J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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put an end temporarily to the movement, which was now resumed. It was at
first intended to make an immediate struggle for the eight-hour day, and a mani-
festo was issued calling on all trades to strike on a certain day in the same year.
But afterward it was decided to postpone that critical action, and the date was
set anew at May 1, 1886.


Before that date arrived, and before the wave of agitation which swept over
the country had attained significant proportions, there occurred in Chicago some
other events of an industrial nature which may have been the direct cause of the
Haymarket bomb-throwing. These were the numerous strikes of the year 1885


and the extraordinary brutality with which the strikers were treated by the

Reference has been made earlier to the police brutality at a meeting of work-
ingmen, in the year 1877, and the "free speech decision" which it called forth
from Judge McAllister. Governor Altgeld, in his "Reasons for Pardoning,"
points out that "no attention was paid to the judge's decision; that peaceable
meetings were invaded and broken up, and inoffensive people were clubbed ; that
in 1885 there was a strike at the McCormick reaper factory, on account of a
reduction of wages, and some Pinkerton men, while on their way there, were
hooted at by some people on the street, when they fired into the crowd and fatally
wounded several people who had taken no part in any disturbance; that four of
the Pinkerton men were indicted for this murder by the grand jury, but that
the prosecuting officers apparently took no interest in the case, and allowed it
to be continued a number of times, until the witnesses were worn .out, and in
the end the murderers went free."

Governor Altgeld in the same document calls attention to the conduct of the
police in the street car strike in July of that year. This matter is particularly
significant as it not only shows what was almost the habitual conduct of the
Chicago police in the labor troubles of the time, but it also exhibits in a strong
light the character of a certain police officer the officer who was concerned di-
rectly in the labor riots of 1886, up to and including the Haymarket affair. This
police officer is Captain John Bonfield.

The strike was that of the employes of the street railway on West Division
street. It lasted from July 1 to July 8. The following passages are taken from
the Daily News of July 3, which remarks that "complaints against the police be-
gan to came in early in the morning." The excerpts follow:

"John Schulkins, of 1258 Monroe street, says that while walking to Western
avenue and Madison street for the purpose of taking a wagon to come down town
to his business, he was approached by Captain Bonfield, who without a word of
warning struck him a violent blow. Mr. Schulkins asserts that he saw the cap-
tain strike other innocent persons in the same manner."

"The feeling of the people is very bitter against the police and is especially di-
rected against Captain Bonfield, who, they claim, used his club, most unmerci-
fully. . . . Patrick Conly, an old man 65 years of age, was standing on the
corner of Western avenue and Madison street, when he was approached by Cap-
tain Bonfield and ordered to fall back. Before the old man had time to obey,
the captain hit him a violent blow over the head with his club, inflicting such a
severe wound that the old man had to be taken into John Myer's drug store to
have it dressed. Robert Ellis, a butcher at 974 West Madison street, was stand-
ing in the door of his shop with his apron on when the police came and ordered
him to move on. As he did not start immediately, they seized him and rushing
him into the car took him to the station, leaving his store entirely unprotected."

The paper goes on to note that among others a brakeman and an engineer of
the C. M. & St. P. were assaulted.

The corroborative testimony of another police official is furnished by a letter
from Captain Michael Schaack to the editor of the Rights of Labor and pub-
lished May 4, 1893:


"In July, 1885, in the street car strike on the West Side, I held the office
of lieutenant on the force. I was detailed with a company of officers, early in
the morning, in the vicinity of the car barns, I believe on Western avenue and
a little north of Madison street. My orders were to see that the new men on
the cars were not molested when coming out of the barn. One man came up
and passed my lines about 50 feet. I saw one of the men, either driver or con-
ductor, leave the car at a standstill. I ran up near the car, when I saw, on the
southeast corner of the street, Bonfield strike a man on the head with his club.
He hit the man twice, and I saw the man fall to the ground. Afterward I was
put on a train of cars, protecting the rear. Bonfield had charge of the front. I
saw many people getting clubbed in front of the train, but I held my men in the
rear and gave orders not to strike anyone except they were struck first. Not
one of my officers hurt a person on that day or at any time. Many people were
arrested, all appearing. From what I saw in the afternoon and the next day,
no officer could state what they were arrested for. The officer professed ignorance
of having any evidence, but 'someone told them to take him in,' meaning to lock
him up. On that afternoon, about 4 o'clock, he addressed me in the following
words, in great anger: 'If some of you goody-goody fellows had used your clubs
freely in the forenoon, you would not need to use lead this afternoon.' I told
him I did not see any use in clubbing people, and that I would club no person
to please any one, meaning Bonfield; and that if lead had to be used, I thought
that my officers could give lead and take it also. I will say that affair was brutal
and uncalled for."

Further evidence in the form of affadavits are given in the "Reasons for
Pardoning." Governor Altgeld recites as the sequel to this affair the fact that
"a petition signed by about 1,000 of the leading citizens living on and near West
Madison street was sent to the mayor and city council, praying for the dismissal
of Bonfield from the force, but that on account of his political influence he was


The Anarchists, who at first took no stock in the eight-hour day movement,
gradually, as the appointed day was neared, were drawn into it, and in the large
cities became, by virtue of their experience in agitation, the leaders. It was a
general movement, the most widespread and powerful in American history. The
trade unions, with a membership which rapidly doubled and trebled, were pre-
pared to inaugurate what is now known as a "general strike." There were pub-
lic meetings, parades and intense excitement in labor circles. Strikes, lockouts,
boycotts, concessions and the organization of new unions make the industrial his-
tory of the period an indescribable chaos.

In Chicago the Trades and Labor Assembly, the main labor organization of
the city, and the Central Labor Union, a smaller organization of Anarchist sym-
pathies, were very active, as was also the Eight-Hour Association, a body formed
by George A. Schilling and others. Parsons, Spies, Fielden, Schwab and other
Anarchist speakers came into great prominence at the public meetings. It was
a time when the middle class was ready to take alarm in any exaggerated ut-
terance, and they found their occasion in the "Revenge Circular." which was dis-


tributed about the streets of the working class districts on the morning of
May 4th.

The circumstances were these. The employes of the McCormick Reaper works
had been locked out since February. The company had hired some 300
armed Pinkerton detectives to protect the strike-breakers; the presence of the
Pinkertons intensified the bitterness of the struggle, and on the afternoon of May
3d there was a skirmish between some of the strikers and the strike-breakers, as
the latter were leaving the factory. Stones were thrown, and a few windows were
broken in the McCormick works. The police were telephoned for, and they came,
150 on foot and six or seven patrol wagons full, among them Inspector Bonfield.
The police, being greeted with a shower of stones, opened fire on the crowd of
men, women and children, killing six and wounding many more. One of those
who saw the affair was Spies, who had been addressing a nearby meeting of the
Lumber Shovers union when the trouble began. He ran to the Arbeiter-Zeitung
office and composed a proclamation, of which five thousand were struck off in
English and German and distributed. It was headed "Revenge !" and ran as
follows :

"Your masters sent out their bloodhounds the police; they killed six of your
brothers at McCormick's this afternoon. They killed the poor wretches because
they, like you, had the courage to disobey the supreme will of your bosses. They
killed them because they dared ask for the shortening of the hours of toil. They
killed them to show you, 'Free American Citizens,' that you must be satisfied and
contented with whatever your bosses condescend to allow you, or you will get
killed !

"You have for years endured the most abject humiliations; you have for years
suffered unmeasured iniquities; you have worked yourselves to death; you have en-
dured the pangs of want and hunger; your Children you have sacrificed to the fac-
tory-lords ; in short : You have been unselfish and obedient slaves all these years.
Why? To satisfy the insatiable greed, to fill the coffers of your lazy, thieving
master ? When you ask him now to lessen your burden, he sends his bloodhounds out
to shoot you, kill you !

"If you are men, if you are the sons of your grandsires who have shed their
blood to free you, then you will arise in your might, Hercules, and destroy the
hideous monster that seeks to destroy you. To arms, we call you, to arms !


The alarm caused by the circular was increased by the calling of a meeting
the next evening, May 4th, at the Haymarket, for the purpose of "branding the
murder of our fellow-workers." The Haymarket. which had formerly the uses
that its name implies, is a large open space on Randolph street, between Desplaines
and Halsted streets, latterly used only for public meetings. To watch the pres-
ent meeting five companies of police were put in the Desplaines street station,
and four held in reserve at the Central station, while a score of detectives were
detailed to mix with the crowd. It was very wisely determined not to disturb
the meeting unless that became necessary. The chief of police, Ebersold, re-


mained at the Central station, while Bonfield was left in charge of the Desplaines
street station. Mayor Harrison decided to attend the meeting himself.

About 2,000 workingmen gathered that evening at the Haymarket, and listened
to speeches by Spies, Parsons and Fielden. Spies was at first the only speaker.
But Fielden, and Parsons, who had gone down town with his wife and two little
children to attend a meeting at the Arbeiter-Zeitung office, at which some sewing
women were being organized into a union, were reached by telephone, and asked
to come over to help out. They came, the women and children sitting near the
wagon while Parsons spoke. Fischer and Engels, other prominent Anarchists,
were at home playing cards at the time; while Schwab, Lingg and Neebe had
not heard of the preparations for the meeting, and did not attend.

Mayor Harrison attended the meeting, and afterwards described it as "tame."
"It was," he said, "what I should call a violent political harangue against cap-
ital. I went back to the station, and said to Bonfield that I thought the speeches
were about over; that nothing had occurred yet or was likely to occur to require
interference, and I thought he had better issue orders to his reserves at the other
stations to go home."

Some heavy clouds had come up, threatening a storm, and Fielding was left
addressing the remnants of the crowd, about six hundred in number, when the
mayor went away, about ten o'clock. Bonfield obeyed the mayor's directions,
and dismissed the reserves at the Central station. The mayor and the chief of
police had gone home. Then Bonfield hastily ordered out his five companies of
police (176 men) from the Desplaines street station, and marched them down
to the Haymarket.

When the police drew near the crowd, Captain Ward, who was in charge
of the squad, commanded the meeting to disperse. Fielden answered that the
meeting was a peaceable one. At that moment a bomb was thrown from the di-
rection of an adjoining alley; alighting between the first and second companies
of policemen, it killed one man and wounded many others. What followed is
vividly described in this account taken from the Chicago Tribune of the following
morning :

"Immediately after the explosion, the police pulled their revolvers and fired
on the crowd. An incessant fire was kept up for nearly two minutes, and at least
250 shots were fired. The air was filled with bullets. The crowd ran up the
streets and alleys and were fired on by the now thoroughly enraged police. Then
a lull followed. Many of the crowd had taken refuge in the halls or entrances
of houses and in saloons. As the firing ceased they ventured forth, and a few
officers opened fire on them. A dozen more shots were fired and then it ceased
entirely and the patrol wagons that had stopped just south of Randolph street
were called up, and the work of looking for the dead and wounded began. The
police separated into two columns and scoured the block- north to Lake street and
south to Randolph. When the firing had stopped, the air was filled with groans
<ind shrieks. 'O God ! I'm shot.' 'Please take me home.' 'Take me to the hos-
pital,' and similar entreaties were heard all over within a radius of a block
of the field of battle. Men were seen limping into drug stores or saloons or crawl-
ing on their hands, their legs being disabled. Others tottered along the street like
drunken men, holding their hands to their heads and calling for help to take


them home. The open doorways and saloons in the immediate vicinity were
crowded with men. Some jumped over tables and chairs, barricading themselves
behind them; others crouched behind walls, counters, doorways and empty barrels.
For a few minutes after the shooting nobody ventured out on the street. The
big bell in the police station tower tolled out a riot alarm.

"It was a common spectacle to see men having their wounds dressed on the

"The street cars going in every direction contained men who had been wounded
but were still strong enough to help themselves away. . . .

"Goaded to madness, the police were in that condition of mind which permitted
of no resistance, and in a measure they were as dangerous as any mob of Com-
munists, for they were blinded by passion and unable to distinguish between the
peaceable citizen and the Nihilist assassin. But then at such a time honest men
had no business on the street; their places were at home, and the police took it
for granted that no man, unless he had had work on hand, would be hanging
around the vicinity. For squares from the Desplaines station companies and
squads of officers cleared the streets and mercilessly clubbed all who demurred at
the order to go."

In an interview in the Tribune of June 27th, an unnamed police officer, stated
to be well-known, was quoted as saying: "I also know it to be a fact that a very
large number of the police were wounded by each other's revolvers.
There was a blunder," he said, "on the part of the man who commanded the police
on the night of the Haymarket murders, or this fearful slaughter would not have
occurred. Bonfield made the blunder, and is held responsible for its effects by
every man injured there. . . . The whole thing was hasty and ill-advised,
arising out of Bonfield's desire to distinguish himself."

Chicago was sickened and scared ; a hysterical search began to be made for
the bomb-thrower. In the dearth of any real evidence, it was generally conjectured
that the man was Rudolph Schnaubelt, a man who was twice arrested and re-
leased on the night of the trouble. "At such times," as Jane Addams has said,
"fervid denunciation is held to be the duty of every good citizen ;" and in obe-
dience to the general demand for something to be done, the police instituted a
general policy of repression. All labor meetings were broken up, the Arbeiter-
Zeitung placed under the censorship of the chief of police, and all the prominent
Anarchists, including the speakers at the meeting and the entire editorial staff
and force of compositors at the Arbeiter-Zeitung, placed under arrest. Parsons,
who had shaved off his moustache and gone to Waukesha, Wisconsin, could not be


Between the time of the arrest and trial there were many sensational finds of
bombs and dynamite. The real nature of these finds is disclosed in an interview
in the Chicago Daily News, May 10, 1889. Ebersold, who had been chief of po-
lice in 1886, said in part:

"It was my policy to quiet matters down as soon as possible after the '1th of
May. The general unsettled state of things was an injury to Chicago.

"On the other hand, Capt. Schaack wanted to keep things stirring. He wanted


bombs to be found here, there, all around, everywhere. I thought people would
lie down and sleep better if they were not afraid that their homes would be
blown to pieces any minute. But this man Schaack, this little boy who must
have glory or his heart would be broken, wanted none of that policy. Now, here
is something the public does not know. After we got the Anarchist societies
broken up, Schaack wanted to send out men to again organize new societies right
away. You see what this would do. He wanted to keep the thing boiling keep
himself prominent before the public. Well, I sat down on that; I didn't believe
in such work, and of course Schaack didn't like it.

"After I heard all that, I began to think there was, perhaps, not so much to
all this Anarchist business as they claimed, and I believe I was right. Schaack
thinks he knew all about those Anarchists. Why, I knew more at that time
then he knows today about them. I was following them closely. As soon as
Schaack began to get some notoriety, however, he was spoiled."

Evidence against the Anarchists was collected in various ways; among others,
in the way described in the following affidavit:



Vaclav Djmek, being first duly sworn, on oath states that he knows of no
cause for his arrest on the 7th day of May, A. D. 1886; that he took no part
in any of the troubles of the preceding days; that without a warrant for his
arrest, or without a search warrant for his premises, the police entered the house
on the night of the 7th of May, 1886; that on being requested to show by what
authority they entered, the police heaped abuse upon this affiant and his wife;
that the police then proceeded to ransack the house, roused this affiant's little
children out of bed, pulled the same to pieces, carried away the affiant's papers
and pillow slips, because the same were red ; that on the way to the police station,
though this affiant offered no resistance whatever, and went at the command of
the officer, peacefully, this affiant was choked, covered by revolvers, and other-
wise inhumanly treated by the police officers; that for many days this affiant
was jailed and refused a preliminary hearing; that during said time he was
threatened, and promised immunity by the police, if he would turn State's wit-
ness; that the police clerk and Officer Johnson repeatedly promised this affiant his
freedom and considerable money, if he would turn State's witness ; that on his
protestations that he knew nothing to which he could testify, this affiant was abused
and ill-treated ; that while he was j ailed this affiant was kicked, clubbed, beaten
and scratched, had curses and abuses heaped upon him, and was threatened with
hanging by the police; that this affiant's wife was abused by the police when she
sought permission to see this affiant.

Vaclav Djmek.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 14th day of April, A. D. 1893.

Charles B. Pavlicek,

Notary Public.

A Defense Committee was formed among the Socialists and Anarchists, of which
Dr. Ernst Schmidt was chairman, and George A. Schilling, Charles Seib. and others


were members. This committee collected about $30,000 among sympathizers with
which to secure adequate legal aid for the accused.

The grand jury convened on May 17th and found an indictment against
August Spies, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden, Albert R. Parsons, Adolph
Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Oscar W. Neebe, Rudolph Schnaubelt and
William Seliger, charging them with the murder of Matthias J. Degan, the police-
man who was killed by the bomb.

Schnaubelt had made his escape to Europe, whence he has since repeatedly
denied, through the anarchist press, any connection with the bomb-throwing. Se-
liger turned state's evidence on a promise of immunity. When the trial was
begun, on June 21, Parsons walked into court, and took his place with the other
seven defendants.


Judge Joseph E. Gary presided. The case for the prosecution was conducted
by Julius C. Grinnell, state's attorney, Francis W. Walker and Edmund Furthman.
assistant state's attorneys, and George C. Grinnell, special counsel. The defence
was conducted by William P. Black, Sigmund Zeisler, Moses Salomon and William
A. Foster.

The jury was not drawn in the ordinary manner; instead, the trial judge
appointed a special bailiff, Henry L. Ryce, to go out and summon as jurors such
men as he might select. Ryce (as appears from an affidavit made by a reputable
citizen, Otis Favor), boasted while selecting jurors that he was managing the
case; that the defendants would hang as sure as death; that he was calling such
men as the defendants would have to challenge peremptorily and waste their
challenges on, and that when their challenges were exhausted they would have
to take such men as the prosecution wanted.

In selecting the jury 21 days were spent and 981 men were examined. As
Bailiff Ryce had predicted, the defendants were obliged to use all their peremp-
tory challenges, and then to take a jury of which nearly every member had con-
fessed a prejudice against them. When the panel was about two-thirds full, the
defendants' counsel called attention to the fact that Ryce was summoning only men of
particular classes, such as clerks, merchants, manufacturers, etc.; but the judge
refused to take any notice of the matter.

Of the talesmen many admitted having a prejudice against Anarchists and
a preconceived opinion to the effect that the defendants were guilty ; but almost
every one of these was taken in hand by the judge, interrogated and lectured, and
some of them were brought to say that they believed their prejudice could be
overcome by strong proof of innocence; they were then ruled competent to serve
as jurors.

Two instances out of many, as reported in the Tribune of June 23d and 24th,
are as follows :

"William Crowley of Lamont, a farmer, was prejudiced against Anarchists,
Communists and Socialists, and didn't think he could render an impartial ver-
dict. He was acquainted with Officer Hogan and thought that might bias him
against the prisoners. He wouldn't give the same credit to the testimony of an
Anarchist that he would to that of one who was not. He was challenged for
cause. . . . The court overruled the challenge.

Vul. 1128


"D. F. Shedd of Ravenswood, a wholesale tea and coffee merchant, . . .
entertained an opinion with reference to the guilt or innocence of the accused,
but thought he could lay aside all opinions and render a fair and impartial ver-
dict. It would require some evidence, however, to change his opinion. He was
challenged on the last statement, but the court overruled it. ... The juror
then stated he had a very decided prejudice against Anarchists, Communists and
Socialists, and believed that prejudice would interfere with an impartial verdict.
He was challenged on this statement, but the challenge was again overruled."

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 54 of 55)