Labor History in 2:00

November 11- Haymarket Martyrs Executed

November 11, 2021

On this day in Labor History the year was 1887. 

That was the day that four men were hung in Chicago for their alleged role in the bombing at a labor rally at the city’s Haymarket Square a year earlier.

Eight men were put on trial.

Although the prosecution did not prove any of the men had ties to the bombing, five were sentenced to die.

Louis Lingg died in jail before the execution could take place.

The others were martyred for their support of the labor movement and the fight for the eight-hour day.

Three of those executed were born in Germany. 

August Spies and Adolph Fischer, worked for a Chicago German-language, worker’s newspaper. 

George Engel owned a toy store.

Backlash against foreign-born anarchists helped stoke public hysteria over Haymarket.

The final martyr was southern-born Albert Parsons, the editor of The Alarm, an English-language workers paper.

The day after they died, the Chicago Tribunereported on the brutality of their execution, “Then begins a scene of horror that freezes the blood. The loosely-adjusted nooses remain behind the left ear and do not slip to the back of the neck. Not a single neck is broken, and the horrors of a death by strangulation begin....” 

Thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession of the five slain men.

In 1893, Governor John Peter Altgeld granted the three defendants still a jail a full pardon. 

The monument to the Haymarket eight stands at Forest Home Cemetery, just west of Chicago—drawing visitors from across the world to remember these martyrs for the eight-hour movement. 

May Day is celebrated as the worker’s holiday around the world in commemoration of the events in Chicago.

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