The Workers
On May 1, 1886 thousands of people in Chicago began demonstrations in behalf of an eight hour workday when 60 hour work weeks were common at this time. Their slogan was, “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.” Throughout 1886, strikes were popping up all over America in order to win the battle for the eight hour work day.


The Problem
Leading up to the Haymarket Riot of 1886 there were many labor strikes being held in the city due to the unfair treatments business leaders were giving their workers. For example on May 1st, 1886 thousands of people participated in a strike for an eight hour work day. Their slogan was “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!” A couple days later on May 3rd, 1886, a labor strike was in progress at the McCormick Farm where laborers were demanding eight hour work days. Police and Pinkerton security guards broke up a confrontation between locked-out union members and their replacements. Replacements for non-union workers were often called scabs at this time. Police shot two laborers at McCormick Farm. This confrontation, like many others, was due to labor and class tensions which occurred frequently during this time period.


On May 4th, 1886, a public demonstration had been called in Hayward Square, Chicago to protest the police violence from the previous day. It was described as a “peaceful gathering of about 1000 people listening to speeches and singing songs.” When authorities began moving in to disperse the crowd, (about 180 policemen) an unknown individual exploded a bomb among the people. Pandemonium began and panicked police responded with hailing gunfire into the crowd attending the meeting. Eleven people were killed including seven police officers and more than hundreds were injured. It is believed that the people died from gunshots from the officers rather from the bomb itself.


The Haymarket Riot “touched off a wave of civic upheaval” as Americans talked about the Haymarket bomb in comparison to the country’s changing economic and social conditions. It also led to a celebrated trial of eight avowed anarchists, the execution or death in prison of five of them, and Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld's pardon of the remaining three. The most prominent of these men were Albert Parsons and August Spies. They were the leaders of the city’s English and German specking anarchists. Press coverage contributed to the mood of the hysteria and directly after the bombing, society did little to discuss and analyze why this bombing happened and what could have been done to prevent it.
This event filled the people of America with their worst fear of violent class warfare which was created with the railroad strikes of 1877. At the railroad strikes, police and militia killed over 100 people. After the 8 anarchists and socialists blamed for the catastrophe were hung, they were remembered by most Americans as “the foulest sort of murders”. To other people like immigrant workers, these four men were remembered as heroic martyrs because they were brave enough to die for emancipation for the working class.
This event damaged the image of the growing labor movement because it quickly became a place of political violence rather than workers trying to create better conditions for themselves and their families.



external image haymarket-poster_lg.gif?w=387&h=585
This primary source was from a local newspaper in Chicago around the time of May 1st, 1886. This was an ad written by The Executive Committee which was most likely a group of men of the working class,l to inform fellow workers of the meeting they will have that night surrounding the recent acts of violence local policemen have done to their co-workers. This article is warning the workingmen coming to this meeting to be ready to fight because they are very angry over the recent shooting of a friend and fellow worker. The writers of this document are not looking to just meet up with other workingmen but to attack the policemen of Chicago for what they did to their fellow worker. This document started the Haymarket Riot of 1886. The line in the document that says "Workingmen Arm Yourselves and Come in Full Force shows that they were coming to fight and to win their eight hour works days. These men were part of a large labor union and were not going down without a fight especially with one of their fellow workers shot dead.

external image Industry&Labor_1886RevengeCircular.jpg
This primary source too was most likely a newspaper article. This article was directed to the workingmen class that had recently been attacked by police for wanting a shortened working day. This document is telling the working class men all the bad things that the police are doing and have recently done, and saying how they should seek revenge. The article is called "Revenge: Workingmen, to Arms". It is telling all the workingmen all the bad things that the police have done to them. It is signed "Your Brothers". By signing this letter this way it causes the workingmen reading it to relate more tot he reading and seek revenge upon the police. The document reminds the workingmen and women how miserable their lives have been made by these "hideous monsters". It points out how they have been treated so poorly and how their children have been affected and how they lack money and food. The document is saying if you are a man who has worked for a living then you are being called upon to help destroy the police force.


New York Times