned by Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld. Finally, in 1938, fifty-two years after the Haymarket riot, workdays in the United States were legally made eight hours by the Fair Labor Standards Act.


"Haymarket Riot." Encyclopedia Britannica . 2010. Encyclopedia
Britannica Online, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2010
"The Haymarket Riot and Trial: A Chronology." Famous Trials. UMKC
School of Law, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2010
"Haymarket Square riot." The Columbia Encyclopedia:
6th Ed, 2008. Web. 11 Feb. 2010

Other Resources

Spies, August and Albert R Parsons (1886). The Great Anarchist Trial: The Haymarket Speeches As Delivered On The Evening Of The Throwing Of The Bomb, At Haymarket Square, Chicago, May 4, 1886. Chicago: Chicago labor press association.

PBS Documentary: Haymarket Martyrs--Origin of International Workers Day

The Haymarket Riot and Trial: A Chronology

Map of Key Locations in the Haymarket Riot

Selected Testimony from the Haymarket Trial

The Verdict

Illinois Supreme Court Decision in the Haymarket Case

Governor Altgeld's Pardon of the Prisoners

Selected Newspaper Articles

Haymarket and May Day Encyclopedia of Chicago

Eight Anarchists: Surrounding Events American Experience

The Chicago Anarchists, by Eleanor Marx Aveling and Edward Aveling, first published in To-Day, November, 1887

Chicago Anarchists on Trial (Library of Congress site)

Chicago Historical Society Site

J. Altgeld, Reasons for Pardoning the Haymarket Anarchists, originally published 1893

Haymarket Speeches at LibriVox

The Martyred Apostles of Labor, by E.V.Debs, first published in The New Time, February, 1898

G. McLean,The Rise and Fall of Anarchy in America Chicago: R. G. Badoux & Co.1886.

Haymarket Square, Chicago, May 4, 1886, Art Young, first published in New Masses, May 2, 1939.

Cemetery Site

The Haymarket Affair "Down Under"

General American Labor History: Putting the Haymarket Incident into Perspective

United States Labor History A Timeline by the AFLCIO

A History of Labor Unions from Colonial Times to 2009 Ludwig von Mises Institute

Labor Unions in the United States Gerald Friedman - University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Labor History Articles Illinois Labor History Society

Resources in Labor History


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