Title: Life of Albert R. Parsons
Subtitle: With brief history of the labor movement in America
Date: 1889
Source: Retrieved on November 11, 2022 from https://babel.hathitrust.org
Notes: Chicago. Mrs. Lucy E. Parsons, Publisher and Proprietor.

      History of the Labor Movement in America.

      History of the Labor Movement in Chicago.

      Author’s Note.

    PART I.

      Chapter I. Albert R. Parsons’s Ancestors.

        Letter from a Native of Newberryport, Mass.

      Chapter II. The Story of His Life.

    PART II.

      Chapter I. Mr. Parson’s Western Trip Correspondence.

      Chapter II. Letter from Topeka, Kansas.

      Chapter III. Letter from Salineville, Ohio.

      Chapter IV. Letter from the Smoky City.

      Chapter V. In the Ohio Coal Regions.

      Chapter VI. Speech in Springfield, O.

      Chapter VII. A Posthumous Letter.


      Chapter I. Meeting in South Bend, Ind.

      Chapter II. Under the Red Flag.

      Chapter III. Observing Thanksgiving Day, 1885.

      Chapter IV. The Lemont Massacre.

      Chapter V. Selected Editorials.

        Chattel and Wage Slavery.

        The Object of the Social Revolution.

        A Fable.

        The Cut-Down.

      Chapter VI. An Interesting Interview.

    PART IV.

      Chapter I. The Haymarket Meeting.

      Chapter II. The Immolation to Authority.

      Chapter III. Parsons’ Haymarket Speech.

      Chapter IV. Letter from Attorney W. A. Foster.

      Chapter V. What is an Accessory?

        Mr. Parsons in Court.

      Chapter VI. The Trial of the Judgment.

        Review of the Trial.

        How the Jury was Secured.

        Thomas Jefferson and Albert R. Parsons.

      Chapter VII. Albert R. Parsons’ Speech In Court.


        Mr. Parsons Resumes.

        Albert R. Parsons’ Case in Full.

    PART V.

      Chapter I. Reminiscences of Albert R. Parsons.

        Parsons’ Boyhood Days

        Personal Reminiscences of Albert R. Parsons.

      Chapter II. Mr. Parsons at Geneva.

      Chapter III. A Chapter of History.

      Chapter IV. Echoes From His Prison Cell.

        Parsons to Powderly.

        Prison Pastime.

        Telegrams to Parsons.

        The Mirror of the Press.

        Parsons’ Religious Views.

        An Unique Document.

        Ready for the Scaffold.


      The Story Told by Helen Wilmans.

      Mrs. Parsons’ Arrest in Columbus, Ohio.

      The Affidavit of Otis Favor.

      The Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor.

      Capt. Black’s Eulogy at the Tomb.

      Benjamin F. Butler’s Letter to Capt. Black.







My beloved Husband, Companion, and Comrade,

Albert R. Parsons.


History of the Labor Movement in America.

The standard of life is the regulator of the wages of the toiling masses. Our population is a mixture of many nationalities, who differ in their habits of living. In 1640 the British colonies contained an aggregate population of 25,000 whites. In 1660 the total had increased to 80,000. In 1689 the number was about 200,000; in 1721 it reached about 500,000; in 1743, 1,000,000; in 1767, 2,000,000. The whole population at the outbreak of the war of independence was not much more than 2,500,000. The whole number of aliens who came to the United States from 1789 to 1820 was about 250,000; from 1820 to date, about 14,250,000, making about 14,500,000, nearly one-half of whom arrived since 1870. According to the census of 1880 there were in the United States 6,679,943 persons of foreign birth, constituting 13 per cent. of the whole population; 6,580,793 colored persons, and 36,723,207 native whites, and there were 14,922,744 persons who had one or both parents foreign born. At the present time we have 60,000,000 people, and the proportionate increase of persons of foreign parentage has been very large, especially in cities and mining regions.

The agitation of shorter hours of daily work begins with the present century. The labor men were then self-employed mechanics, and the factory system, with its labor-aiding machinery, was hardly yet known. The building trades were then, as now, in the advance of this short-hour movement. The New York Society of Journey. men Shipwrights was incorporated April 30, 1803, and the house carpenters of the city of New York in 1806. At that time the journeymen mechanics and the master mechanics were the employes of the merchants, who resolved that “We view with deep regret the course that some of our fellow-citizens, journeymen ship carpenters, calkers, and others, are pursuing in the adoption and maintenance of a system of measures designed to coerce individuals of their craft and to prescribe the time and manner of the labor for which they are liberally paid. In our opinion this combination has a direct tendency to put their business into other hands, or seriously to injure it, by reducing ship-owners to repair their vessels elsewhere rather than submit to the inconvenience, delays, and vexations to which they would be exposed when they can obtain labor only at such times and on such conditions as the folly and caprice of a few journeymen mechanics may dictate, who are now idle two or three of the most valuable hours of each day. The merchants then declared their intention to black-list all persons belonging to the association which demanded the reduction of the hours of daily work from fourteen to ten.

The journeymen carpenters and calkers of Boston lost their first strike for ten hours in May, 1832, but they gained their demand for ten hours in New York and Philadelphia in 1832 and 1833. The short-hour movement attained such magnitude that the President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, established by proclamation of April 10, 1840, the ten-hour system for all employes of the United States Government in the navy-yards. Gov. Fort, of New Jersey, in 1841 recommended legislation in favor of shorter daily working hours. In 1841 he said: Constant and unremitting toil prevents intellectual improvement and leads to physical and moral debasement. In 1841 a firm of boat-builders in Bath, Maine, adopted the ten-hour system. All but two of the ship-yards in Bath finally yielded, and ten hours became the rule of that city.

On the 16th of June, 1845, a mass meeting of the people of Pittsburgh and Alleghany City was held at Pittsburgh in favor of a ten-hour work day. At least 5,000 persons were in attendance, a large number of whom were females. A strike followed, in which 4,000 persons were engaged. After remaining out five weeks the operatives returned under the old conditions.

The first industrial convention in the United States convened in New York October 12, 1845, and proposed a plan for the formation of a secret industrial brotherhood. In the latter part of 1845 and in 1846 immense mass-meetings were held in the New England States, New York, and Pennsylvania, and many strikes for ten hours were commenced. The British Parliament passed a ten-hour law in the early summer of 1847, and thereupon mass-meetings were held in the principal cities of the United States congratulating the English people on their triumph. On the 3d day of July, 1847, a law was passed in New Hampshire making ten hours a legal day’s work. The uprising in 1848 renewed the agitation of American labor reform. A mass-meeting of workingmen in Faneuil hall, May 9, formulated the following measures: 1. Reduction of the hours of labor; 2. An efficient lien law; 3. The freedom of the public lands; 4. The inalienability of the homestead; 5. The abolition of the poll-tax as a condition of the elective franchise; 6. An industrial department in the Government; 7. Destruction of all white and black slavery; 8. Reduction of all officers and salaries, especially those of $8 a day and upward, to the standard of all useful and necessary labor.

In 1818 petitions were sent to Washington demanding a ten-hour law and a law restraining persons from employing children in factories over eight hours a day, and obliging those employing them to give them an opportunity to obtain a common-school education.

An industrial congress was held in Chicago on the second Wednesday of June, 1850, and local trades asssemblies were formed in many large cities to carry the ten-hour system by means of strikes. In 1853 eleven hours were adopted in many parts of the country as the regular work day. In some places the factories continued to run on the old (fourteen or more) hours until about 1865, when the eleven-hour system was adopted as the result of strikes. Ten-hour laws have been adopted in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other States, but in some Eastern States the hours of labor range from eleven to thirteen, while in the Western States ten hours is the rule.

That this movement is a necessity is made manifest by the following statement of Caroll D. Wright, Commissioner of the Department of Labor, who has submitted a report which relates intirely to the subject of working-men in great cities. Three hundred and forty-two distinct industries in twenty-two cities have been investigated. The report shows that the working-women in the great cities are practically girls. The average age in all cities comprehended is 22 years and 7 months. The highest average age is found in Charleston, South Carolina,—25 years and 1 month; the lowest in St. Paul-21 years and 5 months. It is found, however, that the concentration is greatest at the age of 18, there being of the whole number interviewed 1,570 of that age.

The general average age at beginning work is shown to be 15 years and 4 months, the highest average being 17 years and 10 months, and the lowest 14 years and 7 months; the former at San Jose, California, and the latter at Newark, New Jersey. The average period during which the woman have been engaged in their present occupations is shown to be 4 years and 9 months and that of the 17,427 women involved 9,510 are engaged in their first trial at earning their own living.

Of the whole number 14,120 are native born. In the foreign born Ireland is most largely represented, and Germany next, having 775. Of the native born 12,904 had foreign-born fathers and 12,406 foreign-born mothers.

A great majority of the women comprehended in the report are single, the number being 15,387. Only 745 are married and 1,038. widowed. “The working-women,” says the report, “are as a rule single women, fighting their industrial fight alone. They are not only supporting themselves but are giving their earnings largely to the support of others at home. Of the whole number under consideration 9,813 not only work at their regular occupations but assist with the housework at home, the total number living at home being 14,018—that is to say, a very large proportion of the working-women in the great cities are under home influences. More than half of the whole 8,754 give their earnings to home life, 4,267 pay board at their own homes, and only 701 receive board at the hands of their families. The average number of persons in the families of working women is 5.25, each of which has on an overage 2.48 workers.

The report shows that of the 17,426 who reported their health conditions at the time they commenced work, 16,360 were in good health, 883 were in fair health, and 183 in bad health. The changes in health condition is illustrated by the fact that 14,554 are now in good health, 2,345 are in fair health, and 489 are in bad health. The tables disclose no particular facts relative to the health changes in the different cities or by industries. In home conditions 12,020 report themselves comfortable, while 4,693 state that their home conditions are poor, and “poor," in this investigation, says the Commissioner, is poor indeed. In shop conditions, however, a better state of affairs exists.

The tables upon earnings and lost time show that of the 13,822 who reported, 373 earn less than $100 per annum, and that this class lost an average of 86.5 days for the year covered. The largest number earn $200 and under $250 per annum, losing 37.8 days; 2,377 earn from $250 to $300, losing 31.5 days. As earnings increase the lost time decreases, as, for instance, 398 earn from $450 to $500 a year, and this class lost but 18.8 days. These earnings are actual earnings, and are not statements derived from computations based on the rates of wages. The average weekly earnings by cities is given as follows: Atlanta, $3.05; Baltimore, $4.18; Boston, $5.64; Brooklyn, $5.76; Buffalo, $4.37; Charleston, $4.22; Chicago, $5.74; Cincinnati, $4.50; Cleveland, $4.63; Indianapolis, $4.67; Louisville, $4.51; Newark, $5.10; New Orleans, $4.31; New York, $5.85; Philadelphia, $5.34; Providence, $5.51; Richmond, $3.93; St. Louis, $5.10; St. Paul, $6.002; San Francisco, $6.91; San Jose, $6.11; Savannah, $4.99. All other cities, $5.24.

Upon the subject of “character of the working-women,” the Commissioner says: “From all that can be learned one need not hesitate in asserting that the working-women of this country are as honest and as virtuous as any other class of our citizens. The social standing of working-women is becoming better and better.

In Massachusetts in 1885, out of a population of less than 2,000,000, 44 per cent. were of native parentage, 50 per cent. of foreign parentage, and 6 per cent. of mixed parentage. Of the foreign-born population of Massachusetts, about 85 per cent. are 20 years old and upwards; of the native born about 55 per cent.—the immigrants being largely in the productive ages of manhood and womanhood. Of the immigrants into the United States about 20 per cent. are below the age of 15, and about 70 per cent. between the ages of 15 and 40, the remaining 10 per cent. above 40 years; so that four-fifths of the immigrants are in their productive manhood, and the great mass of them in their early manhood. Statistics show that of the immigrants with occupations, about 22 per cent. are skilled artisans, 76 per cent. unskilled workers, and 1 per cent. professional. This unskilled labor of Europe crowds into the factories, mines, etc. Our native American workmen are subject to the competition from mobilized armies of working-people rushing into the United States from Europe and Canada.

These aliens can accumulate wealth upon wages which will supply the American’s family with only the bare necessities. The standard of living of these immigrants is much lower than the native American standard. They have from their savings built up whole settlements in Chicago and have crowded out the “natives.” If the population of Chicago is counted at 800,000, no more than. 200,000 could be found as belonging to the Anglo-American element, and perhaps not one-half of these Americans are at work in employments which the Italians, Bohemians, Poles, Scandinavians, Irish, Germans, etc., have overrun and captured from the higher-priced native-born wage-workers. The avalanche of foreign immigration has greatly reduced the former American rate of wages until a halt has been called by a universal organization of trades and their related occupation. The Americans must raise their comrades of other nationalities to the high American standard in order to save themselves from degradation.

An eight-hour bill for all government workmen was passed by Congress in 1868 and signed by President Johnson. A labor congress met at Baltimore August 20, 1866, and resolved that the time had come when the workingmen of the United States should cut themselves loose from all party ties and organize themselves into a national Labor party, the object of which shall be to secure the: enactment of a law making eight hours a day’s work.

The National Labor Congress met August 19, 1867, at Chicago, and its president in his report urged the eight-hour movement. Many strikes for the eight-hour system were lost in 1868 and following years. In the spring of 1869 the Boston Eight-Hour League was formed, whose preamble to the constitution argued that a reduction of hours is an increase of wages; that this increase is without a corresponding increase in the cost of production; that the increase of wages without increased cost is a better general distribution of wealth; that a better distribution of wealth in the process of production lessens profits upon labor, and thus makes co-operative labor practicable; that leisure is the greatest motive power to create civilizing wants and desires; that the unjust wage system must gradually become changed into profit-saving, co-operation—Socialism.

In the winter of 1869 the Knights of Labor were organized in Philadelphia. In 1870 and 1871 the International Workingmen’s Association of Europe commenced to form branches among the Germans in the United States, and its influence has been felt in political labor movements up to the present moment. In the summer of 1872 nearly 100,000 men struck in New York, and the following trades secured the eight-hour day: Stone-masons and masons and masons’ laborers, brown and bluestone cutters, bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, painters, plumbers, paper-hangers, and plate-printers.

The winter of 1873-4 was one of extreme hardship in the United States. The suffering unemployed poor of New York city determined to meet in Tomkin’s square January 13, 1874, to appeal to the public by bringing to their attention the spectacle of their poverty. When the square was overcrowded with men, women, and children without a moment’s warning the police closed in upon them on all sides. People rushed from the gates and through the streets, followed by the mounted rowdy police, who clubbed the people, etc. From 1873 to 1876 great strikes occurred in the New England States, in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, and New York, and the great railroad strikes of 1877 aroused the people to realization of the actual conflict between capitalism and organized labor (Socialism). In 1878 Congress appointed a committee of seven members of the House to ascertain the causes of the general depression of business and to devise and propose measures for relief. The committee took testimony and reported in full. In 1878 and 1879 the Fourth of July was made an occasion of public demonstrations in the advocacy of the eight-hour movement.

In 1879 the discontent among the colored people of Mississippi caused their exodus to Kansas on account of bad treatment by the planters. In 1880 the federation of the organized trade and labor unions of the United States and Canada was formed. Its platform demands the enforcement of existing labor laws and the enactment of others, and recommends proper representation in all law-making bodies by the ballot. In October, 1884, the Federation met in Chicago and set May 1, 1886, as the day for the general introduction of the eight-hour system. A general strike was inaugurated in Chicago on that day, and the building trades, cigar-makers, and some other trades gained an eight-hour day or a less reduction since that day. California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and New York made eight hours a legal day’s work, unless otherwise agreed. Many States limit the hours of labor for women and children; but all these laws remain dead letters where labor unions cannot compel the legal standard to become an enforced custom. Some States require all children between certain ages to attend school a certain number of months in each year. The unerring instinct of the toiling masses of the United States insists upon a limitation of daily wage-work for the whole population, so as to afford remunerative employment for the great number of able-bodied people who are now out of work; also to provide leisure for those vast masses of people who are now overworked and live without the needful leisure and recreation, Children should be provided with the means of mental and industrial schooling and healthy recreation, and ought not to be allowed to compete with the adults in the stores, factories, mines, fields, etc. Many hundred thousand children are now employed in gainful occupations in the United States who are thereby stunted in their growth, physically and mentally, and in many cases replace adult workers, who are thereby disabled to support themselves and those who depend upon them for decent support. Society is supreme over the whole living generation, and is in duty bound to protect the children against the greed of parents or employers, and to tax the property and income of the people for the support and needful education of all the children. There is no superabundance of native-born children, and no redundance of highly civilized Americans to make us reckless in working up or quickly using up our new crop of American humanity.

The history of the labor movement shows that from 1832 to 1853 a reduction of three hours a day has been made in most of the industrial—manufacturing, mining, etc.—employments, and that this reduction every six and a half years was followed by an increased purchasing power of the day’s work. Less hours of daily labor in the workshops brought a higher rate of actual wages with greater purchasing power of goods and services. Our people are over-anxious for remunerative work; they are greedy for making money. Bitter experience has taught them the terrible lesson that overwork means underpay. The Cigar-makers’ Union forbids under heavy penalty any more than eight hours daily work, because the cigarmakers have found out that this voluntary limitation is the most profitable arrangement for the whole body of the cigar-makers in the United States. The stone-cutters in Chicago work eight hours a day since 1867, to the full satisfaction of the bosses. Our whole population works six days and rests on the seventh day of each week; it can well afford to limit the working day of the machine-aided factory hands and miners to eight hours, so as to distribute remunerative employment throughout the whole year. Our great industrial armies have no steady work at present, because there are too many unemployed people on account of the long hours of those at work. To get rid of pauperism, wage-work must be equalized among all able-bodied persons. Necessity compels us to insist upon making opportunities for the great number of unemployed, who affect the standard of wages by their pressure to get a job at any price. Men invent new improvements in production, transportation, and distribution, but nobody can invent a new want, because human nature is fixed by the Creator. Labor is a social function for the supply of human wants, and must be organized so that everybody gets a chance to work in order to exchange his service with all those who work. It is a mutual service. Compulsory idleness of a portion of the people for lack of opportunity is a burden for the whole community, because the idlers must then live at the expense of workers. Since the close of the civil war (1866), when 1,000,000 of federal and confederate soldiers came back to civil employments, a very large proportion of industrial (manufacturing, mining, etc.) workers have been overworked, and too many people have been pauperized by lack of sufficient work. We are cursed with a mass of unproductive idlers, who can not be put to work because there is no chance for them to become productive consumers unless the daily working hours for all wage-workers in machine-aided industries are reduced. It is no longer a question of wages and profits, of savings and accumulations of productive capital, but of the abolition of idleness among an increasing mass of able-bodied men who insist upon the right of making their living by the sweat of their brow. An annual average of 500,000 immigrants in their reproductive age, and willing to work at any price and under conditions of a low standard of living, hastens the solution of this short-hour problem, which cannot be put off by the wholesale purchase of votes to enable the manufacturers’ plutocracy to win a presidential election for the protected factory lords. They can not buy up the leaders or the rank and file of the eight-hour movement.

Half a century ago children in our cities were rarely employed outside their own homes; but the census of 1870 shows 740,000 boys under 16 years and girls under 15 years as working for wages, and the census of 1880 shows 1,118,000 boys and girls employed. The enumeration does not give the full number actually at work in remunerative industries. In twelve leading mechanical and manufacturing industries, women and children have an almost absolute majority of labor as against men. The introduction of machinery into some trades has thrown the labor largely out of the hands of adults into that of children. In the iron and steel industry in the ten years following 1870, the employment of boys. increased from 2,400 to 7,700. In Baltimore the ratio of children to all other employes in the cotton mills is 1 to 4; in Augusta, Georgia, 1 to 3; in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, 1 to 4; in Brooklyn, 1 to 3; in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1 to 5; in Boston, 12 to 17. In the 6 North Atlantic States, in 225 textile factories of special prominence, 17 per cent. of the employes are children. In thirty-six leading textile factories of Massachusetts 20 per cent. of the operatives are children. The 1,500,000 spindles of Fall River are tended by 12,500 operatives, 3,000 of whom are not over 15 years of age. In Rhode Island children compose over 12 per cent of the whole number of the manufacturing population, working eleven hours a day. In many mills premiums are paid to weavers for extra work, and the children toil over the time recognized by the law as the limit. Children are found at work as soon as they can help to contribute to the general fund of the family.

The textile industries of Pennsylvania gives work to 5,300 boys of 15 years and under, and to 4,300 girls of 14 years and under, in addition to 27,000 women and girls over that age. Children are at work exceptionally long hours in the mills, stores, and shops of Philadelphia, and among them may be seen half-starved young girls who work from fourteen to sixteen hours a day; many of the older ones work a half day on Sunday in the tailoring shops to keep soul and body together on less than $5 a week. The manufacturers are crowding together, into small space, many times the number there should be placed at work together, to breathe the steam and dust of the unventilated rooms. In the winter the hot atmosphere endangers their health indoors, and exposes them no less to the abrupt change upon leaving the shop in their scanty clothing. In the factories of New Jersey 15,000 children, between 8 and 15 years are employed. In Patterson, out of a working population of 20,000, there are over 3,000 children at work. In the tobacco-growing regions an enormous percentage of children are employed. In Covington, Kentucky, the ratio of children of 15 years and under, to all others employed, is 3 to 7; in Louisville, 2 to 5; in Toledo, Ohio, 1 to 3; in Richmond, Virginia, 1 to 4. In the counties of eastern Pennsylvania a large number of villages are built up by the tobacco trade, exhibiting the evils of child labor at its worst. About half the persons at work are boys and girls, and fully one-fourth of the whole number employed are children not more than 15, and most of them are very much younger, who have gone into the factory at the age of 9. Even those who are left at home have work brought them from the shops.

During the day and evening boys and girls of 6 years of age engage themselves in piece-work in their “homes.” Children spend twelve hours a day in the vitiated atmosphere of unventilated factory rooms, losing their health by the poisoning influences of these tobacco shops.

In North Carolina 13 per cent. of the cotton factory operatives are children not over 15 years of age. In a typical manufacturing city in Georgia there are ten cotton mills, in some of which over 700 hands are employed, nearly all of whom are women and children. The industrial statistics of Pennsylvania report 87,000 employes in the anthracite regions, 24,000 of whom are boys, and over one-fourth of these are 15 or less years of age. Boys of from 6 to 14 years of age can earn 45 cents per day picking slate. The labor of driving mules in the slopes and gangways is performed by boys between the ages of 8 and 16 years at about 60 cents a day. At the age of 7 the boys are taken down to work on night shifts with their fathers, working under the surface at the depth of from 200 to 700 feet, breathing in the dampness, the poisoned gases of the coal and powder smoke, losing their health, etc.

The American employers of our great industrial armies do not afford our boys and girls fair opportunities to learn skilled trades. It is not the duty of any competent person in the shop to instruct the boy or girl. The foreman is frequently a poor mechanic, not hired for his proficiency in his trade and its related occupations but simply for his capacity in driving men, overworking and under-paying them. The apprentice or helper “skimps” his work in his attempt to please the rushing foreman. Apprenticeship laws still appear on the statute books of some States, and in some workshops there are youths calling themselves apprentices, but the former are a dead letter and the latter are free to walk out when they choose. American young men and girls do not bind themselves as apprentices, and so the mechanical labor passes into the hands of so-called foreigners, who form combinations like the Socialistic Labor party to abolish profits and interest, and other forms of making money by “smartness.”

The labor reformers insist upon free schools for manual training, and would establish public technical schools on the same footing as the schools of natural science, medicine, law, and the fine arts. That the public manual training school and technical institute are what must replace the old private and family apprentice-ship, is the opinion of all persons who have studied the subject with care. The satanic press of the “protected” tax-gathering plutocracy would call this Socialism. But our entire system of public schools is Socialistic in principle, although not in practice, and the people are getting aroused to the paramount necessity of universal education in public schools. Individualism has been prevalent among our mixed population of many nationalities and creeds, the reaction toward collectivism has commenced, and the plutocrats will soon live in a different social and political atmosphere, where their smartness will be looked upon as criminal, especially their enslaving of 250,000 boys and girls at starvation wages and under inhuman conditions. No child under 15 years should be out of school in this age of intellectual and mechanical progress. Our nation is rich enough to afford our growing generation the facilities of an education which will fit them for the duties of a high-pressure civilization and enable them to compete in the world market.

In the middle of May, 1886, about 200,000 wage-workers in many parts of the United States had secured shorter hours and other concessions, and the working people are much better situated to-day than they were before the spring of 1886. In Chicago and its suburbs about 110,000 workers engaged in the short-hour movement. Of these, about 47,500 gained concessions without much interruption of work, namely, the packing-house employes, clothing cutters, bakers, brewers, building trades, machinists, cigar-makers, etc. Bonfield’s interference at the eight-hour meeting the night of May 4, near the Haymarket, with 180 policemen rushing upon an audience of about 3,000 men, affording an unknown destructionist an opportunity of throwing a deadly bomb-shell, caused a revulsion of feeling against the eight-hour agitators, and actually ended the struggle among a great number of trades and occupations. At the meeting of the Eight-Hour Association, immediately after the explosion of the deadly bomb, it was declared as the sense of the leaders that the enemies of the working people had influenced the police bully, Bonfield, to surround the public meeting, break it up, and murder the speakers, so as to intimidate the trades unions from further attempts to shorten the hours of the working day.

After Judge Tuley’s decision it is not likely that Bonfield, or any other rowdy in police uniform, will dare rush with a crowd of 180 policemen upon a labor meeting in the open air or in a closed hall, with the intent of breaking up a peaceful gathering of American citizens.

Joseph Gruenhut.

History of the Labor Movement in Chicago.

It was in March of 1876, when P. J. McGuire and Comrade Loebkert, as the organizers and agitators of the Social-Democratic party of America, visited Chicago and other Western points for the purpose of sowing the seed of Socialism, that I first met Albert R. Parsons. There was a mass-meeting on Saturday evening at Vorwärts Turner hall, where McGuire spoke, and at the end of his eloquent address announced his intention of organizing an English Section of Socialists, and invited all those satisfied with the doctrine as expounded that evening to hand in their names and addresses as they passed out. It was on this occasion that A.R. Parsons, John Swertfeger, O. A. Bishop, T.J. Morgan, Adolph Glecker, and myself embraced the opportunity of connecting ourselves with the Socialistic movement. The next day (Sunday) McGuire addressed another meeting at the old Globe hall on Desplaines street. After his address he invited all persons to ask questions on any point that was not yet clear to them. It was at this juncture that a well-dressed man with a clear accent rose and asked whether, in this co-operative state as outlined by the speaker, all persons were to share alike, regardless of the amount they would produce. The interrogater was A. R. Parsons. The question created the liveliest interest, as we were all anxious to know whether we had struck a Communistic, whack-up-all-around institution, in which the parasite was to find a loafers’ paradise at the expense of the industrious worker, or whether the law of merit was still to obtain. McGuire answered that the Social-Democratic party only contemplated to nationalize land, the instruments of production, exchange, and transportation, rewarding each worker, however, in proportion to his effort. This seemed to give general satisfaction, and the English Section from that time on was a permanent factor in the labor movement of Chicago. Before this John McAuliffe and John Eckford were the only English-speaking Socialists in this city. Subsequently Philip Van Patten, John Paulson, and others joined, and the agitation began in earnest. At this time A. R. Parsons and John McAuliffe were the only ones capable of expounding in public the principles of the party in the English language; but McAuliffe was an extremist, unwilling to advocate ameliorative measures. The Section “shelved” him, except on great special occasions, and A. R. Parsons for a long time was practically the only public English speaker we had.

At this time the English Socialists struggled against many odds. There was the prejudice of the public against Socialism—a feeling the English trades unions fully shared—besides, the German Socialists were suspicious of the English Section and oft-times gave them to understand that the damned Yankees needed watching. But the worst of all was, we had no English literature on social-economic subjects. The Socialist, a weekly published by the party in New York, was the only food we had. This paper contained a series of very able articles from the pen of Victor Drury, of New York, who, while not the editor, was the major part of the brains. These articles have since been revised and republished in pamphlet form, and are entitled: “The Polity of the Labor Movement.” In the fall of 1876 the Social-Democratic party and the Internationals met in joint convention in Philadelphia and formed the “Working-men’s Party of the United States.” The Socialist was subsequently called the Labor Standard, and J.P. McDonnell succeeded Comrade McGregor in the editorial chair. The English Section of Chicago met every Monday evening to map out a program for public agitation and to discuss such economic subjects and party methods among themselves as the mental friction and antagonisms prevailing within its ranks at that time naturally produced. It must be remembered that the amalgamation of the Internationals and Social-Democrats brought together two opposite elements of Socialists. The former opposed political action as a means of economic emancipation, and predicted the wreck of the party if persisted in, while the latter insisted that the ballot was the surest means by which the enlightenment of the masses could be secured and the final overthrow of the present capitalistic system accomplished. The former advised the members of the party to join trades unions, and through the force of economic organization secure concessions by degrees, while the latter denounced all attempts at amelioration under the present system, declaring that less hours of labor and higher wages would only cause the worker to be more contented with the wage system. “They are getting too much now,” they would explain.

The Social-Democratic element in the party evidently desired a speedy change—a reorganization of society—and believed that wholesale hunger and destitution of the masses would furnish the surplus steam-discontent-that would blow the capitalistic system “to kingdom come.” Hungry stomachs and naked backs were to impel the army of workers to assault the citadel of capital, destroy its ramparts, and erect upon its ruins the Eldorado of universal peace and plenty. To this Ira Stewart and others would reply that society was a gradual growth; that you could not by any magician’s “hocus pocus” cry of “presto change” immediately transfer our society into an Eden; that starving men were not brave, but cowardly-willing slaves, not “heroes.” Ira Stewart evidently was of opinion that the Englishman who would only fight on a full stomach manifested a great deal of human nature.

“In Heaven’s name, let’s get some supper now,
And then I’m with you if you’re for a row.”

The daily press paid little or no attention to us in those days. We called public meetings in all parts of the city, but the masses were slow to move. Oft-times, after posting bills and paying for advertising, we were also compelled to contribute our last nickel for hall rent, and walk home instead of ride. At all these meetings A. R. Parsons was the only English speaker. In the spring of 1877 the party in Chicago resolved to enter the political arena as an experiment, limiting its action to the Fifteenth Ward, and nominated A. R. Parsons as its Aldermanic candidate.

On this point we concentrated the party strength, brought volunteer ticket peddlers from all parts of the city, and worked like 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 party, 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 contented themselves with the belief that in this great and free Republic there was no room for real complaint. The idea that all Americans were on an 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 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 Pittsburgh 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 on longer permitted us, as Americans, to thank God—with our former vanity—that we were not like other nations. Pittsburgh, with its sea of fire, caused by its burning freight cars, round-houses, and depots, was the calcium light that illumined 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 United 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 July 25 we called a mass-meeting on Market square, at which A. R. Parsons and John McAuliffe made the principal speeches. The city had been under the greatest excitement for several days, and the announcement of this meeting brought together at least 40,000 people. On occasions of great public excitement Albert R. Parsons was a host as a public speaker. His capacity at times like these to address himself to the feelings of the workers was something marvelous. The Inter-Ocean declared that the subsequent mischief during that strike in Chicago was all due to Parsons’ speech. The next evening another meeting was called at the same place, but was dispersed by the police, who demolished the speaker’s stand into kindling wood and clubbed the unarmed workers right and left. Fred Courth, a cigar-maker, was knocked senseless. We carried him up in the old Vorbote office, dressed his wound, which consisted of a deep gash in his head, the marks of which are visible to this day. The same day (July 26) the Furniture-Workers’ Union called a meeting at Vorwärts Turner hall at the request of their bosses, who desired a mutual conference for the settlement of whatever grievances were between them. The police, hearing of this meeting, immediately proceeded to break it up. Mr. Wasserman, the then proprietor of the hall, attempted to prevent them from entering, but they knocked him down, over his prostrate form broke through the door, and, without any notice to the assemblage, commenced shooting and clubbing. One of the members of the union (Tessman) was shot dead, while many others were badly wounded. The matter was subsequently made a test case in the Courts, and Judge McAllister rendered one of his famous decisions on the right of public assemblage. I have often thought of this case in connection with the Anarchist trial. It was claimed by the friends of the defendants, and never successfully refuted, that Bonfield, in ordering the attack on the Haymarket meeting, assaulted the right of public assemblage, and that whatever means were employed by the citizens there assembled to repel this invasion, were both justifiable and lawful. To this the friends of the police replied that if the attack was unlawful they could find redress in the Courts. But what redress did the Furniture-Workers’ Union secure for the murder of its member Tessman? Poverty, as a rule, is at a discount in our Courts, and the long delays which can be secured by money usually result in defeat for those who have no means. The great railroad strike of 1877 secured us the public ear. True, the press and pulpit, with but few exceptions, declared that it was the work of Communistic agitators. But there were others who viewed it as an alarming evidence of the concentration of wealth and the rapid changes of our economic life. That fall the party nominated a full county ticket, with Frank A. Stauber as County Treasurer and Albert R. Parsons as County Clerk, and polled 8,000 votes. In the spring of ‘78 we elected Frank A. Stauber as the Alderman of the Fourteenth Ward, being the first public officer elected by the Socialistic party. (A. R. Parsons was defeated in this election as Aldermanic candidate of the Fifteenth Ward by a small majority, and it was the general belief that he was counted out). This gave us a prestige, and everything was on the upward boom. In the fall of 1878 we elected four members to the State Legislature. Our members were everywhere active in trades unions, and it seemed for a while as if the steady progress and final triumph of the Socialistic party was soon to be realized. This same fall we established the Socialist, an English weekly edited by Frank Hirth and A. R. Parsons.

In the spring of 1879 we nominated a full city ticket, with Dr. Schmidt for Mayor, and succeeded in polling 12,000 votes, electing three additional Aldermen, which gave the party four representatives in the Common Council of Chicago.

One of the most notable incidents showing the rapid growth of the party was the celebration of the Paris Commune during this same spring. The committee of arrangements secured the Exposition building, with a capacity of 40,000, but so great was the jam that it was impossible to carry out the program of singing, dancing, and drilling. It was estimated that at least 60,000 people visited the Exposition building that night, while thousands, after waiting on the outside for hours, unable to gain admission, returned home.

The community was startled at the boldness of our propositions in demanding collective (Governmental) control of land, means of transportation, communication, and production, and the dash which characterized our effort in making converts to this scheme of social and industrial emancipation. But the party had reached the zenith of its power as a political factor. A few months later we participated—unofficially—in the judicial election which returned Judge McAllister by an overwhelming majority, with Barnum, Tuley, and Moran. After this election charges of improper conduct were made against some of our members, creating internal strife, and our party influence began to decline. In the spring of ‘80 we re-elected Frank A. Stauber to the Council by a majority of thirty-one votes, but his opponent, who belonged to the element of “fine workers,” was not willing to accept this popular verdict. At the Seventh precinct Stauber had received 109 votes to his opponent’s 100.

The results were declared at the precinct in the presence of the three Election Judges, two Clerks, party challengers, and a police officer. Two of the Judges, Walsh and Gibbs, took the ballot-box and tally sheet home, and on learning that the election had resulted in the defeat of their candidate (J. J. McGrath) they stuffed the box and changed the result on the tally sheet so as to give Stauber only 59 votes and J. J. McGrath 150.

This change gave McGrath a majority and he was seated by the Council. A long litigation ensued, costing the workingmen about $2,000 and keeping Mr. Stauber out of his seat for nearly a year. Stauber was finally recognized by the Courts as the duly elected Alderman from the Fourteenth Ward. Walsh and Gibbs, the two Election Judges who had stuffed the ballot-box and forged the tally sheet, were tried for the offence and acquitted, Judge Gardner declaring that, while they had violated the law, there had been no evidence showing that that had been their intent.

This circumstance did more, perhaps, than all the other things combined to destroy the faith of the Socialists in Chicago in the efficiency of the ballot.

From that time on the advocates of physical force as the only means of industrial emancipation found a wide field of action for the dissemination and acceptance of their ideas. The Presidential election of 1880 also tended to disintegrate the party as a political factor. As a party, we had participated in the National convention that nominated Gen. Weaver, and it was the opinion of a large majority of the English-speaking Socialists that a fusion with the Greenback party would give us a wider, and for that reason a more useful, field for the propogation of our ideas—that we would establish a feeling of fellowship among people with whom there was already much in common. But many of the Germans, under the leadership of Paul Grottkau and some of the English, among them A. R. Parsons, bolted, and from that time on dated the actual schism in the Socialistic party. The bolters to the candidacy of Gen. Weaver did not yet oppose politics as a principle, but nominated a local ticket of their own. They still believed in the State.

The philosophy of Anarchy in its modern sense was scarcely known. “Phillip” had discussed its principles with Mr. Smart in the columns of the Irish World, and it was this controversy which created the first doubt in my mind as to the feasibility of State Socialism. But it was not until Benjamin R. Tucker, of Boston, issued his Liberty—which I have always regarded as an epoch in the intellectual progress of the movement—that the principle of voluntary association, in contradistinction to State control, began to make systematic converts. The advent of Johann Most in America also produced a change of thought or feeling among many of the German Socialists “agin the Government.” But the Communistic ideas of Most are so exceedingly authoritarian that I have never regarded him as a consistent opponent of the State. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In the spring of 1881 each of the two factions of Socialists in Chicago nominated a city ticket. I was nominated for Mayor by the element that had supported Gen. Weaver for President, and Timothy O’Meara was nominated by the other side. The campaign was one of hostility to each other, rather than to the common enemy, and was the most unpleasant experience I ever had in the movement. From this time on everything seemed to be in a condition of unrest, uncertainty, and inertia. The English Section had dwindled down to a corporal’s guard: some of its most active members had left it, for one cause or another, until its very existence seemed to be extinct, its leaders having retired from active participation in the movement. However, during this period of disintegration a new thought was developing and new lines of action projected. State Socialism, which heretofore had only been opposed by the friends of usury and plunder, was now being assailed through the columns of Liberty by Benjamin R. Tucker and his able corps of writers so vigorously that those readers who had formerly defended Government control were fairly stunned.

In 1883 I delivered a lecture before the Liberal League of Chicago on “Individualism as Contrasted with State Socialism in the Solution of Social and Industrial Problems.” I repudiated my former belief—State Socialism—and defended competition and the institution of private property. The only reply worthy of notice, from one of the State Socialists, was that I was a renegade. Joe Labadie, of Detroit, renounced State Socialism soon after, while Lizzie M. Swank and T. F. Hagerty, who tried to save the ship of State through the columns of the Radical Review, found their craft sinking from the fatal attacks of the pen of A. H. Simpson. Johann Most and Paul Grottkau met in public debate on the same subject, Most making the claim that in all the revolutions of the past the people were again enslaved through subsequent Parliamentary chicanery: therefore Parliament must be abolished. The Pitttsburgh convention, the resignation of Paul Grottkau, and the succession of August Spies as the editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung and the founding of the Alarm were events, following each other in rapid succession, manifesting the wonderful activity of the Revolutionary Anarchists. Parsons, Spies, and Fielden availed themselves of every opportunity and before every society to disseminate their doctrines, whether before the Liberal League or the Methodist ministry., C. C. Post informed me, one day in the winter of ‘85, that the West Side Philosophic Society, founded by the Rev. Dr. Thomas and composed almost exclusively of the members of the People’s Church, had on their program Modern Socialism, and they desired the presence of some of the representatives of the various Socialistic schools. Post left the matter with me, and I invited Parsons, Spies, and A. H. Simpson. Parsons was engaged that night and could not go. Judge Boyles, a member of the society, opened the discussion, but he knew no more about Socialism than a Hottentot. Our participation in the debate, however, created such intense interest that the society concluded to continue the subject at its next meeting. Parsons accompanied us on this occasion, and I shall never forget the dramatic and tantalizing speech he made. The society was the “elite” of the West Side. Mr. Dean, its President, is a millionaire lumber merchant; Col. Waterman—since elected Judge—Judge Boyles, Dr. Thomas, and other Colonels, Generals, Judges, professors, etc., with their wives and daughters, bedecked with fair jewels and fine raiment, composed our audience. Parsons spoke last, and as he stepped forward, reviewing for a moment in silence the splendid audience before him, his eye gleamed with triumph and his face wore a smile of supreme satisfaction at the opportunity afforded him of indicting the “upper-tendom” in their own presence. After cracking a few jokes at the expense of Judge Boyles, he began by saying: “I am not in the habit of speaking to men and women dressed in such fine raiment. The men I speak to nightly are the hard-fisted, greasy mechanics and laborers of our city, with the smell of shavings about their clothes. They wear no broadcloth—their constant struggle is to keep the wolf from the door. The women I speak to are those who work from ten to twelve hours daily for a pittance, and must be satisfied with an ordinary dress. But it is these greasy mechanics and these poor women that weave your broad-cloth, your silk and satin; that shape into form your costly bonnets and feathers, and grind into exquisite beauty and shape the jewels I see about me, but which they cannot wear.” With these preliminary remarks he secured the closest attention to one of the most eloquent, cutting, and defiant speeches I ever heard. Parsons was an extraordinary speaker under extraordinary circumstances. During the telegraphers’ strike of 1883 representatives of the various trades unions were in the habit of visiting them at their hall to encourage them with speeches and otherwise. Parsons and I, with a number of other friends, called on them one night. The hall was packed. Some one informed the Chairman that Mr. Parsons, from Typographical Union No. 16, was in the room. The Chairman called on him to address the meeting, and as he stepped forward I saw by the flash of his eye that an eloquent address was in store for the audience. He began by referring to the close affinity between the men and women who manipulate the keys and send the messages across the wires and the compositors who receive them as “copy” and put them into print. As he proceeded his whole soul became enveloped with the fire of his subject, and like a torrent sweeping down from the mountain side, carrying everything before it, so he swept down on that American audience of 1,200 men and women, carrying them with him through every impulse of his ardent nature. It would be impossible to attempt an extended reproduction of this speech. It was one of those extraordinary outbursts of eloquence that consumed itself in its own fire, leaving the hearer spell-bound and dazed from the flash of its light.

When the eight-hour movement of 1886 began to be interesting the Revolutionary Anarchists did not take to it. In fact, the large majority of its leaders considered it as a sort of soothing syrup for babies, but of no consequence to grown men. With Parsons it was a different thing. He had been the student of the philosophy of Ira Stewart for years, and was one of a few men who understood the full import of reduced hours. He believed that the success of the eight-hour movement would, if conceded by employers, constitute the bridge over which humanity could march toward a peaceful solution of the problem. The charge made that the Revolutionary Anarchists only used the eight-hour movement to precipitate a violent revolution may be true as to some; if so, they must have been insane; but it was not true as to Parsons. From an interview of March 13, 1886, in the Chicago Daily News, I make the following extract:

“The movement,” he said, “to reduce the work-hours is intended by its projectors to give a peaceful solution to the difficulties between capitalists and laborers. I have always held that there were two ways to settle this trouble—either by peaceable or violent methods. Reduced hours-or eight hours—is a peace-offering. * * * Fewer hours means more pay. Reduced hours is the only measure of economic freform which consults the interest of laborers as consumers. Now, this means a higher standard of living for the producers, which can only be acquired by possessing and consiming a larger share of their own product. This would diminish the profits of the labor exploiters.”

It has often been said that had the bomb not exploded on the Haymarket the eight-hour movement would have been a success. This is a serious mistake. There were two weak points connected with the movement, either one of which was fatal: First, the delegates to the Federation of Trades, which convened in Chicago in October 1885, and designated May 1, 1886, for the inauguration of the eight-hour day, returned home, after passing this resolution and went to sleep. Boston, Baltimore, and Milwaukee were the only cities outside of Chicago in which there was any serious attempt to demand it. Second, the March circular of T. V. Powderly, informing the Order that the demand to establish an eight-hour work-day did not emanate from the Knights of Labor, but from another organization, intimating that he looked on the movement with disfavor, prevented thousands of Knights from participating. But, not satisfied with impeding its progress before the 1st of May, he declared at the Richmond General Assembly in October that “the very discussion of the immediate introduction of the eight-hour day had UNSETTLED BUSINESS.” Armed with this excerpt from his annual address the Chicago packers determined to wrench from their employees the eight-hour system they had gained, and by the aid of Powderly’s subsequent dispatch ordering a surrender under penalty of expulsion, the packers succeeded in forcing them back to ten hours, victimizing their leaders and disrupting their organization.

Oh, shades of William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips! Oh, spirits of the mighty dead of all ages and times, who have laid your lives on the altar of human liberty, and lived for the larger freedom of the world, where would have been its progress had you faltered in your work because it might have “unsettled business!”

As the Haymarket meeting, the explosion of the bomb, the escape of Parsons, his indictment with his comrades for the murder of Mathias J. Degan, his voluntary return, trial, conviction, and execution, with all its extraordinary incidents, will be treated quite fully by his wife and others, I will leave that untouched except in one or two minor incidents.

A. R. Parsons joined the Knights of Labor in 1877, while visiting Indianapolis, Indiana, and was initiated by Calvin A. Light, since deceased. For many years he was a member of “old 400,” the first local in Chicago. When it lapsed, in 1885, he transferred to Local Assembly 1307, of which he was a member, until November 11, 1887. The General Assembly of the Knights of Labor at Richmond passed a resolution asking mercy for the condemned Anarchists. The prisoners, particularly Parsons, who was the only member of the Order, did not want mercy, but justice. A year later, at the General Assembly at Minneapolis, Minnesota, the time having arrived for decisive action, James E. Quinn, of District Assembly 49, introduced a resolution against capital punishment, and asked that the General Assembly take steps to prevent, if possible, the execution of the Chicago Anarchists. Powderly ruled it out of order. On an appeal from the decision of the chair, by representative Evans of District Assembly 3, of Pittsburgh, the entire subject became a matter for discussion. Powderly, as usual, spoke last, and made a bitter attack on the condemned men. He called them cowards; said that Parsons had abused him; that he had documentary evidence from Gen. W. H. Parsons establishing their guilt. He introduced newspaper articles, notably one containing a purported circular of Burnette Haskell. He closed his lengthy tirade of abuse with great flourish and emphasis, declaring that if the General Assembly did not stand by him he would not abide by its decision; he would not permit his tongue to be tied, but would tell all he knew. By this he gave the delegates to understand that he had important information and would turn informer if he was not sustained. When he was through one of his automatic dummies moved “the previous question” thereby preventing any explanation of the Haskell circular, which had no connection whatever with the Anarchist case. Its introduction was a gross impropriety and was merely used by this tricky parliamentary mountebank as a means of arousing the passion and prejudice of the General Assembly. On roll call 52 members voted against the decision of the Chair, he being sustained by a large majority. Why did not Powderly rule the subject out of order at Richmond? Was it because he was looking for an increase of salary to $5,000 per annum and could not afford to oppose District Assembly 49, with its sixty-two delegates who championed the resolution for clemency, and whose votes he needed? Such a ruling at that time might have “unsettled business.”

Hugh Pentacost and the Rev. Mr. Kimball had the courage to protest against the wholesale execution of social agitators, though it compelled them to resign their pastorates from wealthy and influential congregations. Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, the infidel, who expects no future reward for magnanimous conduct, raised his voice against the execution of this terrible sentence, regardless of the wishes of his wealthy clients.

But T. V. Powderly, the Christian, worshiper at the shrine of the lowly Jesus, said Parsons had abused him, and in this supreme hour, when he might have manifested a small share of his Master’s love and forgiveness, used his power to gratify his revenge.

This 11th of November, 1887, has passed into history, and marks the chief tragedy, of the closing years of the nineteenth century. The trial of Spies, Parsons, et al. is over and the verdict of the jury executed, but the trial of the judgment is still going on. Communities and nations, like individuals, are sometimes intoxicated and commit deeds they are ashamed of when they return to their sober senses. It was in such a frenzy of revenge that this nation executed Mrs. Suratt at the close of the War. We look with pride at our record of magnamity towards Jefferson Davis and his associates, but remember only in shame and humiliation the execution of this woman. I was only a boy then, but it seemed as if I could see the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, with his face full of sorrow and pain, drop a tear of sympathy and regret upon her bier. The sons and daughters of Virginia do not commemorate, with poetry and oratory, the greatness of their State in hanging John Brown. In the history of her worthy achievements and triumphs this event has no page.

Is history to repeat itself in the Anarchist case? Will humanity in the future, when looking backward, regard their execution as an evidence of the barbarism of our time? But aside from this, what will be its influence in shaping the social and industrial destiny of mankind? Will it hasten or delay the solution of those vexed problems of capital and labor which confront us? Will it increase the bitterness already existing between the classes until each approaches the other with malice and revenge, or will it hasten the time of an awakened conscience everywhere to deal fairly and earnestly with the problems of the hour? Luther and the Reformation gave us liberty of conscience, breaking the chains of our spiritual slavery and establishing the right of private judgment; Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, and their associates gave us political freedom; but as neither the mind nor the soul can be truly free so long as the body is chained to a condition of industrial dependence or slavery—which is our present condition—it therefore devolves upon us of the nineteenth century to solve the problem of industrial freedom, giving to all persons free opportunities to apply all their faculties and powers to the natural resources about them for their own well-being and happiness. Whether this can be accomplished through the gradual and peaceful process of evolution, or whether it will be borne through the storm and stress of revolution, will depend largely upon our ability of awakening the public mind from its apathy.

We are living in an age of universal unrest. The spirit of doubt and inquiry is sowing the seed of discontent with things that be. Institutions hallowed with age are placed on trial. The justice of grinding little children’s bones and blood and life into gold in our modern bastiles of labor, so that a few might riot in midnight orgies is being questioned by some. Land-lords and usurers are being denounced as parasites whose palaces are built with the plunder, broken hopes, and tears of the common people; Government itself is charged as being the source of iniquity, a machine through which human vultures are enabled to levy tribute, confer privileges, restrict the freedom of trade, and through diverse ways maintain and enforce a system of legalized plunder and fraud against their fellow-men. Society everywhere is in a state of perturbation, each revolulution of the printing press but intensifies the momentum of its discontent. Nothing is accepted as sacred by this young giant of modern iconoclasm that does not consult MAN’s happiness here and now.

“Goodness is alone immortal,
Evil was not made to last.”

George A. Schilling.
Chicago, February 26, 1889.

Author’s Note.

The early Christians took the cross
Upon which their Savior bled,
And withered nations now attest
The terror of its red.

Let labor where they hang her sons
Take up the gallows tree,
And bravely bear the double cross
To make the whole world free.

—W. C. Marshall.

In preparing the Life of Albert R. Parsons for publication I have been actuated by one desire alone, viz: That I might demonstrate to every one, the most prejudiced as well as the most liberal minds: First, that my husband was no aider, nor abettor, nor counsellor of crime in any sense. Second, that he knew nothing of nor had anything to do with the preparation for the Haymarket meeting, and that the Haymarket meeting was intended to be peaceable, and was peaceable until interferred with by the police. Third, that Mr. Parsons’ connection with the labor movement was purely and simply for the purpose of bettering the condition of his fellow-men; that he gave his time, talents, and at last his life, to this cause.

In order to make these facts undeniable, I obtained articles from persons holding avowedly adverse views with his, but who were nevertheless willing to testify to his innocence of the crime for which he suffered death, and his sterling integrity as a man.

It has been the endeavor of the author to make the present work not only biographical, but historical—a work which might be relied upon as an authority by all future writers upon the matters contained in it. Hence nothing has been admitted to its pages that is not absolutely correct, so far as it was possible for me to verify it by close scrutiny of all matter treated. And for this reason I ask the public to read its pages carefully, for in this way they will become acquainted with the inmost thoughts of one of the noblest characters of which history bears record.

There is one man whose name and life was so intimately interwoven with one of the stirring periods of this country’s history that that history could not be written if his name were omitted. That man is Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. His biographers record no act of his life with more praise than the magnanimous manner in which he treated the Rebel General, Lee, when the latter surrendered his sword to him. Suppose Grant had taken the proffered sword and stabbed his antagonist with it? There would have been no word too detestable to have attached to his name. Albert R. Parsons surrendered his sword to the wild mob of millionaires when he walked into Court and asked for a fair trial by a jury of his peers. Yet the proud State of Illinois murdered him under the guise of “Law and Order;” foully murdered this innocent man. And upon the heart of her then Governor (Oglesby), who completed the atrocity by ratifying the vile conspiracy conducted by the wild howls of the millionaire rabble, by signing the death warrants of men who he, as a lawyer, knew were innocent, there is not “one damned spot,” but five, to “out.”

Thus it is that history repeats itself. In this case it was the old, old cry: “Away with them; they preach a strange doctrine! Crucify them!” But the grand cause for which they perished still lives.

The Author.
Chicago, February 22, 1889.

“The working classes are ignorant because they are poor, and poor because they are robbed.”
“The more you work the less you will have, and the less you will have to do.”
—Albert R. Parsons.


Chapter I. Albert R. Parsons’s Ancestors.


A descendant of New England parentage, A. R. Parsons’ ancestors figured conspicuously in the seventeenth century in the contests of religious liberty in England, and on the second voyage of the Mayflower landed on the stern and rock-bound coast of New England, having found what they sought here—freedom to “worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.”

In the eighteenth century they were conspicuous in the struggle for political liberty. The Rev. Jonathan Parsons,[1] of Newberryport, Mass., the Whitfield of the time, preached a war sermon against British tyranny from his pulpit, and raised a company in the aisles of his church, which marched to the trenches of Bunker Hill; there a grand-uncle of Albert lost an arm in the first battle of the Revolution. Maj. Gen. Samuel Parsons, after whom Albert’s father was named, served in the New England division of the Revolutionary army.

On his maternal side, his great-grandfather Tompkins was a trooper in Washington’s body guard-served under him at Trenton, Brandywine, and Monmouth, shared the winter horrors at Valley Forge, and assisted in the repulse of the Hessians from the New Jersey towns.

His ancestors having proved their devotion to religious and political freedom in the two preceding centuries, Albert R. Parsons may be characterized as a devotee to the cause of industrial freedom in the nineteenth century.

Written by Gen. W. H. Parsons; his brother.

Letter from a Native of Newberryport, Mass.

10 Poland Street, W. London, October 8, 1887.


We had a packed meeting at the Club in Tottenham street last evening—not packed with police spies and disturbers, as attempted, but with your devoted friends and admirers from every country of the so-called civilized world; that is, from that portion of our insignificant little globe where Adam Smith is Brahma, Vishnu, Mahomet, Christ, and King. On last evening we had the honor of lining Cleveland street near at hand from end to end with police and constables, while as many as could conveniently stand about the place were assembled at the Club door. This is all excellent advertisement for the meeting on Friday next at Finsbury Chapel. Mr. Moncure Conway’s favorite forum is just a few yards inside the boundary of the city, so we have the myrmidons of the Lord Mayor to deal with. They treat us more gingerly, I assure you, than the metropolitan force, not wishing any bobbery in such perilous proximity to the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and the sacred seclusion of Chapel Court. As I have not the least doubt that your treatment all along has depended on direct orders from the latter almighty stronghold, I have high hopes of the effect of next Friday’s meeting. I have never from the first believed that at the last moment they will dare murder you.

Seymour has given me a copy of a paper containing your brother’s statement. In this I was peculiarly interested, with good reason. You can understand this when I tell you that I am a New Englander, from the old town of Newberryport, where we are pretty stiff-necked hypercritical; but we have some names we hold in reverence. Although Hale, King, Lowell, Longfellow, Lund, Perkins, Sewall, Webster, Wheelright, Whittier are but a few of the families made illustrious by our noble sons—although more than half of the great Yankee race, north and south, east and west, has our immediate blood in its veins—although our town is the parent Puritan settlement of northern Massachusetts and the three northern New England states—I can safely say that all our revered names pale beside that which you yourself bear. We can never forget that in the glorious old church still standing, in the shadow of which William Lloyd Garrison was born, in which Cable Cushing made his spiritual home, beneath the pulpit of which still lies as in life, his countenance embalmed in tranquil majesty, the greatest preacher in the tide of time—it was in this church that old Jonathan Parsons, its pastor, preacher only second to Whitfield himself in fiery eloquence and far beyond him in every other attainment, where old liberty-loving Jonathan delivered that soul-stirring harangue against British tyranny, so often told in song and story, which caused electrified parishioners to spring from their seats, and then and there in the broad aisles to muster a company which shed some of its best blood on the hill-tops of Charleston and beneath the snow-clad citadels of Canada. More than this, no true-born son of Newberryport ever forgets that the greatest, most learned, the most upright and fearless judge whom history notes was our townsman; to his shrine came the young legal aspirants, who afterward molded the American Union, and all that is best and most lasting in its laws and precedents. Among such disciples at the inexhaustible fount of Theophilus Parsons was one of the most accomplished of the Presidents of the United States.

Ah, my dear friend! Your life is under the obligation of sustaining the unsmirched record of a noble name. The famous men who have borne it, whether preachers, teachers, jurists, states-men, or soldiers, have, according to their age and knowledge, been ever on the side of truth and justice. I make no doubt you will do nothing to detract from this record. Though I cannot flatter, I will have the honest justice to say now to you, perhaps on the brink of death, that should the infamous crime of your assassination be accomplished, I will bear testimony to our fellowmen that you were not the least of those who have borne your name.

We are all the creatures of circumstances. No man can make himself a hero; events may make him one, provided he is made of the stuff to bear the strain. Events have placed you on the apex of eternal fame; so far you have never faltered from the trying test. I know you will continue to honor us who have had the happy fortune to honor you.

Whether you live or die, be assured of the highest esteem of

Yours fraternally,

Lathrop Withington.

Chapter II. The Story of His Life.


Albert R. Parsons was born in the city of Montgomery, Ala., June 24, 1848. My father, Samuel Parsons, was from the State of Maine, and he married into the Tompkins-Broadwell family, of New Jersey, and settled in Alabama at an early day, where he afterward established a shoe and leather factory in the city of Montgomery. My father was noted as a public-spirited, philanthropic man. He was a Universalist in religion and held the highest office in the temperance movement of Louisiana and Alabama. My mother was a devout Methodist, of great spirituality of character, and known far and near as an intelligent and truly good woman. I had nine brothers and sisters. My ancestory goes back to the earliest settlers of this country, the first Parsons family landing on the shores of Narragansett Bay from England, in 1632. The Parsons family and their descendants have taken an active and useful part in all the social, religious, political, and revolutionary movements in America. One of the Tompkinses, on my mother’s side, was with Gen. George Washington at the battles of Brandywine, Monmouth, and Valley Forge. Maj.-Gen. Samuel Parsons, of Massachussetts, my direct ancestor, was an officer in the Revolution of 1776, and Capt. Parsons was wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill. There are over 90,000 descendants from the original Parsons family in the United States.

My mother died when I was not yet 2 years old, and my father died when I was 5 years of age. Shortly after this my eldest brother, William Henry Parsons, who had married and was then living at Tylor, Tex., became my guardian. He was proprietor and editor of the Tylor Telegraph; that was in 1851-‘52-‘53. Two years later our family moved west to Johnson county, on the Texas frontier, while the buffalo, antelope, and Indian were in that region. Here we lived, on a range, for about three years, when we moved to Hill county and took up a farm in the valley of the Brazos river. My frontier life had accustomed me to the use of the rifle and the pistol, to hunting and riding, and in these matters I was considered quite an expert. At that time our neighbors did not live near enough to hear each other’s dog bark or the cocks crow. It was often five to ten or fifteen miles to the next house. In 1859 I went to Waco, Tex., where, after living with my sister (the wife of Maj. Bird), and going to school, meantime, for about a year, I was indentured an apprentice to the Galveston Daily News for seven years to learn the printer’s trade. Entering upon my duties as a “printer’s devil,” I also became a paper carrier for the Daily News, and in a year and a half was transformed from a frontier boy into a city civilian. When the slave-holder’s Rebellion broke out, in 1861, though quite small and but 13 years old, I joined a local volunteer military company called the “Lone Star Grays.” My first military exploit was on the passenger steamer Morgan, where we made a trip out into the gulf of Mexico and intercepted and assisted in the capture of United States Gen. Twigg’s army, which had evacuated the Texas frontier forts and came to the sea coast at Indianapolis to embark for Washington, D. C.

My next military exploit was a “run-away" trip on my part, for which I received an ear-pulling from my guardian when I returned. These were stirring “war times,” and, as a matter of course, my young blood caught the infection. I wanted to enlist in the Rebel army and join Gen. Lee in Virginia, but my guardian, Mr. Richardson, proprietor of the News, a man of 60 years and the leader of the Secession movement in Texas, ridiculed the idea, on account of my age and size, and ended by telling me that “it’s all bluster anyway. It will be ended in the next sixty days, and I will hold in my hat all the blood that’s shed in this war.” This statement from one whom I thought knew all about it only served to fix all the firmer my resolve to go, and go at once, before too late. So I took “French leave,” and joined an artillery company at an improvised fort at Sabine Pass, Tex., where Capt. Richard Parsons, an elder brother, was in command of an infantry company. Here I exercised in infantry drill and served as “powder monkey” for the cannoneers. My military enlistment expired in twelve months, when I left Fort Sabine and joined Parsons’ Texas cavalry brigade, then on the Mississippi river. My brother, Maj.-Gen. W. H. Parsons (who during the war was by his soldiers invested with the sobriquet “Wild Bill”), was at that time in command of the entire cavalry outposts on the west bank of the Mississippi river from Helena to the mouth of the Red river. His cavalrymen held the advance in every movement of the trans-Mississippi army, from the defeat of the Federal General Curtis on White river to the defeat of Gen. Banks’ army on Red river, which closed the fighting on the west side of the Mississippi. I was a mere boy of 15 when I joined my brother’s command at the front on White river, and was afterward a member of the renowned McInoly Scouts, under Gen. Parsons’ order, which participated in all the battles of the Curtis, Canby, and Banks campaigns.

On my return home to Waco, Tex., at the close of the war, I traded a good mule, all the property I possessed, for forty acres of corn in the field standing ready for harvest, to a refugee who desired to flee the country. I hired and paid, wages (the first they had ever received) to a number of ex-slaves, and together we reaped the harvest. From the proceeds of its sale I obtained a sum sufficient to pay for six months’ tuition at the Waco University, under control of the Rev. Dr. R. B. Burleson. Soon afterward I took up the trade of type-setting and went to work in a printing office in the town. In 1868 I founded and edited a weekly newspaper in Waco, named the Spectator. In it I advocated, with Gen. Longstreet, the acceptance, in good faith, of the terms of surrender, and supported the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth constitutional amendments and the reconstruction measures securing the political rights of the colored people. (I was strongly influenced in taking this step out of respect and love for the memory of dear old “Aunt Easter,” then dead, and formerly a slave and house-servant of my brother’s family, she having been my constant associate and practically raised me, with great kindness and a mother’s love.) I became a Republican, and, of course, had to go into politics. I incurred thereby the hate and contumely of many of my former army comrades, neighbors, and the Ku Klux Klan. My political career was full of excitement and danger. I took the stump to vindicate my convictions. The lately enfranchised slaves over a large section of country came to know and idolize me as their friend and defender, while on the other hand I was regarded as a political heretic and traitor by many of my former associates. The Spectator could not long survive such an atmosphere. In 1869 I was appointed traveling correspondent and agent for the Houston Daily Telegraph, and started out on horseback (our principal mode of travel at that time) for a long tour through northwestern Texas. It was during this trip through Johnson county that I first met the charming young Spanish-Indian maiden who, three years later, became my wife. She lived in a most beautiful region of country, on her uncle’s ranch near Buffalo Creek. I lingered in this neighborhood as long as I could, and then pursued my journey with fair success. In 1870, at 21 years of age, I was appointed Assistant Assessor of United States Internal Revenue, under Gen. Grant’s administration. About a year later I was elected one of the Secretaries of the Texas State Senate, and was soon after appointed Chief Deputy Collector of United States Internal Revenue at Austin, Tex., which position I held, accounting satisfactorily for large sums of money, until 1873, when I resigned the position. In August, 1873, I accompanied an editorial excursion, as the representative of the Texas Agriculturist, at Austin, Tex., and in company with a large delegation of Texas editors made an extended tour through Texas, Indian Nation, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as guests of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railway. I decided to settle in Chicago. I had married in Austin, Tex., in the fall of 1871, and my wife joining me at Philadelphia we came to Chicago together, where we have lived till the present time. I at once became a member of Typographical Union No. 16, and “subbed” for a time on the Inter-Ocean, when I went to work under “permit” on the Times. Here I worked over four years, holding a situation at “the case.” In 1874 I became interested in the “labor question,” growing out of the effort made by Chicago working people at that time to compel the “Relief and Aid Society” to render to the suffering poor of the city an account of the vast sums of money (several millions of dollars) held by that society and contributed by the whole world to relieve the distress occasioned by the great Chicago fire of 1871. It was claimed by the working people that the money was being used for purposes foreign to the intention of its donors; that rings of speculators were corruptly using the money, while the distressed and impoverished people for whom it was contributed were denied its use. This raised a great sensation and scandal among all the city newspapers, which defended the “Relief and Aid Society,” and denounced the dissatisfied workingmen as “Communists, robbers, loafers,” etc. I began to examine into this subject, and I found that the complaints of the working people against the society were just and proper. I also discovered a great similarity between the abuse heaped upon these poor people by the organs of the rich and the actions of the late southern slave-holders in Texas toward the newly enfranchised slaves, whom they accused of wanting to make their former masters “divide” by giving them “forty acres and a mule,” and it satisfied me there was a great fundamental wrong at work in society and in existing social and industrial arrangements.

From this time dated my interest and activity in the labor movement. The desire to know more about this subject led me in contact with Socialists and their writings, they being the only people who at that time had made any protest against or offered any remedy for the enforced poverty of the wealth-producers and its collateral evils of ignorance, intemperance, crime, and misery. There were very few Socialists or “Communists,” as the daily papers were fond of calling them, in Chicago at that time. The result was, the more I investigated and studied the relations of poverty to wealth, its causes and cure, the more interested I became in the subject. In 1876 a workingmen’s congress of organized labor met in Pittsburgh, Pa. I watched its proceedings. A split occurred between the conservatives and radicals, the latter of whom withdrew and organized the “Workingmen’s Party of the United States.” The year previous I had become a member of the “Social-Democratic Party of America.” This latter was now merged into the former. The organization was at once pounced upon by the monopolist class, who, through the capitalist press everywhere, denounced us as “Socialists, Communists, robbers, loafers,” etc.

This was very surprising to me, and also had an exasperating effect upon me, and a powerful impulse possessed me to place myself right before the people by defining and explaining the objects and principles of the Workingmen’s party, which I was thoroughly convinced were founded both in justice and on necessity. I therefore entered heartily into the work of enlightening my fellow-men: first, the ignorant and blinded wage-workers who misunderstood us, and secondly, the educated labor exploiters who misrepresented us. I soon unconsciously became a “labor agitator,” and this brought down upon me a large amount of capitalist odium. But this capitalist abuse and slander only served to renew my zeal all the more in the great work of social redemption. In 1877 the great railway strike occurred; it was July 21, 1877, and it is said 30,000 workingmen assembled on Market street, near Madison, in mass-meeting. I was called upon to address them. In doing so, I advocated the programme of the Workingmen’s party, which was the exercise of the sovereign ballot for the purpose of obtaining State control of all means of production, transportation, communication, and exchange, thus taking these instruments of labor and wealth out of the hands or control of private individuals, corporations, monopolists, and syndicates. To do this, I argued that the wage-workers would first have to join the Workingmen’s party. There was great enthusiasm, but no disorder during the meeting. The next day I went to the Times office to go to work as usual, when I found my name stricken from the roll of employes. I was discharged and blacklisted by this paper for addressing the meeting that night. The printers in the office admired secretly what they termed “my pluck,” but they were afraid to have much to say to me. About noon of that day, as I was at the office of the German labor paper, 94 Market street (organ of the Workingmen’s party, the Arbeiter-Zeitung, printed tri-weekly), two men came in and accosting me said Mayor Heath wanted to speak with me. Supposing the gentleman was down-stairs, I accompanied them, when they told me he was at the Mayor’s office. I expressed my surprise, and wondered what he wanted with me. There was great news-paper excitement in the city, and the papers were calling the strikers all sorts of hard names; but, while many thousands were on the strike, there had been no disorder. As we walked hurriedly on, one on each side of me, the wind blew strong, and their coat-tails flying aside, I noticed that my companions were armed. Reaching the City Hall building, I was ushered into the Chief of Police’s (Hickey) presence in a room filled with police officers. I knew none of them, but I seemed to be known by them all. They scowled at me and conducted me to what they called the Mayor’s room. Here I waited a short while, when the door opened and about thirty persons, mostly in citizen’s dress, came in. The Chief of Police took a seat opposite to and near me. I was very hoarse from the out-door speaking of the previous night, had caught cold, had had but little sleep or rest, and had been discharged from employment. The Chief began to catechise me in a brow-beating, officious, and insulting manner. He wanted to know who I was, where born, raised, if married and a family, etc. I quietly answered all his questions. He then lectured me on the great trouble I had brought upon the city of Chicago, and wound up by asking me if I didn’t “know better than to come up here from Texas and incite the working people to insurrection,” etc. I told him that I had done nothing of the sort, or at least I had not intended to do so; that I was simply a speaker at the meeting; that was all. I told him that the strike arose from causes over which I, as an individual, had no control; that I had merely addressed the mass-meeting, advising to not strike, but go to the polls, elect good men to make good laws, and thus bring about good times. Those present in the room were much excited, and when I was through explaining some spoke up and said “Hang him,” “Lynch him,” “Lock him up,” etc.; to my great surprise holding me responsible for the strikes in the city. Others said it would never do to hang or lock me up; that the workingmen were excited and that act might cause them to do violence. It was agreed to let me go. I had been there about two hours. The Chief of Police as I rose to depart took me by the arm, accompanied me to the door, where we stopped. He said: “Parsons, your life is in danger. I advise you to leave the city at once. Beware. Everything you say or do is made known to me. I have men on your track who shadow you. Do you know you are liable to be assassinated any moment on the street?” I ventured to ask him who by, and what for? He answered: “Why, those Board of Trade men would as leave hang you to a lamp-post as not.” This surprised me, and I answered: “If I was alone they might, but not otherwise.” He turned the spring latch, shoved me through the door into the hall, saying in a hoarse tone of voice, “Take warning,” and slammed the door to. I was never in the old rookery before. It was a labyrinth of halls and doors. I saw no one about. All was still. The sudden change from the tumultuous inmates of the room to the dark and silent hall affected me. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I felt alone, absolutely without a friend in the wide world.

This was my first experience with the “powers that be,” and I became conscious that they were powerful to give or take one’s life. I was sad, not excited. The afternoon papers announced in great head lines that Parsons, the leader of the strikers, was arrested. This was surprising and annoying to me, for I had made no such attempt and was not under arrest. But the papers said so. That night I called at the composing-room of the Tribune office, on the fifth floor, partly to get a night’s work and partly to be near the men of my own craft, whom I instinctively felt sympathized with me. The men went to work at 7 p. m. It was near 8 o’clock, as I was talking about the great strike, and wondering what it would all come to, with Mr. Mạnion, Chairman of the Executive Board of our union, when from behind some one took hold of my arms and, jerking me around to face them, asked me if my name was Parsons. One man on each side of me took hold of one arm, another man put his hand against my back, and began dragging and shoving me toward the door. They were strangers. I expostulated. I wanted to know what was the matter. I said to them: “I came in here as a gentleman, and I don’t want to be dragged out like a dog.” They cursed me between their teeth, and, opening the door, began to lead me down-stairs. As we started down one of them put a pistol to my head and said: “I’ve a mind to blow your brains out.” Another said: “Shut up or we’ll dash you, out the window upon the pavements below.” Reaching the bottom of the five flights of stairs they paused and said: “Now go. If you ever put your face in this building again you’ll be arrested and locked up.” A few steps in the hallway and I opened the door and stepped out upon the sidewalk. (I learned afterward from the Tribune printers that there was great excitement in the composing-room, the men threatening to strike then and there on account of the way I had been treated; when Joe Medill, the proprietor, came up into the composing-room and made an excitable talk to the men, explaining that he knew nothing about it and that my treatment was done without his knowledge or consent, rebuking those who had acted in the way they had done. It was the opinion of the men, however, that this was only a subterfuge to allay the threatened trouble which my treatment had excited.) The streets were almost deserted at that early hour, and there was a hushed and expectant feeling pervading everything. I felt that I was likely to fall a pitiless, unknown sacrifice at any moment. I strolled down Dearborn street to Lake, west on Lake to Fifth avenue. It was a calm, pleasant summer night. Lying stretched upon the curb, and loitering in and about the closed doors of the mammoth buildings on these streets, were armed men. Some held their muskets in hand, but most of them were rested against the buildings. In going by way of an unfrequented street I found that I had got among those whom I sought to evade—they were the First regiment, Illinois National Guards. They seemed to be waiting for orders; for had not the newspapers declared that the strikers were becoming violent, and “the Commune was about to rise!” and that I was their leader! No one spoke to or molested me. I was unknown. The next day and the next the strikers gathered in thousands in different parts of the city without leaders or any organized purpose. They were in each instance clubbed and fired upon and dispersed by the police and militia. That night a peaceable meeting of 3,000 workingmen was dispersed on Market street, near Madison. I witnessed it. Over 100 policemen charged upon this peaceable mass-meeting, firing their pistols and clubbing right and left. The printers, the iron-molders, and other trades unions which had held regular monthly or weekly meetings of their unions for years past, when they came to their hall-doors now for that purpose, found policemen standing there, the doors barred, and the members told that all meetings had been prohibited by the Chief of Police. All mass-meetings, union meetings of any character were broken up by the police, and at one place (Twelfth Street Turner hall), where the Furniture-Workers’ Union had met to confer with their employers about the eight-hour system and wages, the police broke down the doors, forcibly entered, and clubbed and fired upon the men as they struggled pell-mell to escape from the building, killing one workman and wounding many others.

The following day the First regiment, Illinois National Guards, fired upon a crowd of sight-seers, consisting of several thousand men, women, and children, killing several persons, none of whom were ever on a strike, at Sixteenth street viaduct.

For about two years after the railroad strike and my discharge from the Times office I was blacklisted and unable to find employment in the city, and my family suffered for the necessaries of life.

The events of 1877 gave great impulse and activity to the labor movement all over the United States, and, in fact, the whole world. The unions rapidly increased both in number and membership. So, too, with the Knights of Labor. In visiting Indianapolis, Ind., to address a mass-meeting of workingmen on the Fourth of July, 1876, I met the State Organizer, Calvin A. Light, and was initiated by him as a member of the Knights of Labor, and I have been a member of that order ever since. That organization had no foothold, was in fact unknown, in Illinois, at that time. What a change! To-day the Knights of Labor has nearly a million members, and numbers tens of thousands in the State of Illinois. The political labor movement boomed also. The following spring of 1877 the Workingmen’s Party of the United States nominated a full county ticket in Chicago. It elected three members of the Legislature and one Senator. I received as candidate for County Clerk 7,963 votes, running over 400 ahead of the ticket. About that time I became a member of local assembly 400 of the Knights of Labor, the first Knights of Labor assembly organized in Chicago, and, I believe, in the State of Illinois. I also served as a delegate to district assembly 24 for two terms, and was, I think, made its Master Workman for one term.

I have been nominated by the workingmen in Chicago three times for Aldermen, twice for County Clerk, and once for Congress. The Labor party was kept up for four years, polling at each election from 6,000 to 12,000 votes. I was in 1878 a delegate to the national convention of the Workingmen’s Party of the United States, held at Newark, N. J. At this labor congress the name of the party was changed to “Socialistic Labor party.” In 1878, at my instance and largely through my efforts, the present Trades Assembly of Chicago and vicinity was organized. I was its first President and was re-elected to that position three times. I remained a delegate to the Trades Assembly from Typographical Union No. 16 for several years. I was a strenuous advocate of the eight-hour system among trades unions. In 1879 I was a delegate to the national convention held in Allegheny City, Pa., of the Socialistic Labor party, and was there nominated as the Labor candidate for President of the United States. I declined the honor, not being of the constitutional age—35 years. (This was the first nomination of a workingman by workingmen for that office in the United States.)

During these years of political action every endeavor was made to corrupt, to intimidate, and mislead the Labor party. But it remained pure and undefiled; it refused to be cowed, bought, or misled. Beset on the one side by the insinuating politician and on the other by the almighty money-bags, what between the two the Labor party—the honest, poor party—had a hard road to travel. And, worst of all, the workingmen refused to rally en masse to their own party, but doggedly, the most of them, hugged their idols of Democracy or Republicanism, and fired their ballots against each other on election days. It was discouraging. But the Labor party moved forward undaunted, and each election came up smiling at defeat. In 1876 the Socialist, an English weekly paper, was published by the party, and I was elected its assistant editor. About this time the Socialist organization held some monster meetings. The Exposition building on one occasion contained over 40,000 attendants, and many could not get inside. Ogden’s grove on one occasion held 30,000 persons. During these years the labor movement was undergoing its formative period, as it is even now. The un-American utterances of the capitalist press—the representatives of monopoly—excited the gravest apprehension among thoughtful working people. These representatives of the moneyed aristocracy advised the use of police clubs, and militia bayonets, and gatling guns to suppress strikers and put down discontended laborers struggling for better pay—shorter work-hours. The millionaires and their representatives on the pulpit and rostum avowed their intention to use force to quell their dissatisfied laborers. The execution of these threats; the breaking up of meetings, arrest and imprisonment of labor “leaders;" the use of club, pistol, and bayonet upon strikers; even to the advice to throw hand-grenades (dynamite) among them—these acts of violence and brutality led many workingmen to consider the necessity for self-defense of their person and their rights. Accordingly, workingmen’s military organizations sprang up all over the country. So formidable did this plan of organization promise to become that the capitalistic Legislature of Illinois in 1878, acting under orders from millionaire manufacturers and railway corporations, passed a law disarming the wage-workers. This law the workingmen at once tested in the Courts of Illinois, and afterward carried it to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was decided by the highest tribunal that the State Legislatures of the United States had a constitutional right to disarm workingmen. Dissensions began to rise in the Socialist organization over the question of methods. In the fall and spring elections of 1878-’79-’80 the politicians began to practice ballot-box stuffing and other outrages upon the Workingmen’s party. It was then I began to realize the hopeless task of political reformation. Many workingmen began to lose faith in the potency of the ballot or the protection of the law for the poor. Some of them said that “political liberty without economic (industrial) freedom was an empty phrase.” Others claimed that poverty had no votes as against wealth; because if a man’s bread was controlled by another, that other could and, when necessary, would control his vote also. A consideration and discussion of these subjects gradually brought a change of sentiment in the minds of many; the conviction began to spread that the State, the Government and its laws, was merely the agent of the owners of capital to reconcile, adjust, and protect their—the capitalists’—conflicting interests; that the chief function of all Government was to maintain economic subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of labor—of life—to capital. These ideas began to develop in the minds of workingmen everywhere in Europe as well as America, and the conviction grew that law—statute law—and all forms of Government (governors, rulers, dictators, whether Emperor, King, President, or capitalist, were each and all of the despots and usurpers), was nothing else than an organized conspiracy of the propertied class to deprive the working class of their natural rights. The conviction obtained that money or wealth controlled politics; that money controlled, by hook or crook, labor at the polls as well as in the workshop. The idea began to prevail that the element of coercion, of force, which enabled one person to dominate and exploit the labor of another, was centered or concentrated in the State, the Government, and the statute law, that every law and every Government in the last analysis was force, and that force was despotism, an invasion of man’s natural right to liberty.

In 1880 I withdrew from all active participation in the political Labor party, having been convinced that the number of hours per day that the wage-workers are compelled to work, together with the low wages they received, amounted to their practical disfranchisement as voters. I saw that long hours and low wages deprived the wage-workers, as a class, of the necessary time and means, and consequently left them but little inclination to organize for political action to abolish class legislation. My experience in the Labor party had also taught me that bribery, intimidation, duplicity, corruption, and bulldozing grew out of the conditions which made the working-people poor and the idlers rich, and that consequently the ballot-box could not be made an index to record the popular will until the existing debasing, impoverishing, and enslaving industrial conditions were first altered. For these reasons I turned my activities mainly toward an effort to reduce the hours of labor to at least a normal working day, so that the wage-workers might thereby secure more leisure from mere drudge work, and obtain better pay to minister to their higher aspirations. Several trades unions united in sending me throughout the different States to lay the eight-hour question before the labor organizations of the country. In January, 1880, the “Eight-Hour League of Chicago” sent me as a delegate to the national conference of labor reformers, held in Washington, D. C. This convention adopted a resolution which I offered, calling public attention of the United States Congress to the fact, that, while the eight-hour law passed years ago had never been enforced in Government departments, there was no trouble at all in getting through Congress all the capitalistic legislation called for. By this national convention Richard Trevellick, Charles H. Litchman, Dyer D. Lum, John G. Mills, and myself were appointed a committee of the National Eight-Hour Association, whose duty it was to remain in Washington, D. C., and urge upon the labor organizations of the United States to unite for the enforcement of the eight-hour law.

About this time there followed a period of discussion of property rights, of the rights of majorities and minorities. The agitation of the subject led to the formation of a new organization, called the International Revolutionary Socialists, and later the International Working People’s Association. I was a delegate in 1881 to the labor congress which founded the former, and afterward also delegate to the Pittsburgh (Pa.) congress in October, 1883, which revived the latter as a part of the International Working People’s Association, which already ramified Europe, and which was originally organized at the world’s labor congress held at London, England, in 1864.

I cannot do better than insert here the manifesto of the Pittsburgh congress, which clearly sets forth the aims and methods of the International, of which I am still a member, and for which reason myself and comrades are condemned to death. It was adopted as follows:


Fellow-Workmen: The Declaration of Independence says:

“ * * * But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing inrariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them (the people) under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such Government and provide new guards for their future security.”

This thought of Thomas Jefferson was the justification for armed resistance by our forefathers, which gave birth to our Republic, and do not the necessities of our present time compel us to reassert their declaration?

Fellow-workmen, we ask you to give us your attention for a few moments. We ask you to candidly read the following manifesto issued in your behalf; in behalf of your wives and children; in behalf of humanity and progress.

Our present society is founded on the exploitation of the propertyless by the propertied. The exploitation is such that the propertied (capitalist) buy the working force, body and soul, of the property less, for the price of the mere cost of existence (wages), and take for themselves (i. e., steal) the amount of new values (products) which exceeds the price, whereby wages are made to represent the necessities instead of the earnings of the wage-laborer.

As the non-possessing classes are forced by their poverty to offer for sale to the propertied their working forces, and as our present production on a grand scale enforces technical development with immense rapidity, so that by the application of an always decreasing number of human working force an always increasing amount of products is created; so does the supply of working force increase constantly, while the demand therefore decreases. This is the reason why the workers compete more and more intensely in selling themselves, causing their wages to sink, or at least on the average never raising them above the margin necessary for keeping intact their working ability.

Whilst by this process the propertyless are entirely debarred from entering the ranks of the propertied, even by the most strenuous exertions, the propertied, by means of the ever-increasing plundering of the working class, are becoming richer day by day, without in any way being themselves productive.

If now and then one of the propertyless class become rich it is not by their own labor, but from opportunities which they have to speculate upon and absorb the labor product of others.

With the accumulation of individual wealth the greed and power of the propertied grows. They use all the means for competing among them. selves for the robbery of the people. In this struggle generally the less-propertied (middle-class) are overcome, while the great capitalists, par excellence, swell their wealth enormously, concentrate entire branches of production, as well as trade and inter-communication, into their hands, and develop into monopolies. The increase of products, accompanied by simultaneous decrease of the average income of the working mass of the people, leads to so-called “business” and “commercial” crises, when the misery of the wage-workers is forced to the extreme.

For illustration: The last census of the United States shows that. after deducting the cost of raw material, interest, rents, risks, etc., the propertied class have absorbed—i. e., stolen—more than five-eighths of all products, leaving scarcely three-eighths to the producers. The propertied class being scarcely one-tenth of our population, and in spite of their luxury and extravagance, are unable to consume their enormous “profits," and the producers unable to consume more than they receive—three-eighths.—So-called “overproductions” must necessarily take place. The terrible results of panics are well known.

The increasing eradication of working forces from the productive process annually increases the percentage of the propertyless population, which becomes pauperized and is driven to “crime,” vagabondage, prostitution, suicide, starvation, and general depravity. This system is unjust, insane, and murderous. It is, therefore, necessary to totally destroy it with and by all means, and with the greatest energy on the part of every one who suffers by it and who does not want to be made culpable for its continued existence by his inactivity.

Agitation for the purpose of organization; organization for the purpose of rebellion. In these few words the ways are marked which the workers must take if they want to be rid of their chains. As the economic condition is the same in all countries of so-called “civilization;" as the Governments of all Monarchies and Republics work hand in hand for the purpose of opposing all movements of the thinking part of the workers; as, finally, the victory in the decisive combat of the proletarians against their oppressors can only be gained by the simultaneous struggle along no the whole line of the bourgeois (capitalistic) society—so, therefore, the international fraternity of people as expressed in the International Working People’s Association presents itself a self-evident necessity.

True order should take its place. This can only be achieved when all implements of labor, the soil and other premises of production—in short, capital produced by labor—is changed into societary property. Only by this presupposition is destroyed every possibility of the future spoliation of man by man. Only by common, undivided capital can all be enabled to enjoy in their fullness the fruits of the common toil. Only by the impossibility of accumulating individual (private) capital can everyone be compelled to work who makes a demand to live.

This order of things allows production to regulate itself according to the demand of the whole people, so that nobody need work more than a few hours a day, and that all nevertheless can supply their needs. Hereby time and opportunity are given for opening to the people the way to the highest possible civilization; the privileges of higher intelligence fall with the privileges of wealth and birth. To the achievement of such a system not the political organizations of the capitalistic classes—be they Monarchies were in or Republics—form the barriers. These political structures (States), which are completely in the hands of the propertied, have no other purpose than the upholding of the present disorder of exploitation.

All laws are directed against the working people. In so far as the opposite appears to be the case, they serve on one hand to blind the worker, while on the other hand they are simply evaded. Even the school serves only the purpose of furnishing the offspring of the wealthy with those qualities necessary to uphold their class domination. The children of the poor get scarcely a formal elementary training, and this, too, is mainly directed to such branches as tend to producing prejudices, arrogance, and servility; in short, want of sense. The church finally seeks to make complete idiots out of the mass and make them forego the paradise on earth by promising a fictitious heaven. The capitalistic press, on the other hand, takes care of the confusion of spirits in public life. All these institutions, far from aiding in the education of the masses, have for their object the keeping in ignorance of the people. They are all in the pay and under the direction of the capitalistic classes. The workers can therefore expect no help from any capitalistic party in their struggle against the existing system. They must achieve their liberation by their own efforts. As in former times a privileged class never surrendered its tyranny, neither can it be expected that the capitalists of this age will give up their rulership without being forced to do it.

If there ever could have been any question on this point it should long ago have been dispelled by the brutalities which the bourgeois of all countries—in America as well as in Europe—constantly commit, as often as the proletariat anywhere energetically move to better their condition. It becomes, therefore, self-evident that the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeois will be of a violent revolutionary character.

We could show by scores of illustrations that all attempts in the past to reform this monstrous system by peaceable means, such as the ballot, have been futile, and all such efforts in the future must necessarily be so, for the following reasons:

The political institutions of our time are the agencies of the propertied class; their mission is the upholding of the privileges of their masters; any reform in your own behalf would curtail these privileges. To this (they will not and cannot consent, for it would be suicidal to themselves.

That they will not resign their privileges voluntarily we know; that they will not make any concessions to us we likewise know. Since we must then rely upon the kindness of our master for whatever redress we have, and knowing that from them no good may be expected, there remains but one recourse—force! Our forefathers have not only told us that against despots force is justifiable, because it is the only means, but they themselves have set the immemorial example.

By force our ancestors liberated themselves from political oppression, by force their children will have to liberate themselves from economic bondage. “It is, therefore, your right, it is your duty,” says Jefferson, “to arm!”

What we would achieve is, therefore, plainly and simply:

First—Destruction of the existing class rule by all means—i. e., by energetic, relentless, revolutionary, and international action.

Second—Establishment of a free society based upon co-operative organization of production.

Third—Free exchange of equivalent products by and between the productive organizations without commerce and profit-mongery.

Fourth—Organization of education on a secular, scientific, and equal basis for both sexes.

Fifth—Equal rights for all, without distinction to sex or race.

Sixth—Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts between the autonomous (independent) Communes and associations, resting on a federalistic basis.

Whoever agrees with this idea let him grasp our outstretched brother-hands!

Proletarians from all countries, unite!

Fellow-workmen, all we need for the achievement of this great end is ORGANIZATION AND UNITY!

The day has come for solidarity! Join our ranks! Let the drum beat defiantly the roll of battle: “Workmen of all countries, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have the world to win!”

Issued by the Pittsburgh congress of the International Working Peoples’ Association, on October 16, 1883.

In all these matters here enumerated I took an active, personal interest. October 1, 1884, the International founded in Chicago the Alarm, a weekly newspaper, of which I was elected to the position of editor, and I have held that position until its seizure and suppression by the authorities on the 5th day of May, 1886, following the Haymarket tragedy.

* * *

The examination of the class struggle demonstrates that the eight-hour movement was doomed by the very nature of things to defeat. But the International gave its support to it for two reasons, viz.: First, because it was a class movement against class domination, therefore historical, and evolutionary, and necessary; and secondly, because we did not choose to stand aloof and be misunderstood by our fellow-workers. We, therefore, gave to it all the aid and comfort in our power. I was regularly accredited under the official seal of the trade and labor unions of the Central Labor Union, representing 20,000 organized workingmen in Chicago, to assist in the organization of trade and labor unions, and do all in my power for the eight-hour movement. The Central Labor Union, in conjunction with the International, publishes six newspapers in Chicago, to-wit: One English weekly, two German weeklies, one Bohemian weekly, one Scandinavian weekly, and one German daily newspaper.

The trade and labor unions of the United States and Canada having set apart the 1st day of May, 1886, to inaugurate the eight-hour system, I did all in my power to assist the movement. I feared conflict and trouble would arise between the authorities representing the employers of labor and the wage-workers, who only represented themselves. I knew that defenceless men, women, and children must finally succumb to the power of the discharge, blacklist, and lock-out, and its consequent misery and hunger, enforced by the militiaman’s bayonet and the policeman’s club. I did not advocate the use of force. But I denounced the capitalists for employing it to hold the laborers in subjection to them, and, declared that such treatment would of necessity drive the workingmen to employ the same means in self-defence.

Albert R. Parsons.
Cook County Jail, Cell 29, August, 1886.


Chapter I. Mr. Parson’s Western Trip Correspondence.


It was well known he was an Anarchist, said the speaker. He asked their attention to a few of the many reasons why not only himself but others should sooner or later become revolutional. Social science, or Socialism, said the speaker, teaches us how to understand or explain facts; how to point out analogies, and thus discover the operations of natural law. To understand the science of life we must learn the history of the human race, and by its past understand the present. The history of man, in all its evolutions and revolutions, was simply the manifestation of their economic or material condition. Production, and next to production the distribution of wealth, forms the basis of all moral, intellectual, and social progress and order. In all historical epochs we find that the distribution of the products of labor and the social grading into castes and classes were in strict accordance with the mode of production and that of exchange. Hence the primary cause of all social changes and political revolutions must not be sought in the heads of man, or in the growing enlightenment and conception of eternal truth and justice, but in the changes that took place in the modes of production and exchange. They must not be sought in the philosophy, but rather in the economy, of their respective epoch; therefore, the growing conviction that the existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, are simply the explanation of the fact that the methods of production and exchange have undergone changes until they can no longer be made to apply to a social order which grew up under entirely different economic conditions. The existing social order has outgrown its usefulness, if it ever had any, and for proof we point to the poverty of the great mass of the people, which has now become unendurable. What is this social order of which we speak? It is our modern industrial system, with its world-wide markets, based upon the institution of private property. It is the private ownership by a few members of society of the means of production and resources of life; such private ownership creating two classes—one the bourgeoisie, or propertied class, the other the proletariat, or propertyless class. The propertied are thus made a privileged class who grow enormously wealthy by absorbing or confiscating the labor products of the propertyless, who become the dependent hirelings of the propertied.

Under the operations of the private property system modern Governments, whether an Empire, a Constitutional Monarchy, or a Democratic Republic such as we have now in the United States, are merely the managing committees, organized for the purpose of conducting the affairs of industry in the interests of the property-holding class.

The social, moral, political, and religious institutions of society are but the reflex of the economic.

The American Republic was proclaimed 109 years ago to-day, and its existence made possible because the men of that time were, comparatively speaking, economically free and equal. Their material and physical condition was such as to make the Republic possible.

The declaration of independence that “all men are by nature created free and equal” is as much a truth, but less an actuality to the people of the United States to-day, as when our forefathers proclaimed it. The men of that day possessed political freedom because they enjoyed economic liberty, and we, their descendants, are disfranchised, because we are disinherited-deprived of the means of life.

The industrial or economic enslavement of the workers—the wealth producers—has destroyed their political power and rendered them the play-things of that modern social devil-fish, the politician. The poor have no liberties, political or otherwise, which the rich may choose to deny them. The right to sell their labor is contingent upon whether the rich choose to buy it. The chance to be a slave, a wage-slave, is even denied to millions of the propertyless class, who annually perish of hunger, disease, and misery because thereof. Political liberty without economic freedom is an empty phrase. The possessors of property also possess all political power in all modern so-called representative States.

The ballot, strikes, arbitration, isolated co-operation, economy, prayers, or petitions can no longer ameliorate the condition of the wage-slave. So, far from improving their condition, the system of industry, based upon private property with wages and competition, not only renders this impossible, but must continue to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer, inevitably.

This system centralizes the means of production; it gathers the people into vast commercial and manufacturing centers, where the enormous wealth they create flows continually into the coffers of the few. Here the strike is met with the lock-out, and the ballot falls powerless from the hand which holds no bread.

Under this system periodic panics occur, world-wide in their character, growing more frequent and intense as the system develops. At such times society is suddenly thrown back into barbarism, and thousands perish of want while surrounded with the greatest abundance. We are in the midst of such a crisis now. Every country is searching for a foreign market to absorb its so-called overproduction, and the captains of our modern industry, like Alexander of Macedon, bewail the fact that there are no more commercial worlds for them to conquer.

Look at the process of production and exchange and see what it is. The increase of the technical sciences, the division and subdivision of labor, the application of machinery, steam, and electricity is ever changing and ever increasing the productive power on one hand and decreasing the demand for wage-laborers on the other. As the power to produce rapidly increases, so does the opportunity to work, and consequently to live, rapidly diminish on the other. The commercial middle-class system of production can not longer withstand the pressure of overproduction, and the forces of production at the disposal of society has become too powerful for middle-class control. It has created the conditions which will cause its destruction. It has transformed the small workshop into the large factory, and the individual capitalist is superseded by the corporation and syndicate. The small dealer, merchant, or farmer is forced by competition and the superior facilities which large capital employs to quit the field of business, and are driven into the ranks of the wage-workers. The small capitalist cannot cope with the millionaire, and the individual millionaire must succumb to the syndicate. Thus the ranks of the revolutionary proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population. Thus the social revolution is ever gathering strength for the new birth, when all men will indeed be free and equal. The movements of the past were the conflicts of minorities in the interests of minorities. Not so with the world-wide international labor movement of to-day, which is a movement of the vast majority on behalf of the immense majority.

The existing social order, as everyone now admits, is the work of the bourgeoisie. Their peculiar mode of production, which we call “capitalistic production,” was incompatible with the local and class privileges and the mutual personal relations of the feudal order. The bourgeoisie destroyed the feudal order, and established in its stead the present civil society, with its constitution of free competition, equal rights, and other glorious things, among those who were in possession of the products and means of production. Under these conditions the development of production was given full sway. Soon the small manufacturer disappeared. Steam and machinery took the place of human labor and production on a large scale grew with unprecedented rapidity. And as in former times the developed small trade came in conflict with the fetters of feudalism, so now modern industry is revolting against the barriers into which the capitalistic system of production has forced it. In other words, the present forms of production have outgrown the forms of bourgeoisie utilization. This revolt and this struggle is going on outside of us and entirely independent of our will. Socialism is, therefore, nothing else but the reflex of this conflict and struggle in our sphere of thought and comprehension, and this reflex is most potent in the minds of those who under the present system are suffering most—i. e., in the minds of the working people.

The speaker proceded at further length to show the operations of capitalism in different countries. He quoted the United States census for 1880, which in manufacturing industries gives 2,738,000 wage-workers an average of $304 each, while 250,000 “bosses” received in profit $4,000 each on the average; that 2,738,000 wage-workers get three-eighths of their product in wages, while the non-producing class—being less than one-tenth of the population—nevertheless appropriated over five-eighths of all that these laborers produced; that there were 11,500 business failures last year, 90 per cent. of whom possessed less than $5,000; that over 2,000,000 persons are now in enforced idleness; that as production increases wages decrease. The speaker gave facts to show that the same condition of affairs existed throughout Europe as in America.

He showed by facts that poverty, crime, insanity, and suicide had increased 400 per cent. in proportion to population in the last thirty years. He showed the origin of private property was in fraud, force, and murder, and that Governments were instituted, and constitutions adopted, and laws manufactured to uphold and perpetuate the outrage; that Government exists for the sole purpose of depriving men of their natural rights; that authority and force was the weapon of tyrants held over their slaves. The speaker said that, after evolving for 109 years under the Republic, the people were about to rise in revolt and throw off their economic bondage. He told them that “to be forewarned was to be forarmed,” and that they must be prepared to meet force with force.

Chapter II. Letter from Topeka, Kansas.



After my visit to Ottawa, Kan., on the Fourth of July last, where I delivered an address to the working people of that section on the “Social Revolution,” which was received by them with unbounded enthusiasm, I on Monday, by way of Kansas City, made my way to Topeka, a city of 25,000 people and Capital of the State of Kansas. I visited the local assembly of the Knights of Labor, which has a very large membership here, and made a short talk to them, when they resolved to hold an open-air meeting on the Thursday following, and invited me to address it. In Topeka I found such stalwart champions of revolutionary Socialism as Comrades Henry, Blakesley, Whiteley, Vrooman, Bradley, and others—intelligent and fearless young men who cry out against and spare not the infamies of the capitalistic system.

On Tuesday I returned to Kansas City and spoke at a mass-meeting of the working people at that place held on Thursday, July 7, which had been arranged by Comrades Bestman, Schwab, and others. The meeting was held in Armory hall, where at the hour named, though the weather was oppressively hot, fully 400 persons were assembled. They remained for over two hours while I discussed the principles of Socialism, at the close of which circulars, pamphlets, and copies of the Alarm were freely distributed, and much satisfaction was expressed by those present with what they had heard. On the night following an open-air meeting was held on Market square, situated in the center of the city upon one of the main thoroughfares, where an audience of fully 1,500 persons gathered around the speaker. The sentiments expressed were received with applause and unanimous approbation, and much progress was made.

On Thursday I returned to Topeka. I found the columns of the capitalistic papers filled with notices of our proposed meeting. At 8 o’clock p. m. a crowd of over 1,500 people, mostly workingmen and women, gathered on the street corner of Kansas avenue and Sixth street, where an express wagon was placed in the middle of the street for the speakers’ stand. The crowd listened for three hours with every sign of approbation, and a large American Group and several subscribers for the Alarm was the result. The capitalistic papers denounced us the next day, and threatened your humble speaker with lynching, but it is far more probable that the working-men of Topeka would lynch the capitalists of Topeka than to allow themselves to be mobbed by them.

The next day I departed for St. Joseph, Mo., a beautiful and very wealthy city of 50,000 inhabitants, where Comrades Christ, Mostler, Nusser, and others had prepared a mass-meeting in Turner hall on Saturday. There had been considerable talk of my advent in the columns of the capitalistic press of that city, and many were the remarks, favorable and otherwise, made about the appearance in their city of Parsons from Chicago. As was to be expected, the conservative workingmen, who profess to have faith in the curative powers of the ballot-box, strikes, arbitration, etc., were loud in their denunciations of the revolutionary Socialists, and they were at great pains to have the public understand that the Knights of Labor was an organization which had nothing whatever to do with these “Communists,” etc.. Well, at the hour named the largest audience ever brought together in St. Joseph on such an occasion were gathered in the Turner hall, where those who could not get seats stood in the sweltering weather of a hot July day for over three hours, attentively listening to and applauding the utterances of the speaker. The meeting created a profound impression, and was the talk of the city next day. On the evening following I spoke to a large audience in the same city, in Knights of Labor hall, and spoke again on Monday evening before an assembly of Knights of Labor, when a resolution was unanimously adopted inviting me to address, at my earliest convenience, an open-air meeting under the auspices of the Knights of Labor, they paying the expenses, etc. When it is considered that the capitalistic press (there are three morning dailies in St. Joseph) were out in editorials every day showing up the fallacies of Socialism, and stating that such doctrines have no followers in that city, and that the Knights of Labor were especially hostile to all revolutionary teachings, and the attitude of the Knights of Labor before the meetings were held, some idea can be formed of the tremendous effect the agitation produced, when the men and organizations which were loudly denouncing us are now heart and hand with us, and have arranged a mass-meeting for me to address. It is satisfaction enough to know that three meetings held in St. Joseph created a deep impression, and have been the talk of the place since.

Monday night, at 1 o’clock, I took the train for Omaha, Neb. Comrades Ruhe, Kretschmer, Kopp, and others had arranged a mass-meeting in Kessinger’s large hall for Tuesday evening. It was sweltering weather, and yet the hall was crowded with an attentive audience, filled with about 500 persons who remained and with approval and satisfaction listened to a two hours’ speech. Several names were taken for the formation of an American Group of the International, and many copies of the Alarm sold. It was announced that an open-air meeting would be held the following evening in Jefferson park. Owing to the lack of time to advertise, not over 500 persons were present. I spoke to them for two hours, and took several names for the formation of an American Group.

On Friday I returned to Kansas City, where I found letters inviting me to speak in Scammonville, Weir City, and Pittsburg, in the southern part of the State of Kansas. Large and enthusiastic mass-meetings were held in these places. I spoke in Scammonville Sunday afternoon, in Weir City the following evening, and Pittsburg on Monday night. Large American Groups were formed in the two former places.

Let me describe to you the condition of the wage-slaves in Pittsburg. It is a place of about 4,000 inhabitants, and has several coal mines and smelting works. The mine-owners will not employ any person who belongs to a labor organization or who takes and reads a labor paper. The coal syndicate owns a truck store, in which its employes are compelled to trade under penalty of losing their bread. It owns nearly all of the houses, and in all matters of work and social conduct its commands must be strictly obeyed. The capitalistic Czars of that section hold absolute dominion over their wage-slaves. It was thought to be rather risky business to beard the lion in his den by holding a labor meeting within the domain of these capitalistic autocrats, but, nothing daunted, our fearless comrades, John Schrumm and John McLaughlin, of Scammonville, accompanied me and we got out hand-bills announcing the meeting on the principal and only business street, just opposite the truck store of the coal company. A table was procured and served as a platform. Comrade John McLaughlin, editor of the Labor Journal, mounted it and spoke for about half an hour, when I was introduced to the vast audience which had assembled and was standing in the street. Of course, as you may suppose, we showed up in the strongest terms we could employ the fearful ravages the “Beast of Property” was making upon the lives and liberties of the propertyless class. The crowd of men and women remained for three hours and cheered our utterances to the echo. The affair created a profound sensation and was the talk next day of every one in the town. Passing by the door of the general offices of the coal syndicate next morning, in company with Comrades McLaughlin and Alfred Wilson, on accosting a man standing in the door, he replied: “Go to h—l! I don’t speak to such as you,” and when he had passed a few steps, he added: “You are nothing but a lot of sons of b—s anyway!” He was invited to step outside and take out any satisfaction he might desire by Comrade McLaughlin, but he said nothing further and we moved on. The truck store of this town is devouring the other business men, and they all feel bitterly hostile toward it. Great good was done by our meeting in this place.

The capitalistic press state that there are over 12,000 unemployed people in Kansas City, which is a place of about 130,000 inhabitants; that there are 5,000 in Omaha and about the same number in St. Joseph out of work. The same holds good in Topeka and Council Bluffs, and in all the smaller towns large numbers are out of work. I saw tramps on the wayside everywhere, and at Nebraska City junction, on the Kansas City, St. Joe & Council Bluffs railroad, on the Missouri river, in Iowa, I read the following printed on cloth in large large letters and tacked up securely on the walls of the railroad station:

Tramps Are Hereby Notified to Move on!

On my return to Kansas City from my trip to the mining regions I found an invitation to return and address an open-air meeting in St. Joseph on Thursday evening, July 23. I spoke here in Kansas City to a large mass-meeting of workingmen, mostly “tramps,” on Market square. I will speak at the same place and go to St. Joseph, and thence back to Chicago.

This trip has been productive of much good. Eight American Groups of the International Working Peoples’ Association have been formed, and fully 20,000 wage-slaves have for the first time heard the gospel of “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.” In every place there were large and earnest meetings, with the most satisfactory results. The working people thirst for the truths of Socialism and welcome their utterance with shouts of delight. It only lacks organization and preparation, and the time for the social revolt is at hand. Their miseries have become unendurable, and their necessities will soon compel them to act, whether they are prepared or not. Let us then redouble our efforts and make ready for the inevitable. Let us strain every nerve to awaken the people to the dangers of the coming storm between the propertied and the propertyless classes of America. To this work let our lives be devoted. Vive la Revolution Sociale!

Chapter III. Letter from Salineville, Ohio.


Taken from “The Alarm” of January 25, 1886.


On Thursday morning, with fraternal good-byes to friends in Cleveland, I took the Cleveland & Pittsburgh train for Salineville, O., a mining town of about 2,500 inhabitants. Here is established a flourishing Group of earnest workers in the propaganda of the social revolution. Salineville is a strictly mining town, and when for any reason the mines close up work all other business is practically suspended. The town lies in a hollow along the banks of a creek, for three miles almost as straight as a shoe-string, the whole population living upon or contiguous to one single street. There had been a big thaw, and I had ample occasion to become acquainted with the proverbial mud and slush of a rough, unpaved mining town. The homes of the miners in this place are a little better than I have found them elsewhere, some of them owning their houses, but the great majority are tenants at will of the corporation which owns the earth and all it contains hereabouts. Of the 500 or 600 miners employed here they are divided into nationalities, as near as I could ascertain, about as follows: About one-half of them are Irish, the remainder is made up of Welsh, Scotch, English, and German in about equal proportions, with a few Americans thrown in.

The “truck,” or “pluck-me,” stores are in full blast here. There are four of them, each belonging to a different mining company. Miners deal at these stores under compulsion, where open books keep the running account, which nearly always runs ahead of the wages paid to them. These “truck stores” are also the pay-offices of the company, where on a certain day, once a month, the miners go to settle the “store account” and receive the balance, if any is left, in wages. This arrangement makes it quite handy for the mine-owners, who keep the store account and wages due all under one head, and manage by good business qualifications and shrewd management to make one generally offset the other. The Knights of Labor and Miners’ Union, which are strong in Ohio, have, as usual, sought relief from the “truck store system” by legislation. Last year, at their behest and by the aid of labor politicians, a law was enacted prohibiting the collection of money due on accounts at these stores from being taken out of wages. The miners were happy. They were told that under this law the truck store could no longer fleece them by extravagant prices and adulterated goods. But alas! how soon was this “labor legislation” brought to naught. The coal companies speedily demonstrated their power to control the law. Formerly the miners dealt at these stores as a condition precedent to employment, but now, under the “labor law," the company presents the miner who seeks employment from them a “contract” which they must sign before they are employed. This “contract” binds the miner to the company’s service in many ways, the chief of which is that he waives all claim to protection of the law with regard to the companies paying themselves out of his wages for accounts run up at the truck stores. Alas for labor legislation! Alas for “freedom of contract;" the “labor law,” as proclaimed in the Pittsburgh manifesto of the International, only serves to deceive, and is when necessary simply evaded by those who control the bread and consequently the life of the worker. And the “free contract” is free in so far as the worker must sign it or starve! Those who have “saved” some money can, it is true, trade at other stores, but such action is regarded as a base ingratitude by the employers, who show their displeasure by refusing employment, and consequently destroying the ability of the miner to trade at all! But such ingratitude is rarely shown by the men, since the employers keep them so poor that they have no cash, nor credit, save at the “pluck-me" stores. The miners tell me that they are swindled right and left in their accounts by overcharges, short weights, and adulteration. But these are our honorable, up-right, Christian, enterprising business men, who run their concerns on “strictly business principles.” Such is the morality of commercialism. The men tell me that many of them do not handle a cent in cash during a whole year! When the great “battle for bread” was raging in the Hocking valley last winter and the members of the Miners’ Union of Ohio were each assessed to pay a certain sum per month to aid the strikers, the miners of Salineville and elsewhere among them had no money, and they paid their assessment in coal at the rate of one ton per month.

As an illustration of the poverty of these workers where labor furnishes the fuel for the needs of the people, it was related to me that a miner, father of a family, when passing from his daily toil on the “coal bank” the store of a merchant to whom he owed an unpaid bill for groceries, etc., the business man accosted him and said: “That account is due a long time, why don’t you pay me?” The miner answered: “You know how much I make and you know it is not enough to support my family on the commonest necessities of life. If you can show me any way I will be glad to do so.” As the miner spoke he held his little 10-year-old boy by the hand, and the merchant, eyeing the child closely, said: “Can’t you take your son into the mine with you? He can earn something, and in that way you can pay me.” The miner shook his head, and as he walked away, sadly holding his little boy’s hand and pondering on what the “business man” had said, the tears croused down his rugged cheek. He afterward took the child into the mine and paid the merchant’s bill! Such is the morality practiced by commercialism and taught from the paid pulpit of the church. Capitalism demands its pound of flesh, even though it be taken from the heart of innocent childhood.

The miners work eleven hours on an average, and average two tons per day, at 60 cents per ton. They are not allowed to work more than six months in the year on an average. This makes an income of 60 cents per day the year round, or not quite $200 for a year’s work, upon which they must live and support a family. These miners tell me that when they dig two tons of coal, one ton is counted as worthless by the company, and they pay them nothing for it. The nut, pea, and slack coal averages one-half the out-put; the miner receives 60 cents for the “lump coal.” This lump coal brings $3 per ton at wholesale in the market, for the mining of which the miner receives 60 cents, but the nut, pea, and slack, for which the miner receives nothing, is also sold by the company to the working class of our cities, who buy this nut coal by the scuttle at 10 cents a scuttle, paying $12 a ton for it, as the writer knows from personal experience last winter. In fact, the so-called unmarketable coal, for the digging of which the miners are not paid a cent, is sold by the company at a sum which pays the miners’ wages, Government taxes, insurance, freight, etc., leaving the “lump” or marketable coal a clear wholesale steal in the hands of the labor exploiters! And yet the Pinkerton thugs, the militia, and armed murderers are employed by these labor robbers on any pretext to prevent the miners from obtaining a 10 or 15 per cent. increase on the ton. One corporation, the Salineville Coal Company, owes its miners two months’ wages for work done over a year ago, and when the men struck for the pay, over a year ago, the company pleaded poverty, and agreed to pay it as soon as they made any profit, upon which assurance the men returned to work and have been working ever since. The company still owes the two months’ wages, and from all indications will owe it forever. The generosity of the coal cormorants is shown in the fact that the heads of families can have free what coal they can use, but if the sons, even though they are grown up men, work in the mine and the father does not, why, the family is compelled to buy its coal.

The life of these miners is beset on every hand with danger. Three persons on the average are murdered each year in the mines, and many are crippled for life, and still more contract painful rheumatism from exposure. The mine-owners are only interested in bringing coal to the surface; but if this routine is changed by the bringing of a crushed, mangled, bleeding, and dead miner to the surface occasionally, it is no loss or concern to the company. These so-called “accidents” which destroy life are pure parsimony and indifference of the bosses, who will not provide the necessary props to the roof, which would easily insure safety to the miners. In blasting the coal, the hazardous work is shown by frequent and permanent injuries to life and limb. The mine air is foul and never pure, and the place where the miner stands, kneels, or lays to dig all day is often covered with mud and water, the water often covering the “room” from six to twelve inches deep. To dip out this water requires half a day; the company only pays for coal. The following night the room fills with water again, and the miner must again loose half a day to dip it out. The miners tell me that twice a day, on going to work and returning through the mine entrance, they run the risk of being crushed to death by the falling roof, which the company will not go to the expense of propping and thus making safe. A miner who was murdered in this way two years ago was the only son and support of an aged father, who has since sued the company for $10,000 damages. It took a year to get to the trial, when the jury disagreed, and another year must roll around before it is tried again, when the jury will again “disagree,” or, better still, the old, infirm man may be dead of starvation and exposure. This old man owed the truck store, at the time of the suit, $50, and the company’s agent tried to persuade the old man to withdraw the suit if they would cancel the debt. The father indignantly rejected the offer, and in his anguish cried: “You miserable scoundrels, you want to pay for my murdered son the price of an old mule.” But miners are cheaper than mules, nevertheless, as the company knows to its great profit.

As might be expected, your correspondent found quite a dissatisfied lot of men in Salineville, and when the mass-meeting which our comrades had arranged there took place, it was to be expected that a large attendance would be present. The meeting was announced in Masonic hall, for which the proprietor charged the outrageous price of $13. This, however, was the only hall in town, and as a monopolist he was master of the situation, viz.: pay his price or go without. The Miners’ Brass Band, composed of fifteen musicians, a fine-looking body of men, discoursed several pieces of well-executed music in the calm, clear atmosphere of New Year’s day in front of the hall. At the time named quite a crowd had assembled. At the opening of the meeting I announced for discussion the Socialistic declaration that by natural right and human necessities the mine belonged to the miner, the tools to the toilers, and the product to the producers. Any other arrangement of affairs left the producers a dependent, hireling class, at the mercy of the non-producers. The poverty of the miners was the same as all other workers—enforced and artificial. The parasites, the drones in the industrial hive, absorbed all the honey and made the industrious workers drudge and slave for them.

Their attention was called to the fact that strikes, boycotts, arbitration, and voting could not adjust the trouble between capitalists and laborers. What was necessary was not to soften and palliate their wage-slavery (which would not be done), but its abolition. To abolish the capitalist and destroy his power to rob and enslave would be to place all capital and means of subsistence into the hands of the people for their free use. All could then voluntarily co-operate in the production and distribution of the wealth, and poverty and want would be unknown and impossible.

This and much else was said in proof of the statement that the existing social system not only made but kept the producers poor, and there was no help for it until that infamous system was destroyed utterly.

The first meeting was held in the afternoon at 2 p. m., the second the same evening at 7:30 p. m. The greatest interest was shown at both.

As seen from the above facts, the bodies of these miners are already lost and damned, and yet for three months this town has been afflicted with the marching and countermarching of the Salvation Army. The Salvationists are trying to save for the next world the souls of these poor people, whose bodies have already been ruined in this, and they gain some adherents, too. Religion in this form comes cheap; you can take it on the sidewalk or elsewhere, as necessity or convenience dictates. Between the actual hell and the fear of a future one they keep the ignorant and superstitious in a great ferment. The Captain of the company is a young woman of 17 summers, which is quite an attractive feature. A Lieutenant, another young woman, has already become a Mary Magdalene, but unlike Christ, their master, they have not only cast the first but the last stone at her, and she is now an outcast. Here, as elsewhere, the churches are the partners of mammon. The Catholic priest tells his congregation to beware of the godless Socialists and Anarchists, and warns them against the evils of social revolution.

In his speech here recently he said to them that when they become hungry they must go to the authorities first, and if they refuse to give, then take food, and if arrested they must not resist, but obey the authorities and go quietly to prison. “All things work together for good to them who love God,” says he, quoting the scripture.

Nevertheless, there is a most decided revolutionary spirit among the men generally; they all feel that something must be done and quite a number have the courage to say so, and a few are prepared to act.

They all declare that the existing system is infamous, but their respect for law, for authority, both on earth and in heaven, as taught them by the press, politician, and priest, restrains them from taking decided action. The burden meanwhile grows heavier and more heavy, and it will ere long become unendurable, when, God or no God, law or no law, they will cast it off.

Chapter IV. Letter from the Smoky City.


Taken from “The Alarm” of February 4, 1886


Since writing my last report in the Alarm I have spent ten days among the wage-slaves of Pennsylvania. One mass-meeting was held at Coal Center and another at Elizabeth, on the Monongahela river. Coal Center is located fifty miles above Pittsburgh, in the Monongahela valley. From Coal Center to Pittsburgh is one continuous coal mine of almost inexhaustible quantity. The country is beautiful with its valleys, mountains, and river, and is said by those who claim to know to be almost as picturesque as Switzerland. The soil is of the richest character; the great hills abound with coal, iron, stone, oil, natural gas. The river is navigable, and bounded on either side of its bank by a railroad. The climate is delightful and healthy, the water pure. With all these natural conditions of abounding wealth which only requires the magic touch of labor’s hand it would be reasonable to expect that its inhabitants were prosperous and happy. But, alas for our boasted, so-called modern civilization! Amid this unlimited natural wealth there is the most extreme poverty and intense misery, and what is true of this region I find to be the same deplorable condition wherever I go.

In Alleghany City, a place of great wealth, and in Pittsburgh and elsewhere the gaunt faces of misery, hunger, and woe meet one on every hand. Pennsylvania is the richest State in the American Union, and Pittsburgh and the region around about is its center. The invested capital of this State is mainly engaged in employing labor at productive work. Here are the mines, mills, and factories of America, and, of course, the class distinctions of wage-slaves and capitalistic masters, of proletariat and bourgeoisie, the most clearly visible and well-defined. Here the operations of the modern commercial system, which produces for profit only, holds supreme sway, and its effects upon the people are visible on every hand, viz. : the colossal wealth of the idle few, the agonizing poverty of the industrious many. The system of private ownership and control of capital, which makes of the propertyless a dependent, hireling class, subjecting them to the selfish whims and greed of the privileged few who possess the legal right to own and control the labor product of the laborers, has full play in the “common (?) wealth of Pennsylvania.” Shoeless children, who dare not leave their miserable shanties, sometimes called “homes,” to go to school or to work over the ice or through the snow, are to be seen everywhere. Thinly clad, emaciated, care-worn women, bowed down with drudgery and anxiety, meet you on all sides. Miserable, wretched, poverty-stricken men, young in years, stalwart in frame, yet old in gait and shrunken with misery, greet your eyes at every turn. Crammed and filled are the work-houses, prisons, poor-houses, police stations, charity societies, penitentiaries, and the “Potter’s Field.”

“Rattle their bones over the stones,
They’re only poor workmen whom nobody owns.”

Look on that picture, then on this, viz.: Palatial mansions, everything that wealth can supply, licentious luxury, profligacy, idleness, and corruption among the “successful enterprisers” who have exploited, degraded, and enslaved their fellow-men.

There is fierce conflict, internal warfare on every side, raging between the privileged and disinherited. Strikes are met with lock-outs; bread riots are met with police clubs, bayonets, and gatling guns; the “pious fraud” plies his vocation and threatens the rebellious slaves with eternal damnation and the wrath of God when oppression compels them to disregard the “law and order” of their earthly masters; the poor-houses and prisons are filled with the unfortunates whose inability to find employment makes them objects of Governmental care, and dungeons and prison cells are crammed with wage-slaves who have “conspired” against starvation wages, and thus violated the “organic law” of the capitalistic system. Everything is done by contract. The labor exploiters prepare a “free contract” for their wage-slaves to sign as a condition precedent to employment, which they are at perfect liberty to sign or starve! And this “freedom of contract” is held inviolate by the courts and Judges of capitalism.

The report of the superintendent of the Bethel home in Pittsburgh, a semi-charitable institution where a bed or a meal can be had for 5 cents, made his annual report a few days ago to the public that 25,276 tramps were provided for in this institution the past year. And only one institution heard from! Ten thousand miners and coke-makers are on a strike for a 10 per cent. advance of their starvation wages in the Connellsville region, contiguous to this city, and the mine and coke czars have issued their ukas ordering them to vacate their tenements, and the police and militia are under arms, awaiting the word of command from the Government to evict the rebels, dispossess them of their miserable shanties at the point of a bayonet, and cast the helpless women and innocent children out into the snow. Shades of Irish landlordism! your blighting shadow has fallen upon America as well. First robbed and then evicted because they are dissatisfied with the robbers. And it is said that Americans are to be employed in the place of these ungrateful “foreigners.” If the foreigner is no longer satisfied with the blessings of this “free country,” why, the “American sovereign is to be employed in his place,” say the capitalists. But will the experiment prove a success? May not American sovereigns and freemen also discover that patriotism is a very poor substitute for bread? We shall see.

The men at the Edgar Thompson steel works at Braddock, a Pittsburgh suburb, had to strike against twelve hours exhausting labor. What then? Over 100 men, armed with 14-repeating Winchester rifles, and about forty deputy Sheriffs, armed to the teeth, were employed by the company to preserve “law and order.” These, with the aid of the Very-Rev. Father Hickey, of that place, induced the “ungrateful” wage-slaves to return to their slavery. Ungrateful, I say, because do not capitalists claim that they furnish the working class with bread, and that if it were not for them and their business enterprises the workers would starve! “The ungrateful wretches must be kept orderly and quiet,” say the bosses.

The flood-gates of poverty have been turned loose. Hard times; no work; hard work and poor pay, describes the situation, and to maintain their legal right to control the natural rights of others the property-holding class are strengthening the police, increasing the army, recruiting the militia, building new jails, work-houses, poor-houses, and enlarging the penitentiaries. Entrenched behind “organic law,” church and State, sustained by bayonets, maintain the supremacy of our capitalistic “law and order” regime.

Of course, the wage-slaves, the proletarians, are not indifferent to the conditions that surround them. They have massed their forces in labor organizations, principally the Knights of Labor and trades unions. But these labor organizations have built their house upon a foundation of sand, which the wind, rain, and storm of poverty now descending upon it will wash away. In fact, the foundation seems to be gone already, and the impending wreck of the whole structure is at hand. They do not and cannot regulate the work-hours; they do not and cannot keep up wages or provide employment to the enforced idle. Any labor organization which cannot do this for its members is of no value to them whatever. These organizations are at cross-purposes with themselves. They fight the effects of a system, but defend and protect the system itself. Result: failure.

Socialism is soon to become the trustee of these bankrupted capitalistic labor organizations, which are now being weighed in the balance and found wanting. Out of their ashes, Phoenix-like, will arise the new social regime. On their ruins Socialism will erect the mansions of “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality,” which shall endure forever, for Socialism gives homes to the homeless, land to the landless, liberty to the slave, wealth, happiness, and prosperity to all! Necessity, the mother of invention, will compel the wage-slaves of all nations to turn to Socialism as their only savior.

At Coal Center, on the Monongahela river, we held successful and important mass-meetings of citizens and miners. Before my arrival I was threatened with being rotten-egged and mobbed, so thoroughly and skillfully had the capitalistic politicians and priests worked up a sentiment of hatred toward the detested Anarchists. But it proved a boomerang to recoil upon themselves, for after the people heard me present the claims of Socialism they showed me every possible courtesy, taking me to the best tavern and paying for my board bill, and assuring me that they intended to send for me to return among them soon, when they would get the whole country around there to turn out and hear Socialism.

In Monongahela City no hall could be had for love or money, and hence no meeting, as the weather was too cold for an open-air address.

At Mansfield, Pa., myself and a few Pittsburgh comrades held a very well-attended mass-meeting among the citizens of that suburb. After my address an English miner rose and said that he was a God-fearing man and a Christian; that Socialism was Christianity. He had a family of six children, and his wages for the past two weeks’ work was $4! I interrupted him to inquire if he had not made a mistake, when several other miners present corroborated what he said, and stated that some of them got even less than that sum. The English miner continued, and said that they were robbed unmercifully by false weight of coal and at the infamous truck stores. Said he: “I would rather die on the battle-field than to continue to live as I am.” He said he would join the International, but it was opposed to God. Man suffered because of sin. God commanded us to work six days, but the bosses made us work seven in the week. All we had to do was to obey God and “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

This miner was told in reply that the command to work six days was absurd and impossible, because on certain portions of the earth the days were six months long. That to obey God was certain slavery, for had he not said: “Servants, obey your masters and be obedient to those placed in authority over you”? And as for loving one’s neighbor as one’s self, how could there be peace on earth and good will to those who were engaged in robbing and killing us? The English Government held its sway over Ireland because the Catholic church commanded obedience to the scriptures. The Irishman has the choice of obeying God and slavery, or disobedience and liberty. Which? To abandon the world to the robbers and seek a paradise beyond this life, among the unknown and unknowable, was to let go the bird in the hand and chase the one in the bush. No doubt ministers of the gospel would be opposed to this earthly paradise, which an observance of nature’s law would give to all, because it would abolish sin and his occupation as a soul-saver would be gone.

The meeting was well received, but here, as elsewhere, the men are too poor, having been on long strikes and out of work and money, to subscribe for the Alarm.

Last Saturday evening in the Jane Street Turner hall, on the south side of Pittsburgh, a large mass-meeting greeted us in response to the following announcement made in hand-bills:

Workingmen’s mass-meeting at Turner hall, Jane street, S. S., to-night. The workingmen and citizens of the south side will hold an indignation meeting on Saturday evening, January 30, at 7:30 o’clock, to denounce the use of police and military to overawe strikers, and also to take action in regard to the introduction of labor-saving machinery in our iron, steel, and glass industries. Every workingman and woman should be present. Free discussion. Everybody invited.
The Committee.

The hall was filled, and, on motion, F. M. Gessner, editor of the American Glass-Worker, a weekly trade journal published in Pittsburgh, was made Chairman. He said, substantially:

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: No one seems disposed to introduce the gentleman who speaks to us to-night, but my courtesy to strangers bids me to do it. The workingmen of Pittsburgh should be here in thousands, but possibly because the victims of oppression in the coke regions now being driven into slavery at the bayonet point are Hungarians, there is prejudice against them. Well, be it so. So much the worse for us and our organizations that the cause of these people is ignored by us, and it is left for the hated and despised Anarchists and Socialists to step boldly to the front in their behalf. The unwelcome truth calls for heroes. The poor Hun is being crushed and only the hated Anarchist comes to his rescue. Are we doing our duty? Let the hated Anarchist roll his drum to-day, but in the long roll I believe our organization will stand in line and every man answer ‘Aye.’ I am not here as an Anarchist, for I do not clearly yet understand their position. But the time has come for the utterance and acceptance of the truth, however unwelcome it may be to some. I ask your courteous attention to what Mr. Parsons, of Chicago, has to say.”

I discoursed to the audience for about two hours, and was cheered throughout to the echo, and at the conclusion of my speech the following resolutions were adopted unanimously by the large audience present, which was composed mainly of Americans:

Resolved, By this mass-meeting of workingmen of Pittsburgh, that the employment of police and militia to suppress strikes and compel working people to submit to starvation wages paid by monopolists and capitalists, as witnessed in the recent struggle of the miners on the Monongahela river, the rolling-mill men at Braddock, and the coke-workers of the Connellsville region and elsewhere, demonstrates that the employers of labor rely upon force to compel obedience to their dictation; it therefore becomes the bounden duty of all workingmen who value their life, liberty, and happiness to arm and prepare themselves to successfully resist the oppressions of their capitalistic masters.

Resolved, That the monopolistic or private control of recent inventions in labor-saving machinery, together with the use of natural gas in the manufacture of iron, steel, and glassware, has destroyed the means of subsistence of tens of thousands of wage-workers by rendering their labor superfluous; therefore, it is our bounden duty, in order to live and enjoy liberty, to take the means of human subsistence out of the control and ownership of private individuals and place them where they by natural right belong, viz.; into the hands of society for the free use of all, thus destroying forever the monopolistic system of private capital in the means of life, which breeds the curse of poverty, ignorance, intemperance, disease, crime, and vice.

Resolved, That it is the conviction of this mass-meeting that the time has arrived when the workingmen of America must arise and proclaim, and maintain by any and all means, their inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I cannot close this brief report without calling attention to Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh, its industrial center, as the natural cradle of the social revolution. Here, as nowhere else in America, the growth and development of the capitalistic system of mass-production has prepared the way by precept and example for the transition from the old to the new civilization. All the conditions exist for the rapid and stalwart growth of the revolutionary proletariat. There is but one thing lacking, viz.: leaders. The trades unions and Knights of Labor have organized the wage-workers for amelioration, which can never come. The leaders of these bodies are still chasing the ignis fatuus of politics, and the further they go the deeper they sink into the quagmire of the political swamp, until the cry already comes out of the gloom: “Help, help!” It is my deliberate judgment that one-half the talent, energy, and means expended in Pittsburgh that has been in Chicago would give the revolutionary movement ten members where it now has one. But unfortunately the Socialistic propaganda here has neither an American, German, or other organizer and agitator; no press, and consequently but little vitality. The harvest is great, but the harvesters are few. There is great probabilty of another trades union riot here like that of 1877. These are the inevitable social eruptions which make Socialism a necessity.

I leave here to-day for Canton, O., thence to Massillon, Mansfield, Columbus, Hocking Valley, Springfield, O., and back to Chicago. Salut.

Lula Eda Parsons.

Chapter V. In the Ohio Coal Regions.


Taken from “The Alarm” of February 20, 1886.


Since my last report in the Alarm I have addressed several large mass-meetings of working people in the State of Ohio. Two mass-meetings were held in Canton on Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6.

Canton is a railroad center and manufacturing town of about 20,000 inhabitants, in Stark county, which rates third in the list of the wealthiest counties in the State of Ohio. Nevertheless, right here in the midst of this superabundance of wealth, strong men, their wives and children, are homeless, starving, and freezing. Bear in mind, Canton is located in the third wealthiest county of this State; its soil is unsurpassed; its coal, stone, water, natural gas exists in unlimited quantities and unsurpassed qualities; the climate the most healthy—yet, in the presence of this natural wealth, we find in this little city 200 families of able-bodied men to whom, being compelled to be idle, the authorities have to give charity to prevent them from begging, stealing, or starving! Five hundred other families of strong, healthy men are kept in enforced idleness and receive aid in one form or another from churches, clubs, friends, neighbors, etc.

Allowing five persons to a family, we find that Canton, with its 20,000 inhabitants, has 3,500 human beings who have been made mendicants and paupers and are being driven into vagabondage and crime, prostitution and suicide by means of our industrial system. Let me give one or two detailed facts with which the writer is personally acquainted. At the iron and steel works in Canton the man who fires six boilers and regulates the steam in them tells me that he is kept spinning like a top for ten to twelve hours each day, doing this work in person, and that the least oversight on his part would cause an explosion of the boilers that would kill at least forty or fifty of the 200 men employed in the mill. For the performance of this exhaustive labor and grave responsibility he receives the sum of 12½ cents per hour!

In the midst of the terrible blizzards and snow I saw little 4 and 5-year-old girls, clad in thin and tattered garments, scraping the snow with their fingers among the railroad tracks where engines are constantly switching to and fro, hunting for nuggets of coal which may have dropped from passing trains! While here I read in the capitalistic press of the town that an unemployed workman, driven to desperation, dashed a stone through a plate-glass window in a store on a principal business street, and, waiting till an officer of the law arrested him, he gave as a reason that he was out of work, money, and friends, and adopted this plan to keep from freezing and starving to death! But enough. I might add much more, but space forbids.

Two very large mass-meetings were held here. The first one was addressed by myself; the second by Comrades Louis Kirchner, of Canton, and Christ. Saam, of Cleveland, in German, and myself in English. The utterances of the speakers were loudly applauded. Several new members to the American and German Groups were obtained, besides many subscribers to the Alarm, Vorbote, Freiheit, and Parole.

From Canton I went to Massillon, a manufacturing and mining town of about 12,000 population. Here I found one-half of the working people in compulsory idleness, and one-third of the whole number of mendicants living on charity, credit, etc. A large meeting greeted me at this place. For over two hours the most undivided attention was given to the presentation of the causes which make paupers of those whose industry creates all wealth.

Owing to the long-continued enforced idleness the “strike” trouble has been solved, viz.: the workers no longer have a chance to “strike.”

Here is located the celebrated Russell & Co. harvester and reaper factory and machine foundry, employing several hundred men. Conspicuous on one of the folding doors at the entrance of this capitalistic pen of wage-slaves is posted a large bill, printed in very large letters, to-wit:

Vote for Garfield and Arthur, and our protective tariff and good wages.

Hancock and English are pledged to support a low-revenue tariff, which means little work and low wages, and for the benefit of the cotton aristocrats of the Solid South and British manufacturers.

This electioneering bill is eight years old. But it tells its own story. The 1,000 American sovereigns, freemen, and voters at work in this capitalistic slave-pen “took the hint” and acted accordingly. Never was there better practical demonstration of the truth that patriotism is the greatest of all humbugs, a sentiment believed in only by fools and nurtured only by knaves. This factory is “the pride” of this little capitalistic town; it does a large business in steam engines and other machinery. This week two lately invented molding machines have been introduced into the foundry, each of which does the work of twenty molders, rendering their labor superfluous and reducing their wages to zero! Alas for the American sovereign, freeman, and voter, about whom our trades union and other conservative labor organizations prate so much! Right in this establishment I found “American freemen” who said they were afraid to attend a public meeting of working men for fear of discharge. Freemen indeed! Let me say that my readers must not imagine that Russell & Co.’s is the only “slave-pen.” No, no. All capitalistic institutions are precisely alike in their operations. They all exploit and degrade the wealth-producers.

At Navarre, a mining town of 3,000 people, the “skating rink” had been secured for the “Anarchist” speaker to address the people in. This town is located on the Tuscarawa river, in a beautiful valley, through which passes a railroad. The soil of the surrounding country is of unsurpassed fertility; the hills abound in coal, iron, stone, and gas. But to what a sad plight has the capitalistic system of wage-slavery brought the American laborer! A miner tells me that the 500 or 600 miners living here were permitted to work about one-third time the past year. This miner said his family consisted of a wife and three children. His wages the past year amounted to $89.76. Rent was $5 per month; powder for 120 tons of coal which he dug was $15.75; three gallons of oil was $3; sharpening tools was 50 cents; total expense for rent, powder, oil, and tools, $79.25; balance left for foot and clothes, $10.51! This allows less than one-fourth of a cent per day for food and clothes. “Incredible!” you say. Talk of the Chinese, the pauper labor of Europe, but these American sovereigns can discount them. “How did he live ?” you ask. Well, in this way. The country round about is the richest farming land in the world. The rich farmers who own it find in these poverty-stricken miners an unfailing supply of cheap labor, paying for odd jobs and a few days’ work in the harvest season the sum of 50 cents per day! Sometimes they only give what a hungry man can eat in return for a day’s hard work. A miner told me that he had to buy on credit in the year 1884 $5 worth of potatoes from a rich farmer. Last year (1885) he had no money to pay the debt, and told the farmer he would work it out. He worked four days, over twelve hours per day, and finished the job. He asked the farmer to let him have a few bushels of potatoes again on credit, as he had no money, when he was informed that not until he paid what was owing last year could he get any more. The miner replied that he thought his work had paid the debt. The farmer said: “No, sir; you owe me $2.80 yet,” and the miner could get no more potatoes.

The wage-slaves of America have to pay such high prices for coal that many of them are forced to stint themselves in the use of it, while the miner is freezing and starving also. This is the Legislative district from which John McB., labor politician, member of the Ohio Legislature, and President of the Ohio State Miners’ Association, hails. As well might the herd of sheep appeal to the wolves for protection, as for the despoiled workers to look to the statute books for redress.

I found hearty greeting in Navarre. The “rink" was crowded, and the brass band, consisting of fourteen instruments performed by miners, regaled the people with some choice selections of music. The meeting was attended by the priest, banker, and lawyer, and none could or would deny the truths of Socialism. A large American Group was formed and many subscribers obtained for the Alarm.

From Navarre I went to Mansfield, the home of John Sherman, Ohio’s member of the American House of Lords, sometimes called the Senate. Ohio’s John has, by strict economy, industry, and sobriety during his term of office the past twenty years, on a salary of $5,000 per annum, amassed a handsome little sum for a “rainy day” during his old age, which amounts to several million dollars. Thrifty, industrious, sober John, you have reaped the reward of the good, the virtuous, and the true! Successful statesman, you have amassed millions out of the stolen product of the American wage-slave, while at the same time making your victim believe that you were his benefactor. But Democrats and Republicans vie with each other in playing the role of the statesman; that is, the manufacture of the coward’s weapon, the tool of the thief—statute law! In spite of the air of American “patriotism," now descended to jingoism, which pervades the atmosphere of Mansfield, the streets were lined with American sovereigns in compulsory as elsewhere, idleness, who have not where to lay their weary heads.

In Columbus, the Capital of Ohio, we have held three very successful mass-meetings in the city hall, a large and costly structure.

The first mass-meeting was held Friday evening, February 12, one on Saturday evening, the third being held on Sunday afternoon in the city hall at 2:30 o’clock. The audiences were quite large and intelligent. They expressed hearty approbation of what they heard, and a large, intelligent, and resolute American Group of the. International was organized.

Columbus is the place where Ohio’s law-factory is located, and in which the politicians of the State are hunting for jobs. Here are to be found many institutions, the offspring of statute law, the most noteworthy of which is the State’s prison, or penitentiary. The Legislature, or law-factory, produces and renders penitentiaries necessary, for there must be some place to provide for those outcasts the statute law manufactures.

It is estimated by those who ought to know that fully one-half of the wage-workers of this city are out of employment. There was never before such destitution among the people. Able-bodied men seek in vain for an opportunity to work and provide their families with the necessaries of life. On every hand there is unoccupied land, empty houses, and idle machinery, while on every side there is the landless, homeless, starving multitude. What but statute law has disinherited these people? Does not the State Trades Assembly of Ohio deserve the title of capitalistic labor organization when at its recent convention, held in this city, it refused to take eight hours, but instead referred the matter to the Legislature and petitioned the labor robbers to give it to them, “if they please”?

Meanwhile the capitalistic system extorts its pound of flesh, from the quivering heart of the disinherited. The wealth of the wealthy grows constantly; the poverty of the poor increases all the while.

The statistics of Ohio, taken from the United States census for 1880, show that in manufactures the invested capital was $47,000,000 larger in 1880 than in 1870, while the number of manufacturing establishments was 2,070 less in 1880 than in the year 1870. On the other hand, the number of wage-workers employed in manufacture in Ohio was 46,407 larger in 1880 than in 1870. Wages were $20 less on the average in 1880 than in 1870.

Thus we see the workings of the monopolistic system of interest, profit, and rent in the fact that under the workings of the economic law of capitalism in the State of Ohio in ten years the number of manufactories diminished 10 per cent., invested capital increased 25 per cent., and the number of wage-workers employed was increased 25 per cent., thus reducing the number of the rich but increasing the number of the poor; and while wages decreased profits increased, thus increasing the wealth of the wealthy and the poverty of the poor. This is the working, the unavoidable result of the capitalistic system. What will it lead to?

Chapter VI. Speech in Springfield, O.


Taken from a Springfield Capitalistic Paper of February 26, 1886.

A crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Mikado skating rink last night to hear the Socialist, Parsons, of Chicago, deliver an address on the subject of labor and capital. He was introduced at half-past 7 o’clock by the Chairman, A. E. Poling, and spoke for three hours, although the hall was cold as a dead man’s feet. He opened his remarks with a gentle reminder that the hall was cold, but said he hoped to warm his hearers up before he got through.

He spoke in substance as follows:

“I am not here to win the applause or the approval of the audience so much as to perform my duty at a serious time in the history of this country and civilization, and to lay before them for calm and deliberate consideration matters that affected their prosperity, happiness, and very existence. This meeting is composed mainly, if not entirly, of workingmen and women. There must be something of interest that will bring out a crowd like this on such a night as this. Your interest in this is only an indication of the great spirit of unrest and discontent that is spreading throughout the four corners of the world. We are to consider to-night the difference between the capitalists of this country and the working people. What I have to say is from the standpoint of a Socialist. I wish to speak to you upon Socialism, upon co-operation, labor, upon Anarchy. There is something that is producing the condition of affairs which we witness all around us to-day. There must be a cause for every effect. A tree is known by its fruit. Why is there such an unrest and discontent among the people? This is the thing to be sought for. We must ascertain the cause before we can remedy it or before we can treat properly the effect resulting from that cause. Upon every hand we witness the indications which point unmistakably to a Socialistic revolution. This revolution may be peaceful; it may be violent; but that there is a revolution pending no intelligent man can doubt. The Socialists ascribe this to the existing system of industry known as capitalism. What is this? It is the monopolization by a few of the means of human existence, the appropriation by a few of the means whereby other people live. What is this institution, and whence does it come? It had its origin in the Middle Ages, but its more recent development has been of a very modern character. The private ownership of land, its monopolization by a few; the private ownership of capital, the means of production and common exchange; the system of private property; the ownership by a few of machinery, of lands, of houses, of all the implements of production and exchange. The private ownership of capital is the cause of the difficulties under which we are suffering. It had its origin in the Middle Ages in violence, in bloodshed, and in war. The existing system of industry and the existing civilization of the world had its origin in force, in physicial violence, and it came about by one set of men in the center of Europe seeing the peaceful valleys below, the waving harvests, the lowing herds, and the industry of the peaceful vale, and looking with jealousy upon these peaceful habitations. They swept down upon them, seized their property, put the men to death, captured their women and children, bound them in chains and held them as personal slaves, appropriating the land, houses, and property of these people. This is the origin, and it is producing the results which we see to-day.”

The speaker went on to show the difference between now and twenty-five years ago, claiming that the invention of labor-saving machinery, the discovery of steam and electricity, were detrimental to our country’s interest, when monopolized. He illustrated his point by citing the trade of a shoe-maker. Twenty-five years ago one man made the whole shoe and was in business for himself, but now, with the invention of labor-saving machinery, it took fifty-two men to make one shoe, so that a man in that trade now is only the fifty-second part of a shoe-maker. This is what the Socialists mean, he said, when they speak of the development of the capitalistic system and the effect which it produced.

The speaker then took the census of 1880 in Ohio and deduced the following conclusions: In the State of Ohio in 1880 there were $47,000,000 more employed as capital than in 1870. In other words, in ten years the capital engaged in the manufacturing industries in Ohio increased $47,000,000. While the capital increased nearly $50,000,000 the number of the capitalists engaged in manufacturing decreased 2,070. There were 46.407 more wage-workers employed in 1880 in these industries than in 1870. The wages in 1870 on the average were $357.62; in 1880, $334.18. Wages were reduced during these ten years 15 per cent.; the profits were 20 per cent. greater. The number of manufacturers had decreased, the amount of capital invested had increased, and the wage-workers had increased nearly 50,000, thus proving that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. The number of those who are rich is decreasing, but the riches of the rich are constantly increasing. That is, he who five years ago was a millionaire is to-day worth ten millions, but where there were five millionaires five years ago, to-day there are only three. That is, the number of those who are driven to the necessity of working for daily wages is increasing, while the number of those who cannot find employment at any price is also increasing. These results, the speaker continued, from three different causes. The army of the unemployed, those who are kept in compulsory and enforced idleness, is being swelled. How? First, by labor-saving machinery; and second, by the crowding out of the middle-class, and destroying them, and dividing them into the class of wage-workers. Thus this army is being increased all the time; the necessities of the people constantly increase, and the opportunities to satisfy their wants constantly diminish. These are the forces that are generating the social revolution. There is increased profit for the capitalist; reduced wages for the employed class; the number of those who are seeking employment increases, and the number of those who find employment decreases; capital whose wealth can be estimated at over $200,000,000. The speaker then strayed from the argument and gave some interesting figures in regard to Vanderbilt’s fortune of over $300,000,000. He said if this amount of money was laid along in $1 bills it would reach 25,000 miles, or clear around the earth. If it was coined into silver it would take fourteen freight trains, each consisting of seventeen cars, pulled by two locomotives each. He next quoted Bradstreet, of commercial agency fame, as follows: Last year there were 11,500 business men who went to their financial death, and of these 90 per cent. had a capital of less than whale in the ocean—the big fish eat the minnows, and the big capitalists swallow the small business men. The property of these 12,000 men represented over $200,000,000. Their bankruptcy did not mean that this money was destroyed; it meant that it was transferred to the richer fellows’ pockets, and that there were 12,000 more men in the United States, who had been in business for themselves, now compelled to work for wages. Rich people make their business men they make it indirectly, and when they make it from the working classes they make it in a direct way, or straight. There were foreclosures of mortgages alone in the United States of nearly $500,000,000 and the number of those who find employment decreases; capital whose wealth can be estimated at over $200,000,000.

The speaker then strayed from the argument and gave some interesting figures in regard to Vanderbilt’s fortune of over $300,000,000. He said if this amount of money was laid along in $1 bills it would reach 25,000 miles, or clear around the earth. If it was coined into silver it would take fourteen freight trains, each consisting of seventeen cars, pulled by two locomotives each.

He next quoted Bradstreet, of commercial agency fame, as follows: Last year there were 11,500 business men who went to their financial death, and of these 90 per cent. had a capital of less than whale in the ocean—the big fish eat the minnows, and the big capitalists swallow the small business men. The property of these 12,000 men represented over $200,000,000. Their bankruptcy did not mean that this money was destroyed; it meant that it was transferred to the richer fellows’ pockets, and that there were 12,000 more men in the United States, who had been in business for themselves, now compelled to work for wages. Rich people make their business men they make it indirectly, and when they make it from the working classes they make it in a direct way, or straight. There were foreclosures of mortgages alone in the United States of nearly $500,000,000.

Chapter VII. A Posthumous Letter.


My Dear Wife:

My trip would fill a volume with the realistic side of life under wage-slavery and an occasional gleam of grim humor. Everywhere I have met with the most gratifying success—under the circumstances. The lack of means to properly advertise, and the haste resulting from the same cause, has alone prevented complete and lasting results. Under such circumstances one cannot do what they would, but only what they can. As I said, my trip is overflowing with interest, especially to one like you, whose whole being is wrapped up in the progress of the social revolution. I will give you a sample incident, reserving others, owing to their length, until I return home. It was at Coal Center, some fifty miles from Pittsburgh, on the Monongahela river. There was no one with whom I could communicate except the editor of the weekly paper published there. I was twenty miles from Monongahela, and at the instance of Comrade Robert F. Hill sent a note announcing a mass-meeting to be held on the following day.

Well, on that day I reached the place about 2 o’clock p.m., and found myself a total stranger in a country town, which is a quaint, singular-looking place, located in the narrow valley along the banks of the Monongahela and overshadowed by the towering hills of this region. The streets are dotted with groups of three and four men, coarsely-clad, grim-visaged, sturdy, and stolid; the weather cold and shivering; the prospect all but inviting. Not knowing which way to turn, I naturally inquired for the office of the Messenger. Once there I inquired for the proprietor, Mr. Winehart, and at once introduced myself to him. I found him to be a young man of 35, a genuine type of the modern American-lank, thin-visaged, keen-eyed, quick-witted, and resolute. After a few words I inquired if he had received my note. He replied that he had, and had published it; upon request I was handed a copy of the paper.

The day was cold and depressing, the town uninviting, and the man who stood before me as chilly as an iceberg. Imagine, then, my situation when I read the comment on the announcement, which advised the workingmen of Coal Center to receive Agitator Parsons with-rotten eggs, and throw him into the river! I said to myself: “Steady, steady—there is hard work ahead!”

“Well,” said I, looking up and addressing the editor who stood near by, “how is this?”

“That’s our opinion of agitators in this region,” he replied.

“I should expect such treatment from the coal syndicate,” said I, “but not from those whom it oppresses.”

I remembered that the Messenger was the only paper in the valley which stood by the miners in their long strike, and while wondering at its hostility toward me the editor said:

“Well, sir, those are our sentiments. These infernal agitators are a curse to us. They have ruined this valley. They have kept the miners idle and they ought to be drowned.”

While he spoke his jaws were firmly set and his countenance determined and pale.

“Well, sir,” said I, keeping perfectly cool, “I have seen the papers of this valley abusing you because you stood for the struggling miners, and I judged from it you were something of an agitator yourself,” and I eyed him closely and I perceived I had fired a shot that struck him. “And,” said I, “you certainly must concede that Thomas Buckle, the author of the History of Civilization, was right when he said, that the barrier to all progress and civilization is the indifference and inertness of the people. That agitators are public benefactors whether they be right or wrong, as they do for the people what is done for a person who is freezing in a snowstorm—they shake up the dying man and prevent him from freezing. You have read that work?”.

“No,” said he, “I haven’t; but our valley is ruined and these agitators have done the work.”

I paid no attention to this latter remark and began to read his paper. After five or ten minutes I said to him:

“I am a stranger here and, of course, don’t know whether I can get a hall or not. Do you know of any hall?”

“Yes,” said he, “there are two (giving the names), but I think Guiske’s the best.”

A smile of satisfaction ran over my face as I reflected and said to myself: “I have melted this man; he need not have given me this information,” and on the principle that “he who hesitates is lost.” I said: “Do you know Mr. Guiske and would you spare the time to walk down that way?”

“I don’t care if I do,” said he, and putting on his coat we strolled leisurely down-town together. Meantime I was engaged in conquering my antagonist. I said nothing about Socialism, but asked questions about truck stores, coal bosses, miners, etc., etc. Walking three blocks, we did not find the proprietor of the hall in, and upon the invitation of the editor we strolled around the town to find him. This took another half hour.

Well, then we returned to Guiske’s store; he had left word with his wife to have him call at his office.

An hour or more passed in casual conversation when the hallman appeared. Winehart engaged the hall, which is run as a skating rink, and is up stairs over two brick stores owned by the same man. He accompanied us to the hotel. Winehart said: “This is Mr. Parsons from Chicago; give him the best you have in the house and send the bill to me.” He remained with me until 1 o’clock that night, and on bidding me good-night said: “Parsons, I made a mistake,” and, holding my hand, he continued: “Count me your friend; put down my name for the Alarm. We must have you here again right away, and we will endeavor to raise the money and send for you from Pittsburg before you go back to Chicago, when we will have over a thousand men to hear you.”

Everything considered, this whole affair was remarkable. In this instance it can be said of Socialism what Cæsar said: “Veni, vidi, vici.

The impression created upon that audience that night, as well as all others I have addressed, was tremendous. It seemed to stun them. They acted as a man who has been traveling a whole day and felicitating himself that he is near his journey’s end when it suddenly dawns upon him he has traveled the wrong direction, and must retrace his steps. He stops, sits down to rest, and ponders.

Things are in a bad way in this region. There are no leaders among the wage-slaves.

Oh, that I had the means![2] I would batter down the ramparts of wrong and oppression and plant the flag of humanity on the ruins. Truly the harvest is great, but it takes time and means, and no great means either, but more than we have. But patience, patience!

Your loving husband,

Albert R. Parsons.
Pittsburgh, Pa., January 26, 1886.


Chapter I. Meeting in South Bend, Ind.


Taken from “The Alarm” of October 15, 1884.

South Bend, Ind., contains the three largest wagon, plow, and sewing-machine factories in America, besides several smaller establishments, giving employment and subsistence to a population of 20,000 persons. The Studebakers, Ollivers, Singers, and other capitalistic czars who own this town have so completely subjugated their wage-slaves to the despotism of private capital that no person dares belong to a labor organization, and if suspected of being connected with such is at once discharged.

On going to this town last week it was not surprising to find that no one would identify themselves or be known as having any thing to do with arousing and organizing the laborers. Two thousand copies of the following hand-bill were distributed on Wednesday:

Workingmen’s mass-meeting, Thursday, September 24, at 7.30 p. m., in front of Court-House. Subject: “Low Wages, Hard Times, and No Work. What Shall We Do?” Every workingman and woman in South Bend should attend.
The Committee.

At the time appointed over 1,000 men and women had gathered in response to the call. Mr. Frank Avery, of Mishawauka, acted as Chairman, and introduced A. R. Parsons, of Chicago. Mr. Parsons stepped forward and began distributing among the audience copies of Victor Hugo’s “Message to the Rich and Poor.”

The speaker then said that no doubt his hearers had often read about the Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists. To-night they could see and hear one and judge for themselves of the merits of Socialism. The speaker said that Socialism declared the rich to be “devils bred in hell, and dogs with hearts of stone,” because their paradise is made out of the hells of the poor;” and Socialism proclaimed that “not to be a slave was to dare and do.” The slavery of labor to capital was as complete in South Bend as anywhere else. Men of families were working for 80 cents per day, and hundreds were walking the streets unable to find any employment at all. The slavery of labor was seen in the fact that wage-workers were compelled to do ten hours’ work for three hours’ pay, and their only choice was between such a condition of labor or compulsory idleness, which meant no bread at all. Low wages and no work created hard times, and “hard times” was created by the private property system, which deprived the people of their inalienable right to the free use of all the means of life.

Shakespeare had Shylock say: “You do take my life when you take the means whereby I live,” and this is precisely what every capitalist has done; they have made capital private property, and thus deprived the workers of the means of life and the right to live. The Czar of Russia possessed no more despotic power than that which the propertied class exercise over the propertyless. Every capitalist could and did discharge from employment the worker or workers who complained of the unfair, and unjust, and cruel, and oppressive conditions under which they were forced to labor. The power to withhold bread and doom the workers to a life of misery, hunger, and death was possessed and exercised by the capitalistic czars of South Bend, as everywhere else. The right to live carried with it the right to the free use of all the means of life, and those who were denied that right were the bondsmen and slaves of those who do. The capitalistic system of labor had divided the people into classes, and had rendered the natural law, the solidarity of interests among the people, an impossibility. This system had created masters and slaves, rulers and ruled, robbers and robbed. In South Bend Olliver, of the plow works, who performed no labor at all, received an income of $1,500 clear profit each day, while his 1,000 wage-slaves did ten hours’ work each and received for each day’s work in wages a sum that was equivalent to three hours’ work. What became of the other seven hours? Olliver got it, and this was what made his $1,500 per day. If the men struck against these terms they were discharged and made to suffer the pangs of hunger and want. Such was the power which the private-property system conferred upon the owners of capital. Studebaker, and Singer, and all the other property beasts could and did exercise the same despotic power. Where, then, is the boasted liberty of the American wage-worker? In what does their freedom consist? They enjoyed the right to be wage-slaves; or, striking and refusing to be such, they were free to starve!

Last January in South Bend the workers struck against starvation wages, and, driven to desperation and madness, they sought to destroy those who were enslaving and destroying them. What did the property class do? They had the military and police called out to arrest and shoot their rebellious wage-slaves. The Grand Army of the Republic, which, twenty-five years ago, drew its sword to liberate the black chattle slave from bondage, came to South Bend, and with gleaming bayonets and flashing swords riveted the chains of slavery upon wage-laborers and compelled them to submit to the dictation of the property beasts.

[Great sensation. The crowd pressed nearer the speaker, and on the outskirts the cry went up: “That’s a lie, and the Grand Army will make you answer for it.” On every hand the workmen shouted: “It is the truth, and if you harm the speaker it will be you, and not him, that will dangle on a rope from a tree limb.”]

After order was restored the speaker continued, and showed that the United States army was now employed in Wyoming Territory against strikers; that the military was employed in East Saginaw, Mich.; in Cleveland, O.; in Lemont, Ill.—in fact, it was employed wherever the capitalists called for it to subjugate their wage-slaves, who were in revolt against oppression and slavery. The speaker said that economy, industry, and sobriety were three virtues which capitalists never practiced; that there could be no overproduction of food when people perished from hunger, or overproduction of houses and clothing when the great mass of the people were without homes and clothed in rags. Crime, disease, ignorance, insanity, suicide, and all the ills which afflict the people result from enforced artificial poverty; and this poverty was created by the private ownership of the means of life—capital. It was such a condition of affairs that was absolutely certain to finally create the social revolution. The workers would be driven by necessity to revolt and overthrow the power of those who were growing rich and thriving upon their misery. Voting, strikes, arbitration, etc., were of no use. Those who deprived the workers of the wealth they created, and held them by laws and the bayonet in subjection, would never heed the logic of anything but force—physical force—the only argument that tyrants ever could or would listen to. The law—the statute law—the Government, was the creation of the privileged class—a class that lived without working and became rich by depriving the workers. It was the law which had made the land private property; had done the same thing with machinery, the means of transportation and communication. The law—the statute law—had made private property of all the means of life, dooming the wage-workers to a life of hereditary servitude to the privileged class. Could we, who suffer from it, be expected to uphold “law and order,” the instrumentality by which we were deprived of our right to life, to liberty, and happiness? Working-men and women of South Bend, prepare for the inevitable. Join your comrades of Chicago and elsewhere. All over the world a similar condition of affairs exists, and a storm is brewing which will break forth ere long and destroy forever the right of man to govern, exploit, and enslave his fellow-man. Agitate, organize, revolt!

The above was, in substance, the speech of Mr. Parsons. Throughout he was cheered enthusiastically by the workingmen, but from the labor robbers present he was frequently interrupted with threats and sneers. After the meeting an attempt was made upon the sidewalk, while going to his lodging-house, to assault the speaker, but it was prevented by the workingmen who accompanied him home.

Chapter II. Under the Red Flag.


It may not be generally known that the first Monday in September is now observed as a labor holiday throughout the United States.

The Central Labor Union of New York in 1884 advised the unions and organizations of the country to set aside the day above mentioned as a general holiday for all classes of laborers; since which time it has been very widely observed.

The address given below was delivered on the 7th of September, 1885 (Labor-Day), at a demonstration held by the Central Labor Union of Chicago, on which occasion a beautiful banner was presented to the Metal-Workers’ Union. Albert Parsons was invited to make the presentation speech. His address on this occasion was eloquent and of some length, but only a portion of it has been preserved. The following is quoted from a daily paper of the 8th of September:

“‘We meet to-day beneath the red flag—that flag which symbolizes an equality of rights and duties, the solidarity of all human interests; that flag which has for more than a century past been the emblem of “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality.” Since the bloody struggle with oppression which began in France in 1788, and through the varying fortunes which have attended its followers in their conflicts with the despots of continental Europe, England, and America, it has been the oriflamme of liberty, the sign of labor’s emancipation from its slavery.’

“Here the new flag was unfurled and grandly waved from the improvised rostrum of salt-barrels. Then the speaker continued:

“‘Again and again has this symbol been baptized in the blood of the people, struggling with their rulers, until its crimson folds, dripping with the tears and blood of freedom’s martyrs, appeal in mute but overwhelming power to the lovers of liberty everywhere, to pledge again undying devotion to liberty, fraternity, equality. Here, as everywhere, labor creates all wealth. Here, as everywhere labor is degraded by poverty and held in heriditary servitude to that wealth which it creates. Our American rulers differ not one whit from the despots of all other lands. They all fatten upon the miseries of the people; they all live by despoiling the laborer. The boundary lines, flags, customs, and languages of the nations of the earth may differ, but the poverty, misery, and degradation of the useful class—the producers of the world’s wealth—proceed from one and the same cause—the subjection, the enslavement of the producers. Through force and fraud the cunning, cruel, and unprincipled few became possessed of what by natural right is the common heritage of all. Government, with its constitution and man-made laws, and all the machinery to sustain and enforce it, became a necessity for the protection of the usurpers. Anarchy, the natural law, was overthrown and this fair earth was converted into a slave-pen—all for the frivolities, pastime, and licentiousness of the privileged class.”

“In a similar vein the better classes,’ ingeniously invented for popular discussion by the Union League Club, were attended to, and then the speaker wound up by saying:

“ ‘But the powerful, the privileged, are not in the least disturbed by argument, protest, or petition. They have but one answer to all appeals—force. By force and fraud they gained their power; by force and fraud they maintain it. Morality, pity, reason are all alike lost upon those who rob and enslave their fellow-beings. They answer argument with misrepresentation; they practice charity but deny justice, and answer demands for liberty with starvation, prisons, and steel. What shall be done with those social monsters, these property beasts? We must destroy them or be destroyed. By what? Anarchy, self-government, the right to work and live, the right voluntarily to associate and co-operate, the equal right of all to the use of all. The usurpation of man by man must cease; to this we are pledged. We are revolutionists. We fight for the destruction of the system of wage-slavery. To the despised, disinherited, and destitute of the earth Anarchy offers love, peace, and plenty. Statute laws, constitutions, and Governments are at war with nature and the inalienable rights of man. The claim of capital to profit, interest, or rent is a robber claim, enforced by piratical methods. Let robbers and pirates meet the fate they deserve. Against them there is but one resource-force. Agitate, organize, revolt! Proletarians of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains—we have a world to win. Lead on the red flag to liberty or death!”’

“After the highly dramatic peroration of Mr. Parsons a speech in German was delivered by August Spies, of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, and then the Socialists’ male chorus sang ‘The Red Banner.’ The procession formed in three divisions under Oscar Neebe as Chief Marshal, and A. R. Parsons and Gus Belz as aids. The line of march was by way of Madison, Clark, and Division streets to Ogden’s grove, where the day was spent in the usual picnic recreations and impromptu remarks by the speakers of the forenoon, supplemented by Mrs. Parsons in the afternoon.”

Chapter III. Observing Thanksgiving Day, 1885.


Taken from the “Alarm” of November 28, 1886.

The day set apart by the well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed, and well-to-do classes to return thanks for the success that crowned their efforts to exploit the working class during the past year was Thursday, November 26. It was a dreary, cold, wet, and uncomfortable day for the half-fed, scantily-clothed, poorly-housed, and poverty-stricken working class, who had been the victims of the God-and-morality “better classes” the past year.

The working people of Chicago felt the sting of the insult and the hollow mockery conveyed in the chief ruler’s proclamation commanding the people to "return thanks” for the miserable existence they were compelled to endure. The Internationalists therefore arranged for an indignation meeting of the working people, to whom was addressed the following announcement:

Grand Thanksgiving services of the Chicago workingmen, tramps, and all others who are despoiled and disfranchised, on Market square (Randolph and Market streets), Thanksgiving day, Thursday, November 26, 1885, at 2:30 o’clock p. m. Good “preachers” of the gospel of humanity will officiate. Everyone is invited. Learn how turkeys and other nice things may be procured.
The Committee of the Grateful.

At the hour named several hundred men and women had assembled at the corner of Washington and Market streets, where a large red flag waved from the top of a pile of salt-barrels which covered the sidewalk. By the time the meeting was called to order some 2,000 persons stood in the mud and slush, and cold, piercing wind, which was the ideal of a raw, chilly Novemberday.

William Holmes read the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, The President of the United States has issued his annual proclamation, calling upon the people as a whole to give thanks for prosperity, of which but few of them have a share, and reiterating the lies so often repeated about the well-being of the nation; and

Whereas, The existence of a vast army of homeless wanderers, scarcity of employment, business depression, and the poverty and wretchedness of a large majority of the people give the lie to the statement that abundant prosperity prevails. No nation can be prosperous and contended where, in the banquet of life, a small number monopolize the general product, while the many are denied a place at nature’s table; therefore

Resolved, By this mass-meeting of all classes of citizens, that we vote our vigorous protest against the above-named proclamation at this time; that it is a lie—a stupid, hollow mockery—a sop thrown out by the ruling classes to tickle the palates of their ignorant dupes and slaves that they may with better security continue to rob them. We reiterate the statement that only when the people shall have come to their own—when land and the natural resources of the earth shall have become free; when liberty shall have become a practical reality, and when the beast of private property in the means of life shall have ceased to sap the energies of the people; when poverty and the fear of want shall have been abolished from the face of the earth—then, and not until then, shall we have cause, as a people, to give thanks for our abundant prosperity.

A. R. Parsons mounted a pile of the salt-barrels, and, using them as a stand, was introduced as the first speaker. Referring to the proclamation of the President calling upon the people to return thanks, Mr. Parsons asked to whom should the wage-workers offer thanks, and for what? Were they to be thankful for the hard times which make the life of the wage-worker an intense struggle for bread, and often times unable to procure even that; were they to be thankful for pauper wages and the miseries which follow a life of drudgery and poverty, and resign themselves and contentedly accept the station of a menial as an act of divine providence? No, perish the thought. Shall the plundered workers return thanks to their despoilers, who give charity to hide their blushes when they look into the faces of their victims? Shall the disinherited, who have by legal enactments been debarred their natural right to an equal and free use of all natural and social forces, return thanks for the soup-houses, poor-houses, wood-yards, and other charitable institutions? Shall the workers give thanks because they receive two hours’ pay for ten hours’ work? Are they to be thankful for the compulsory idleness of over 2,000,000 of their fellow-workmen? Thankful for an employer, a “boss” whose “business” it is to take something for nothing, and force them to accept the terms or starve! Thankful for a Republican form of Government which guarantees free speech, free ballot, free press, and free action to the propertied class; a Government with its declaration of independence, constitution, and stars-and-stripes to defend and protect the robbers of labor, while it imprisons, shoots, and hangs the disloyal, rebellious wage-slaves? The First regiment, Illinois State Guards, is at this moment practicing the evolutions of the “street riot drill” in another part of the city for the purpose of murdering in an expeditious and scientific manner the men and women whom the present system has turned adrift to starve. Shall the workers be thankful for that? Shall they be thankful that capitalists the past year have employed the Pinkerton thugs, the police, and military to subjugate the workers in revolt against starvation wages. Shall thanks be returned that the Almighty God blesses the wrong-doer with riches, making paradise for them out of the hells of the poor? Shall we be thankful for privation, for slavery, for poverty? No. Curses, bitter and deep are hereby and now returned to the author of our woes, be that. God or man!

Referring to Chicago, the speaker drew attention to the fact that last winter over 30,000 persons were kept from starvation by the hand of charity. With elevators bursting with food, warehouses groaning with clothing, and houses vacant everywhere, they who produced by their labor these things were made to feel the pangs of hunger and the biting frosts of winter. Beneath the shadow of palaces which they had reared the workers of Chicago, as elsewhere, were huddled together in hovels and huts unfit for human habitation. The wealth produced by the wage-workers of Chicago the past year was sufficient to furnish them with every comfort—yea, even luxury.

The capitalists and their mouthpieces, the press, pulpit, and politicians, declare that the wage class receive in wages all that they earn. By this they mean that we earn only so much as they compel us to accept. The statistics as given in the capitalistic press, showing the productive capacity of labor in Chicago the past year, are the answer to the question why the workers are poor. Let the wage-workers ponder them well and ascertain where the ten and twelve hours’ work for which they receive no pay goes to.

The statistics, showing the profit on labor in Chicago the past year, are as follow:

Number of manufacturing establishments 2,282
Capital invested $ 87,392,709
Value of raw material $152,628,378
Value of manufactured product $292, 246,912
Number of employes 105,725
Total wages paid $ 48,382,912
Now deduct the cost of raw material and it shows that labor earned $139,287,465
Total wages paid $ 48,382,912
$ 90,904,553

Or over $857 profit on each laborer. While each wage-worker earned over $1,314, they received on an average $457 each, or less than one third of what they produced. Each manufacturing establishment averaged a profit of about $40,000. Some bankrupted, it is true; but others, like Phil Armour, made over $3,500,000!

Manufacturers divide this plunder with landlords, usurers, insurance, the Government, lawyers, and other leeches and parasites.

Phil Armour reduced his 10,000 laborers 25 cents per day, which on 10,000 amounts to $2,500 per day, $15,000 per week, $45,000 per month, and $540,000 per year. Result, a twelve-story palace worth $1,000,000 in two years.

Potter Palmer builds a $600,000 palace. There are ten millionaire club-houses in this city which are used for conspiracy against the liberties of the people. There are miles and miles of fashionable avenues lined from end to end with palaces wherein the enslavers and robbers of labor licentiously and riotously carouse upon the wealth filched from the workers.

Shall we be thankful for this infamy, crime, and murder of the innocents? But the “stars-and-stripes” overshadows and smiles upon and protects it all. Behold the American army, with gleaming bayonets, in long serried line, the American flag at its head leading the column, marching under orders of the President of the United States to protect—what?[3] To protect the rights and liberties and welfare of the people? No. To protect the propertied class in their constitutional right to buy cheap labor—the Chinese coolie slave—and thus reduce the American laborer to the coolie standard of living. The flag of America has thus become the ensign of privilege and the guardian of property, the defender of monopoly. Wage-slaves of Chicago, turn your eyes from that ensign of property and fix them upon the emblem of liberty, fraternity, equality—the red flag—that flag which now and ever has waved, and ever will remain the oriflamme of liberty, denoting emancipated labor, the redemption of humanity, and the equality of rights of all.

Let us be thankful, then, that there is a large and increasing number of workingmen and women who have acquired a knowledge of their rights and dare to defend them. Let us be thankful for the dawn which is even now breaking, which is to usher in the new era; thankful for the near approach of that period in human affairs when man will no longer govern or exploit his fellow-man: the time when the earth and all it contains will be held for the free use of all nature’s children.

Let us prepare for the recovery of our stolen right to our inheritance of this fair earth, and let us express the devout and earnest hope that ere many Thanksgiving days come round the workers of the world may, by their devotion to liberty and the best interests of man, abolish and exterminate the whole brood of profit-mongers, rent-takers, and usury-gatherers, and on the ruins of the old erect the new order, wherein all will associate and co-operate for the purpose of producing and consuming freely, without let or hindrance.

Chapter IV. The Lemont Massacre.


Taken from “The Alarm” of May 16, 1885.

A strike of considerable proportions began among the stone-quarry men of Lemont, Lockport, and Joliet about four weeks ago. The demand was made for a uniform scale of wages and the restoration of last year’s rates. There were about 3,000 men engaged in the movement, including the quarries at the towns mentioned above. The usual tactics of the propertied class were resorted to to defeat the strikers. They endeavored to fill the quarries with men who have for a long time been kept in compulsory idleness, and whose necessities were consequently very great and pressing. As is the usual custom with unionists and strikers generally, the men sought to prevent the employment of these substitutes by any means at their disposal. The capitalists, as usual in such conflicts with their employes, fell back upon the law and called upon the Sheriff to protect them in their legal right to employ or discharge whomsoever they please. The Sheriff replied that, owing to the large body of men and their determination to fix the price of their own labor, it would be necessary for him to obtain the assistance of the military to protect the legal rights of the employers. This latter statement suited the quarry-owners exactly, and the Sheriff accordingly made a statement to the Governor of the State, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the militia, that he was unable to maintain order and enforce the law, and therefore required the presence of the military to assist him. The Governor, acting in accordance with the constitution and the statute law, sent four companies, numbering about 230 men, armed with breech-loading rifles, revolvers, and a gatling gun to maintain “law and order” around the stone quarries. It will be seen that in this whole procedure the “authorities” and the quarry-owners acted in strict accordance with the statute law and the constitution throughout, and the account of their action which follows will go far toward aiding working people to understand what the preservation of so-called “law and order” means.

Monday, May 4, was the day set for the entrance of the military into the heretofore hum-drum village of Lemont. All was excitement over the event, and the 1,500 quarrymen who constituted the inhabitants of that quiet little town were loud in their expressions of indignation over the contemplated invasion.

The people were strolling around the streets on Monday morning, about 7:30 o’clock, when H. M. Singer, who has signalized himself by his brutality and tyranny over the people, rode up in his buggy, got out, and entered the postoffice. At the same time another person went into the office to get or inquire for his mail, when the despot Singer turned around, grasped the man, and dashed him through the window onto the sidewalk. This occurrence naturally brought together a large crowd of people, who were indignant at the outrage. Thereupon the Sheriff of Cook county sprang up on a dry-goods box and read the riot act to the people, commanding them to disperse to their homes, and at the conclusion of which he said: “Now, men, I warn you, that if you do not go to work at once for $1.50 a day the military will be sent here to compel you to do it.”

The people were made all the more excited and indignant at this exhibition of “authority,” and many were the expressions to be heard on every hand of condemnation against the Sheriff and Singer. The people said to one another: “Are we in this manner to be driven to our work like galley-slaves at the point of the bayonet?” The Sheriff was under the constant direction of H. M. Singer, who acted as the representative of the Quarry-Owners’ Association.

It was intended that the above act should be the inauguration of hostilities by the authorities, for H. M. Singer, accompanied by the Sheriff, telegraphed the order for the militia to advance toward the town. The Chicago & Alton railroad, with that alacrity becoming in a fellow-monopolist and labor exploiter, quickly placed a train at the disposal of the labor robbers, and the troops were brought up and landed at a point about one and half miles south of the town of Lemont, just outside of the county line of Cook county. By 10 o’clock a. m. their bristling bayonets were seen flashing in the sunlight as they advanced upon the town by the main thoroughfare leading in that direction.

The Town Marshal and Supervisor, whose sympathies were outspoken with the strikers, acting on the part of their constituencies, advanced down the road, intercepted the militia, and ordered them not to enter the town. Col. Bennett, the commanding officer, ordered them to get out of the way or he would place them under arrest.

The troops continued to advance until they reached the center of the town, which is located mainly upon a long street running parallel with the canal, the river, and the quarries at that point. Here the people—men, woman, and children—of the whole village were assembled upon the sidewalks. The excitement ran high, and some used some very uncomplimentary words toward the quarry-owners and authorities who had brought these bandits of “law and order” among them. It is said that a few stones were thrown at the soldiers and that a pistol-shot was fired by some citizen; but the soldiery opened fire upon the people and killed two men upon the spot, and bayoneted and sabered two others, who have died from their wounds since. Several other men and a number of women were prodded with bayonets and clubbed with the butts of muskets.

The people were terrified. They were wholly unarmed and absolutely defenseless. Confronted by these armed hirelings of capital, they fled for their lives to shelter. The shrieks of wounded and dying men and woman filled the air; the warm blood of the people bathed the flagstones of the sidewalks. The loss was entirely on the side of labor, which was, after having been robbed, now being murdered. The army of capitalism moved forward through the village, and, halting at a commanding hill which overlooked the town and quarries, these capitalistic maurauders of the people struck camp, where they have remained since and kept the villagers under the shadows of their guns.

Andrew Stulata, the top of whose head was blown off by a shot from the troops, was standing just on the inward edge of the sidewalk on a vacant lot with both hands stretched out in the act of holding the little group of children back from the street, twenty-five or thirty of whom had assembled there to witness the sight of the troops. His blood and brains were scattered over the little ones; he fell and was afterward carried to his home by weeping friends. Several houses along the street were fired into. One house, occupied by a quarry laborer’s family, received two rifle-balls. The lady, a 9-year-old girl, and a 2-year-old child were at the windows viewing the troops when a ball came crashing through the wall within a few inches of their heads, and, striking the wall opposite inside, fell battered upon the floor.

The legal bandits chased the people into their houses, and with the butt of bayonets drove the women up-stairs. One woman was being clubbed and chased up the street, when she turned and with the fury of desperation sought to wrest the gun from her assailant. Jac Kujawa ran to her rescue, and, separating them, he was taking the woman home, when about thirty paces away he was shot through the head and fell dead in his tracks, where he was left to welter in his gore for two hours afterward. Father James Hogan, the Irish Catholic priest at Lemont, who was standing near by and witnessed the dastardly deed, raised his clenched hands and shaking them at the bandits said: “You cold-blooded murderers, lay down your arms. You have murdered the man.” The militiamen replied: “If you don’t get inside the house we’ll drop you too.” The priest paid no attention, but went to the dying man and on bended knees administered the death sacrament.

Little Mary, the bright 9-year old sister of the young man Andrew Stulata, who was murdered by the bandits of “law and order,” upon seeing our reporter, who visited the remains in the house of his parents, ran up to him and said, while the tears rolled down her face: “Oh, sir, they killed my poor, poor brother. He did no harm to any one. He was so kind and good; and oh, sir, those bad men came to his corpse and laughed at him and us; oh, sir, what shall we do?”

Both of these men were highly respected and beloved by the entire village of Lemont.

The bandits of “law and order” have rested on their laurels, varying the pastimes of their camp life with catching and milking the cows of the dairymen, who have pastured their cattle thereabouts, and an occasional sally into the town with a platoon of soldiers to the depot when trains arrive and depart.

* * *

The women of Lemont, having committed the crime of living in poor tenements and wearing the common garments which the industry of their labor provides them with, are spoken of in the capitalistic press reports as “termagants,” “viragos," etc. These women, the wives and daughters of workingmen, were bayoneted by the soldiers of capitalism, their only crime being they do not wear seal-skin dolmans and belong to the “better classes.”

In a conversation with Coroner Hertz about the refusal of Col. Bennett, commanding the State bandits at Lemont, to appear and testify before the Coroner’s inquest, he said: “Yes, sir, it has come to this pass, and it is true that there is now no law for the poor. If you have money, if you are rich, it is all right with you then.” The Coroner declared that according to the constitution the “military was held in subjection to the civil authorities;” “but,” said he, “there is no defense for the poor; the law protects the rich only.”

The day following the slaughter at Lemont our reporter was again upon the scene and gathered the following items:

On arriving from Chicago at the depot in Lemont, a platoon of twelve militia men were present and drawn up in line as an escort to one of their number who desired to take the train and return home. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that these bandits of law and order are compelled to come in platoons to the train on every such occasion in order to prevent the people from mobbing them.

Leaving the depot and stopping at the restaurant on the corner, we met several reporters of the Chicago capitalistic press, who were being roundly abused by some of the Lemont citizens, both workers and business men, for the false and slanderous reports sent out daily from Lemont. The reporters answered that they were not to blame, as they took the statements of the “authorities” each day. It was made perfectly plain, however, that the reporters of the capitalistic papers are more than anxious to accept the statements of the “authorities” and reject or misrepresent those of the people who are being murdered, insulted, and lied about by the so-called authorities now dominating the people of Lemont.

A reporter told me that the following note had been handed to the wife of a man who wanted to go to work at Singer & Talcott’s quarry:

Keep Pat at home to-morrow, or your house will be burned at night.

Of course, this note is a forgery. Everybody in Lemont says it is a trick of the quarry-owners to make out some reason for keeping the military in the town. The people of Lemont know that it was written or instigated by some one of the many detectives which Despot Singer and his gang of robbers have employed to oppress and spy among their slaves.

At the meeting of the business men held the day before it was proposed to appoint a committee of the strikers to wait upon the bosses and try to bring about a settlement of the difficulty. Mr. Murphy, who is one of the largest dry-goods and grocery merchants in the town, said it would not do to appoint such a committee, as the men who acted on it would be discharged and lose their bread for acting in such a manner, and gave instances where men had been discharged before by Singer and other bosses for serving on similar committees.

Polus, the man who received a bayonet-thrust which entered the breast to the backbone, and a saber-wound in his side, died of his wounds yesterday. He was 48 years old and leaves a wife and six children. His family are utterly destitute, and the neighbors have to supply them with food to keep them from starving. A subscription list was circulated yesterday among the people to bury the murdered man.

A stone-quarry man is paid $1.50 per day. He gets work about six months in the year. This makes an average of about 624 cents per day. This is the sum upon which the quarry bosses are compelling a man to live and support a family of eight persons, and when the worker refuses to submit to it they are put to death by sword, bayonet, and bullet in the hands of the “authorities.”

About the time of the arrival of the noon train from Chicago a crowd of 200 or 300 persons assembled at the depot, as they have been doing since the trouble with the authorities began. A squad of fourteen soldiers also came to the depot with fixed bayonets, loaded rifles, and belts containing forty rounds of cartridges, and a Colt’s navy six-shooter suspended to a belt around their waists. When the train left the depot the officer gave the command to “about face and forward,” and they marched back to their camp. Not a word was spoken by any one in the sullen crowd, but many men gritted their teeth and looked daggers at the ruthless murderers who are making this display of “authority” in their midst. The camp is about a mile from the depot on a hill overlooking the principal quarries. No approach is allowed to the camp, which has a line of guards around it. There is one gatling gun and about 230 soldiers in the encampment. Their marches to and from the depot and around the town are a source of great irritation to the people, who are unarmed and powerless to protect themselves. As the train pulled out and the military marched away from the depot the station agent, Tom Huston, stood before the crowds and began to drive them off the platform of the depot, saying: “Get away from here. Stand aside. I have had to take unnecesssary trouble. It is an imposition on me and the company for you to stand around here. I am dependent on my wages for my living the same as you are, and the company holds me responsible for not ordering you away. I have always tried to treat you all well. You are here at every train. You are in the way. Move on; move on. You block up the sidewalk. You are here at every train arrival and you ought to have sense enough to stay away from here,” and the crowd, with the fear of the military before its eyes, mutteringly dispersed.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon a meeting of the strikers was assembled in the hall and called to order by the Town Supervisor, Mr. McCarthy. Before the meeting opened two Deputy Sheriffs who had sneaked in were requested to get out. All capitalistic reporters were excluded, the only reporter who was permitted to be present being the reporter for the Alarm and Arbeiter-Zeitung. The men seemed afraid to speak, and after the Chairman had called on the audience several times without any response, the audience in turn called upon Mr. A. R. Parsons to speak. Mr. Parsons declined, but they insisted, when he made a few remarks upon the necessity of organization, at the conclusion of which several of the men objected to taking such action. One of the men spoke up and said: “We are assembled here to consider what to do. We have got the military in our town; we are under intimidation. We want the military to leave our town and let us alone. If we organize now it will be the means of losing our bread forever, and probably our lives besides.”

Another speaker said: “We can’t organize. The bosses would break it up; they did it before. It would not be allowed. They would starve us out and break it up.”

Mr. Parsons answered and said: “Then you are slaves.”

The men hung their heads, and with tears in their eyes several of them replied: “Alas, sir, it is too true.”

Another speaker then said: “As we have started and have lived so far without bread, we must keep on with our struggle against the bosses. We don’t want those blue-jackets on the hill to kill the people for nothing.” [Great cheering.]

There were such expressions as “We will stick for our rights,” “We will not go to work,” “We will stand out,” “Let us keep out until we get our wages,” etc. The meeting was unanimous in staying out until the wages demanded were paid.

A committe of eight, composed of two persons each from the Polish, Swedish, German, and Irish nationalities, was appointed to wait upon the quarry-owners and tell them what they want, and report back to a meeting to be held for that purpose. The meeting resolved to stand by the committee and help them to the last if the bosses should victimize them for acting in such a capacity. The Town Supervisor advised them to appoint the committee and stated that he thought they would not suffer, when an Irishman spoke out and said: “If it do, sir, thank God, sir, you can support them” [great laughter], when Mr. McCarthy said: “That knocks me out.”

After appointing the committee the meeting adjourned.

The meeting was conducted mainly by Irishmen, the Chairman, Secretary, etc., being Irish, and is proof that there is no word of truth in the capitalistic newspaper reports that this strike is being conducted by Poles and Bohemians alone.

The lesson of this strike will be worth to workingmen all that it has cost if it is carefully considered and taken to heart. These lessons are:

1. The rich rob the poor according to law.

2. The “authorities” exist for the sole purpose of enforcing these laws.

3. And that without arms and organization the worker is left to the mercy of those who rob, enslave, and murder him.

4. That to obey law is to be a slave; to disobey is to be a freeman.

The strike ended last Wednesday, the men being compelled to go to work at the quarry-owners’ terms. The quarry-owners now intend to open “truck” stores in retaliation for the friendly feeling expressed by the business men of Lemont toward the strikers.

Chapter V. Selected Editorials.


Chattel and Wage Slavery.

Editorial taken from “The Alarm.”

The owner of a chattel slave compelled obedience by the use of the lash, deprivation of food, etc. The system of chattel slavery was justified on the ground that the slave had been bought and paid for, and was therefore the private property of the master, This institution of property in the persons of men, women, and children, who were bought and sold separately or in lots to suit the buyers and sellers, was perpetuated by the constitution, legal enactments, Governmental authority of the United States of America for nearly a hundred years as a perfectly legitimate, moral, and money-making system of labor. The chattel-slave system has been abolished, and the services of labor heretofore rendered under it are now performed under the wage system. The old system is spoken of by many as the slave labor of the past, and the present system is referred to as the free labor of the present. Under the old system the worker was provided with food, clothing, and shelter by his master; under the new system the worker is paid wages with which he is made to provide himself with food, clothing, and shelter. Under the old system the necessaries of life were always furnished the slave; under the new, the wage-worker is often on strike, or locked out, or in a state of enforced idleness, consequently suffering and sometimes perishing for want of the necessaries of life.

The amount of wages over and above what will provide the worker with the necessaries of life is what constitutes the sum total of liberty gained by the change from chattel to wage slavery. The amount of wages paid for a day’s or an hour’s work is on an average no more than a bare subsistence, and bears no relation whatever to the amount of wealth produced or the real value of the laborer’s products. Wage-workers perform twelve hours’ work for three hours’ pay, because the extra nine hours’ work is the price charged by the owners of capital for the use for three hours of the implements of labor; or, according to the United States census for 1880, each wage-worker (and there are 17,000,000 of them in this country) is permitted to make on an average of $346 annually for himself, provided he will produce at the same time $700 for his employer, who charges this sum for the use of his capital. These are hard terms, but they are the best that can be had from the owners of capital, since the private ownership of the means of existence, capital, confers upon its owners the right to deny its use altogether.

The question arises: What then, is the difference between the old and the new system of labor? If the wage-laborer can be locked out, discharged, and thrown into a state of enforced idleness at the will of the owners of capital, in what does the wage-laborer’s rights or liberties consist? The wage system guarantees to the laborer but one right, viz.: the right to starve! The private ownership of capital clothes its possessor with the authority of compulsion, the wage-laborers being driven by the necessities of human existence to accept with alacrity the offer of their capitalistic benefactors, who permit them to earn their daily bread!

The laborer can never be a free man till he owns, in common with all other laborers, capital—i.e., the means of his own existence—for as shown above, the organization of society on any other basis is the practical enslavement of the laborer, the difference between chattel-slavery and wage-slavery being one of form. The substance remains the same: the capitalist in the former system owned the laborer, and hence his product, while under the latter he owns his labor product, and hence the person of the wage-laborer.

The Object of the Social Revolution.

Editorial taken from “The Alarm.”

Our branch of Socialism holds that all existing statutory and constitutional powers of the Government confer on capitalists and the property-holding classes the power to compel the wage-workers to yield implicit obedience to their commands under penalty of starvation or death by physical violence. This is what we call wage-slavery. We insist that no such thing as freedom of contract can exist between the dependent and independent. There can be no equality between those who hold the means of subsistence as their private property, and who can and do dictate the terms of existence to the propertyless. Arbitration, on this account, must prove a failure.

The march of events is toward a social revolution. By this expression we mean the time when the wage-laborers of this and other countries will assert their rights—natural rights—and maintain them by force of arms. The social revolution means the expropriation of the means of production and the resources of life, or, in other words, the opportunity to work and live with the unrestricted use of all the means of subsistence. This revolution will place capital at the disposition of society, and, being a social product, the result of the joint efforts of the present and past generations, belongs by natural right to society alone. This outcome is a necessity which can not be avoided. We would prefer a peaceful solution rather than war, but we do not bring about the revolution. On the contrary, the social condition creates the revolutionists. It will not come because we wish it, but because it must come. We simply foretell its approach and prepare for it.

When that time shall come the means of human subsistence will be changed into social wealth. Capital will cease to be private property under private control, and will be held in common for the benefit of all. Boycotting, strikes, and riots are simply indications of the social uneasiness, the outcome of which must be revolution.

A Fable.

Editorial taken from “The Alarm.”

A farmer had gathered his herd of sheep into a pen preparatory to shearing them of their wool. Finally, one sheep, becoming more bold than his timid comrades, seeing the farmer standing at the gate with his long shears in his hand, addressed him thus:

“Pray, sir, why do you huddle us together in this style? Will you not let us out to play and gambol on the hillside? It is hot, dusty, and dry, and very uncomfortable to be cooped up in this pen.”

Farmer: “Certainly, certainly. But before I turn you out I must shear you of your wool.”

Sheep: “Pray, sir, what harm have we ever done you that you should now take the covering from our backs, and leave us unprotected to the storms of winter and the heats of summer?”

Farmer: “You ungrateful wretches. Have you no sense of gratitude for the many favors I have always shown you? If it were not for me how could you exist at all? Don’t I furnish you the green pasture upon which you browse and play? Besides that, when I shear off your present coating of wool are you not permitted by my generosity to graze upon my fields and soon supply yourselves with another coating?”

The rest of the timid and thoughtless herd overhearing the conversation immediately set up a great “hurrah” for their supposed benefactor, and one and all calmy and patiently and with apparent satisfaction submitted themselves to the process of being “fleeced of their wool.”

Moral: When capitalists and their lying preachers, teachers, and politicians set themselves up as the benefactors of their wage-slaves, and begin their long-winded discourses upon the “harmony” of capital and labor, you may be sure that they are merely preparing their wage-slaves for a quiet submission while they “fleece” them of their labor product.

The Cut-Down.

Editorial taken from “The Alarm.”

The markets of the country come from the amount of wages the working people receive. Cut down wages 10 per cent. all over the country and you have lost about 10 per cent, of the purchasing power of the country. When this falling-off of demand in the market has taken place, then another cut-down is more necessary than the first. A third cut-down makes the pressure still greater for another cut-down, and so on, until no power on earth can sustain the market or demand for any production beyond that necessary to keep life in the body. A strike has the same effect to cripple the market, while the striker is earning nothing, that the cut-down of wages has. As a cut-down takes from the purchasing power of the country, and a strike does the same thing, the whole fight is only a choice of evils, and are the natural fruits of the wage-system.

Add to this the competing force of the unemployed laborer, caused by a weak market of demand that threw him out, and then we get the full meaning of a cut-down or long strike, and see how one cut-down or strike aids and forces another cut-down. A strike forces another cut-down as much as a cut-down does.

Chapter VI. An Interesting Interview.


Taken from the Chicago Daily Telegraph of January 20, 1880.

Mr. Albert R. Parsons, a delegate from the Eight-Hour League, of this city, to the conference in regard to land reform and the labor movement held at Washington, D.C., last week, returned a day or two since and was this morning interviewed by a Telegraph reporter relative to an interview held by that gentleman with the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the dead Confederacy.

Mr. Parsons was introduced to Mr. Stephens as a “Communist,” and was not a little surprised to hear that gentlemen announce that he himself was not only a Communist but an agrarian. “No two words,” said the ex-President, “express so much, in my opinion, as these two words, for as Communism has developed in France, Spain, and other countries during the past few years, and as it relates to the sovereignty of local Government, and the nature and functions of State rule, it develops a marvelous bearing on the future of America. I can conceive of no characters in history more interesting than the Gracchi brothers, of Rome. The problems of labor and Communism will yet be dominant themes in Congress, and, although I should like to speak upon these subjects during the present year, I fear political trickery is occupying the time of the wire-pullers, and they will exclude all such discussion from Congress during the Presidential year.

In regard to the condition of the South, comparing the chattel slave and wage systems, the results do not favor the former so far as the employer is concerned. Mr. Stephens dealt in extensio on this theme, and stated that the wage system makes labor cheaper and more serviceable for the former masters of the South. He based his decision on the power and ability of the worker to consume animal food. In France the average consumption of meat per person is 75 pounds annually, in Germany 25 pounds, in Ireland 10 pounds, and among the former slaves of the South under the new wage system 50 pounds a year. In ante-War times the master allowed his slave 200 pounds of meat annually, and clothing and the like is decreased in a like ratio, making a difference of 300 per cent. unfavorable to the colored people. Mr. Stephens said he understood that thousands of workingmen in the North were out of employment, and were not able to earn sufficient at any time to provide what they should for their families. These same views were made by Jefferson Davis about a year since, who claimed that the colored people were more profit to their employers than before the War, when the care of the sick, dead, and indigent involved considerable expense, now avoided by their masters.

Mr. Stephens is in thorough harmony with many reforms now in progress, and states that the taxation of the United States is more onorous than that of any other country in the world. “The tax on the liquor and tobacco,” he said, “consumed by an average poor family in the South amounts to $7.50, and, as these people make about $10 a month, over $5 of that amount is consumed in paying taxes to the Government.”

Mr. Parsons called the statesman’s attention to the fact that, viewed in its philosophical sense, the subject of labor plainly indicated that the system of buying and selling labor was destructive to the fundamental principles of liberty, and this profit-making was what kept the masses down and what made the operations of the colored people in the South look so unfavorable. The capitalist and employer made too much; the laborer received too little. It was plunder, not hard times, which made the poor man complain.

Mr. Stephens concluded by stating that he sympathized keenly with the grievances of the people, but hoped the riots of 1877 would never be repeated as a means of enforcing the rights of working-men. “I believe in the eight-hour system of labor,” he said, “but I fear the present splurge of the Communists is like an epidemic, and it may fail. A man generally has the small-pox only once.”

“You are right,” replied Mr. Parsons, “and then it either kills or cures.”

Albert R. Parsons.


Chapter I. The Haymarket Meeting.


Taken from the Denver “Labor Enquirer” of May 17, 1886.

The readers of the Enquirer have read with bated breath the startling news flashed from this city on Tuesday last of the ushering in and demonstration of the new method of scientific warfare.

What was it, and what the occasion of the bringing forth of the fell destroyer from his lurking-place in the realms of science with such direful results? The cause may be given in a future letter; the results may be given here.

The minions of the oppressing class were marched up to one of the most peaceably assembled meetings ever held in this country by any class of people to discuss questions concerning their own interests, and commanded them to “disperse.” The individual giving this order was backed by about 300 armed and bludgeoned police, whom the capitalistic press describe as having “grasped their clubs tighter as they came in sight of the Anarchists assembled.”

Well, as the minions moved from the station, which was half a block away from the meeting, they came like a lowering cloud to blot out the sunlight of free speech on American soil. Sweeping from curbstone to curbstone (a new military tactic which they had been practicing for some time especially for the Anarchists), and stepping with military precision and unbroken ranks, each one “grasping tightly his club,” compelled the people peaceably assembled there to fall back upon the sidewalk. When the three first columns had moved past the speakers’ stand a halt was called. Then the individual referred to commanded these peaceable people to “disperse.” The reply was given in thunder tones, which shook the great massive buildings for blocks around. A great swath had been cut in the ranks of the police. But before their groans, mingled with the succeeding echoes of the great explosion, could rise, as it were, from the place where they originated, there came a fusilade of pistol-shots. The bomb had been flung with such sudden and deadly effect that it had thoroughly disorganized and demoralized the police, and they became an easy prey for an enemy to attack and completely annihilate if there had been any conspiracy or concocted understanding, as has been howled and shouted by the capitalistic press.

It was the shortest, sharpest, and most decisive battle, I believe, on record. In less then three minutes the most horrible explosion ever known of its kind had taken place, over 200 shots had been fired, and over fifty police lay writhing in their blood upon the ground. The 3,000 or more persons who had been assembled on the spot less than an hour previous—where were they? For nothing now was to be heard or seen but the writhing, groaning police, and citizens whose names were never known, and the coming and going of the patrol, each loaded with victims and conveying them to the hospitals.

Since that date a reign of terror has been inaugurated which would put to shame the most zealous Russian blood-hound. The organized banditti and conscienceless brigands of capital have suspended the only papers which would give the side of those whom they had crammed into prison cells. They have invaded the homes of every one who has ever been known to have raised a voice or sympathized with those who have had aught to say against the present system of robbery and oppression. I say they have invaded their homes and subjected them and their families to indignities that must be seen to be believed. This organized banditti have arrested me four times; they have subjected me to indignities that should bring the tinge of shame to the calloused cheek of a hardened barbarian.

But evidently becoming convinced that I had nothing to “give away,” they have ceased to drag me to the station, for the time at least. But my comrades need have no concern lest these ruffians should, by their brutal treatment of me, drive me to distraction. They simply challenge my contempt.

All we in Chicago ask of our comrades abroad is to withhold their opinion until they hear our side, and to furnish us such moral and financial aid as they can.

Lucy E. Parsons.
Chicago, May 10, 1886.

Chapter II. The Immolation to Authority.


In the period elapsing between the 4th of May, 1886, and the 21st of June, when the trial of the indictment against Spies, et al., was begun in the Criminal Court of Cook county, and while the attorneys engaged for the defendants were busy with their preparations for the struggle, the question was several times presented as to whether or not Albert R. Parsons could safely come to the bar and submit to a trial under the indictment along with those who were then in prison. This question was first brought to our attention by Mrs. Parsons, who told us that her husband had written to her desiring to know our views upon the subject. She stated to us that her husband was perfectly willing to act in the matter as we should advise; that knowing that he had neither participation in nor responsibility for the throwing of the bomb at the Haymarket meeting, and that in fact he had no knowledge of the meeting itself until about the time he was called to speak at it, he was himself confident that a trial of the indictment as against him could only result in his acquittal, if there was any hope of securing an impartial jury; and that if it was judged that his presence during the trial would be likely to be in any measure helpful to those who were accused with him, he was ready to come to the bar.

When this question was first presented it was met with the suggestion that there would be time enough to consider the matter later on, as it would be sufficient if he appeared in Court at any time before the impanneling of the jury was commenced. During the week immediately preceding the 21st of June Mrs. Parsons came again to the attorneys for the defence, saying that she was directed by her husband once more to bring this question before us for our advice and determination. At that time we felt reasonably sure as to what would be developed upon the trial by the evidence in reference to Parsons’ movements, and that upon the evidence we could demonstrate to any dispassionate mind that Mr. Parsons had never counseled, aided, abetted, or advised the throwing of the bomb at the Haymarket meeting. But it was felt by us all, in the then condition of public opinion—the full rancor of which, however, was not appreciated by any of us—that there was a certain element of danger in the coming even of a demonstrably innocent man into this community to submit to trial, when, confessedly, that man had been a leader for years in the labor agitation which was prevalent, and was an apostle of the doctrine of agitation for organization, and organization for the purpose of bringing about a changed condition of society, which change it was proposed to accomplish in order to secure as of right to the wage-earners a larger and more nearly just share in the results of their own production. In other words, we all knew that Mr. Parsons was a professed Anarchist, and that he was a believer in the prediction that the injustice and inequalities existing under the present system of social order pointed inevitably to revolution, because of the known and fixed indisposition of those possessed of wealth and holding power to make a voluntary change in the adjustment of affairs such as would bring to realization the dream and hope of the social reformer.

We knew enough of Mr. Parsons to believe that if he came to the bar of the Court voluntarily, submitted himself to its jurisdiction, and braved its judgment upon the accusation preferred against him, he would be a party to no deception, he would yield to no paltering, he would consent to no lowering of his standard of opinion merely in the hope of personal advantage or of placating the bitter feeling that had been aroused against these labor leaders. It was a serious matter, therefore, when we were asked to advise Mr. Parsons upon the question submitted to us; but our advice was asked, and under such circumstances that we felt it a duty to speak. We knew that Mr. Parsons was in a place of absolute safety, and that every effort of the police to discover him had proved utterly unavailing. We knew that around him was a cordon of friends keeping ceaseless watch, and that he could, from a distance, if so advised, observe the progress of the impending trial in personal safety. Could he with reasonable safety come to the bar of the Court? Was the possible advantage of such a step sufficient to justify the hazard?

In obedience to the request of his wife I wrote a letter to Mr. Parsons upon the subject of his inquiry, in which I tried to set before him fully the danger which confronted him in the event of his return, and the possibilities of awful consequences, but in which I expressed the personal belief that we could satisfactorily establish his innocence, and therefore could secure his acquittal; that I believed the effect of his return and presence in the trial could not but be advantageous to his co-defendants. But I told him in effect that the responsibility of advising his return was one that I could not and would not take—I could only lay the case fully before him, and leave it to him to determine what action he would take.

Albert R. Parsons came of his own volition, and prompted by his own sense of right and of loyalty to his comrades in labor, from a place of absolute security, walked, unrecognized, to the very bar of the Court, and there submitted himself to the imprisonment from which he was liberated on the scaffold.

Did he ever regret that step? I can only say that never, in all the weeks and months that followed, did he express to me, nor for a single instant manifest, the slightest regret. He constantly protested that he would do the same again; and when he stood up before the Court in answer to its question to show cause why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon him, the closing words of his memorable speech were, that, despite all that had followed his return, he had nothing to regret; while as he said it, as if to give deeper significance to his statement, he came to where I sat and placed his arm upon my shoulder, as if speaking the words to me. He knew that I had carried a certain burden, in connection with the untoward ending of his trial, because of the part I had taken in connection with his return. It was of me that he thought in that moment, and for my comfort that he spoke the words.

Until that 21st of June, 1886, my personal acquaintance with Albert R. Parsons had been of the very slightest; we had not met more than three or four times, and that only at long intervals, and under circumstances which made the acqaintance formal and of a business character. I knew nothing of the inner nature of the man. I knew in a general way that he had been a labor agitator, and that he was accounted by the people of means with whom I ordinarily associated “a pestilent fellow,” somewhat dangerous to the community, and certainly uncomfortable to the lovers of ease and those having the disposition to maintain the established order which prevails generally among people whose good fortune it has been to get ahead in the world and to cradle themselves in the lap of luxury. I can say in all truthfulness that certainly I did not at that time specially admire him; but I can also say that even then I regarded his conduct in coming of his own volition to the bar of the Court, to make common cause with those who were joined in the indictment and to take part in the chance of the trial with them, as admirable, having in it certainly a touch of the heroic.

For Albert R. Parsons was comparatively a young man; and notwithstanding the arduous service he had been called upon to render in his espousal and advocacy of the cause of the wage classes of society, and despite his scanty means, and oftentimes actual privation resulting therefrom, he had yet much to make life bright to him, much to make him happy in life. He had a wife whose devotion to him has since become proverbial, and two beautiful children to whom he was as tenderly attached as any father to his young I have ever known. He knew, too, far better than I knew, the intensity of the hostile feeling existing between the property-owners ordinarily dominating the opinion of society and the agitators, who, as it seemed to them, were constantly threatening their possessions and repose. He appreciated, far more than I did at the time, the actual hazard of the step he took. That he should, in the retirement and seclusion of his retreat, and after weeks of consideration, during which his own personal safety was demonstrated, have reached and acted upon the fixed resolve to offer his own life in what he believed to be the cause of the wage class, and for the possible advantage of his fellow-agitators, was heroic. I believe that the day will yet come when intelligent and dispassionate people will regard with a sort of incredulous horror the action of the community that consigned such a man to death, refused him reprieve, and exacted the final and supreme penalty of the law. For what was the case made by the State against Albert R. Parsons?

It was shown without contradiction that on Sunday, May 2, 1886, Albert R. Parsons was in the city of Cincinnati, O., returning to Chicago on the morning of Tuesday, May 4; that immediately upon his return he caused a notice, calling for a meeting of the American Group of the International at 107 Fifth avenue for the evening of May 4, to be inserted in the Daily News of that afternoon; that in the evening he left his house in company with his wife, Mrs. Holmes, a lady friend, and his two little children, aged 5 and 7 years, respectively; that they walked from their home on the West Side as far as to the corner of Randolph and Halsted streets, where they met two reporters—namely: Mr. Heineman and Mr. Owen. There Mr. Parsons and his party took a car and rode direct to 107 Fifth avenue, where they arrived about half past 8 o’clock, and remained about half an hour. Concerning this meeting at the corner of Halsted and Randolph streets Mr. Owen, who was called as one of the witnesses for the prosecution, testified as follows:

“I saw Parsons at the corner of Randolph and Halsted streets shortly before 8 o’clock; I asked him where the meeting was going to be held; he said he did not know anything about the meeting. I asked him whether he was going to speak. He said: No, he was going over to the South Side. Mrs. Parsons and some children came up just then, and Mr. Parsons, before entering the street car, slapped me familiarly upon the back and asked me if I was armed, and I said no. I asked him: ‘Have you any dynamite about you?’ He laughed, and Mrs. Parsons said: ‘He is a very dangerous-looking man, isn’t he?’ And they got on the car and went east. I believe Mr. Heineman was with me.”

Mr. Heineman was also called as a witness for the prosecution, and while his testimony as to this meeting was not quite as full as that of Mr. Owen, it was in substantial harmony therewith.

At the meeting of the American Group, as was shown by an abundance of uncontradicted testimony, there were present, all told, about fifteen members, including Mr. Parsons, his wife, and Mrs. Holmes; and the subject considered was the matter of the organization of the sewing women of Chicago, with reference to the eight-hour movement. Some steps were taken, and some slight expenditures were authorized, to accomplish the organization of these seamstresses; and when this work had been nearly concluded, and the meeting was about ready to adjourn, a messenger arrived, who had been sent over by Mr. Spies from the Haymarket meeting, then assembled, stating that there was great and immediate need for speakers, and urging that some of those attending at 107 Fifth avenue should come over at once to speak to the Haymarket meeting. Thereupon the American Group adjourned its meeting, and most of the members walked over to the Haymarket, a distance of about half a mile, Mr. Parsons and his entire family, Mr. Fielden, and others going direct to the meeting, as shown by the evidence.

Parsons reached the Haymarket some time shortly after 9 o’clock, while Spies was speaking, and directly afterward Spies stopped and introduced Parsons to the audience. Parsons spoke from three-quarters of an hour to an hour. It was concurred in by all of the witnesses who testified in reference to Parsons’ speech that it was largely statistical in its nature, and devoted to a review of the disturbed condition of the labor world; and it was conceded by all the witnesses for the prosecution that when, in the course of his remarks, he mentioned the name of Jay Gould, in connection with the Southwestern railway troubles, and some one in the audience proposed the hanging of the railway magnate, Parsons immediately replied deprecating such utterance, saying in effect: “No! This is not a conflict between individuals, but for a change of system, and Socialism aims to remove the causes which produce the pauper and the millionaire, but does not aim at the life of the individual.” He said further in substance: “Kill Jay Gould, and like a jack-in-a-box another or a hundred others like him will come up in his place under the existing social conditions;” and he also used the figure that to kill the individual millionaire or capitalist would be like killing a flea upon a dog, wheras the purpose of Socialism was the destruction of the dog—the change of the existing system. That this was the substance and tenor of Parsons’ response to the one suggestion of violence that came from his audience during his entire address stands admitted upon the record in the case.

Some of the witnesses for the State testified that at some point in his discourse Parsons used the expression: “To arms! To arms! To arms!” This was the only incendiary utterance that was claimed to have been made use of by him. But in reference to this expression, and the connection in which it was used by Mr. Parsons, the most convincing testimony offered on the part of the prosecution was that of Mr. English, a stenographic reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who attended the meeting under instructions from the management of the paper which he represented, as testified by himself, to report only the most inflammatory utterances. Such utterances, however, he reported verbatim; and his stenographic report, read to the jury, as to this remark, was in the following words, given as spoken by Mr. Parsons:

“It behooves you, as you love your wife and children, if you do not want to see them perish with hunger, killed, or shot down like dogs in the street, Americans, in the interest of your liberty and independence, to arm, to arm yourselves. [Applause and cries of “We will do it,” “We are ready now.”] You are not.”

Mr. English further stated positively in this connection that when Parsons said: “To arm, to arm yourselves!” he said it in the ordinary tone of voice in which he was then speaking. He stated also, that this expression was shortly following an utterance of Parsons in the following language: “I am not here for the purpose of inciting anybody, but to speak out, to tell the facts as they exist, even though it should cost my life before morning.”

Mayor Harrison, who heard Parsons’ speech, and attended the meeting for the purpose of dispersing it if anything should occur to require interference, upon the witness-stand testified that he heard nothing spoken by Parsons that in his judgment required any action upon his part; that his speech was largely statistical, and while he would denominate it as a violent political harangue, it was in fact unusually moderate in its tone as compared with what was habitual to speakers occupying Mr. Parsons’ position upon such occasions. Certain it is, that Mr. Harrison, the chief executive officer of the city, having its welfare at heart, and charged with the responsibility of preserving its peace and safety, left the meeting at the end of Parsons’ speech, and told Inspector Bonfield at the station, only a block away from the meeting, where the police forces were massed, that nothing had up to that time occurred, or seemed likely to occur, to require interference, and that Bonfield had better issue orders to his reserves at the other stations to go home. To this suggestion of the Mayor Mr. Bonfield responded at once that his detectives, who were in attendance upon the meeting and were constantly bringing him reports as to its progress and tone, had made to him the same report as to the character of the meeting and the utterances thereat, and that he had already ordered the reserves at the other stations to disperse; but that he thought it. was better for him to hold the forces at the Desplaines street station together to prevent possible violence after the adjournment of the meeting. Thus assured that there was no present or prospective danger in connection with the Haymarket meeting, Mr. Harrison went home.

After speaking about an hour Parsons brought his address to a close, and was succeeded by Mr. Fielden.

Fielden spoke about ten minutes, when a cloud, accompanied by a cold wind and with some threatenings of rain, swept up in the northern sky; whereupon Mr. Parsons interrupted him and suggested an adjournment of the meeting to Zepf’s hall, which was in a building situated on the northeast corner of Lake and Desplaines streets, about half a block from the location of the Haymarket meeting. To this some one in the crowd responded that the hall was already occupied by a meeting of the Furniture-Workers’ Union, and thereupon Fielden suggested that he would be through in a few minutes and then they could all go home; after which Fielden proceeded with his remarks. But the suggestion made by Mr. Parsons, coupled with the threatening aspect of the sky and the cold change, as well as the fact that the hour was late and the crowd wearied with standing several hours in the open air, furnished the occasion for the scattering of the larger part of the audience; so that the conclusion of Fielden’s speech was addressed to an assemblage estimated by the various witnesses who spoke on the point, at from 200 to 500 people, not a single witness worthy of belief placing the number higher than the last-named figure. Stepping from the speakers’ wagon Mr. Parsons went to another wagon situated a few paces north of it, in which sat his wife and Mrs. Holmes with some friends, and proposed to them that they should all go together to Zepf’s hall, which was accordingly done. Within about five minutes thereafter the bomb at the Haymarket exploded, and it was proved incontestibly, without any contradiction whatever, that at the time the bomb exploded, Parsons, together with his wife, Mrs. Holmes, and others, was in Zepf’s saloon, which occupied the ground floor in the building in which Zepf’s hall was located.

No effort was made by the prosecution, because none could be successfully made, unless by rank perjury, to convict Parsons of any knowledge whatever of any of the preliminaries of the Haymarket meeting. That meeting had been arranged for at a meeting held at Greif’s hall, No. 54 West Lake street, on Monday night, May 3, 1886. The professed purpose of the Haymarket meeting was to consider and protest against the conduct of the police at the McCormick riot, following a meeting at the Black road held near McCormick’s reaper works on the afternoon of Monday, May 3. The Haymarket meeting was called by a circular issued by direction of the Monday night meeting, at which meeting, as shown by the evidence, only two of the eight men who were upon trial were present—to-wit: Fischer and Engel. On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 4, two others of the accused—to-wit: Schwab and Spies—were apprised of the Monday night meeting and of the proceeding thereat, which they at once denounced as foolish in the extreme, and as to which they took immediate steps and every possible precaution to prevent any action thereunder or rash consequences. It was admitted by all the witnesses for the prosecution, however, that when the Haymarket meeting was determined upon, at the Monday night meeting, it was distinctly talked and understood that there was to be no preparation whatever for violence at the Haymarket meeting nor was it expected that any collision with the police would occur then, but that the same was to be simply an agitation meeting, and for the purpose suggested. Parsons never heard of the Monday night meeting, nor of the proceedings thereof, until after the Haymarket meeting had come to its tragic termination.

A dispassionate consideration of the testimony in the record can not but convince any fair-minded person that when Parsons went to the Haymarket meeting, upon the request received at the American Group meeting about 9 o’clock; when he spoke there in the calm and temperate tone which characterized his remarks, announcing that he had no purpose of incitement, but only to speak the truth as he apprehended it concerning the wage conditions of modern society; and when he proposed an adjournment to Zepf’s hall, and himself left the meeting with his family and friends and went to Zepf’s saloon, he had no thought, no intimation from any source, no reason whatever to believe that any violence was contemplated by any person at the Haymarket meeting, or was likely to occur. It was because of this conscious innocence of participation in, complicity with, or responsibility for, the act of bomb-throwing that Mr. Parsons felt he could properly surrender himself for trial and be reasonably secure of a vindication, expecting that under the safeguards provided by the law an impartial jury could be secured.

Beyond the testimony above outlined, the State was permitted to introduce, in its effort to make out a case against Parsons, evidence of a number of speeches made by Parsons during a long period of time preceding the Haymarket meeting, and extracts from the files of the Alarm, of which Parsons was the editor; not upon the theory that any of these things bore directly upon, or had immediate reference to, the Haymarket meeting, or the act at that meeting of the bomb-thrower, but upon the theory that they furnished evidence proper to be considered by the jury as tending to establish a general conspiracy for the overthrow of the existing order of society, which contemplated such meetings as that at the Haymarket, and such acts as there committed, as among the things which might be done in furtherance of this purpose.

It was contended in behalf of the defence upon the trial that such testimony was not legally competent; that in the absence of testimony showing a conspiracy or agreement to do the particular thing, criminal responsibility for which was sought to be charged against the defendants, it was necessary to show by credible evidence that the act complained of was indubitably committed by one of the conspirators, not that it might possibly have been committed by such a co-conspirator, and that it was committed by such co-conspirator in furtherance of the general plan to which it was claimed the accused were committed. In other words, it was contended for the defence as follows:

1. That mere participation in an unlawful assembly or design does not make the accused responsible for the independent and unadvised crime of some other participant in that assembly or design.

2. That to hold the accused as accessories on the ground of conspiracy it must be shown by credible testimony, beyond reasonable doubt, that the man committing the crime was one of the conspirators.

3. That it must further be shown that the act of violence committed was within the purview of the conspiracy; in other words, that the conspiracy provided for the commission of the particular act, by some one of the conspirators, at the time and place when and where it was done.

4. That the mere fact that various persons have a common object in view, or set before themselves a common purpose for their activity, does not make one of such parties responsible for the unadvised act of another party committed upon the independent volition and uninfluenced resolve of that other party.

5. That mere general advice, by speech or print, to revolutionary or violent acts, without evidence connecting the advice with the man committing the offense and showing that he was influenced thereby to his act, is not sufficient to warrant a contraction of the speaker as an accessory to the crime. That the law on this point is, as stated in 1 Wharton Criminal Law, $ 226, note: “Counseling, to come up to the definition (of inciting to crime), must be special.” * * * And in same volume, § 179: “What human Judge can determine that there is such a necessary connection between one man’s advice and another man’s action as to make the former the cause of the latter?”

And as a corollary of these positions it was contended: That before the lives of men could be legally adjudged forfeited as the penalty of a crime, in which specific crime they confessedly had no participation, it was necessary, in justice and under the law, to identify the party committing the offense in such manner as to establish, by credible evidence and beyond any reasonable doubt, his consociation with the accused, and that in the doing of the act he was but carrying out his preconcert with the accused.

It is believed that prior to the trial of his case no intelligent lawyer could have been found anywhere who would have questioned the soundness of the above positions. It is substantially admitted now, the world over, that in order to bring about the conviction of Mr. Parsons and his associates the Court was asked to, and did, go much further, alike in the admission of evidence, upon the question of the qualification of jurors, in the matter of its instructions in laying down the law to the jury, and in the latitude generally allowed the prosecution in its effort to secure a conviction, than was ever before done in modern jurisprudence. In other words, it is now admitted generally that the law as established in this case was a modification of all prior adjudication to meet the exigencies of the prosecution. But it would be wholly foreign to the purpose of this sketch to go into any elaborate review of the legal aspects of the trial. I am the rather called upon to speak as to how Albert R. Parsons bore his part in these affairs.

The verdict of the jury was a profound and universal surprise. It was well known at the time that the prosecution had no expectation of securing the death penalty as to more than three or four of the accused—to-wit: Spies, Lingg, Fischer, and Engel. It was generally expected that Oscar Neebe would be acquitted, as it was conceded with substantial unanimity that the State had made out no case against him. And it was believed that Parsons, Fielden, and Schwab, if found guilty at all, would receive only a sentence of imprisonment. In fact, when Mr. Grinnell was closing for the prosecution, almost his last remarks to the jury were to the effect that he would not ask the death sentence as to Neebe, and that as to the other defendants he believed that there were gradations in their responsibility and guilt; and that he would place the responsibility and guilt of the defendants in the following order: Spies, Lingg, Fischer, Engel, Fielden, Parsons, Schwab. (I think I have the “roll-call” in the same order in which he gave it.) The suggestion was regarded by those who heard it as being significant of Mr. Grinnell’s expectations in the case, and as to his views of what the verdict should be; for if there were in fact gradations in the guilt of the parties named, and in the degree of their responsibility, then justice required that there should also be gradations in the measure of their punishment. But the fierceness of popular hate, which was carried by many of the jurors into the jury-room, and which seemed to fill all the air like a subtle ether, brooked no discrimination in its vengeful treatment of the accused. All, save only Neebe, who was protected by the distinct announcement of Mr. Grinnell that he did not wish a death sentence as to him, were involved without discrimination in a common verdict and judgment by the jury.

No one who was present in the Court-room on that August morning when this verdict was announced will ever forget the scene. The public was excluded from the room, only a very few persons being permitted to enter. The crowd outside were waiting for the news, thronging the street through the entire block. Not a man of the eight, who sat in the prisoners’ chairs, blanched for an instant when the reading of the verdict took place. On the contrary, a smile that had in it something of the suggestion of pity for the overwrought violence of hatred that could make such a verdict possible, touched for a moment the calm and quiet faces of the men for whom this verdict had such dire import. Among them all none was calmer than Parsons, though no one perhaps was more surprised. Every man of them all rose to the emergency; and not even when the wild cheer of the crowd outside upon the announcement of the verdict, sounding like the snarling roar of a wild beast ravening as it clutched its prey, reached the ears of the accused, with all its horrid suggestions of implacable and blind fury and resentment, was there apparent in the face of any one of the eight anything betokening malice or a purpose of crime.

With the subsequent history of the case the readers of this article are doubtless already familiar; but I feel that there is special occasion for me to give prominence to some matters that were within my personal knowledge, occurring during the last days, and after the announcement by the Supreme Court of the United States of its refusal to interfere upon the appeal made to that tribunal.

It was then known that the only possible opportunity for a modification of the sentence of the accused was in an appeal for the exercise of executive clemency. I knew personally that there were a great many people who, while upholding the general features of the judgment, yet felt that it was inexpressibly dreadful that this extreme penalty should be inflicted upon Parsons in view of his voluntarily coming to the bar of the Court. It was said by many that it had never been known that even by a drum-head Court Martial the death sentence was inflicted upon an enemy who voluntarily surrendered himself, coming from a retreat of safety to place his sword in the hand of the victor. I was personally advised that special effort would be made to secure the commutation of Parsons’ sentence, owing to the peculiar circumstances of his case, and of course I was very anxious to save out of the wreck whatever of life was possible. But we found an unexpected obstacle in the matter of the attitude taken by Parsons himself as to any appeal in his behalf to the Governor. He positively refused to sign in any manner a petition for the exercise of executive clemency, which, under the constitution and the statutes of the State of Illinois, is prescribed as a condition of the exercise of the pardoning power. It became apparent very early, from the tone of the press and in various other ways, that unless Parsons would petition for himself nothing would be done in his case, but his attitude would be accepted as an excuse for charging to his own folly what else might be considered an act of inexcusable public brutality. Knowing the peril in which he was placing himself, I went personally to Parsons on the Tuesday before the 11th of November, and told him that I was going to Springfield with a deputation that night to have a public audience with the Governor the following day in support of our application for the exercise of clemency. I had a very long talk with him, the last of many preceding conversations of like purport, urging him to sign a petition which I had prepared to be presented to the Governor in his behalf.

I told Parsons, in the course of our conversation, that his refusal to sign any petition was likely to be regarded, by those who held that his punishment was merited and was demanded for the welfare of society, but who might be disposed, because of his personal conduct, to favor interposition in his behalf, as an evidence of perverseness upon his part, and that thus the effort would be made to charge the result against himself. I urged him, for the sake of his wife and his babes, to sign the petition. I told him that I believed Gov. Oglesby was favorably disposed in his case; and that I thought in justice to the Governor he should at least sign the petition, so that Gov. Oglesby might have that technical compliance with the law which was so likely to be exacted by the public sentiment of the hour. I told Parsons plainly that I believed if he refused to sign any petition of any character the chances were that he would be executed; while on the other hand I felt assured that if I could lay a properly phrased petition before the executive, public opinion would justify Gov. Oglesby in commuting his sentence. I went still further and urged upon him, and this was the argument which seemed to impress him most, that from his own standpoint it was the one act that was certainly needed in order to complete his indictment against the system of law and order which was condemning him to death; that at least he should leave no legal excuse for the refusal to extend clemency to him. He listened patiently to all I said, and quietly replied in substance to me thus:

“Captain, I know that you are right. I know that if I should sign this application for pardon my sentence would be commuted. No longer ago than last Sunday night Melville E. Stone, the editor of the Daily News, spent nearly two hours in my cell, urging me to sign a petition, and assuring me that if I would do so I should have his influence and the influence of his paper in favor of the commutation of my sentence; and I know that that means that my sentence would be commuted. But I will not do it. My mind is firmly and irrevocably made up, and I beg you to urge me no further upon the subject. I am an innocent man—innocent of this offense of which I have been found guilty by the jury, and the world knows my innocence. If I am to be executed at all it is because I am an Anarchist, not because I am a murderer; it is because of what I have taught and spoken and written in the past, and not because of the throwing of the Haymarket bomb. I can afford to be hung for the sake of the ideas I hold and the cause I have espoused if the people of the State of Illinois can afford to hang an innocent man who voluntarily placed himself in their power.”

I paused for a while, at a loss what to say. I know that my face showed something of the pain that I felt, for suddenly, a softened expression coming over his face, Parsons added words like these:

“I will tell you, Captain, what is the real secret of my position, but in confidence. I do not want anything said about it until after the 11th. I have a hope—mark you, it is a very faint hope—but yet I do hope that my attitude in reference to this matter may result in the saving of these other boys—Lingg, Engel, and Fischer. Spies, Fielden, and Schwab have already signed a petition for clemency, and their lives are safe. But the public are determined to have victims. And if I should now separate myself from Lingg, Engel, and Fischer, and sign a petition upon which the Governor could commute my sentence, I know that it would mean absolute doom to the others—that Lingg, Engel, and Fischer would inevitably be hung. So I have determined to make their cause and their fate my own. I know the chances are 999 in 1,000 that I will swing with them; that there isn’t one chance in a thousand of my saving them; but if they can be saved at all it is by my standing with them, so that whatever action is taken in my case may with equal propriety be taken in theirs. I will not, therefore, do anything that will separate me from them. I expect that the result will be that I shall hang with them, but I am ready.”

I could make no reply to such an argument—I never tried to. I knew that what Parsons said was true. I knew that if anything in the world could save the three who, like himself, had refused to would stand with them and share their fate. I knew, too, that the chances were that they would all perish together! but as against a man calmly facing death, and putting his determination upon such exalted grounds of self-sacrifice and of faithfulness to the obligation of comradeship, I had no reply to make. I took him by the hand, looked into his face, and said to him: “Your action is worthy of you!” and came away.

It fell out as I had anticipated. When Gov. Oglesby’s attention was called to the particular circumstances of Parsons’ self-surrender, and to the evidence showing that he had absolutely no knowledge whatever of any violence arranged for or contemplated at the Haymarket meeting, and consequently no participation in nor legal responsibility for that act, under the theretofore established rules of law, the Governor asked if Parsons had signed a petition as required by the law. I knew what that meant; and when, on Thursday morning I had my last interview with Parsons and his companions, occupying but a few minutes in each case (for I went again to Springfield Thursday night, and was with Gov. Oglesby Friday morning, urging a vain plea for a reprieve of thirty days, upon trustworthy assurances from New York, communicated to the Governor, that if such reprieve were granted the bomb-thrower would be produced, and it would be shown that he was a stranger to the accused, and that they had no complicity in nor responsibility for that act), I mentioned to Parsons the question of Gov. Oglesby, accompanying it with the suggestion that even yet if he would sign a petition I believed we could save his life; but I had no heart to press upon him that he should do violence to the noble purpose which he had formed; and when he said to me, as quietly and simply as he would have spoken in reference to some matter of no consequence to him: “I can’t do it, Captain; I am ready for whatever may come!” I only shook his hand again and turned away.

It may be that there are many who will read this simple account, and will see in the attitude and sentiments of this man. nothing to admire, nothing heroic; but there are others who, reading this narrative, will better understand why I loved this man and his comrades, who were all kindred spirits with himself. He was of such material as heroes are made of. I have no hesitation in saying that Parsons’ action, under all the circumstances of his case, was as heroic as any chronicled in ancient or modern annals. And I believe that the day will yet come when it will be generally conceded that on the 11th of November, 1887, four men perished upon the scaffold in Cook county who were of exalted purpose and of noble natures, dying because of their steadfastness to their own convictions of right, their loyalty to the cause of the weak and of the oppressed which they had espoused, their zeal in behalf of the common people, their devotion to their fellow-men.

William P. Black.
Chicago, January 24, 1889.

Chapter III. Parsons’ Haymarket Speech.


On June 9, 1886, Mr. Parsons took the witness-stand in his own defence and this is the occasion of his having given the speech which follows. The Times said of the speech:

The climax in the Anarchist trial was reached yesterday. Schwab, Spies, and Parsons told their respective stories to the jury from the witness-chair, to a spell-bound audience of spectators, an amazed jury, and a surprised Judge. * * * Parsons was composed and eloquent. * * * His brother, Gen. W. H. Parsons, sat with eyes fixed upon him during the time he was upon the stand. As soon as Mr. August Spies retired Mr. Parsons took the stand, and in a quiet, deferential tone answered the questions put to him in a firm voice, not appearing to be in the least unnerved by his peculiar position. At length he was asked to give the substance of his Haymarket speech, and he did so, and if the jury, the Court, and the audience have been entertained since the trial began, they were entertained by the chief agitator of the Chicago Anarchists. He pulled out of his pocket a bundle of notes, and began at the jury in tones which betokened that the speaker was primed for the finest speech of his life. He held his notes in his left hand, and, together with the swaying of his body, gesticulated with his right arm. From low, measured tones he went on from eloquence to oratory, from oratory to logic, and from logic to argument.”

Capt. Black: “Now, Mr. Parsons, going back to the meeting, retracing our steps for a moment—will you tell us, please, what was the substance of your speech that night, as fully as you can remember?”

“I have taken some notes of reference since then to refresh my memory. I recollect distinctly of mentioning all of these points, but I could not recall them seriatim unless I put them on paper, and that is the reason I have done so.

“When I was introduced I looked at the crowd and observed that it was quite a large crowd. I am familiar with public speaking and with crowds, and I should estimate there were 3,000 men present, and I consider myself a judge of such matters. The street was packed from sidewalk to sidewalk, north and south of the wagon, but especially south of the wagon, for a considerable distance. I faced the south. I first called the attention of those present to the evidences of discontent among the working classes, not alone of Chicago, not alone of the United States, but of the civilized world, and I asked the question, if these evidences of discontent, as could be seen in strikes and lock-outs and boycotts, were not indications that there was something radically wrong in the existing order of things in our social affairs. I then alluded to the eight-hour movement, and spoke of it as a movement designed to give employment to the unemployed, work to the idle, and thereby bring comfort and cheer to the homes of the destitute, and relieving the unrelieved and wearisome toil of those who worked not alone ten hours, but twelve, fourteen, and sixteen hours a day. I said that the eight-hour movement was in the interests of civilization, of prosperity, of the public welfare, and that it was demanded by every interest in the community, and that I was glad to see them assembled on that occasion to give their voice in favor of the adoption of the eight-hour work-day. I then referred again to the general condition of labor throughout the country. I spoke of some of my travels through the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, where I had met and addressed thousands and thousands of workingmen. I told of the Tuscarora valley, and of the Hocking valley, and of the Monongahela valley—among the miners of this country, where wages averaged 241 cents a day. I showed, of course, these were not wages they received while at work, but that the difficulty was they did not get the days’ work, and consequently they had to sum up the total and divide it. Throughout the year it amounted to 247 cents a day. I asked if this was not a condition of affairs calculated to arouse the discontent of the people, and to make them clamor for redress and relief. I pointed to the fact that in the city of Pittsburgh a report was made by, I think, the Superintendent of Police of that city, stating that at the Bethel home, a charitable institution in that city, from January 1, 1884, to January 1, 1885, there were 26,374 destitute men—tramps, American sovereigns—who applied for a night’s lodging and a morsel of food at one establishment alone in the city of Pittsburgh. I referred, of course, to many other places and similar things, showing the general condition of labor in the country. I then spoke of the eight-hour movement—that it was designed to bring relief to these men and to the country. I thought surely there was nothing in it to excite such hostility on the part of employers and on the part of monopoly and corporations against it as was witnessed in different parts of the country. I referred to the refusal of the corporations and monopolists to grant and concede this modest request of the working class, and their attempts to defeat it. I then referred to the fact that, in the face of all these causes producing these effects, the monopolistic newspapers, in the interests of corporations, blamed such men as I—blamed the so-called agitators, blamed the workingmen—for these evidences of discontent, this turmoil and confusion and so-called disorder. I called the attention of the crowd specifically to that fact—that we were being blamed for this thing, when, on the contrary, it was evident to any fair-minded man that we were simply calling the attention of the people to this condition of things and seeking a redress for it. I impressed that upon the crowd specifically, and I remember that in reponse to that several gentlemen spoke up loudly and said: ‘Well, we need a good many just such men as you to right these wrongs and to arouse the people.’

A.—Where the bomb was thrown.
B.—Where the bomb exploded.
C.—Zepf’s Hall.
Haymarket Meeting.

“I spoke of the compulsory idleness and starvation wages, and how these things drove the workingmen to desperation—drove them to commit acts for which they ought not to be held responsible; that they were the creatures of circumstances, and that this condition of things was the fault, not of the workingmen, but of those who claimed the right to control and regulate the rights of the workingmen. I pointed out the fact that monopoly, in its course in grinding down labor in this country and in refusing to concede anything to it—refusing to make any concessions whatever—that in persisting in such course it was creating revolutionists, and if there was a single revolutionist in America monopoly and corporations were directly responsible for his existence. I specifically called attention to this fact, in order to defend myself from the charges constantly being made through the mouthpiece of monopoly—the capitalistic press. I called attention in this connection to the Chicago Times and other newspapers. I called the attention of the working people that night to the strike of 1877, when the Chicago Times declared that hand-grenades ought to be thrown among the striking sailors, who were then on a strike on the river wharves in this city, in order to teach them a lesson and that other strikers might be warned by their fate. I said that the Chicago Times was the first dynamiter in America, and as the mouth-piece of monopoly and corporations it was the first to advocate the killing of people when they protested against wrong and oppression. I spoke of another Chicago paper which at that day advocated that when bread was given to the poor strychnine should be placed on it. I also called attention to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Paper, which declared in an editorial that the American toiler must be driven to his task either by the slave-driver’s lash or the immediate prospect of want. I spoke of the New York Herald, and its saying that lead should be given to any tramp who should come around. Whenever a workingman, thrown out of employment and forced to wander from place to place in search of work, away from family and home, asked for a crust of bread, the New York Herald advised those to whom he applied to fill him with lead instead of bread. I called attention to what Tom Scott, the railway monopolist, said during the strike of 1877: ‘Give them the rifle diet, and see how they like that kind of diet.’ I referred to Jay Gould, when he said we would shortly have a monarchy in this country, and to a similar statement in the Indianapolis Journal. Then I referred to how monopoly was putting these threats into practice. They not only used these threats, but they put them into practice, and I cited East St. Louis, where Jay Gould called for men and paid them $5 a day for firing upon harmless, innocent, unarmed workingmen, killing nine of them and one woman in cold-blooded murder. I referred to the Saginaw valley, where the militia was used to put down strikes. I referred to Lemont, Ill., where defenceless and innocent citizens and their town were invaded by the militia of the State of Illinois, and without any pretext men, women, and children were fired upon and slaughtered in cold blood. I referred to the McCormick strike on the previous day, and denounced the action of the police on that occassion as an outrage. I asked the workingmen if these were not facts, and if monopolies and corporations were not responsible for them, and if they were not driving the people into this condition of things. And then I used some words or some phrase in connection with the use of the military and the police and the Pinkerton thugs to shoot down workingmen, to drive them back into submission and starvation wages. I then referred to a Chicago paper of the day before, to which my attention had been called on Tuesday afternoon. In an editorial it asserted that Parsons and Spies incited trouble at McCormick’s, and ought to be lynched and driven out of the city. I was away at Cincinnati at the time. I called attention to the fact that the newspapers were wickedly exciting the people against the workingmen. I denied the newspaper charge that we were sneaks and cowards, and defied them to run us out of the city. I pointed to the fact that the capitalistic papers were the subsidized agents and organs of monopoly, and that they held stocks and bonds in corporations and railroads, and that no man could be elected an Alderman of this city unless he had the sanction of some of the corporations and monopolies of this city. Then I said: ‘I am not here, fellow-workmen, for the purpose of inciting anybody, but to tell the truth, and to state the facts as they actually exist, though it should cost me my life in doing it. I then referred to the Cincinnati demonstration, at which I was present the Sunday previous. I said that the organization of workingmen in that city-the trades unions and other organizations—had a grand street parade and picnic. They sent for me to go down there and address them. It was an eight-hour demonstration. I attended on that occasion and spoke to them. I referred to the fact that they turned out in thousands and that they marched with Winchester rifles, two or three companies of them. I supposed there were about two hundred men at the head of the column, the Cincinnati Rifle Union. I said that at the head of the procession they bore the red flag—the red flag of liberty, fraternity, equality, and labor all over the world-the red flag, the emancipator of labor. I pointed out that every other flag repudiated the workingman, outlawed the workingman, and that he had no shield and no flag but the red one. I then referred to our country, and to men saying this was a movement of foreigners, and so on. I pointed out the fact that the desire for right and the thirst for liberty and for justice was not a foreign affair at all; it was one which concerned Americans as well as foreigners, and that patriotism was a humbug in this connection; that it was used to separate the people, to divide them, and to antagonize them against each other; that the Irish were separated and their national feeling was kept alive as against an Englishman in order that the exploiters and depredators upon them might more easily make them victims and use them as their tools. I referred in that connection to land monopoly and showed how the farms of this country were being driven into land tenures like those of Europe. I called attention to an article which appeared in the North American Review last December, which I think was by an American statistician of this country, in which it was stated that over $350,000,000 in mortgages were held upon farms west of the Alleghanies. I stated that over 50 per cent., perhaps two-thirds, of the farms in the States of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were under mortgage, and that monopoly was making it impossible for the toilers to pay for these farms, and that they were breaking them up, forcing them to become tenants, and instituting the European system in this country. I said I did not regard that as a question of patriotism, nor a foreign question, but an American question concerning Americans. I referred to the banking monopoly of the country, by which a few men are empowered to make money scarce in order that they may control markets, run corners on the different mediums of exchange, and produce a panic in the country by making money scarce. They made the price of articles dear, threw labor out of employment, and brought on bankruptcy. I said that monopoly owned labor and employed its armed hirelings to subjugate the people. In the light of these facts and of your inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ I said, ‘it behooves you, as you love your wives and children, if you would not see them perish with want and hunger, yourselves killed or cut down like dogs in the streets—Americans, as you love liberty and independence, arm! arm yourselves!’ A voice then said to me, ‘We are ready now.’ I did not understand exactly what the gentleman said, but I made that reply, as has been testified to by many here. I called attention to the fact that the constitution of the United States gave to every man the right to keep and bear arms, but monopoly was seeking to deprive the citizen of that right. I called attention to the fact that the constitution guaranted us the right of free speech, of free press, and of unmolested assembly, but that corporations and monopoly, by paid-for decisions of Courts, had trampled these rights under foot, or were attempting to do so. I called attention to the fact that the Government of the United States was in the hands of the money power, and that from this fact—the sway of this money power—it was almost impossible for a poor man to get justice in a court of law; that law was for sale, just like bread; if you had no money you could get no bread, and without money you could get no justice; that justice was almost beyond the reach of the poor, and that the poor were made poor and kept poor by the grinding processes of the corporations and monopolies. I then called attention to Socialism, and explained what it was. I gave them Webster’s definition of it—that it meant a more equitable arrangement of society, a more just and equitable arrangement of social affairs; that there was nothing in the word or in the purposes of Socialism for anybody to become alarmed at. On the contrary, it should be hailed with delight by all, as it was designed to make all happy and prosperous. I then. spoke in this connection of the wage system of industry, and showed. that the wage system of industry was a despotism, inherently and necessarily so, because under it the wage-worker is forced and compelled to work on such conditions and at such terms as the employers of labor may see fit to dictate to him. This I defined to be slavery, hence I said they were wage-slaves, and that the wage system was what Socialism proposed to displace. I then showed the power that the wage system gave to the employing class by the lock-out, the black-list, and the discharge; that I myself had been blacklisted because I exercised my right of free speech as an American, because I saw fit to be a member of a labor organization; that I had been deprived repeatedly of my bread for that reason by my employer. I then called attention to the United States census. for the year 1880, and I showed that the returns made there—statistically gotten up by a Republican administration—these returns showed that 85 cents from every dollar produced went to the profit-taking classes, and that 15 cents was the average sum received by the producing class for having produced the whole dollar. I said that this was wrong, and that in the face of such a condition of things we could expect nothing but poverty, destitution, want, and misery. I showed how, under this system, the workingmen of the United States were really doing ten hours’ work for two hours’ pay; that the employers say to the men: ‘You want to work only eight hours. Do you mean to say that we must give you ten hours’ pay for eight hours’ work?’ I said: ‘Gentlemen, fellow-workmen, let us answer these men and say, and prove to them by the official statistics of the United States census, that we are receiving now but two hours’ pay for ten hours’ work; that that is what the wages of the country on the average represent. I spoke of corporations crowding the workingmen to the wall, and summed it up in some such words as these: “Now, for years past the Associated Press, manipulated by Jay Gould and other traitors to the Republic, and their infamous minions, have been sowing the seeds of revolution. These seeds, I thought, could be summarized about as follows:

“To deprive labor of the ballot.

“To substitute a Monarchy for the Republic.

“To rob labor and then make poverty a crime.

“To deprive small farmers of their land, and then convert them into serfs to serve a huge landlordism.

“To teach labor that bread and water are all that it needs.

“To throw bombs into crowds of workingmen who were oppossed to laboring for starvation wages.

“To take the ballot by force of arms from the majority when it is used against the interests of corporations and capital.

“To put strychnine upon the bread of the poor.

“To hang workingmen by mobs in the absence of testimony to legally convict them.

“To drive the poor working classes into open mutiny against the laws, in order to secure their conviction and punishment afterward.

“These threats and diabolical teachings, I said, had been openly and boldly uttered by the great conspiracy—the solid Associated Press and monopolies of this country—for years, against the liberties of the poor, and the workingman of America was as sensitive to the wrongs imposed upon him as would be the possessor of millions. I said that this was the seed from which had sprung the labor movement, and it was as natural as cause and effect. The workingmen present appeared to be very much interested. I never saw a more quiet, orderly, interested gathering of men—and I have spoken to a great many in my life—than was present on that occasion.

“I called their attention to the fact that labor paid for every. thing-paid all the expenses of Government, of the police, of the armies, of legislators, of Congressmen, of Judges—paid everything. Labor paid it all. That I, as a tenant—I used my own case as an illustration—says I: ‘Now, the landlord claims that he pays the taxes. What are the facts? When I pay him my rent I in fact pay the taxes. He claims that he makes all the repairs on the house, and paints it up, and does all such things. He does not do anything of the kind. He is simply my agent to look after these things, and I, as his tenant, pay for it all. So it is with all tenants.’ I said that labor bears all the burdens but derives few of the benefits of our present civilization. I referred to the fact that it was. through these methods that the working people, who produced all the wealth, were kept poor, and being poor they were ignorant; that our school teachers had yet to learn the fact that the great need of the people was more material force before it would be possible for them to become amenable to the influences of educational forces; that ignorance was the result of poverty; that intemperance was the result of poverty, and for every man who was poor because he drank I could show twenty men who drank because they were poor. I said that this poverty, this discord, this commotion in the civilized world was because of the disease, the cramming of people away into hovels and dens unfit for animals to live in; it was the cause of the death of the young, of old age coming upon middle age; that it was the cause of crime; that poverty was at the root and bottom of war, of discord, and of strife, and that this poverty was an artificial, unnatural poverty which Socialism proposed to remedy.

“I was at this time, as you understand, gentlemen, making a speech for Socialism. I had been talking especially for Socialism. I then spoke as a Trades-Unionist. I am a member of the Printers’ Union and of the Knights of Labor. I said that these organizations differed somewhat with Socialism in that they hoped to receive and obtain redress within the present system, but that was not possible, in my belief; that a study of social affairs and of historical development had taught me that the system itself was at fault, and that as long as the cause remained the effects would be felt; that every trades union, every assembly of the Knights of Labor, every organization of workingmen had for its ultimate end—let its course be what it might-the emancipation of labor from economic dependence, and, whether they sought it or not, events and the developments of this existing wage system would of necessity force or drive these men into Socialism as the only saver, and the only means by which they could live—that they could exist in the end in no other way. If I remember rightly I then said that strikes were attempts to right these wrongs on the part of the unions and the Knights of Labor; that I did not believe in strikes; I did not believe that redress could be had by that method; that the power was in the hands of the employer to refuse; that if the men went on a strike the employer could meet the strike with a lock-out, and could keep them out until they were so hungry that they would through their destitution be compelled to return and accept the terms of the employer; therefore, strikes must of necessity fail—as a general thing. I called attention to the scabs, and said that the Unionist made war on the scabs. ‘Now,’ says I, ‘here is the distinction between a Socialist and a Trade-Unionist. The Unionist fights the scab. What is a scab? As a general thing, a man who, being out of employment and destitute, is driven by necessity to go to work in some other man’s place at less wages than has previously been paid. He is at once denounced as a scab by the Unionist, and war is made upon him. Now, Socialists don’t do this; they regard these men as the victims of a false system and to be pitied. The scabs might be compared to fleas on a dog. The Unionist wants to kill the fleas, but the Socialists would kill the dog; that dog is the wage-system of slavery.

“I then pointed to the ballot—how we were swindled at the ballot-box and defrauded and cheated, how we were bulldozed and intimidated and bribed and corrupted—yes, corrupted by the very money that had been stolen from us. Men would come to us when we were poor and give us bread money if we would vote their ticket, and we often did it through necessity; and for these and other reasons, through this intimidation, bribery, and corruption, the workingmen had but little to expect from the ballot. I said we had petitioned and passed resolutions, and had done everything in our power for redress, but there had been no relief and no redress; in fact, there was a rebuff on every occasion. I then said to them: ‘Gentlemen, Socialism means the free association of the people for purposes of production and consumption—in other words, universal co-operation. This is the sum total of Socialism, and the only solution of the present difficulties between capital and labor.’ I said that monopoly and corporation had formed a gigantic conspiracy against the working classes.

“I then called upon them to unite, to organize, to make every endeavor to obtain eight hours; that the eight-hour movement meant a peaceful solution of the labor trouble; that if the employers in this and all other countries would concede this demand it meant peace, if they refused it meant war, not by the working classes, not by laborers, but by monopolists and corporations upon the lives, liberty and happiness of the working classes. I said that the Government, in the hands of corporations and monopoly, deprived the laborers of their labor product, of their right to live, and was driving labor into open revolt and forcing people to defend themselves and to protect and maintain their right to self-preservation. I said the monopoly conspiracy originated in the great railroad strike of 1877; that this conspiracy since that time had proposed to use force, and that they had used force. Vanderbilt said: ‘The public be damned.’ The New York World and other papers had said that the American must be contented with the wages he received, and not expect any more wages than his European brother, and be contented with that station in life to which it had pleased God to call him. I then appealed to them to defend themselves, their rights, and their liberties—to combine, to unite, for in union there was strength. That, gentlemen, was the substance of my hour’s speech at the Haymarket.”

Chapter IV. Letter from Attorney W. A. Foster.


Mrs. Lucy E. Parsons—Dear Madam:

In compliance with your request that I specify some of the errors connected with the late trial of the so-called Anarchists’ case, I would say that I think Judge Mulkey did not mis-state the facts when, upon the decision of the Supreme Court on appeal being filed, he stated from the bench: “I do not wish to be understood as holding that the record is free from error, for I do not think it is;” but I do disagree with the learned Judge in his further statement when on the same occasion he said: “I am nevertheless of opinion that none of the errors complained of are of so serious a character as to require a reversal of the judgment.”

I have long been impressed with the idea that the prosecution of criminal cases should be conducted with absolute fairness on the part of the people, by an absolutely impartial jury, uninfluenced by popular demands or prejudice; that no effort should be made to bring about a conviction not warranted by a full consideration of all the facts; and that under no circumstances should the trial take place during an inflamed state of the public mind.

The public, after due consideration of any matter of great interest to the people, is usually just in its conclusions; but immediately following the commission of a heinous crime it is frequently only necessary to point out the supposed culprit to cause the public, at other times law-abiding, to become willing to violate all law and commit cruel injustice.

It is further true that when a trial is had in the midst of a community excited by horror of the crime committed, and so soon after its commission that reason has not had time to resume its sway, the practical result is, not infrequently, to commit, under judicial sanction, the same wrong at other times perpetrated by mob violence.

I have always felt that the trial of the Anarchists’ case was held far too soon after the Haymarket horror, and entirely too near the home of the families of its unfortunate victims. Another mistake on the part of your husband was that he submitted himself to a trial in the midst of the greatest possible excitement, when he was at a safe place, and could as well have waited until public reason had reasserted itself. Had he done so he would to-day be a free man. No second trial could ever have been had. It was only those caught within the meshes of the net of the first trial that must suffer; but woe unto all those ensnared by that first terrible drag! It has been urged that it was the duty of A. R. Parsons to stand by his friends in adversity, and that it was manly for him to return to the trial. I do not believe that manhood demands of any one that he submit himself to a decision warped by prejudice and wrought by passion. Rather should he bide his time, and, when the clouds of excitement and anger have rolled by, and then only, true bravery requires that an investigation of the charge against him be invited by the accused. Under the circumstances surrounding the trial, for a man to voluntarily place himself in the prisoners’ dock was equivalent to saying “I am willing to die for Anarchy,” and, not being an Anarchist myself, I cannot but consider such an act an inexcusable mistake.

Where persons jointly accused of crime are in many respects disconnected with each other, and some of them almost entire strangers to others of their co-defendants, it very often occurs that much testimony is competent as against one or more with which the others have not the slightest connection. Such testimony is admitted as against one or more, but not as to the other defendants; and so, during a long trial, there is evidence introduced as against each defendant, not competent as against the others jointly tried; and the violent presumption of the law is that the jury rarely, as all are aware, representing the highest type of intelligence—will apply the evidence where it belongs according to the cold principles of law; the result being usually, as every observant person knows, that the whole burden of the evidence is charged to all of the defendants, and if, as a whole, it warrants conviction, all must suffer punishment. In all such cases there can be no justice except by granting separate trials, which, in this State, is a matter of discretion with the trial judge. If the object of the trial in the Anarchists’ case was to obtain justice, then surely to try all the eight defendants at one and the same time was a grievous mistake.

I have so far only referred to the mistakes committed previous to the trial. Were I to attempt to go through the record of the case and point out what I consider errors, I would go far beyond what you desire in this communication, which must necessarily be brief. One of the most flagrant errors connected with the trial was the introduction of Herr Most’s book on Modern Warfare[4] against each and all of the defendants. I regard Most’s book as one of the most infamous publications I ever saw. To introduce this book and read it to the jury, as was done in this case, could not fail to create the strongest prejudice, not only against Most, who was not on trial (and he may thank Heaven he was not!), but against all who to any extent whatever shared his beliefs.

It will be remembered that Most’s book was printed only in the German language, and no evidence was or could be produced to prove that it had ever been read by any of the defendants. It was advertised in the Arbeiter-Zeitung, and sold at picnics. It was not sold by any of the defendants; it was not bought by them, so far as the evidence showed. If it had ever been read by them, no one seemed to have found it out; but it did appear that it had never been published in the English language, and as two, at least, of the defendants, Fielden and Parsons, could not read German, it is safe to conclude that they, at least, had never read the book, but they must suffer with the rest the effect of its introduction.

Not only was the admission in evidence of Most’s book a mistake, but it was an excuse for other mistakes. The book described a can or jar for spreading conflagrations, and it happened that some weeks after the defendants were arrested and safely lodged in jail, some boys found tin cans under a sidewalk about three miles from the Haymarket. The cans were brought into Court and offered in evidence as against all of the defendants—for what legitimate end I could never understand. The Court, however, looked into Herr Most’s book, and there found that something similar was described, and the cans were admitted and the jury required to handle and smell of them, to the great satisfaction of the prosecution. This seemed to me to be introducing immaterial evidence, and relying as a basis for so doing upon immaterial testimony already introduced.

I might go on, almost ad infinitum, pointing out what I regard as mistakes of the trial, but to do so would take up by far too much space in your proposed publication. As I have stated, I am not an Anarchist, nor in any degree in sympathy with the doctrines advocated by Anarchists. My denunciation of these doctrines, in my argument to the jury on the trial, cost me my connection with the case; yet I cannot help believing that the wholesale conviction and extreme punishment meted out to the eight accused men, who, for two months, were subjected to what should have been a “fair and impartial trial,” was, in truth, the result of an exaggerated and excited condition of public sentiment.

Very Respectfully Yours,

W. A. Foster.
Chicago, Ill., October 16, 1888.

Chapter V. What is an Accessory?


From Brief of Leonard Swett before the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.

The conviction of these defendants was had without any proof of a corpus delicti. What is a corpus delicti? Simply the body or essence of the wrong. What is the corpus delicti or body of the wrong in the case of a principal charged with homicide? It is that the defendant did the criminal act. What is the corpus delicti in reference to an accessory? It is that he aided and abetted in the killing. Wharton’s Crim. Ev., 3,325, and note as follows:

The corpus delicti, the proof of which is essential to sustain a conviction, consists of a criminal act, and to sustain a conviction there must be proof of the defendant’s guilty agency in the production of such act.

The latter feature, namely, criminal agency, is often lost sight of, but is as essential as the object itself of the crime.

Acts in some shape are essential to the corpus delicti, so far as concerns the guilt of the party accused. A. may have designed the death of the deceased, yet if that death has been caused by another A., no matter how morally guilty, is not amenable to the penalties of the law, if he has done and advised nothing in respect to the death.

In this case there is not the slightest evidence of corpus delicti as to any of the defendants, except in the testimony of Gilmer, which is completely overthrown.

Wharton, in his Criminal Law, ninth edition, Vol. I., § 226, note entitled “Modes of Instigation,” says:

Counseling, to come up to the definition, must be special. Mere general counsel, for instance, that all property should be regarded and held as common, will not constitute the party offering it accessory before the fact to a larceny; free-love publications will not constitute their authors technically parties to sexual offences which these publications may have stimulated. Several youthful highway robbers have said they were led into crime by reading “Jack Sheppard,” but the author of Jack Sheppard was not an accessory before the fact to the robberies to which he thus added impulse. What human Judge can determine that there is such a necessary connection between one man’s advice and another man’s action as to make the former the cause of the latter?

I know of no more appropriate illustration of the legal status and liability of the defendants in relation to their intemperate utterances, or in relation to their liability under all the evidence, than to recall the history of the formation of the Republican party. It was a party which had for its object the reformation of the civil society and the civil institutions in this country. The most radical of its leaders characterized the constitution of the United States as “a league with hell.” Underground railroads were everywhere established leading from Mason’s and Dixon’s line to Canada, and people conspired to do the act, contrary to the constitution and the laws of the United States, of aiding and abetting the slave in his escape. If he were arrested by the officers of the law, whose duty it was to arrest him, people were guilty of a conspiracy to rescue him, and they often committed the overt act of such unlawful conspiracy by actually rescuing him and aiding him in his escape. The storm finally culminated, and bye and bye old John Brown, caught by the inspiration of the occasion, committed an offence against the laws of Virginia at Harper’s Ferry.

The question arising is: Was everybody who made speeches for this party guilty of the offense of which John Brown was convicted? The distinction exists in that case as in this. Everybody who knew John Brown’s purposes, and, knowing them, aided, assisted, and abetted him, were equally guilty with him. But those who did not know his purposes, and who did not aid and abet him in his unlawful act, were not guilty, however intemperate may have been their speeches, and whatever may have been their general advice.

The other side of this question, and the side taken by the prosecution and the Court, is to say that John Brown’s raid was a natural outgrowth of the Republican party. If there had been no Republican party there would have been no John Brown’s raid, and, therefore, that all Republicans who made speeches and believed in the utopian idea of a change in society for the benefit of a class were like the Anarchists and were particeps criminis with old John Brown and ought to be hung.

The days come and go and this brief must be filed to-morrow, but it is not done. “The little foxes that spoil the vines” have got their work in every day and have rendered greater progress impossible. Therefore, I must refer your honors to the able brief prepared by Mr. William P. Black and Messrs. Salomon & Zeisler upon the two questions of the impanelment of the jury and the instructions of the Court.

The considerate portion of the community want the plowshare of justice held with firm but intelligent hand, and that it plow straight through—that the defendants should be hanged if guilty of murder, but not hanged if not guilty of murder. The man at his business, over-anxious and over-worked, sees in the movement of these people simply an interruption, and he wants them all hanged to get rid of the question; the timid lady shivers with fear, and says: “Why, they will, if released, throw bombs through our windows and blow up our houses.” The hard-hearted and exacting want to continue their oppressions and exactions, and they want them all hanged. All these want them hanged—not for the reason that it is known they have been guilty of murder, but because the fixed order of things by these agitators is disturbed.

Don’t Carnegie’s men at Pittsburgh get more a day than Krupp’s men in Europe? Yes, and Krupp’s men in Europe get more than men in Central Africa. All mankind are moving to a higher plane, and it is harder and more difficult to grind the face of the poor than it was formerly.

The labor that moves the world may not, as a class, be the most intelligent. It may not know how. Like a man fastened face downward and stretched out to stakes on the grass of the western plains by Indians, he bears it until his nervous system gives way, when he will shriek and struggle, knowing there is a sore place somewhere.

* * *

Virginia wanted John Brown hanged that she might fold her arms and sleep in peace. She did hang him and his companions. But she did not sleep in peace.

* * *

I have never before seen the hard hand of toil respond with its quarters of a dollar and little gifts here, there, and everywhere, and with such wide-spread sympathy, until the poverty-stricken defendants have larger and readier means of defence than any persons I have ever defended or known. Criminals, under such circumstances, would have shared the fate of the neglected and the poor. What does this mean?

We all remember the celebrated controversy between the wind and the sun, told by old Æsop, in which the two entered into a debate as to which was the stronger, and it was to be decided by an attack upon a traveler upon whom they were looking down, and the victor should be he who could make him take off a great coat he was wearing first. The wind tried it, and blew about him and made him shiver and his coat-tails flutter, but he only hugged it the closer. The sun finally took its turn. It came out with its warm and peaceful rays. It warmed the glebe and the man, and very soon he began to wipe the sweat from his brow and pulled off his coat. May be we can learn something from this simple story, which has come down the ages from a period in the world’s history in which labor was at complete rest.

The truth is, a man wants more than he used to want. He may labor, he may live in a hut, but whenever he sees other people have comforts he wants them for himself. We never want and long for what we do not know to exist. The wealthy cannot have luxuries without letting the poor know it. A workman cannot walk at night by the house well warmed and full of brightness and good cheer without wishing it were his own home. The wife of the workman will see the wife of his employer and envy her. His daughter cannot, as she works at the market price of labor, but sigh “for something better than she has known,” and think, as she drudges to her sewing machine, how much better it would be to go to a piano. Humanity lies in a pyramid, and every man and woman envies the man or woman next higher. Even the apex man is not content. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” And yet the greatest hopes of humanity rest in the fact that all classes and individuals are always and everywhere bearing.

“A banner with the strange device—Excelsior.”

The truth is, the peoples of the world are inseparably linked together. Mankind are brothers, and they are held together as the world itself is held; you cannot, without breaking things, produce the elevation of the mountain without lifting up the country adjoining. The rich hold in exclusiveness, by a doubtful tenure, all the delights and honors and excitements of life so long as the millions enjoy only a heritage of unenlightened labor and unrewarded toil. We must either all go back to barbarism, where equality and contentment reign, or the rich must lift up the poor in proportion as they themselves are lifted up. Let, therefore, the man of wealth, instead of barricading the doors of his home, and seeking shelter in bars and bolts and iron gates, take his basket of overflowing plenty upon his arm and seek out the homes of squalor and want and find his safety and the safety of his home in the universal brotherhood of man.

Leonard Swett,
Of Counsel for the Defendants.
Chicago, March 1, 1887.

Mr. Parsons in Court.[5]

Arch-Conspirator A. R. Parsons amazed the crowd, and even dazed the placid Presiding Judge Gary, by marching into the court-room beside Lawyer Black, chief counsel for the Anarchists. The much-sought-after dynamiter walked quietly into Court and took a chair. He made no more ado than if he had come in as an interested spectator. The idea of being a hunted fugitive did not seem to possess him in the least.

Capt. Black introduced him to the Court as one of the defendants in the case at bar, and asked that he be arraigned. Not a word of explanation was vouchsafed, nor was there any attempt by the police officers present to interfere. Where he came from, or where he had spent the time he has been so sadly missed, was not known. No one ventured to inquire while the prisoner was being arraigned.

Parsons looked as he always has since Chicagoans have known him—thin. He was dressed in a quiet suit of blue. He was led to where the other prisoners were sitting, and where the defendants’ counsel had retained a seat for him. It was a carefully arranged surprise, dramatically carried out.

“Parsons,” said Lawyer Black, “has not at any time been over 100 miles from the city, yet all the 200 officers looking for him would never have unearthed him. He was not brought forward before simply because the methods of the Chicago police are brutal and utterly above and regardless of the law. I proposed to have my client treated legally and pot bullyragged and tortured as prisoners are not even in Russia.”

A police officer said that there was but one theory that he had as to the hiding-place of the prisoner, and that was that he was secreted in Capt. Black’s own household.

After the flutter following his entrance was over, Parsons was formally arraigned. This took but a few minutes, the prisoner pleading not guilty. He then took his seat, and the examination of the jurors was proceeded with, just as if the police had had no such terrible humiliation put upon them, and just as if the Judge and audience had had no great surprise given them.

On being seen by the reporter after he was locked up, in reply to a question as to where he had been, he laughingly remarked:

“Oh, only rusticating at a fashionable western summer resort.”

“Well, what was your object in surrendering to the authorities, at this time of such public excitement?”

“I have simply returned to bear my share with my comrades here, whatever fate may have in store for them and me.”

Another capitalistic paper says, in commenting upon his surrender: “The voluntary surrender of A. R. Parsons in Court makes him the central figure in the greatest criminal trial of modern times.”

Chapter VI. The Trial of the Judgment.


These extracts are taken from the pamphlet entitled the “Trial of the Judgment” by Gen. M.M. Trumbull, attorney-at-law, Chicago, in his review of the Anarchists’ case.

Review of the Trial.

On the 11th of November, 1887, four men were hanged in Chicago under the forms of law. They were tried by a jury, and judgment of death was pronounced against them. The judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Illinois and ratified by the Governor. The public conscience is becoming uneasy under the suspicion that this was a political trial and a class execution, like some historic attainders which have left the imprint of bloody fingers upon the jurisprudence of England. It is averred by friends and believed by many enemies of the condemned men that their trial was unfair, the rulings of the Courts illegal, and the sentence unjust. The trial of the Chicago Anarchists is ended, but the trial of the judgment under which they suffered is only just begun. When reason and courage return to the people of Illinois that judgment will be reversed, and the terrified magistrates who pronounced it and sustained it will be sentenced to an immortality of derision. It will be reversed as emphatically as the Dred Scott judgment was reversed; as thousands of other barbarous judgments have been reversed; as righteousness in due time shall judgments of Supreme Courts, and on the ruins of those judgments humanity lays the foundation for better laws.

* * *

There are state trials famous in history, not because of their dramatic character and surroundings, nor because of the magnitude of the crimes involved, but because in those trials the law itself was twisted out of moral symmetry to gratify public revenge; justice was violated in her own temple and the fountain of liberty polluted. This case will be memorable also, not for the enormity of the crime charged, but for the enormity of the trial. The methods of procedure practiced and allowed by the Judges of King James’ time—methods now obsolete in England—have been revived in Illinois. Trial by jury has been perverted, even to the shedding of innocent blood, and all the securities of liberty have been put in jeopardy.

Conspicuous among the accused in this indictment stands the Governor of Illinois. Appalled by the clamor of an angry populace, he executed vengeance with merciless decision. Panic-striken by the noise outside, he shut his ears to the heart-broken prayers of children, mothers, and wives pleading at his knees for father, husband, son. He did this, although he knew that the frightened Courts, even when speaking the death sentence, had confessed that errors prevailed in the trial. He did this, when as a lawyer he knew that there were other errors in the trial which the Courts did not confess. He had an opportunity to show the highest quality of magnanimous power, and at the same time save the jurisprudence of Illinois from the stigma which must disfigure it for centuries to come. He lacked greatness of spirit, and his opportunity passed away. Had he been morally tall enough to reach the knees of Abraham Lincoln, he would have saved the State of Illinois from “the deep damnation of this taking off.”

* * *

In the trial of the Anarchists the law itself was bent and strained to the breaking point. On the floor of the court-house they stood at a perilous disadvantage. The scales of justice were not poised evenly between the accused and the State. They were poor; the prosecution rich. The whole machinery of the city and county government was at the service of the prosecution. The treasury was reckless of cost. The police force, the detective force, and every official influence were active against the prisoners. They were beaten from the start. In the arena of life or death they fought against odds unfair and invincible. They played for a jury with dice loaded against them. The indictment was a bewildering contradiction of sixty-nine discordant counts, and every count was the horn of a dilemma.

The course pursued by the counsel for the State was unfair throughcut the trial. A few examples of the strategy and tactics they employed will prove this accusation. They were permitted to imitate Mark Antony when he inflamed the passions of the populace by pointing them to “Cæsar’s vesture wounded.” They were permitted to show the jury not only the wounded vesture of Matthias Degan, but also that of several other men whose names were not in the indictment at all. They were permitted to call the attention of the jury to the blood upon the vesture, after the style of Antony when he said:

See what a rent the envious Casca made—
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed;
And as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it.

The artful stump speech of Antony was perfectly legitimate. It was not made in a judicial proceeding, but in a political contest. He was of the opposite party to that of Brutus. The struggle between them was for the possession of the offices and the control of the Government. But had Antony been State’s Attorney, prosecuting Brutus and Cassius under an indictment for the murder of Cæsar, the Roman Judges would not have allowed him to practice before a jury in the court-house the methods he employed in the streets before a mob. The object of Antony in Cæsar’s case and of the counsel for the people in Degan’s case were alike to excite feelings of anger and revenge in the men they were talking to—the jury in the one case, the mob in the other. There was no dispute whatever about the matter of Degan’s death, and therefore the exposure of his wounded vesture to the jury was useless and superfluous, except as an appeal for vengeance. The Supreme Court, unwilling to sanction such a method, finds a weak excuse for it, and mildly rebukes it thus:

The articles in question were presented in the condition in which they were left after being exposed to the force of an exploding bomb, for the purpose of showing the power of dynamite as an explosive substance. While this kind of testimony may not have been very material, we cannot see that it was to such an extent incompetent as to justify a reversal.

No, it is not pretended that every error is enough of itself to justify a reversal, but when the errors are multitudinous, as they are in this case, a new trial ought to have been allowed. The power of dynamite as an explosive substance was not in issue. It was conceded that dynamite was an explosive substance, and that a dynamite bomb killed Degan. The jury knew that dynamite was an explosive substance. They knew it as well before the torn and bloody clothing was exhibited as they did afterward. Mark Antony could as pertinently say that he showed the rent vesture of Cæsar to convince the people that daggers had the power to cut. The excuse fails; the purpose of the exhibition is too plain.

* * *

The speeches to the jury were appeals for vengeance on the prisoners. They were Anarchy in legal robes, vindictive and crimson as the speeches for which the defendants themselves were tried. The moral discipline of the bar was broken, and the ethics of the profession lowered when the State’s Attorney condescended to pour angry invective and personal reproaches upon men powerless to reply. The dignity of the legal profession shriveled up when the counsel for the people offered fact-statements to the jury free from the guards and sanctions of an oath, and free from the test of cross-examination. Worse than all, the very genius of advocacy looked mendicant and ragged when the State’s Attorney begged for a verdict on the niggling plea that the State had no appeal from acquittal while from a judgment of guilty the defendants could appeal for a reversal to the Supreme Court, or to the Governor for a mitigation of the sentence. This was almost a promise that a death sentence having served as an example and a warning the death penalty would not be inflicted. “Gentlemen of the jury, their blood be upon us and upon our children, not upon you.” It was illegal for the State’s Attorney to absolve the jury from any portion of responsibility for the sentence of death.

“The evil that men do lives after them,” and whenever a criminal trial become historic the wrongs done in its prosecution by either bench or bar, brand themselves in marks of shame upon the perpetrators. No subsequent greatness, not even the glory of judicial integrity nor the splendor of intellectual achievement, can erase the livid lines that tell of deep disgrace. They cling like a bar sinister to character, and remain visible so long as the names of the wrong-doers remain visible in history.

* * *

When Mr. Grinnell told the jury in the Anarchist case that the defendants were on trial for treason, he said what was not true. There was no such charge against them in the indictment. The jury, however, acted on the statement of Mr. Grinnell, believing that the State’s Attorney would not mislead them as to the issues they were sworn to try. It is very likely that some of the jurymen still believe that the Anarchists were hanged for treason. This parallel may be continued farther. The fate of Raleigh and the Anarchists was the same. Commenting on the case Lord Campbell says:

Of course, there was a verdict of guilty, and the atrocity was perpetrated of ordering him to be executed on this illegal judgment.

In training public opinion to the hanging point, the delusion has been spread among the people of Illinois that a judgment obtained on the verdict of a jury and affirmed by the Courts becomes ipso facto and de jure legal. But law is only a branch of moral science, and the Courts of righteousness have jurisdiction over all its judgments to reverse them or sustain them. Nay, tested by a lower standard, the merely human rules established for the protection of the citizen on trial for his life, the judgment against Raleigh was not only unjust, but illegal. This is the decision of Lord Campbell, himself a lawyer and Lord Chief Justice of England. By the unanimous consent of the bar of England, the judgment against Raleigh is reversed. Already hundreds of Illinois lawyers admit that the judgment against the Anarchists was illegal. Before long it will be reversed as illegal by the unanimous opinion of the bar. Before the tribunal of enlightened conscience the trial of the Anarchists must itself be tried, and in that higher Court it will surely be condemned.

* * *

Never before, except in burlesque, was the meaning of words reversed as in the Anarchists’ trial. Logic stood on its head and reasoned with its heels. Facts absent from the theory of the prosecution were solemnly claimed as evidence to etablish it. It was averred that if certain events had happened which did not happen they would have shown that the conspiracy and the tragedy were cause and consequence, therefore the connection is proved. This is not meant for ridicule, and its grotesque appearance is merely the shadow of the Supreme Court tracing the crime back to the conspiracy. It is the language of the opinion itself that throws sarcasm upon the decision. Here is the claim of the Supreme Court:

The mode of attack as made corresponded with the mode of attack as planned.

And here is the inconsequent reasoning by which that claim is supported:

The Desplaines Street station was in sight of the speakers’ wagon, and only a short distance south of it. If a bomb had been thrown into the station itself, and if the policemen had been shot down while coming out, a part of the conspiracy would have been literally executed just as it was agreed upon.

By reasoning upside down in that fashion the tragedy in the Haymarket is connected with a conspiracy that was not carried out, and seven men vaguely and remotely identified with said “conspiracy" are connected with a bomb thrown by “a person unknown," and who is not shown to have had any association whatever with the seven men, nor any connection at all with the so-called conspiracy. The Supreme Court itself virtually rejects the theory that Schnaubelt threw the bomb, for the more comprehensive drag-net theory that is was thrown by “some person to the jurors unknown.”

* * *

The conspiracy which the prosecution attempted to show on the trial, and which it is pretended they did show, was not carried into execution in any of its essential details. As illustrated and explained by the Supreme Court itself, it was a conspiracy that aimed at a social and political revolution. Hundreds, aye, thousands of men were engaged in it. It was to begin by the throwing of bombs into the North Avenue station and into other stations in the city. Well-drilled men, armed with rifles, were to be stationed outside to shoot the police as they came out; then the conspirators were to march inward, toward the heart of the city, destroying whatever should oppose them; the telegraph wires and the hose of the firemen would be cut, and the reign of Anarchy begin. Nothing of the kind occurred; nothing of it was attempted; nothing of it prepared for, except the making of bombs by Lingg.

According to the conspiracy relied on by the prosecution, many men should have been engaged in it, and many bombs thrown. In fact only one bomb was thrown, and that by an unknown man. This disproves that conspiracy, and tends to show that the bomb-throwing was the revengeful act of one man alone. There were no armed men with rifles anywhere, and the claim that pistols were fired by the mob is disputed by strong evidence. Every essential detail of the alleged conspiracy was absent from the tragedy, and for want of the necessary facts a scaffold was built of “if” and “would have been.”

If a bomb had been thrown into the station, and if the policemen had been shot down while coming out, a part of the conspiracy would have been literally executed.

And therefore men must die for a conspiracy which was not executed, but which would have been executed if something which never happened had been done; a conspiracy of which, if it even existed, some of the condemned men could not possibly have had any knowledge. And thus the evidence in the case overwhelmingly proves that the mode of attack as made corresponded not with the mode of attack as planned.

Had the indictment been simply for a conspiracy punishable by fine and imprisonment, the prosecution would have been held down to clear and definite allegations with which the evidence would have been compelled to correspond. As it was, the heavier crime of murder was permitted to rest upon an undefined and shadowy charge, composed of opposite and contradictory ingredients. The so-called conspiracy, instead of being a substantial accusation based on fact-averments on which issue might be taken, was nothing but a claim growing out of a mass of incoherent running testimony, and shifting day by day. The conspiracy was a remote cloud, changing its form continuously in obedience to the changing winds of evidence. One day it was like a weasel, the next it was backed like a camel, and at last it was “very like a whale.”

Anarchist Meeting on Lake Front.
Taken from photograph on spot.

Allowing the so-called conspiracy the exaggerated form given to it by the State’s Attorney, the parts of it were so remote from each other, and from the defendants respectively, that no criminal relationship could ever be established between them. The details of it could never have been set forth by specific averments in an indictment. It was a huge pretense, composed of incoherent stories and contradictory evidence. It was a constructive conspiracy, which could not have stood alone in any civilized Court, and yet it was held good enough to sustain a charge of murder and the conviction of eight men. The suspicion already weighs like a nightmare on the people of Illinois that men were hanged in Chicago for metaphorical treason under an indictment for inferential murder. It must ever be a reproach to the memory of Gov. Oglesby that in his administration the illegal doctrine of constructive murder and collateral guilt was affirmed by death warrants carrying on their faces the sanction of the great seal of Illinois.

How the Jury was Secured.

The swift[6] and eager verdict of the jury in the Anarchist case justified all the censure which has been cast upon the trial. They were out only three hours altogether, and most of that time was occupied in fixing the punishment of Neebe. The trial had lasted eight weeks, the indictment contained sixty-nine counts; there were eight men on trial; the evidence amounted to volumes of all sorts of testimony, some of it applying to one of the prisoners, some of it to another, some of it to two or three of them, and scarcely any of it to all of them. The instructions of the Court were numerous and intricate, requiring careful discrimination in the reading of them, and the offence charged was murder, committed by the explosion of a bomb which it was conceded none of the defendants threw. It is hardly possible that the jury could have read the instructions at all; certainly they could not have compared them with the testimony. They could hardly have read the indictment in three hours, and they could not have reconciled its contradictory counts in three years. They certainly never attempted to separate the evidence against one from the evidence against the others. They simply applied the whole of it to each of the defendants and found them all guilty of murder in the first degree. It was the easiest thing to do, for their brains were all rumpled and disordered by the mysteries of collateral guilt and clairvoyant combination to kill.

* * *

That the bailiff had the power to pack the jury is not denied by anybody; that he did pack the jury is disputed, but the evidence against him is very strong; that he said he would pack the jury is charged by affidavit of Otis Favor,[7] a citizen of Chicago, personally acquainted with the bailiff. This affidavit has not yet been answered by a counter-affidavit, and the presumption arises that it is true. That the trial Court denied an application for leave to examine Otis Favor as a witness to the misconduct of the bailiff is confessed and admitted in the record. In justice to all the parties concerned it is only fair that the whole matter of the bailiff’s alleged misconduct should be impartially set forth.

Otis Favor is a man of high character and standing, doing business in Chicago, and he was personally well acquainted with Ryce, the bailiff. After the trial was over Favor told Mr. E. A. Stevens that when Ryce was selecting the jury he said to Favor, in substance this: “I am managing this case, and I know what I am about. Those fellows will hang as certain as death. I am summoning as jurors such men as they will be compelled to challenge, and when they have exhausted their challenges they will have to take such a jury as is satisfactory to the State.” Stevens made affidavit that Favor told him this in private conversation. Thereupon defendants, in their application for a new trial, asked that Favor be summoned and examined as to the alleged boast of Ryce. This application was refused, the judge deciding that the Court had no power to order the attendance at that time of Otis Favor. It should be stated here that Mr. Favor refused to appear and testify or to make any affidavit unless required to do so by an order of the Court. The order was refused. He made the affidavit afterward.

The plea of the Supreme Court that it does not appear that the defendants were harmed by the remark of Ryce to Favor, and that there is nothing to show that Ryce said anything to the jurors whom he summoned, is an ancient maneuvre in sophistry. It is useful to divert the argument and send it in a wrong direction. In fox hunting times it was figuratively called “throwing the hounds off the scent.” A fellow with a red herring in his pocket could trail the dogs away off to the north while the fox was running to the south. It is the affectation of ignorance to pretend that the defendants claimed that harm was done to them by the remark of Ryce to Favor. The Supreme Court knew better. The complaint of the defendants was that they were harmed by the packing of the jury, of which the remark of Ryce to Favor was merely evidence, an acknowledgment, and a boast. Neither did they claim to be injured by anything said by Ryce to the jurors whom he summoned. The complaint was that the jurors themselves were picked and the jury packed. They objected to what Ryce did, not what he said. They complained that Ryce summoned a jury not to try them, but to hang them. The acts of Ryce are not to be obscured by a cloud of controversy as to what he said.

The Supreme Court intimates that it was necessary to show that the defendants were actually harmed by the illegalities and errors they complained of in relation to the jury. The Court may make that ruling a precedent, but never can make it law. It is not anywhere in Christendom that a man condemned to die shall show in his appeal that he was harmed by the selection of a partial, prejudiced, or illegal jury. The sentence of death runs through all the record, and is of itself an omnipresent showing of harm. The law presumes harm to every man sentenced to death by a vitiated or illegal jury. Suppose that Ryce had selected persons disqualified and incompetent by law, and that one of those persons had actually served upon the jury, will the Supreme Court pretend that a man condemned to death by a jury thus imperfect must show that he has been harmed by the wrongful selection before he can take advantages of the error? The error being shown, the law raises a conclusive presumption of harm to the defendant. There may be error without prejudice even in capital cases, but in the Anarchist case there was too much of it. It was grim sport to mock men on the steps of the gallows by telling them that they were not harmed by the errors and illegalities perpetrated at their trial. What greater harm can befall a man than to die upon the scaffold?

The Supreme Court pieced out the case for the prosecution by the following amendment:

In addition to this, it is not shown that the defendants served Favor with a subpæna, so as to lay a foundation for compelling his attendance.

This curious reason never presented itself either to the District Attorney or the Court below. Naturally it would not, because the defendants had no power to serve Favor with a subpoena. The trial was over; they had no case before the Court except a motion for a new trial, supported as to matters outside the record by affidavit. They could not introduce unwilling testimony to sustain the motion except by order of the Court, and this order they were seeking to obtain. Their showing was that Favor would not voluntarily give evidence, nor make affidavit, and they prayed the Court to order a subpoena to be served upon him that he might be compelled to appear and testify.

When, on the 9th of November, intercession was made to the Governor for a commutation of the sentence, this accusing affidavit was read to him by Capt. Black. He was evidently unprepared for it, and it startled him like a sting of electricity. He had steeled himself against everything but the clamor of the irrational crowd, and his heart was closed. With strong self-discipline he had nerved himself to show no sign of human feeling, but this affidavit stirred him beyond control, and in a moment of emotion he exclaimed, “Was that statement offered in Court?” Being assured that it was, he saw that he had betrayed himself into the hands of amnesty. He escaped again in a moment and showed no further symptoms of palpitation of the heart. He retired into his gloomy fortifications, and there he shut himself up until the end, deaf to reason, justice, law, mercy, and religion. That morning he offered a very good resemblance to King George IV. as he is described in the satire of Thomas Moore:

His table strewed with tea and toast,
Death warrants and the Morning Post.

He dismissed the pleading delegations, and the next day he sent the death warrants to Chicago.

It is in the record and not to be denied that the State’s Attorney, in his eager zeal for death, broke through the lines of professional etiquette, which the humane spirit of the law has thrown around his office. It is laid down in the books that the prosecuting attorney, like the Judge, shall stand absolutely impartial between the prisoner and the State. He must not revile the prisoner, nor insult him. He must not make fact-statements in his argument, nor offer to the jury his own opinion on the question of guilt or innocence, because, if he is a popular man, in whom the jury have great confidence, his mere opinion may have greater weight than the sworn testimony of other men. All these rules were violated in this case against the protest of the defendants’ counsel, and the Supreme Court decides that the “improprieties” were not serious enough to affect the judgment. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts once decided that “a man had a right to quibble for his life.” This is true, but it is a ghastly sight to see a lawyer quibble for the death of his fellow-men.

* * *

In selecting a jury to try the Anarchists the principle of impartiality was violated. The form of the statute may have been observed, but the spirit of the law was not. Whole classes of qualified persons were stricken from the jury lists, or at least they were not summoned in the case, which amounts to the same thing. Unfortunately these were what are known as the “working classes,” the classes to which the defendants belonged, and of which, in part, they were supposed to be representative in Socialistic and political opinions. These were disqualified for jurymen as effectually as if they had been disfranchised altogether. The whole machinery of legal administration was in the hands of the prosecution; and a common bailiff, a subordinate part of that machinery, was made absolute dictator and autocrat of a jury. The honest safeguard known as “drawing” for a jury was not observed. The equal chance to both sides was not given to the defendants. The jurors were not “drawn,” but “summoned.” They were summoned by a mere bailiff, man by man, at his own arbitrary will and pleasure. After he had strained and filtered the jury population of every man belonging to the same classes as the defendants, the prosecution was allowed to filter even his unfair selection by 120 peremptory challenges. Even of the twelve who tried the case, nine confessed themselves prejudiced against Socialists, Anarchists, and Communists, while some of them even admitted that they were prejudiced against the defendants. Yet this is the jury “whose province it was” to pass upon all the evidence, and who were “warranted in believing” anything against the defendants. To hang men on the verdict of a jury thus chosen and impaneled will be a stain upon the jurisprudence of Illinois long after all the actors in the drama shall have passed away.

* * *

Wherever the evidence is weak, false, contradictory, improbable, or impossible, redress is denied on the ground that it was “the province of the jury” to act upon it in their own way. The testimony is important if true, reasons the Supreme Court, unimportant if false; there is enough without it.

In that very dangerous way a jury manifestly unfriendly to the defendants is made sole critic of the evidence. It is in the appeal of the defendants that the jury itself was not “impartial,” that it was a class jury, not fairly chosen from “the body of the county;” that care was taken to select persons hostile to the accused even, from the classes drawn upon, and that the State was allowed a greater number of challenges than the law intended; a number which, whether legal or not, gave the prosecution an unfair advantage. Yet this jury is given absolute ownership of the evidence in the case, to use it at their own discretion for one side and against the other, even to the hanging of seven men. The Supreme Court abdicates its power to pass upon the character, quality, and sufficiency of evidence in the most important case ever tried in the State of Illinois. This in tiresome phraseology, repeated over and over again.

The jury were warranted in believing that the bomb was made by Lingg;” “the jury were warranted in believing that the Haymarket meeting was not intended to be peaceable;” “the jury were warranted in believing that the bomb was thrown and the shots fired as a part of the execution of the conspiracy;” “it was for the jury to say whether the evidence for the defence was more worthy of belief;” “the jury had the right to look at it in the light of the principles advocated by the International organization;” “it was for the jury to say how far that fatal result may have been brought about through the influence of the utterances put forth by the organs here designated;” “the jury were warranted in believing that Parsons was associated with the man who threw the bomb;” “it was for the jury to say whether any others than the members of that conspiracy had undertaken to make such weapons;” and so on, in monotonous formulary, page after page. A jury which the defendants allege was not impartial is made infallible judge of the legal and moral quality of all the evidence.

* * *

The State’s Attorney, knowing that the Judge had made a mistake in ruling that the Court had no power to compel Otis Favor to appear and testify, deserted his friend and abandoned in the Supreme Court the erroneous ruling which he had taken advantage of in the Court below. He left it outside on the door-step, like an illegimate waif, and substituted another reason for it. He said that it was a matter in the discretion of the Court and that—

The Court exercised the proper discretion in refusing to have anything to do with it, because no injury and no prejudice had resulted from the alleged conduct of said bailiff against any defendant.

He knew when he wrote that in his brief that the jury thus unfairly chosen by the bailiff had actually condemned seven men to death. A mere trifle, your honors, a mere trifle, from which “no injury and no prejudice has resulted.”

Still feeling insecure, the State’s Attorney, with daring hardihood, confessed the accusation he was unable to deny. With a brazen effrontery that reminds us of the crown prosecutors of the olden time, he asserted that the bailiff acted well. Quoting the charge against Ryce, he said:

There is nothing objectionable in all this, if true, and it means simply that Ryce was endeavoring to summon intelligent and competent jurors, against whom no ground of objection and no cause of challenge could be laid. The statute says that he shall summon persons having the ‘qualifications of jurors,’ etc. Did counsel expect him to summon disqualified and incompetent jurors?

The boast of Ryce was that he was summoning such jurors as the defendants would be “compelled to challenge;” the State’s Attorney says that this “simply means that he was endeavoring to secure jurors against whom no cause of challenge could be laid.” Such wrenching of words and distortion of their meaning could only be ventured on by an attorney confident that the Court was with him, and that his case was safe.

* * *

An opinion is prevalent in Illinois that Parsons was hanged for obstinacy; that he defied the commonwealth, and scorned to beg for his life, therefore the proud State strangled him in its rage. It is claimed that under the law the Governor could not reprieve him until he begged for mercy and a commutation of the sentence. This mistake has been petted by the newspapers in order to lighten the guilt of the November tragedy and transfer the sin of this man’s death from the Governor to the victim. The excuse is false and ignominious. When the attorneys and friends of Parsons asked for his life, the law was complied with in the letter and the spirit.

* * *

A man may not lawfully commit suicide, neither can he make a present of his life to the State; and should he tender the gift, the commonwealth must not accept it. This is religion; and there is law for it also.[8]

Thomas Jefferson and Albert R. Parsons.

To hang Parsons and spare Fielden was illogical, and the reasons given for the anomaly change the execution of November 11 into a sacrifice, a punishment into a martyrdom. Judge Gary and Mr. Grinnell begged clemency for Fielden on the ground that the evidence did not justify the verdict and the sentence. The evidence that convicted Fielden convicted the others, and the argument for him applies to all.

If Fielden is innocent of murder, why is he imprisoned in the penitentiary; and why was Parsons hanged? Truly, there must be guilt somewhere. The Supreme Court makes Parsons guilty on the ground that he was present at the Haymarket meeting and spoke. The Court acknowledged that he was in Cincinnati on Monday, and knew nothing at all about the pretended conspiracy claimed to have been formed that night. It was conceded that the speech of Parsons was moderate in tone; that he had his wife and children with him; that he left before the arrival of the police, did no pistol shooting, gave no signal, and was not present when the bomb was thrown. But he was present at the meeting in company and association with Fielden, and thus adopted the “conspiracy” of Monday night, although he never knew a word about it. He was Fielden’s accomplice, and for that he was hanged. After the acknowledgment made by Judge Gary and Mr. Grinnell, there is literally nothing left against either Fielden or Parsons. * * * Seditious writing and inflammatory speech are not murder, but capital punishment inflicted upon men for either offense is murder.

Had the Illinois rulings been good law in Jefferson’s time he might have been hanged at any period in his active political career. He was an Anarchist; not an amateur, speculative Anarchist, but a physical-force Anarchist, and an avowed enemy of Government. His biographers have tried to explain away the “no Government” theory of Jefferson, but that he cherished and advocated the theory cannot be denied. The following quotation is not from the Arbeiter-Zeitung nor the Alarm; it is from Jefferson’s letter excusing the Massachusetts rebellion; not the rebellion against Great Britain, but the rebellion against the United States:

God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. * * * What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Did Fielden, Parsons, or Spies utter anything more sanguinary than that, or anything more Anarchical than this:

I am convinced that those societies which live without Government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European Governments. Among the former public opinion is in the place of law, restraining morals as powerfully as law ever did anywhere. Societies exist in three forms:
1. Without Governments.
2. Under Governments wherein every one has a just influence.
3. Under Governments of force.
It is a problem not clear in my mind that the first condition is not the best.

The question is not whether those opinions were wire or foolish, wicked, or charitable, but had Mr. Jefferson the right to express them? And having expressed them, could he have been hanged because riots followed them in which “the tree of liberty” was “refreshed with the blood” of some policeman or other agent of the Government?

Chapter VII. Albert R. Parsons’ Speech In Court.


Toil and pray! The world cries cold;
Speed thy prayer, for time is gold;
At thy door Need’s subtle tread;
Pray in haste! for time is bread.

And thou plow’st and thou hew’st,
And thou rivet’st and sewest,
And thou harvestest in vain;
Speak! O, man; what is thy gain?

Fly’st the shuttle day and night,
Heav’st the ores of earth to light,
Fill’st with treasures plenty’s horn—
Brim’st it o’er with wine and corn.

But who hath thy meal prepared,
Festive garments with thee shared;
And where is thy cheerful hearth,
Thy good shield in battle dearth?

Thy creations round thee see—
All thy work, but nought for thee!
Yea, of all the chains alone
Thy hand forged, these are thine own.

Chains that round the body cling,
Chains that lame the spirit’s wing,
Chains that infants’ feet, indeed,
Clog! 0, workman! Lo! Thy meed.

What ye rear and bring to light,
Profits by the idle wight,
What ye weave of diverse hue,
'Tis a curse—your only due.

What ye build, no room insures,
Not a sheltering roof to yours,
And by haughty ones are trod—
Ye, whose toil their feet hath shod.

Human bees! Has nature’s thrift
Given thee naught but honey’s gift?
See! the drones are on the wing.
Have you lost the will to sting?

Man of labor, up, arise!
Know the might that in thee lies,
Wheel and shaft are set at rest
At thy powerful arm’s behest.

Thine oppressor’s hand recoils
When thou, weary of thy toil,
Shun’st thy plough; thy task begun
When thou speak’st: Enough is done!

Break this two-fold yoke in twain;
Break thy want’s enslaving chair;
Break thy slavery’s want and dread;
Bread is freedom, freedom bread.

That poem epitomizes the aspirations, the hope, the need of the working classes, not alone of America, but of the civilized world.

Your Honor:

If there is one distinguishing characteristic which has made itself prominent in the conduct of this trial it has been the passion, the heat, and the anger, the violence both to sentiment and to person, of everything connected with this case. You ask me why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon me, or, what is tantamount to the same thing, you ask me why you should give me a new trial in order that I might establish my innocence and the ends of justice be subserved. I answer you and say that this verdict is the verdict of passion, born in passion, nurtured in passion, and is the sum total of the organized passion of the city of Chicago. For this reason I ask your suspension of the sentence, and a new trial. This is one among the many reasons which I hope to present before I conclude. Now, what is passion? Passion is the suspension of reason; in a mob upon the streets, in the broils of the saloon, in the quarrels on the sidewalk, where men throw aside their reason and resort to feelings of exasperation, we have passion. There is a suspension of the elements of judgment, of calmness, of discrimination requisite to arrive at the truth and the establishment of justice. I hold that you cannot dispute the charge which I make, that this trial has been submerged, immersed in passion from its inception to its close, and even to this hour, standing here upon the scaffold as I do, with the hangman awaiting me with his halter, there are those who claim to represent public sentiment in this city—and I now speak of the capitalistic press, that vile and infamous organ of monopoly, of hired liars, the people’s oppressor—even to this day these papers, standing where I do, with my seven condemned colleagues, are clamoring for our blood in the heat and violence of passion. Who can deny this? Certainly not this Court. The Court is fully aware of these facts.

In order that I may place myself properly before you, it is necessary, in vindication of whatever I may have said or done in the history of my past life, that I should enter somewhat into details, and I claim, even at the expense of being lengthy, the ends of justice require that this shall be done.

For the past twenty years my life has been closely identified with, and I have actively participated in, what is known as the labor movement in America. I have some knowledge of that movement in consequence of this experience and of the careful study which opportunity has afforded me from time to time to give to the matter, and in what I have to say upon this subject relating to the labor movement, or to myself as connected with it in this trial and before this bar, I will speak the truth, the whole truth, be the consequences what they may.

The United States census for 1880 reports that there are in the United States 16,200,000 wage-workers. These are the persons who, by their industry, create all the wealth of this country. And now before I say anything further it may be necessary, in order to clearly understand what I am going to state further on, for me to define what I mean and what is meant in the labor movement by these words, wage-worker. A wage-worker is one who works for wages and who has no other means of subsistence than by the selling of his daily toil from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year, as the case may be. Their whole property consists entirely of their labor, strength, and skill—or rather, they possess nothing but their empty hands. They live only when afforded an opportunity to work, and this opportunity must be procured from the possessors of the means of subsistence—capital—before their right to live at all or the opportunity to do so is possessed. Now, there are 16,200,000 of these people in the United States, according to the census of 1880. Among this number are 9,000,000 men, and reckoning five persons to each family, they represent 45,000,000 of our population. It is claimed that there are between eleven and twelve millions of voters in the United States. Now, out of these 12,000,000, 9,000,000 of these voters are wage-workers. The remainder of the 16,200,000 is composed of the women, boys, and girls—the children—employed in the factories, the mines, farms, and the various avocations of this country. The class of people—the producing class—who alone do all the productive labor of this country, are the hirelings and dependents of the propertied class.

Your honor, I have, as a workingman, espoused what I conceive to be the just claims of the working class; I have defended their right to liberty and insisted upon their right to control their own labor and the fruits thereof, and in the statement that I am to make here before this Court upon the question why I should not be sentenced, or why I should be permitted to have a new trial, you will also be made to understand why there is a class of men in this country who come to your honor and appeal to you not to grant us a new trial. I believe, sir, that the representatives of that millionaire organization of Chicago, known as the Chicago Citiziens’ Association, stand to a man demanding of your honor our immediate extinction and suppression by an ignominious death.

Now, I stand here as one of the people, a common man, a workingman, one of the masses, and I ask you to give ear to what I have to say. You stand as a bulwark; you are as a brake between them and us. You are here as the representative of justice, holding the poised scales in your hands. You are expected to look neither to the right nor to the left, but to that by which justice, and justice alone, shall be subserved. The conviction of a man, your honor, does not necessarily prove that he is guilty. Your law books are filled with instances where men have been carried to the scaffold and after their death it has been proven that their execution was a judicial murder. Now, what end can be subserved in hurrying this matter through in the manner in which it has been done? Where are the ends of justice subserved, and where is truth found in hurrying seven human beings at the rate of express speed upon a fast train to the scaffold and an ignominious death? Why, if your honor please, the very methods of our extermination, the deep damnation of its taking off, appeals to your honor’s sense of justice, of rectitude, and of honor. A judge may also be an unjust man. Such things have been known. We have, in our histories, heard of Lord Jeffreys. It need not follow that because a man is a judge he is also just. As everyone knows, it has long since become the practice in American politics for the candidates for judgeships throughout the United States to be named by corporation and monopoly influences, and it is a well-known secret that more than one of our Chief Justices have been appointed to their seats upon the bench of the United States Supreme Court at the instance of the leading railway magnates of America—the Huntingtons and Jay Goulds. Therefore the people are beginning to lose confidence in some of our courts of law.

Now, I have not been able to gather together and put in a consecutive shape these thoughts which I wish to present here for your consideration. They have been put together hurriedly in the last few days, since we began to come in here—first, because I did not know what you would do, nor what the position of your honor would be in the case; and secondly, because I did not know upon what ground the deduction of the prosecution would be made denying us the right of a rehearing, and, therefore, if the method of the presentation of this matter be somewhat disconnected and disjointed, it may be ascribed to that fact, over which I have had no control.

I maintain that our execution, as the matter stands just now, would be a judicial murder, rank and foul, and judicial murder is far more infamous than lynch law—far worse. Bear in mind, please, this trial was conducted by a mob, prosecuted by a mob, by the shrieks and the howls of a mob—an organized, powerful mob. But that trial is now over. You sit here judicially, calmly, quietly, and it is now for you to look at this thing from the standpoint of reason and common sense. There is one peculiarity about the case that I want to call your attention to. It is the manner and the method of its prosecution! On the one side, the attorneys for the prosecution conducted this case from the standpoint of capitalists as against laborers. On the other side, the attorneys for the defence conducted this case as, a defence against murder—not for laborers and not against capitalists.

The prosecution in this case throughout has been a capitalistic prosecution, inspired by the instinct of capitalism, and I mean by that by class feelings, by a dictatorial right to rule, and a denial to common people the right to say anything or have anything to say to these men, by that class of persons who think that working people have but one right and one duty to perform, viz.: Obedience. They conducted this trial from that standpoint throughout, and, as was very truthfully stated by my comrade Fielden, we were prosecuted ostensibly for murder until near the end of the trial, when all at once the jury is commanded—yea, commanded—to render a verdict against us as Anarchists.

Your honor, you are aware of this; you know this to be the truth; you sat and heard it all. I will not make a statement but what will be in accord with the facts, and what I do say is said for the purpose of refreshing your memory and asking you to look at both sides of this matter and view it from the standpoint of reason and common sense.

Now, the money-makers, the business men, those people who deal in stocks and bonds, the speculators and employers, all that class of men known as the money-making class, have no conception of this labor question; they don’t understand what it means. To use the street parlance, with many of them it is a difficult matter to “catch onto” it, and they are perverse also; they will have no knowledge of it. They don’t want to know anything about it, and they won’t hear anything about it, and they propose to club, lock up, rigation, and, if necessary, strangle those who insist on their hearing this question. Can it be any longer denied that there is such a thing as the labor question in this country?

I am an Anarchist. Now strike! But hear me before you strike. What is Socialism, or Anarchism? Briefly stated, it is the right of the toilers to the free and equal use of the tools of production, and the right of the producers to their product. That is Socialism. The history of mankind is one of growth. It has been evolutionary and revolutionary. The dividing line between evolution and revolution, or that imperceptible boundary line where one begins and the other ends, can never be defined. Who believed at the time that our forefathers tossed the tea into the Boston harbor that it meant the first revolt of the revolution separating this continent from the dominion of George III. and founding this Republic here in which we, their descendants, live to-day? Evolution and revolution are synonymous. Evolution is the incubatory state of revolution. The birth is the revolution—its process the evolution. What is the history of man with regard to the laboring classes?

Originally the earth and its contents were held in common by all men. Then came a change brought about by violence, robbery and wholesale murder, called war. Later, but still way back in history, we find that there were but two classes in the world—slaves and masters. Time rolled on and we find a labor system of serfdom. This serf-labor system existed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and throughout the world the serf had a right to the soil on which he lived. The lord of the land could not exclude him from its use. But with the discovery of America and the developments which followed that discovery and its settlement, a century or two afterwards, the gold found in Mexico and Peru by the invading hosts of Cortez, and Pizarro who carried back to Europe this precious metal, infused new vitality into the stagnant commercial blood of Europe and set in motion those wheels which have rolled on and on, until to-day commerce covers the face of the earth—time is annihilated and distance is known no more. Following the abolition of the serfdom system was the establishment of the wage-labor system. This found its fruition, or birth, rather, in the French revolution of 1789 and 1793. It was then for the first time that civil and political liberty was established in Europe.

We see, by a mere glance back into history, that the sixteenth century was engaged in a struggle for religious freedom and the right of conscience—mental liberty. Following that, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was the struggle throughout France which resulted in the etablishment of the Ropublic and the founding of the right of political liberty. The struggle to-day, which follows on in the line of progress, and in the logic of events, the industrial problem, which is here in this court-room, of which we are the representatives, and of which the State’s Attorney has said we were, by the grand jury selected because we were the leaders of it, and are to be punished and consigned to an ignominious death for that reason, that the wage slaves of Chicago and of America may be horrified, terror-striken, and driven like “rats back to their holes,” to hunger, slavery, misery and death. The industrial question, following on in the natural order of events, the wage system of industry, is now up for consideration; it presses for a hearing; it demands a solution; it cannot be throttled by this District Attorney, nor all the District Attorneys upon the soil of America.

Now, what is this labor question which these gentlemen treat with such profound contempt, which these distinguished, “honorable” gentlemen would throttle and put to ignominious death, and hurry us like “rats to our holes?” What is it? You will pardon me if I exhibit some feeling? I have sat here for two months, and these men have poured their vituperations out upon my head and I have not been permitted to utter a single word in my own defence. For two months they have poured their poison upon me and my colleagues. For two months they have sat here and spit like adders the vile poison of their tongues, and if men could have been placed in a mental inquisition and tortured to death, these men would have succeeded here now—vilified, misrepresented, held in loathsome contempt without a chance to speak or contradict a word. Therefore, if I show emotion, it is because of this, and if my comrades and colleagues with me here have spoken in such strains as these, it is because of this. Pardon us. Look at it from the right standpoint.

What is this labor question? It is not a question of emotion; the labor question is not a question of sentiment; it is not a religious matter; it is not a political problem; no, sir, it is a stern economic fact, a stubborn and immoveable fact. It has, it is true, its emotional phase; it has its sentimental, religious, political aspects, but the sum total of this question is the bread and butter question, the how and the why we will live and earn our daily bread. This is the labor movement. It has a scientific basis. It is founded upon fact, and I have been to considerable pains in my researches of well-known and distinguished authors on this question to collect and present to you briefly what this question is and what it springs from. I will first explain to you briefly what capital is.

Capital—artificial capital—is the stored-up, accumulated surplus of past labor; capital is the product of labor. Its function is—that is the function of capital is—to appropriate or confiscate for its own use and benefit the “surplus” labor product of the wealth-producer. The capitalistic system originated in the forcible seizure of natural opportunities and rights by a few and then converting those things into special privileges which have since become “vested rights,” formally entrenched behind the bulwarks of statute law and Government. Capital could not exist unless there also existed a majority class who were propertyless, that is, without capital, a class whose only mode of existence is by selling their labor to capitalists. Capitalism is maintained, fostered, and perpetuated by law; in fact, capital is law—statute law—and law is capital.

Now, briefly stated, for I will not take your time but a moment, what is labor? Labor is a commodity and wages is the price paid for it. The owner of this commodity—of labor—sells it, that is, himself, to the owner of capital in order to live. Labor is the expression of energy, the power of the laborer’s life. This energy or power he must sell to another person in order to live. It is his only means of existence. He works to live, but his work is not simply a part of his life; it is the sacrifice of it. His labor is a commodity which under the guise of free labor, he is forced by necessity to hand over to another party. The whole of the wage laborer’s activity is not the product of his labor—far from it. The silk he weaves, the palace he builds, the ores he digs from out the mines are not for him—oh, no. The only thing he produces for himself is his wage, and the silk, the ores and the palace which he has built are simply transformed for him into a certain kind of means of existence, namely, a cotton shirt, a few pennies, and the mere tenantcy of a lodging-house. In other words, his wages represent the bare necessities of his existense and the unpaid-for or “surplus" portion of his labor product constitutes the vast superabundant wealth of the non-producing or capitalistic class. That is the capitalistic system defined in a few words. It is this system that creates these classes, and it is these classes that produce this conflict. This conflict intensifies as the power of the privileged classes over the non-possessing or propertyless classes increases and intensifies, and this power increases as the idle few become richer and the producing many become poorer, and this produces what is called the labor movement. This is the labor question. Wealth is power; poverty is weakness.

If I had time I might stop here to answer some suggestions that probably arise in the minds of some persons, or perhaps of your honor, not being familiar with this question. I imagine I hear your honor say, “Why, labor is free. This is a free country.” Now, we had in the Southern States for nearly a century a form of labor known as chattel slave labor. That has been abolished, and I hear you say that labor is free; that the war has resulted in establishing free labor all over America. Is this true? Look at it. The chattel slave of the past—the wage slave of to-day; what is the difference? The master selected under chattel slavery his own slaves. Under the wage slavery system the wage slave selects his master. Formerly the master selected the slave; to-day the slave selects his master, and he has got to find one or else he is carried down here to my friend, the gaoler and occupies a cell along side of myself. He is compelled to find one. So the change of the industrial system, in the language of Jefferson Davis, ex-President of the Southern Confederacy, in an interview with the New York Herald upon the question of the chattel slave system of the South and that of the so-called “free-laborer," and their wages—Jefferson Davis has stated positively that the change was a decided benefit to the former chattel slave owners, who would not exchange the new system of wage labor at all for chattel labor, because now the dead had to bury themselves and the sick take care of themselves, and now they don’t have to employ overseers to look after them. They give them a task to do—a certain amount to do. They say: “Now, here, perform this piece of work in a certain length of time,” and if you don’t (under the wage-system, says Mr. Davis), why, when you come around for your pay next Saturday you simply find in the envelope which gives you your money a note which informs you of the fact that you have been discharged. Now, Jefferson Davis admitted in his statement that the leather-thong dipped in salt brine, for the chattel slave, had been exchanged under the wage system for the lash of hunger, an empty stomach, and the ragged back of the wage-earner of free-born American sovereign citizens, who, according to the census of the United States for 1880, constitute more than nine-tenths of our entire population. But, you say, the wage slave had advantages over the chattel slave. The chattel slave couldn’t get away from it. Well, if we had the statistics, I believe it could be shown that as many chattel slaves escaped from bondage with the bloodhounds of their masters after them as they tracked their way over the snow-beaten rocks of Canada, and via the underground grape-vine road—I believe the statistics would show to-day that as many chattel slaves escaped from their bondage under that system as can, and as many as do, escape to-day from the wage bondage into capitalistic liberty.

I am a Socialist. I am one of those, although myself a wage slave, who holds that it is wrong—wrong to myself, wrong to my neighbor, and unjust to my fellowmen—for me to undertake to make my escape from wage slavery by becoming a master and an owner of others’ labor. I refuse to do it. Had I chosen another path in life, I might be living upon an avenue of the city of Chicago to-day, surrounded in my beautiful home with luxury and ease, and servants to do my bidding. But I chose the other road, and instead I stand here to-day upon the scaffold, as it were. This is my crime. Before high heaven this and this alone is my crime. I have been false, I have been untrue, and I am a traitor to the infamies that exist to-day in capitalistic society. If this is a crime in your opinion I plead guilty to it. Now, be patient with me; I have been with you—or, rather, I have been patient with this trial. Follow me, if you please, and look at the oppressions of this capitalistic system of industry. As was depicted by my comrade Fielden this morning, every new machine that comes into existence comes there as a competitor with the man of labor. Every machine under the capitalistic system that is introduced into industrial affairs comes as a competitor, as a drag and menace and a prey to the very existence of those who have to sell their labor in order to earn their bread. The man is turned out to starve and whole occupations and pursuits are revolutionized and completely destroyed by the introduction of machinery in a day, in an hour, as it were. I have known it to be the case in the history of my own life—and I am yet a young man—that whole pursuits and occupations have been wiped out by the invention of machinery.

What becomes of these people? Where are they? They become competitors of other laborers, and are made to reduce wages and increase the work hours. Many of them are candidates for the gibbet, they are candidates for your prison cells. Build more penitentiaries; erect more scaffolds, for these men are upon the highway of crime, of misery, of death.

Your honor, there never was an effect without a cause. The tree is known by its fruit. Socialists are not those who blindly close their eyes and refuse to look, and who refuse to hear, but having eyes to see, they see, and having ears to hear, they hear. Look at this capitalistic system; look at its operation upon the small business men, the small dealers, the middle class. Bradstreet’s tells us in last year’s report that there were 11,000 small business men financially destroyed in the past twelve months. What became of those people? Where are they, and why have they been wiped out? Has there been any less wealth? No; that which they possessed has simply transferred itself into the hands of some other person. Who is that other? It is he who has greater capitalistic facilities. It is the monopolist, the man who can run corners, who can create rings and squeeze these men to death and wipe them out like dead flies from the table into his monopolistic basket. The middle classes destroyed in this manner join the ranks of the proletariat. They become what? They seek out the factory gate, they seek in the various occupations of wage labor for employment. What is the result? Then there are more men upon the market. This increases the number of those who are applying for employment. What then? This intensifies the competition, which in turn creates greater monopolists, and with it wages go down until the starvation point is reached, and then what?

Your honor, Socialism comes to the people and asks them to look into this thing, to discuss it, to reason, to examine it, to investigate it, to know the facts, because it is by this, and this alone, that violence will be prevented and bloodshed will be avoided, because, as my friend here has said, men in their blind rage, in their ignorance, not knowing what ails them, knowing they are hungry, that they are miserable, and destitute, strike blindly, and do as they did with Maxwell in this city, and fight the labor-saving machinery. Imagine such an absurd thing, and yet the capitalistic press has taken great pains to say the Socialists do these things; that we fight machinery; that we fight property. Why, sir, it is an absurdity; it is ridiculous; it is preposterous. No man ever heard an utterance from the mouth of a Socialist to advise anything of the kind. They know to the contrary. We don’t fight machinery; we don’t oppose these things. It is only the manner and methods of employing it that we object to. That is all. It is the manipulation of these things in the interests of a few; it is the monopolization of them that we object to. We desire that all the forces of nature, all the forces of society, of the gigantic strength which has resulted from the combined intellect and labor of the ages of the past shall be turned over to man and made his servant, his obedient slave forever. This is the object of Socialism. It asks no one to give up anything. It seeks no harm to anybody. But when we witness this condition of things—when we see little children huddling around the factory gates, the poor little things whose bones are not yet hard; when we see them clutched from the hearthstone, taken from the family altar, and carried to the bastiles of labor and their little bones ground up into gold-dust to bedeck the form of some aristocratic Jezebel—then it stirs me and I speak out. We plead for the little ones; we plead for the helpless; we plead for the oppressed; we seek redress for those who are wronged; we seek knowledge and intelligence for the ignorant; we seek liberty for the slave; Socialism secures the welfare of every human being.

Your honor, if you will permit it, I would like to stop now and resume to-morrow morning.

The Court here adjourned until 10 o’clock the following day.

Mr. Parsons Resumes.

Your honor, I concluded last evening at that portion of my statement before you which had for its purpose a showing of the operations and effects of our existing social system, the evils which naturally flow from the established social relations, which are founded upon the economic subjection and dependence of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of labor and the resources of life. I sought in this connection to show that the ills that afflict society—social miseries, mental degradations, political dependence—all resulted from the economic subjection and dependence of the man of labor upon the monopolizer of the means of existence; and as long as the cause remains the effect must certainly follow.

I pointed out what Bradstreet’s had to say in regard to the destruction of the middle class last year. As it affects the small dealers, the middle class men of our shop streets, the same influences are likewise at work among the farming classes. According to statistics 90 per cent. of the farms of America are to-day under mortgage. The man who a few years ago owned the soil that he worked is to-day a tenant at will, and a mortgage is placed upon his soil, and when he—the farmer whose hand tickles the earth and causes it to blossom as the rose and bring forth its rich fruits for human sustenance—even while this man is asleep the interest upon the mortgage continues. It grows and it increases, rendering it more and more difficult for him to get along or make his living. In the meantime the railway corporations place upon the traffic all that the market will bear. The Board of Trade sharks run their corners until—what? Until it occurs, as stated in the Chicago Tribune about three months ago, that a freight train of corn from Iowa, consigned to a commission merchant in Chicago, had to be sold for—well, for less than the cost of freight, and there was a balance due the commission man on the freight of $3 after he had sold the corn. The freightage upon that corn was $3 more than the corn brought in the market. So it is with the tenant farmers of America.

Your honor, we do not have to go to Ireland to find the evils of landlordism. We do not have to cross the Atlantic ocean to find Lord Lietriem’s rack-renters, landlords who evict their tenants. We have them all around us. There is Ireland right here in Chicago and everywhere else in this country. Look at Bridgeport, where the Irish live! Look!. Tenants at will, huddled together as State’s Attorney Grinnell calls them, like rats; living as they do in Dublin, living precisely as they do in Limerick—taxed to death, unable to meet the extortions of the landlord.

We were told by the prosecution that law is on trial; that Government is on trial. That is what the gentlemen on the other side stated to the jury. The law is on trial, and Government is on trial. Well, up to near the conclusion of this trial we, the defendants, supposed that we were indicted and being tried for murder. Now, if the law is on trial and if the Government is on trial, who has placed it upon trial? And I leave it to the people of America whether the prosecution in this case have made out a case; and I charge it here now frankly that in order to bring about this conviction the prosecution, the representatives of the State, the sworn officers of the law, those whose obligation it is to the people to obey the law and preserve order—I charge upon them a wilfull, a malicious, a purposed violation of every law which guarantees every right to every American citizen. They have violated free speech. In the prosecution of this case they have violated a free press. They have violated the right of public assembly. Yea, they have even violated and denounced the right of self-defence. I charge the crime home to them. These great blood-bought rights, for which our forefathers spent centuries of struggle, it is attempted to run them like rats into a hole by the prosecution in this case. Why, gentlemen, “law is upon trial,” “Government is upon trial,” indeed. Yea, they are themselves guilty of the precise thing of which they accuse me. They say that I am an Anarchist and refuse to respect the law. “By their works ye shall know them,” and out of their own mouths they stand condemned. They are the real Anarchists in this case, as that word is commonly understood, while we stand upon the constitution of the United States.

I have violated no law of this country. Neither I nor my colleagues here have violated any legal right of American citizens. We stand upon the right of free speech, of free press, of public assemblage, unmolested and undisturbed. We stand upon the constitutional right of self-defence, and we defy the prosecution to rob the people of America of these dearly bought rights. But the prosecution imagines that they have triumphed because they propose to put to death seven men. Seven men to be exterminated in violation of law, because they insist upon the inalienable rights. Seven men are to be exterminated because they demand the right of free speech and exercise it. Seven men by this court of law are to be put to death because they claim their right of self-defence. Do you think, gentlemen of the prosecution, that you will have settled the case when you are carrying my lifeless bones to the potter’s field? Do you think that this trial will be settled by my strangulation and that of my colleagues? I tell you that there is a greater verdict yet to be heard from. The American people will have something to say about this attempt to destroy their rights, which they hold sacred. The American people will have something to say, when they understand this case, as to whether or not the Constitution of this country can be trampled under foot at the dictation of monopoly and corporations and their hired tools.

Your honor read yesterday your reasons for refusing us a new trial, and I want to call your attention to it, if you please, on some points on which I think your honor is laboring under misapprehension. Your honor says that there can be no question in the mind of any one who has read these articles (referring to the Alarm and Arbeiter-Zeitung), or heard these speeches, which were written and spoken long before the eight-hour movement was talked of, that this movement which they advocated was but a means in their estimation toward the ends which they sought, and the movement itself was not primarily of any consideration at all. Now, your honor, I submit that you are sitting now in judgment, not alone upon my acts, but also upon my motives. Now, that is a dangerous thing for any man to do; any man is so liable to make a mistake in a matter of that kind. I claim that it would not be fair for you to assume to state what my motives were in the eight-hour movement, that I was simply using it for another purpose. How do you know that? Can you read my heart and order my actions? If you go by the record, the record will disprove your conjecture, because it is a conjecture! The State’s Attorney has throughout this trial done precisely what Mr. English, the reporter of the Tribune, said he was instructed to do by the proprietor of the Tribune, when he attended labor meetings. It was the custom of the head editors of the large dailies to instruct those who went to these labor meetings to report only the inflammatory and inciting passages of the speaker’s remarks at the meetings. That is precisely the scheme laid out by the prosecution. They have presented you here copies of the Alarm running back for three years, and my speeches covering three years back. They have selected such portions of those articles, and such articles, mark you, as subserve their purpose, such as they supposed would be calculated to inflame your mind and prejudice you and the jury against us. You ought to be careful of this thing.

It is not fair, and it is not right for you to conclude that, from the showing made by these gentlemen, we were not what we pretended to be in this labor movement. Take the record. Why, I am well known throughout the United Stated for years and years past—my name is—and I have come in personal contact with hundreds of thousands of workingmen from Nebraska in the West to New York in the East, and from Maryland to Wisconsin and Minnesota. I have traversed the States for the past ten years, and I am known by hundreds of thousands who have seen and heard me. Possibly I had better stop a little, just a moment, here, and explain how this was. These labor organizations sent for me. Sometimes it was the Knights of Labor, sometimes it was the trades unions, sometimes the Socialistic organizations; but always as an organizer of workingmen, always as a labor speaker at labor meetings.

Now, if there is anything for which I am well known it is my advocacy of the eight-hour system of labor. But because I have said in this connection that I did not believe it would be possible to bring about a reform of this present wage system, because of the fact that the power of the employing class is so great that they can refuse to make any concessions, you say that I had no interest in the eight-hour movement.

Is it not a fact that the present social system places all power in the hands of the capitalistic class? They can and do refuse to make any concessions, and where they grant anything they retract it when they choose to do so. They can do it. The wage system gives them the power. The tyranny and the despotism of the wage system of labor consists in the fact that the laborer is compelled under penalty of hunger and death by starvation to obey and accept terms laid down to him by his employer. Hence I have pointed out that it might be difficult, for this reason, to establish an eight-hour rule.

What have I said in this connection? I have said to the employers, to the manufacturers, and to the corporations—the monopolists of America: “Gentlemen, the eight-hour system of labor is the olive branch of peace held out to you. Take it. Concede this moderate demand of the working people. Give them better opportunities. Let them possess the leisure which eight hours will bring. Let it operate on the wants and the daily habits of the people.” I have talked this way to the rich of this country in every place I have gone, and I have told them—not in the language of a threat, not in the language of intimidation. I have said: “If you do not concede this demand, if on the other hand you increase the hours of labor and employ more and more machinery, you thereby increase the number of enforced idle; you thereby swell the army of the compulsorily idle and unemployed; you create new elements of discontent; you increase the army of idleness and misery.” I said to them: “This is a dangerous condition of things to have in a country. It is liable to lead to violence. It will drive the workers into revolution. The eight-hour demand is a measure which is in the interest of humanity, in the interest of peace, in the interest of prosperity and public order.”

Now, your honor, can you take your comments there and say that we had other motives and ulterior motives? Your impression is derived from the inflammatory sections and articles selected by the prosecution for your honor to read. I think I know what my motives were, and I am stating them deliberately, and fairly and honestly, leaving you to judge whether or not I am telling the truth. You say that “the different papers and speeches furnish direct contradiction to the arguments of the counsel for the defence that we proposed to resort to arms only in case of unlawful attacks of the police.” Why, the very article that you quote in the Alarm—a copy of which I have not, but which I would like to see—calling the American Group to assemble for the purpose of considering military matters and military organization, states specifically that the purpose and object is to take into consideration measures of defence against unlawful and unconstitutional attacks of the police. That identical article shows it. You forgot, surely, that fact when you made this observation; and I defy any one to show, in a speech that is susceptible of proof, by proof, that I have ever said aught by word of mouth or by written article except in self-defence. Does not the constitution of the country, under whose flag myself and my forefathers were born for the last 260 years, provide that protection, and give me, their descendant, that right? Does not the Constitution say that I, as an American, have a right to keep and bear arms? I stand upon that right. Let me see if this Court will deprive me of it.

Let me call your attention to another point here. These articles that appear in the Alarm, for some of them I am not responsible any more than is the editor of any other paper. I did not write everything in the Alarm, and it might be possible that there were some things in that paper which I am not ready to endorse. I am frank to admit that such is the case. I suppose you could scarcely find an editor of a paper in the world but could conscientiously say the same thing. Now, am I to be dragged here and executed for the utterances and the writings of other men, even though they were published in the columns of a paper of which I was the editor?

Your honor, you must remember that the Alarm was a labor paper, published by the International Working People’s Association. Belonging to that body, I was elected its editor by the organization, and, as labor editors generally are, I was handsomely paid. I had saw-dust pudding as a general thing for dinner. My salary was $8 a week, and I have received that salary as editor of the Alarm for over two years and a half—$8 a week! I was paid by the association. It stands upon the books. Go down to the office and consult the business manager. Look over the record in the book and it will show you that Albert R. Parsons received $8 a week as editor of the Alarm for over two years and a half. This paper belonged to the organization. It was theirs. They sent in their articles—Tom, Dick, and Harry; everybody wanted to have something to say, and I had no right to shut off anybody’s complaint. The Alarm was a labor paper, and it was specifically published for the purpose of allowing every human being who wore the chains of monopoly an opportunity to clank those chains in the columns of the Alarm. It was a free press organ. It was a free speech newspaper. But your honor says: “Oh, well, Parsons, your own language, your own words, your own statements at this meeting—what you said.” Well, possibly, I have said some foolish things. Who has not? As a public speaker, probably I have uttered some wild and possibly incoherent assertions. Who, as a public speaker, has not done so?

Now, consider for a moment. Suppose, as is now the case with me here, I see little children suffering, men and women starving. I see others rolling in luxury and wealth and opulence, out of the unpaid-for labor of the laborers. I am conscious of this fact. I see the streets of Chicago, as was the case last winter, filled with 30,000 men in compulsory idleness; destitution, misery, and want upon every hand. I see this thing. Then, on the other hand, I see the First Regiment out in a street-riot drill, and reading the papers the next morning describing the affair, I am told by the editor of this capitalistic newspaper that the First Regiment is out practicing a street-riot drill for the purpose of mowing down these wretches when they come out of their holes that the prosecution talks about here in this case; that the working people are to be slaughtered in cold blood, and that men are drilling upon the streets of the cities of America to butcher their fellow-men when they demand the right to work and partake of the fruits of their labor! Seeing these things, overwhelmed as it were with indignation and pity, my heart speaks. May I not say some things then that I would not in cooler moments? Are not such outrageous things calculated to arouse the bitterest denunciations?

* * *

In this connection I want to call your attention to the way armed men—militiamen and Pinkerton’s private army—are used against workingmen, strikers; the way they are used to shoot, to arrest, to put up jobs on them, and carry them out. In the Alarm of October 17, 1885, there is printed the following:



The secretary of the Minneapolis, Minn., Trades and Labor Assembly sends us the following note:

“MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., October 6, 1885.

Editor of the ‘Alarm.’—Dear Sir: Please pay your respects to the Pinkerton pups for their extreme kindness to labor. Try to have the Government of your city do away with its metropolitan police and employ the Pinkerton protectors. [Of course this is sarcastic.] The inclosed circular fell into the hands of the Minneapolis Trades Assembly, which thought it not out of place to pass it around. Please insert it in your paper. Yours fraternally,


This letter is under the seal of the Trades and Labor Assembly of the city of Minneapolis, Minn. Then, after referring to the services rendered to the capitalists, corporations, and monopolists during the strikes in all parts of the country during the past year, the circular closes with the following paragraphs, which we give in full as illustrative of the designs of these secret enemies upon organized labor. Let every workingman ponder over the avowed purposes of these armies of thugs. It says:

“The Pinkerton Protective Patrol is connected with Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, and is under the same management. Corporations or individuals desirous of ascertaining the feelings of their employes, whether they are likely to engage in strikes or join any secret labor organization, such as the Knights of Labor, with a view of compelling terms from corporations or employers, can obtain upon application to the superintendent of either of the offices a detective suitable to associate with their employes and obtain this information.”

This circular continues:

“At this time, when there is so much dissatisfaction among the labor classes, and secret labor societies are organizing throughout the United States, we suggest whether it would not be well for railroad companies and other corporations, as well as individuals who are extensive employers, to keep a close watch for designing men among their own employes, who, in the interest of secret labor societies, are influencing their employes to join these organizations and eventually cause a strike. It is frequently the case that, by taking a matter of this kind in time, and discovering the ring-leaders, and dealing promptly with them [discovering the ring-leaders, mark you, and dealing promptly with them] serious trouble may be avoided in the future.

Yours respectfully,

General Superintendent Western Agency, Chicago.

General Superintendent Eastern Division, New York.”

Now here is a concern, an institution which organizes a private army. This private army is at the command and under the control of those who grind the faces of the poor, who keep wages down to the starvation point. This private army can be shipped to the place where it are wanted. Now it goes to the Hocking Valley to subjugate the starving miners; then it is carried across the plains to Nebraska to shoot the striking miners in that region; then it is carried to the East to stop the strike of the factory operatives and put them down. The army moves about to and fro all over the country, sneaks into the labor organizations, worms itself into these labor societies, finds out, as it says, who the ring-leaders are and deals promptly with them. “Promptly,” your honor, “with them.” Now, what does that mean? It means this: that some workingman who has got the spirit of a man in his organization, who gets up and speaks out his sentiments, protests, you know, objects, won’t have it, don’t like these indignities, and says so; he is set down as a ring-leader, and these spies go to work and put up a job on him. If they can not aggravate him and make him, as the New York Tribune says, violate the law so they can get hold of him, they go to work and put up a scheme on him, and concoct a conspiracy that will bring him into Court. When he is brought into Court he is a wage-slave; he has got no money—who is he? Why, he stands here at the bar like a culprit. He has neither position, wealth, honor, nor friends to defend him. What is the result? Why, sixty days at the Bridewell or a year in the County jail, in State’s prison, or hanged, as the monopolists may determine him to be more or less dangerous to their interests. The matter is dismissed with a wave of the hand. The bailiff carries the “ring-leader” out. The strike is suppressed. Monopoly triumphs and the Pinkertons have performed the work for which they receive their pay.

Now, it was these things that caused the American Group to take an exceeding interest in this manner of treatment on the part of the corporations and monopolies of the country, and we became indignant about it. We expostulated, we denounced it. Could we do otherwise? We are a part and parcel of the miseries brought about by this condition of things. Could we do otherwise than expostulate and object to it and resent it? Now, to illustrate what we did, I read to you from the Alarm of December 12, 1885, the proceedings of the American Group, of which I was a member, as a sample. I being present at that meeting, and that meeting being reported in this paper, I hold that this report of the meeting, being put into the Alarm at that time, is worthy of your credence and respect, as showing what our attitude was upon the question of force and of arms and of dynamite. The article is headed: “Street Riot Drill. Mass Meeting of Working People held at 106 East Randolph Street.” This was the regular hall and place of meeting. The article reads:

A large mass-meeting of working men and women was held by the American Group of the International last Wednesday evening at their hall, 106 East Randolph street. The subject under discussion was the street-riot drill of the First Regiment on Thanksgiving day. William Holmes presided. The principal speaker was Mrs. Lucy E. Parsons. She began by saying that the founders of this Republic, whose motto was that every human being was by nature entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would turn in their graves if they could read and know that a great street-riot drill was now being practiced in times of peace. “Let us,” said she, “examine into this matter and ascertain, if we can, what this street-riot drill of the military is for. Certainly not for the purpose of fighting enemies from without; not for a foreign foe, for if this was the case we would be massing our armies on the sea-coast. Then it must be for our enemies within. Now, then, do a contented, prosperous, and happy people leave their avocations and go out upon the streets to riot? Do young men and maidens who are marrying and given in marriage forsake the peaceful paths of life to become a riotous mob? Then who is the street-riot drill for? For whom is it intended? Who is to be shot? When the tramp of the military is heard, and grape and canister are sweeping four streets at a time, as is contemplated by this new-fangled drill which was so graphically described in the capitalistic press which gave an account of it, it is certainly not for the purpose of shooting down the bourgeoise, the wealthy, because this same press makes a stirring appeal to them to contribute liberally to a military fund to put them on a good footing and make the militia twice as strong as it is at present, because their services would soon be needed to shoot down the mob.” The speaker then read an extract from a capitalistic account of the street-riot drill on Thanksgiving day.

Your honor, this meeting was held the week following Thanksgiving day, and the drill took place on Thanksgiving day. This article, which is a description of the drill copied from a capitalistic paper, reads as follows:

As a conclusion the divisions were drawn up in line of battle and there was more firing by companies, by file, and by battallion. The drill was creditable to the regiment, and the First will do excellent service in the streets in case of necessity. Opportunities, however, are needed for rifle practice, and Col. Knox is anxious to have a range established as soon as possible. Instead of 400 members, the regiment should have 800 members on its rolls. Business men should take more interest in the organization and help put it in the best possible condition to cope with a mob, for there may be need for its services at no distant day.

That article appeared either in the Times or Tribune of the next day. I don’t know which. The speaker says:

What must be the thought of the oppressed in foreign lands when they hear the tramp of the militia beneath the folds of the stars and stripes? They who first flung this flag to the breeze proclaimed that beneath its folds the oppressed of all lands would find a refuge and a haven and protection against the despotism of all lands. Is this the case to-day, when the counter-tramp of 2,000,000 homeless wanderers is heard throughout the land of America—men strong and able and anxious and willing to work, that they may purchase for themselves and their families food; when the cry of discontent is heard from the working classes everywhere, and they refuse longer to starve and peaceably accept a rifle diet and die in misery according to law, and order is enforced by the military drill—is this military drill for the purpose of sweeping them down as a mob with grape and canister upon the street?

This is the language of the speaker at the meeting:

We working people hear these ominous rumblings, which create inquiry as to their origin. A few years ago we heard nothing of this kind; but great changes have taken place during the past generation. Charles Dickens, who visited America forty years ago, said that what surprised him most was the general prosperity and equality of all people, and that a beggar upon the streets of Boston would create as much consternation as an angel with a flaming sword. What of Boston to-day? Last winter, said a correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, writing from that city, 30,000 persons were destitute, and there were whole streets of tenant-houses where the possession of a cooking-stove was regarded as a badge of aristocracy, the holes of which were rented to other less wealthy neighbors for a few pennies per hour. So, too, with New York, Chicago, and every other industrial center in this broad land. Why is this? Have we had a famine? Has nature refused to yield her harvest? These are grave and serious questions for us, the producers and sufferers, to consider, at least. Take a glance at the wealth of this country. In the past twenty years it has increased over $20,000,000,000. Into whose hands has the wealth found its way? Certainly not into the hands of the producers, for if it had there would be no need for street-riot drills. This country has a population of 55,000,000, and a statistical compilation shows that there are in the cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston twenty men who own as their private property over $750,000,000, or about one-twenty-sixth of the entire increase which was produced by the labor of the working class, these twenty individuals being as 1 in 3,000,000. In twenty years these profit-mongers have fleeced the people of the enormous sum of $750,000,000—and only three cities and twenty robbers heard from! A Government that protects this plundering of the people—a Government which permits the people to be degraded and brought to misery in this manner—is a fraud upon the face of it, no matter under what name it is called, or what flag floats over it; whether it be a Republic, a Monarchy, or an Empire,” said the speaker. “The American flag protects as much economic despotism as any other flag on the face of the earth to-day to the ratio of population. This being the case, of what does the boasted freedom of the American workingman consist? Our fathers used to sing:

Come along, come along; make no delay;
Come from every nation, come from every way;
Come along, come along; don’t be alarmed—
Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm.

The “stars and stripes” in those days floated upon every water as the emblem of the free, but to-day it obeys only the command and has become the ensign of monopoly and corporations, of those who grind the face of the poor and rob and enslave the laborer. Could Russia do more than drill in its streets to kill the people? But alas! Americans creep and crawl at the foot of wealth and adore the golden calf. Can a man amass millions without despoiling the labor of others? We all know he can not. American workingmen seem to be degenerating. They do not seem to understand what liberty and freedom really consist of. They shout themselves hoarse on election day—for what? For the miserable privilege of choosing their master; which man shall be their boss and rule over them; for the privilege of choosing just who are the bosses and who shall govern them. Great privilege! These Americans—sovereigns—millions of them do not know where they could get a bed or a supper. Your ballot—what is it good for? Can a man vote himself bread, or clothes, or shelter, or work? In what does the American wage-slave’s freedom consist? The poor are the slaves of the rich everywhere. The ballot is neither a protection against hunger nor against the bullets of the military. Bread is freedom, freedom bread. The ballot is no protection against the bullets of those who are practicing the street-riot drills in Chicago. The ballot is worthless to the industrial slaves under these conditions. The palaces of the rich overshadow the homes or huts of the poor, and we say, with Victor Hugo, that the paradise of the rich is made out of the hells of the poor. The whole force of the organized power of the Government is thrown against the workers, whom the so-called better class denominate a mob. Now, when the workers of America refuse to starve according to “law and order,” and when they begin to think and act, why, the street-riot drill begins. The enslavers of labor see the coming storm. They are determined, cost what it may, to drill these people and make them their slaves by holding in their possession the means of life as their property, and thus enslave the producers. Workingmen—we mean the women, too—arise! Prepare to make and determine successfully to establish the right to live and partake of the bounties to which all are equally entitled. Agitate, organize, prepare to defend your life, your liberty, your happiness against the murderers who are practicing the street-riot drill on Thanksgiving day.

‘Tis the shame of the land that the earnings of toil,
Should gorge the god Mammon, the tyrant, the spoiler.
Every foot has a logical right to the soil,
And the product of toil is the meed of the toiler.
The hands that disdain
Honest industry’s stain
Have no share in its honor, no right to its gain,
And the falsehood of wealth or worth shall not be
In “the home of the brave and the land of the free.”

Short addresses were made by Comrades Fielden, Dr. Taylor, William Snyder, William Holmes, and others. This concluded the meeting after criticisms.

Now, I challenge your honor to find a sentence or an utterance in that meeting—and that is one of the fullest reported of the many meetings held by the American Group for public discussion of such matters as the Thanksgiving drill of the First Regiment—I challenge you to find a single word or utterance there that is unlawful, that is contrary to the constitution, or that is in violation of free speech, or that is in violation of free press, or that is in violation of public assembly or of the right of self-defence. And that is our position, and has been all the while. Imagine for a moment the First Regiment practicing the street-riot drill as it was described learning how to sweep four streets from the four corners at once. Who? The Tribune and Times say “the mob.” Who are the mob? Why, dissatisfied people, dissatisfied working men and women; people who are working for starvation wages, people who are on a strike for better pay—these are the mob. They are always the mob. That is what the riot drill is for.

Suppose a case that occurs. The First Regiment is out with 1,000 men, armed with the latest improved Winchester rifles. Here are the mobs; here are the Knights of Labor and the trades unions, and all the organizations, without arms. They have no treasury, and a Winchester rifle costs $18. They cannot purchase those things. We can not organize an army. It takes capital to organize an army. It takes as much money to organize an army as to organize industry, or as to build railroads; therefore, it is impossible for the working classes to organize and buy Winchester rifles. What can they do? What must they do?

Your honor, the dynamite bomb, I am told, costs 6 cents. It can be made by anybody. The Winchester rifle costs $18. That is the difference. Am I to be blamed for that? Am I to be hanged for saying this? Am I to be destroyed for this? What have I done? Go dig up the ashes of the man who invented this thing. Find his ashes and scatter them to the winds because he gave this power to the world. It was not me. Gen. Sheridan—he is the commander-in-chief of the United States army, and in his report to the President and Congress two years ago he had occassion to speak of the possible labor troubles that may occur in the country, and what did be say? In this report he said that dynamite was a lately discovered article of tremendous power, and such was its nature that people could carry it around in the pockets of their clothing with perfect safety to themselves, and by means of it they could destroy whole cities and whole armies. This was Gen. Sheridan. That is what he said. We quoted that language and referred to it. I want to say another word about dynamite before I pass on to something else.

I am called a dynamiter. Why? Did I ever use dynamite? No. Did I ever have any? No. Why, then, am I called a dynamiter? Listen, and I will tell you. Gunpowder in the fifteenth century marked an era in the world’s history. It was the downfall of the mail armor of the knight, the freebooter, and the robber of that period. It enabled the victims of the highway robbers to stand off at a distance in a safe place and defend themselves by the use of gunpowder, and make a ball enter and pierce into the flesh of their robbers and destroyers. Gunpowder came as a democratic instrument. It came as a republican institution, and the effect was that it immediately began to equalize and bring about an equilibrium of power. There was less power in the hands of the nobility after that; less power in the hands of the king; less power in the hands of those who would plunder and degrade and destroy the people after that.

So to-day dynamite comes as the emancipator of man from the domination and enslavement of his fellow-man. [The Judge showed symptoms of impatience.] Bear with me now. Dynamite is the diffusion of power. It is democratic; it makes everybody equal. Gen. Sheridan says: “Arms are worthless.” They are worthless in the presence of this instrument. Nothing can meet it. The Pinkertons, the police, the militia are absolutely worthless in the presence of dynamite. They can do nothing with the people at all. It is the equilibrium. It is the annihilator. It is the disseminator of power. It is the downfall of oppression. It is the abolition of authority; it is the dawn of peace; it is the end of war, because war cannot exist unless there is somebody to make war upon, and dynamite makes that unsafe, is undesirable, and absolutely impossible. It is a peace-maker; it is man’s best and last friend; it emancipates the world from the domineering of the few over the many, because all Government, in the last resort, is violence; all law, in the last resort, is force. Force is the law of the universe; force is the law of nature, and this newly discovered force makes all men equal, and therefore free. It is idle to talk of rights when one does not possess the power to enforce them. Science has now given every human being that power. It is proposed by the prosecution here to take me by force and strangle me on the gallows for these things I have said, for these expressions. Now, force is the last resort of tyrants; it is the last resort of despots and of oppressors, and he who would strangle another because that other does not believe as he would have him, he who will destroy another because that other will not do as he says, that man is a despot and a tyrant.

Now, I speak plainly. Does it follow, because I hold these views, that I committed or had anything to do with the commission of that act at the Haymarket? Does that follow? Why, you might just as consistently charge Gen. Phil Sheridan with the act, and for the same reason, for while he did not go into the matter perhaps as extensively in his encomium upon dynamite as I have done, yet he furnished me the text from which I have drawn my knowledge of this thing. But, you say, my speeches were sometimes extravagant, unlawful. During the discussion of the question of the extension of chattel slavery into the new Territories, into Kansas and the West, while Charles Sumner was yet a member of the United States Senate, and that gallant man stood as the champion of freedom upon that floor, he was expostulated with on one occassion and reprimanded by a friend, who said to him: “Sumner, you are not expedient; you must have more policy about what you say; you should not express yourself in this manner; you should not be so denunciatory and fanatical against this slavery, this enslavement. I know it is wrong; I know it should be denounced, but keep inside of the law; keep inside of the constitution.”

Your honor, I quote from the speech of Charles Sumner, that great American, in answer and in reply to that remark. Said he:

Anything for human rights is constitutional. No learning in books, no skill acquired in Courts, no sharpness of forensic dealings, no cunning in splitting hairs can impair the vigor thereof. This is the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

I never said anything that could equal that in lawlessness. I never was as lawless in my expression as that. Go, gentlemen of the prosecution, dig up the ashes of Sumner and scatter them in disgrace to the wind, tear down the monument that the American people have erected to his honor, and erect thereon some emblem of your contempt.

* * *

What are the facts about the Haymarket meeting? The meeting at 107 Fifth avenue had already been called, and at half-past 7 o’clock I left home with my wife, Mrs. Holmes, and the children. We got to Halsted street. Two reporters seeing me thought there was a chance to get an item and came over to me—the Times man and the Tribune man, I forget their names.

“Hello, Parsons, what is the news?” says one.

“I don’t know anything.”

“Going to be a meeting here to-night?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“Going to speak?”.


“Where are you going?”

“I have got another meeting on hand to-night.”

And some playful remark was made. I slapped one of them on the back. I was quite well acquainted with the men and we made one or two brief remarks, and—as they testified on the stand—I got on the car right then and there with my wife and two children, in company with Mrs. Holmes. I took the car, and they saw that. I went down to Fifth avenue. When I got down there I found four or five other ladies there, and about—well, probably, twelve or fifteen—men. It was about 8:30 o’clock when we opened—I guess it was. We staid there about half an hour. We settled the business. About the time we were through with it a committee came from the Haymarket, saying: “Nobody is over there but Spies. There is an awful big crowd, 3,000 or 4,000 people. For God’s sake send somebody over. Come over, Parsons; come over, Fielden.” Well, we went there. The meeting was adjourned and we all went over there together—all of us; my wife, Mrs. Holmes, two other ladies, and my two little children, went over to the Haymarket meeting. And these ladies sat ten feet behind the wagon from which I spoke.

Your honor, is it possible that a man would go into the dynamite-bomb business under those conditions and those circumstances? It is incredible. It is beyond human nature to believe such a thing possible, absolutely.

* * *

The verdict was against Socialism, as said by the Chicago Times the day after the verdict. “In the opinion of many thoughtful men, the labor question has reached a point where blood-letting has become necessary,” says the Chicago Iron-Monger.

“The execution of the death penalty upon the Socialist male-factors in Chicago will be in its effect the execution of the death penalty upon the Socialistic propaganda in this country. The verdict of death pronounced by a Chicago jury and Court against these Socialist malefactors in Chicago is the verdict of the American people against the crime called Socialism,” says the Chicago Times. By the American people the Times means the monopolists.

In more familiar words, as used heretefore by the Times, “other workingmen will take warning from their fate, and learn a valuable lesson.” The Times in 1878 advised that “handgrenades (bombs) should be thrown among the striking sailors,” who were striving to obtain higher wages, “as by such treatment they would be learned a valuable lesson, and other strikers would take warning from their fate.” So it seems, “handgrenades for strikers,” and “the gallows for Socialists,” are recommended by the organ of monopoly as a terror to both.

* * *

The jury was a packed one; the jury was composed of men who arrogate to themselves the right to dictate to and rob the wage-workers, whom they regard as their hired men; they regard working-men as their inferiors and not “gentlemen.”[9] Thus a jury was obtained, whose business it was to convict us of Anarchy whether they found any proof of murder or not. The whole trial was conducted to condemn Anarchy. “Anarchy is on trial,” said Mr. Ingham, “Hang these eight men and save our institutions,” shouted Grinnell. “These are the leaders; make an example of them,” yelled the prosecution in addressing the Court and jury. Yes, we are Anarchists, and for this, your honor, we stand condemned. Can it be that men are to suffer death for their opinions? “These eight defendants,” said the State’s Attorney to the jury, “were picked out and indicted by the grand jury. They are no more guilty than are the thousands who follow them. They were picked out because they were leaders. Convict them and our society is safe,” shouted the prosecution. And this is in America, the land for which our fathers fought and freely shed their blood that we, their posterity, might enjoy the right of free speech, free opinion, free press, and unmolested assemblage.

* * *

When I saw the day fixed for the opening of this trial, knowing I was an innocent man, and also feeling that it was my duty to come forward and share whatever fate had in store for my comrades, and also to stand, if need be, on the scaffold, and vindicate the rights of labor, the cause of liberty, and the relief of the oppressed, I returned. How did I return? It is interesting, but it will take time to relate it, and I will not state it. I ran the gauntlet. I went from Waukesha to Milwaukee. I took the St. Paul train in the morning at the Milwaukee depot and came to Chicago; arrived here at 8:30, I suppose, in the morning. Went to the house of my friend, Mrs. Ames, on Morgan street. Sent for my wife and had a talk with her. I sent word to Capt. Black that I was here and prepared to surrender. He sent word back to me that he was ready to receive me. I met him at the threshold of this building and we came up here together. I stood in the presence of this Court. I have nothing, even now, to regret.

[NOTE.—Mr. Parsons’ speech was eight hours in delivery, to wit: two hours on Friday and six hours on Saturday.] There are only given here extracts from Mr. Parsons’ able speech before Judge Gary as to why sentence of death should not be pronounced against him. The speech is in print and can be had.]

Albert R. Parsons’ Case in Full.

Taken from the Official Record.

Mr. Parsons had just been in Cincinnati and returned to Chicago on May 4. [A.313, Vol. N., 109.] He caused a notice calling a meeting at 107 Fifth avenue on the South Side, on Monday evening, May 4, to be inserted in the Daily News. He left home in company with his wife, Mrs. Holmes, a lady friend, and his two little children. On his way to that meeting he met Mr. Owen, a witness for the State, who says [A. 124, Vol. K., 200, 201]: “I saw Parsons at the corner of Randolph and Halsted streets shortly before 8 o’clock. I asked him where the meeting was to be held; he said he did not know anything about the meeting. I asked him whether he was going to speak, and he said no, he was going to the South Side. Mrs. Parsons and some children came up just then and Mr. Parsons stopped an Indiana street car, slapped me familiarly on the back, and asked me if I was armed. I said: ‘No; have you any dynamite about you?’. He laughed, and Mrs. Parsons said: ‘He is a very dangerous looking man, isn’t he?’ and they got on a car and went east. I believe Mr. Heineman was with me.” [A.126, Vol. K., 233.]

A request for speakers at the Haymarket meeting was sent over to the meeting on the South Side. That request found Parsons. He went from there to the Haymarket, on the West Side, to speak.

Mr. Parsons spoke three-quarters of an hour. Mr. English, the Tribune reporter, was instructed by his employers to take only the most inflammatory utterances and consequently was on the watch for such. His account of Mr. Parsons’ speech occupies but a single page of the record.

Mayor Harrison, who heard Parsons’ speech and attended the meeting for the purpose of dispersing it if anything should occur to require interference, left the meeting at the end of that speech and told Capt. Bonfield, at the station, that “nothing had occured yet, or looked likely to occur, to require interference, and that he had better issue orders to his reserves at the other stations to go home,” whereupon Harrison himself went home. [A. 174 and 175, Vol. L., 29, 31, and 47.]

After Mr. Parsons Mr. Fielden spoke twenty minutes. After Mr. Fielden had been speaking some ten minutes it is admitted by all the witnesses that a cloud, accompanied by a cold wind, swept over the northern sky, and thereupon Parsons interrupted Fielden, suggesting an adjournment of the meeting to Zepf’s hall (see diagram of Haymarket meeting), a building situated at the north-east corner of Lake and Desplaines streets and nearly a block north from the Haymarket meeting. To this somebody in the audience replied that the hall was occupied by a meeting of the Furniture-Workers’ Union, and thereupon Fielden suggested that he would be through in a few minutes and then they would all go home. [A.314, Vol. N., 113]

This evidence is established by witnesses for the State and the defence.

About one-half of the audience dispersed upon Mr. Parsons’ motion and Mr. Fielden’s suggestion. Mr. Parsons got down from the wagon and went a few feet north, where his family and Mrs. Holmes were seated, assisted them down, and they went together to Zepf’s hall, and where there when the bomb exploded. [A. 224, 238, Vol. M., 125.]

This is all the testimony connecting Mr. Parsons in any way with the Haymarket meeting.


Chapter I. Reminiscences of Albert R. Parsons.


Parsons’ Boyhood Days

Taken from a Correspondence to the Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ry., September 21, 1886.

In speaking of the career of Anarchist Parsons in Waco, a Memphis gentleman who was intimate with him there, says: “I knew him intimately when I lived in Waco in 1866. In fact, we have slept together more than once. He was a devilish good fellow, too, and I am sorry to know that he is in such a scrape.”

“How was he regarded in Waco?”

“As a well-disposed, well-mannered young man, a little wild, as most of us where in those days—in fact, as wild as a buck; but I never heard of his doing anything desperate. He moved in the best society the place afforded, and his pleasant ways made him welcome wherever he went. He was not at all reckless or quarrelsome, but was as clean grit as any man that ever drew breath in Texas. He showed what he was made of on one occasion, when there was a collision between the citizens and the Federal soldiers stationed at Waco. I never saw a braver man than Albert Parsons, and, mark my words, when death comes he will face it like a thoroughbred.”

Personal Reminiscences of Albert R. Parsons.

By an Old Friend and Comrade.

I first met Albert R. Parsons in 1880, but for two or three years had few opportunities of becoming better acquainted. I first realized the natural power and vigor of his character at a mass-meeting of the Telegraphers’ Union during their great strike in 1883. On the evening of August 3 he delivered a speech that stirred the large audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. His eloquent words put new strength and courage in the hearts of those who were struggling against a great monopoly for a chance to live, and started many a young thinker in the study of social and industrial science. It is to be regretted that this speech was not preserved; it was a most able arraignment of the present system, containing nothing which could be termed “incendiary,” being full of logic and fair reasoning.

In the winter of 1883-4 I joined the American Group of the International, and for over two years missed no regular meetings held by that organization; most of these were attended by Mr. Parsons, and nearly always addressed by him. During this time he made frequent agitation trips, speaking wherever an opportunity occurred, and accepting every invitation his time and strength would permit of. He was at one time invited to present his views of Socialism to a society connected with Dr. Thomas’ church; he there made a most remarkable speech, impressing his hearers in spite of themselves and astonishing the learned listeners that a “workingman” and a much-abused Socialist should speak to them so ably and so well. One who was not kindly disposed toward the speaker’s theories, after hearing him on this occassion proposed in answer to John Swinton’s published request for the coming orator, the name of Albert R. Parsons. No audience or circle of people ever in any way disconcerted him. Dignified and eloquent before a society of cultured students, he was also genial, witty, and sociable in a crowd of merry-makers; he was equal in debate with the most learned, and could at the same time make himself clearly understood by the most unlettered. He could dive deep into metaphysics or philosophy with the student, and exchange light repartee and brilliant nothings with the gay and light-hearted. My home at that time was near that of the Parsons’, and those weekly walks with Mr. and Mrs. Parsons and sometimes one or two other friends are memorable incidents in my life. He was an exellent mimic, and would sometimes, where he thought no one would be hurt, “take off” the eccentricities of people in a very laughable manner. Whatever the subject talked of he was ever interesting. I used to believe nothing in life could be more pleasant than to gather with Mr. Parsons, his wife, Mr. Spies, Mr. Fielden, and others around a table, or in a social circle, and listen to the conversation that flowed and sparkled on so smoothly.

I was appointed by the Alarm Publishing Association as an assistant editor of the Alarm in January, 1885. I was associated with its able founder from that time until the appearance of the last number under his supervision, April 24, 1886.

Next to the last speech I heard from Mr. Parsons while free was in March, 1886, at 106 East Randolph street, on his return from his trip through the eastern coal mines. It was a clear, orderly, truthful array of facts, with conclusions most ably drawn and eloquently presented.

I saw him next on the 4th of May in the afternoon, at the Alarm office.

He had that morning returned from Cincinnati, and was inquiring about the meetings that were being arranged in the city. I went home with his wife and himself and took supper, and from there we, with their children, went to the Group meeting held in the Alarm office. He was pleasant and talkative, giving us incidents of his journey, and speaking hopefully of the future of our cause. The story of that evening has often been told; how he, with Fielden and others, were sent for to come and speak at the Haymarket; how we all followed; how they addressed the large meeting as they had often done before; how Bonfield’s men were hurried on to break up a meeting already dispersing; how the fatal bomb was thrown by some unknown hand; how the crowd was scattered and shot into.

But the little details and incidents of that eventful night are not so well known; some never will be. There where citizens lying dead with police bullets in their breasts, whose fate is still a mystery. There were men in the stations who were never heard of again, and much was endured that will probably never come to light. When the noise of the explosion broke on the air Mr. Parsons was standing near the window of Zepf’s saloon looking out; Mrs. Parsons and I sat not far away. Fischer, with other comrades, was in the room. Parsons came up to us and said: “Don’t be frightened! don’t be frightened!”

“What is it?” I asked, as a perfect hailstorm of bullets rattled about our ears.

“I do not know; may be the Illinois regiments have brought up their Gatling gun.”

Bullets whistled past us through the open door. Fugitives came running in, and every one started for a room in the back end of the building. Some one shut the door and for some time a number of us were shut up in total darkness, ignorant of what had happened or what our danger was. Presently the door was opened, and one after another we came out and stepped into the street. Everything seemed quiet; from where we stood no excitement could be noticed, no policemen were in sight. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons, and myself started up the Desplaines street viaduct to go home, and shortly afterward Thomas Brown joined us. I said to Mr. Parsons: “I do not know what has happened, or whether there is any further danger, but we may be sure some kind of a conflict has occurred. Everybody knows you and they all know your influence. If any of our boys are in danger you are. Whatever has happened, leave the city for a few days at least. We can’t spare you yet, and in the excited condition the people must be in we do not know what might happen to you.”

“I do not think I ought to go—do you?”

“Yes—go; there is no harm in going away for a few days until we see what is the matter and have time to collect our thoughts and determine what is best to do; you do not want to be taken unawares; be at a safe distance, and when you see you are needed come, as I know you always will.”

Mr. Parsons as a Carpenter in Waukesha.

Many other arguments I used to induce the brave, home-loving man to depart before he at last consented. He had not money enough with him to go far and Mr. Brown quickly tendered him $5. It was decided best for his wife not to accompany him, so there on the viaduct we separated, Brown going one way, Mrs. Parsons another, and we two toward the Northwestern depot.

Just before he turned away he said: “Kiss me, Lucy. We do not know when we will meet again,” and there seemed a sad almost prophetic, tone in his voice; so, hurriedly and with what unexpressed feelings none can ever know, their parting, the end of a long period of uninterrupted and happy companionship, took place. We walked to the depot, and I there purchased a ticket for Turner Junction, the nearest point to our home that he could reach that night. Mr. Parsons seemed very quiet, almost passive and indifferent, as though for the time being he was in other hands than his own. He said little, but asked me twice if I really thought it was best for him to go away. At the last he said: “You will be a good friend to my wife, will you not? I hope they will not suffer while I am gone—but I may be back soon.” He made me take part of the money he had with him to his wife, and warmly shook my hand, standing on the platform as the train began to move.

Another hand will write of his experiences for the next few days; I will take up his story where he arrives in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

He arrived at the home of Daniel Hoan on the 10th of May. Mr. Hoan was a reader of the Alarm, had written to its editor, but had never met him. He is an earnest, whole-souled man, with some peculiar views of his own, which he very ably explains and defends; but without understanding precisely “what the Anarchists of Chicago wanted, anyhow,” his heart went out to them, and he was certain they had a great part to play in the redemption of the world. He says of Mr. Parsons’ arrival:

“When I heard his knock at the door I felt that some one out of the common was there. I went and opened it myself. “The dear little man” stood there, looking at me with a smile half sad, half merry. ‘Come in, and God bless you,’ I said. ‘The Lord sent you here—you’ve come to the right place.’ I knew who it was, and I knew it was all right. I took him to the shop, and we talked it over. I told him he would be as safe as a child of my own, and that the Lord would preserve him to do his work yet. We got out some old clothes, a big gray coat, and a wide-brimmed hat. Then I brought him in and introduced him to the family as ‘Mr. Jackson,’ and said he would stay and work for me awhile.”

His hair and beard soon grew long, and, as Mr. Parsons was one of the neatest of dressers, arrayed thus he was well disguised. Some of the ladies of the village, on becoming somewhat acquainted, and noting his intelligent mind and interesting conversation (qualities that it was difficult to disguise), said: “What a nice man Mr. Jackson seems to be. What a pity he cannot dress better!” Another exclaimed: “But how neatly his shoes are always kept. He must have dressed well at some time in his life. Suppose we club together and buy him a nice coat, that old one is so shabby and big for him.”

Little thinking how more than useless a well-fitting coat would have been to him, they actually talked up the project, which, but for subsequent events, might have been carried out.

“Mr. Jackson” assisted in Mr. Hoan’s pump factory and did the carpenter work in the alteration of his dwelling house. The turret, porch, and lattice-work around them ornament the house to-day, and probably will remain until they fall away from decay, as a memento of the martyr’s taste and handiwork. Whatever work Mr. Parsons undertook was well done, though he had previously known nothing of the technical details. He brought his keen, analytical mind to bear upon the processes of the work in hand and quickly solved them, were it a social problem or the forming of a complete steamer from a block of wood.

They said he took great interest in his work. In trying different effects in the ornamental carpenter work he would climb down, step into the road in front of the house, and, with arms akimbo, exclaim, if satisfied: “Well, that’s immense!”

Sometimes, when at work near the eaves, he would talk to the girls and children sitting on the porch beneath, telling stories of his boyhood days, scenes of slavery days, and sometimes giving vivid pictures of the lives of poverty and toil the people in the great cities endured, inculcating even there quiet lessons in the new economic philosophy. The girl who lived with them at the time said she always remembered one remark of “Mr. Jackson’s”; it was new to her then, and impressed her deeply. It was that “men and women were always as good as their conditions allowed them to be.”

Beautiful Waukesha, with its green hills and clear fountains, must forever be endeared to those who cherish the memory of our martyrs, for here the last free days of one, whose story we are telling, were passed. One will always look on the winding paths, o’er-shadowed with trees, the rolling, velvety hills, the cozy nooks, the sheltered, sparkling springs with deepened interest, knowing that here and there his free feet pressed the earth and all around his eyes rested for the last time on the free, fair world. His favorite resort was a seat on Spence’s hill, just above the Acme spring. From this point the whole village, nestled in softest foliage, with the low, misty bills beyond, is spread like a beautiful panorama before the eye. Above, the leafy branches wave in a slow, steady murmur, and the fresh, invigorating air sweeps through, breathing of health and strength and freedom as though slavery had no existence in the universe. Farther up the slope the trees grow thickly, like the depths of a forest, and beneath them spring up various species of ferns, grasses, and wild flowers.

Mr. Parsons every morning would hasten, with that quick, springy tread of his, to the Acme spring, quaff its crystal waters, and on up through the trees for an hour’s ramble. At breakfast he would come in, bright and animated, with his hands full of the ferns and flowers he loved so well. Toward evening he would go and recline on the rustic seat above mentioned, and, gazing dreamily on the lovely view before him, become lost in deep reveries. Sad and anxious must have been those thoughts, brightened, perhaps, by the lofty consciousness that always belongs with a strong, noble character. Such a one can never, under any circumstances, be absolutely miserable and despondent. Those reflections would be dearly prized by those who will come after him, could they have been recorded; but he has left us in letters and speeches much that had part in them, no doubt. He made friends with all whom he met, as he ever did, even in the humble guise he had taken. The children, the young boys in the shop, the neighbors, the brothers and sisters of Mr. Needham’s little church, all learned to love “Mr. Jackson” and be eager to converse with him. Upon one or two occasions he entertained the congregation of the little church with a talk or lecture, which pleased them very much. He had a pleasant way of advancing his own ideas without antagonizing those who held different opinions; and this gentle way of his sometimes led people to believe he “fell in” with them or was not well grounded in his own views, but when occasion required, and the full force of the man’s intellect and character came out, they found how much they were mistaken.

One day, while at the desk writing, Annie, the girl before mentioned, came in quite suddenly and said:

“Say—they say you are Mr. Parsons—don’t you think—”

Mr. Parsons never moved, but he said afterward he could feel his face grow cold and white.

“Is that so? Who says so?”

“Oh, a Mr. and Mr.—, and they say Mr.— told them.”

In a few minutes Mr. Hoan came in. Parsons took him into the next room and said quickly: “I’ll have to get out of this—right away too. They have it about town that I am Parsons. I am no longer safe here.”

Hoan would sometimes use some religious swear-words when excited, and began to make vehement inquiries as to what had been said. When all was told that was known, he said:

“Just you keep quiet. I believe I can fix this all right yet. They know nothing yet—they are only surmising.”

And so Mr. Parsons remained “quiet,” while his honor and safety were in jeopardy, and Mr. Hoan went out, traced up the story, called them “a pack of fools,” and asked if Jackson looked anything like the picture of Parsons, and much more to that effect. The surmise was quieted, and if anyone in Waukesha suspected Jackson’s identity, nothing further was said.

Some correspondence, after the first two weeks’ absence, was accomplished between himself and his wife and the principal attorney, Capt. Black. Up to this time, I believe, but two persons in the world knew where Albert R. Parsons was, and they were Mr. Hoan and Mr. Holmes, of Geneva, Illinois. In his first letter he asked if they thought best he should return, and expressed his willingness to do so. A consultation of the attorneys and most interested comrades was called, in which opinions were about equally divided. Black, having faith in abstract justice, was for his return; Foster, from a professional standpoint, was against it. His wife could only say that he should do what he thought was wise and right. The result of the consultation was conveyed to him.

On the 19th of June, 1886, Mr. Parsons wrote a letter saying he would return; this letter Mr. Hoan himself conveyed to the city, and in a very adroit manner managed to make himself known to the right parties, consult with them, obtain their instructions, and depart for home without attracting the notice of a single one of the many detectives who were on the alert—“looking for Parsons.”

Sunday morning it was decided that Mr. Parsons should start for Chicago that night. Through the day he was rather quiet, but pleasant and cheerful; and in the afternoon he proposed they should all make a last visit to Spence’s hill. He sat on his favorite seat a long time in serious meditation, but finally began to talk cheerily with the others, and in a boyish mood lay at full length on the ground and rolled down the long hill. He climbed up, flushed and laughing, and lapsed no more into quiet reverie. The worst had been lived through. Afterward he said that when he wrote his name to the letter saying he would return, he felt that he was signing his death warrant. He had no hope in Courts; he was almost certain what his fate would be; he knew that he could be safe and free for years if he chose it. But his comrades were in peril; the cause he loved needed him; the whole world waited expectantly to hear more of this new philosopher, hitherto but a word of terror; the events to come, which were to change the course of the century, needed but his presence to complete their majestic significance; and with his character it was impossible to remain away in safety and hiding. That evening, at a late hour, the team hitched to a light wagon stood ready to convey Mr. Parsons to Milwaukee. A train left that city at 3 o’clock in the morning, which he intended to take. A young son of Mr. Hoan’s drove; and the long ride of twenty miles through the still summer night along the smooth roads was easily accomplished; they arrived at Milwaukee with two hours to spare. As they were entering the city, a policeman laid his hand on the horse’s bridle, and wanted to know what they were doing at that time of night. The boy answered:

“I am going to take this gentleman to the train.”

The officer peered curiously into the wagon.

“You seem to have come a good distance,” and putting his hand on the horse’s neck said:

“She’s pretty warm!”

Mr. Parsons, to divert his attention, said laughingly: “It is. not a ‘she,’ it is a ‘he.’”.

The man laughed, and turned away; he bad looked quite sharply at a basket in the wagon at their feet, which contained Mr. Parsons’ own clothes, as though he would like to explore its contents but walked away, saying he “was looking for a man that had stolen something in the city.”

The boy, wholly ignorant of whom he was carrying, said: “What was the officer looking for, I wonder. Did he think we had bombs in our basket?”

Another incident occurred when near home, which showed how near and yet how far the great Chicago police were to gaining their greatest desire. As the train neared Kinzie street, slowing up as usual at that point, Mr. Parsons thought best to alight there, rather than to go on to the depot. Morning was mistily dawning, and the great city lay in shrouded silence. He leaped from the train, which was gliding along at a swifter rate than he had calculated upon, and fell, rolling over once or twice before he caught himself. A policeman who stood near came and assisted him to his feet.

“Are yez hurt, now?” queried the servant of the law, feeling over him for broken bones.

“No, I thank ye,” he answered awkwardly, as became the poor old farmer he looked to be, “only shaken up a bit. I’ll be all right in a minit or two.”

The policeman looked at the queer little man, with his half-grown iron-gray beard and long hair, his poorly fitting old clothes, big slouch-hat, and the market basket on his arm, and said: “What d’ye do that fer any how? Don’t jump off any more trains when they’re going loike that now. And d’ye know where yez be going?”

“Oh yes; I’ve been there before, and only jumped off because ’twas nearer. I’ll bid you good day, sir.”

And the policeman allowed the little old farmer to walk away, never dreaming that he had put his hands on the much-wanted Parsons. Had he lost his presence of mind for a moment he might have been discovered. From this adventure he went on his way undisturbed until he reached the house of Mrs. Ames on Morgan street. The lady knew him at once, quickly drew him in, shut the door, and in the fullness of her heart and her joy that he was thus far safe from the hands of the detectives, she embraced, kissed, and cried over him, so she says, and as any good sister comrade would have done.

A brief and indirect note was sent to his wife. Though burning with impatience and anxiety, she sauntered carelessly along the streets until near the house, knowing that detectives were likely to be dogging every step; they missed it for once, as in a few minutes she was once more for a brief time united with her husband.

Swiftly and carefully the comrades worked that forenoon to complete the arrangements for his entrance into Court. At 2 o’clock Capt. Black was pacing impatiently up and down the front steps of the court-house; in a few minutes a hack drove swiftly up. A lady and two men alighted. Capt. Black shook hands silently but in. tensely with one of them, gave him his arm, and proceeded up the stairway. As they passed the first landing James Bonfield turned, looked after him, and said: “Who was that fellow with Black?”

A reporter said:

“I believe it is Parsons.”

“Not much,” a detective near by exclaimed: “Say, we’re looking for Parsons, and don’t you forget it.”

But Bonfield said: “I’ll be d—d, if it ain’t,” and started after them.

Meanwhile Capt. Black and his strange companion, now neatly dressed, shaved, and barbered, were advancing slowly toward the Court. All eyes were fixed upon them in strained expectancy. Suddenly Grinnell, whose mean soul is incapable of appreciating a sublime act, sprang to his feet and cried out:

“I see Albert Parsons in the room and demand his instant arrest.”

But no officer made the arrest. Capt. Black in a dignified manner said: “This man is under my care and such a demand is an insult to me.”

They stood before the Judge, whose ideas of justice were yet untried.

“I present myself for trial with my comrades, your Honor.”

“You will take a seat with the prisoners Mr. Parsons,” and in a few minutes more the cry had gone down, had flown over the city, up into the press rooms, and away through the country, flashing over a thousand wires, that “Parsons had given himself up in Court!”

The sharp detectives—where were they?

He took his seat with his noble comrades, never to depart a free man. Voluntarily he gave up liberty for a cause he loved better than his life. That night the prison doors closed upon him never to open for him alive; the stone walls shut out the fair, free earth forever-and man repaid an act of unprecedented devotion with—death.

Lizzie M. Holmes.

Chapter II. Mr. Parsons at Geneva.


Mrs. Lucy E. Parsons—Dear Comrade:

You ask me to write an account of the few memorable 10 days during which I had the proud honor of offering the shelter of my home in Geneva, Illinois, to our dear comrade, your beloved husband. I am only too glad to enter upon this labor of love, and to pay my tribute of esteem to the worthy wife of such a grand man by, narrating in detail the incidents of that exciting period.

The 5th of May, 1886! Deep into my brain is burned the remembrance of that day. As I write every detail of every incident stands out prominently before me, and I seem to feel again the excitement, uncertainty, and apprehension of the time.

On the morning of the 4th of May we had received your urgent telegram requesting my wife’s immediate presence in Chicago. We rightly conjectured that she was needed in the city to assist in organizing the working girls, particularly the cloak-makers. The excitement in Chicago, which had been increasing for several days, was then intense, and it was believed that advantage could be taken of the clubbing and shooting of workingmen at McCormick’s reaper factory the day before to effect a powerful organization of a large majority of the working people in the city for the purpose of securing important concessions from the employers of labor.

I arose late on the morning of the 5th, and, as was my usual custom, strolled leisurely down to the village to procure the morning paper, little dreaming of the startling sensation it would contain. Half an hour later I was sitting alone in my room, unconscious of aught save the exciting news I was devouring. My back was turned to the door, and I did not hear it open.

“Good morning! How do you do?” said a well-known voice in my ear.

Springing to my feet I caught the hand extended to me. For several moments we stood with our feet, our knees, almost our breasts, touching, and hands clasped in that strong embrace. For a long time we stood thus, our eyes riveted each upon the other’s face. His look searched the recesses of my inmost soul; my gaze met his unflinchingly. At last I broke the silence.

“You are from Chicago?” I said.

He replied: “I am.”

And then, our hands still tightly interlocked, he gave me a brief description of the fearful scenes and incidents of the previous night. Then he told me of his wonderful departure; how, accompanied by my wife, he had walked to the depot of the Chicago & Northwestern railway, he taking the midnight train for Geneva; how he had left the train at Turner Junction and stayed at a hotel till morning, reaching Geneva about 9:30 o’clock on Wednesday morning.

We spent most of the forenoon in discussing the situation, and he gave me an account of the principal events which had transpired since the eight-hour agitation had reached its highest limit. Shortly after noon I went out to learn what I could of the situation in Chicago. All sorts of wild rumors were floating about. Some said the city had been set on fire and was already half consumed; others that the Anarchists had destroyed the City Hall, and in consequence a general massacre of all Socialists and their known sympathizers was in progress. I was met everywhere with scowling faces and looks of suspicion. Even those who had been the day before my warmest friends shunned me, or muttered maledictions against the Anarchists, for it was generally known that I was a radical.

I hastened back and told Comrade Parsons what I had seen and heard. Meantime he had not been idle; but, as previously agreed between us, he had written a scorching editorial for the next number of the Alarm, denouncing in strong language the unprovoked and unlawful attack upon the Haymarket meeting by Bonfield and his uniformed ruffians. Neither of us at that time dreamed that the assistant editor of the Alarm (Mrs. Holmes), as well as the editors and compositors of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, had already been arrested, or that the Alarm had been entirely suppressed.

When I told him of the rumors in circulation in the village he became, for the first time, greatly excited. Never doubting, in the first moment, the authenticity of the rumors, his first impulse, very naturally, was to return to the city and die with his friends and his family. He did not doubt but that every Socialist in Chicago would be massacred, yet he hesitated not in making his choice—he would die with them. He soon, however, became calm again, and wisely determined to wait for the news of the next day. It was mutually agreed that if the morrow’s tidings confirmed the current rumors, we would both immediately return to the city.

About 4 o’clock I again went to the telegraph office, and to other places where I could hear tidings from Chicago. The first man I met gravely informed me that he had just received a dispatch that a terrible conflict had taken place between the police and the workingmen; that over a score of dynamite bombs had been thrown, destroying much property and many lives. In the excitement of the moment I fully believed the report to be true, but by a great effort I succeeded in calming myself before reaching home, and told Comrade Parsons that there was no reliable news, carefully suppressing any mention of my informant’s story. This I did because it seemed more reasonable to wait for reliable information, which would surely come by the newspapers and mails early the next morning. If the very worst should prove to be true, nothing would be lost by a few hours’ delay, while the time spent in waiting could be profitably made use of in deciding upon a definite plan of action.

Many half-formed plans were made that night, to be completed and carried out on the following days. Up to this time Comrade Parsons had not, for a single moment, thought of flight. All our talk was of our probable return to Chicago, and the result of the breaking up of the Haymarket meeting. I confess I was even disposed to take a more gloomy view of the future than your husband. His belief in the righteousness of our cause impelled him to the opinion that in the struggle then probably going on the people would be found on the side of truth and right, and that we should eventually triumph. For once my pessimistic disposition saved me from terrible disappointment.

I had a better opportunity that night to know our comrade than ever before. Like the true Revolutionist he was, he longed for the final conflict, and was ready to face any danger, to do any deed of daring, in order to strengthen the side of the right. He fully expected soon to fight and die for the cause he loved so dearly. He chafed and grew impatient at what seemed to him unnecessary delay. I fully believe, had I not used arguments and entreaties to dissuade him, that he would have hastened to Chicago that night. He already thought himself alone in the world. He never doubted for a moment that, if the occasion required it, his heroic wife would sacrifice her life in the struggle for economic liberty. He wanted to be on the field of action, and in the thickest of the fray.

As early as possible the next morning I procured copies of the city papers. There we learned the actual state of affairs; that Fielden, Spies, Fischer, Mrs. Holmes, and the entire working force of the Arbeiter-Zeitung had been arrested, and that he (Parsons) was a hunted outlaw, against whom all the forces of Government and society were to be invoked. All our plans were, therefore, made for his immediate security. It was absolutely necessary that a safer retreat should be found, as it was only a matter of a short time—possibly of a few hours—when my house would be searched. He had already been seen, though not recognized, by one of the neighbors. Early in the morning, while working in my little garden patch, he had surprised me by boldly walking out of the house, and insisted upon helping me in my work. While thus engaged the occupant of the next house came to his back door and accosted me, making some remark about the weather.

The evening papers gave us the information that detectives were already scouring the country in every direction in their search for Parsons. To delay longer was dangerous. Knowing that he had many friends in Kansas, I suggested his going there, disguised in the best manner possible. He had already shaved off his mustache, which altered his appearance amazingly. At length he declared his intention of going to Waukesha, and at once. He took off his collar and neck-scarf, tucked his pantaloons in his boots, and in other ways changed his appearance. At first he determined, if stopped, to sell his life dearly, but, after talking the matter over, decided it was better to go entirely unarmed. He entered my house trim, neat—a city gentleman; he left it looking like a respectable tramp.

I directed him how to proceed to Elgin, by way of St. Charles. At the former place he was to take train for his Wisconsin retreat. With hearts heavy with apprehension we watched him, as he walked carelessly along the dusty road, until he was out of sight. The next time I saw him he was behind prison bars, a martyr to his convictions of duty—a victim of those who knew neither mercy nor justice. Yours fraternally,

William Holmes.

Chapter III. A Chapter of History.


To have known Parsons was to love him. Some reminiscences of his later days may serve to bring out more clearly his sterling integrity and manly character. However much others may doubt the correctness of his views, none who knew him ever doubted his sincere earnestness and truthfulness. Short in stature, of slight physique and nervous temperament, even his friends did not realize the heroism which lay dormant in his breast. But when the occasion came to test his courage, to prove what manner of man he was, he rose to the height of manhood and coolly laughed death in the face rather than submit to a cowardly alternative.

After the verdict of the Supreme Court of Illinois, sustaining the sentence of death, I immediately returned from the East to Chicago. At my first interview with the prisoners Parsons asked me to try and ascertain the exact status of affairs. He said friends were daily bringing in words of hope; that he realized the situation, and, knowing human nature, believed that, under similar circumstances, he might do the same thing. “But I want the cold facts; can you get them?”

I went to a friend who was in a position to know, and he got a gentleman who had business with Grinnell to incidentally ask what the chances were. Grinnell answered that Fielden and Schwab would probably be saved, if they signed what would be required of them. He further said that he had talked with Judge Gary upon Parsons’ case, but that nothing could be done, as Parsons was regarded as too dangerous a man to let slip with a chance of final release. In fact, the impression given was that Parsons’ boldness and eloquence had made so deep an impression upon the Court that his death was decided upon. It was an open secret that, in presenting the case to the jury, Grinnell meant to have excepted Parsons[10] from the extreme penalty, but forgot it. Parsons’ eight-hour speech of defiance, when called up for sentence, banished the last ray of hope.

We knew that, no matter how many petitions were presented, how many friends might intercede, the decision, as in all such cases, finally depended upon the signatures of the Judge and Prosecuting Attorney.

When I conveyed this information to Parsons his eyes glistened with that strange light so well known to his associates, and he replied:

“Ah! that is their answer. They shall now have mine.”

Two days after appeared his letter to Gov. Oglesby, contemptuously refusing “mercy,” and demanding liberty.

As the day of execution drew near the case of Parsons began to assume a more favorable appearance. His voluntary return, to court trial with his associates, and his fearless bearing, even aroused a feeling of sympathy. The Defence Committee and men of influence beseeched him to sign the paper which some of the others had consented to do. In my last interview with him he told me of the pressure brought to bear upon him to recant. He was a loving husband and a fond father. Probably no married life had ever been less clouded than his, for perfect felicity always reigned. He told me of promises made, and which seemed to be based upon good reasons. I assured him that I believed that he alone of the five stood a fair chance for commutation. He replied earnestly, with that nervous gesture of the index finger so habitual to him:

“But Fischer and Engel say they will sign if I do; they leave the decision to me. Will they then die?”

I replied that for Lingg, Fischer, Engel, and Spies there was absolutely no hope; nothing could save them. He drew up his slight form, and, with a firmness which never after forsook him, replied:

“Then every night in Joliet upon retiring, and every morning in arising, I should be haunted with the thought that I had made cowards of them in vain. No; I shall die with them.”

Two nights before his murder, when friends had been denied access, and even his beloved wife could not see him, one of the bailiffs came to his cell and said that Melville E. Stone, editor of the Daily News, desired to see him in the library. Mr. Parsons refused, saying that if Mr. Stone wished to see him he must come to his cell. Consequently, the great man of the press was ushered in behind the bars and took a seat before the cell door. Mr. Parsons still refused conversation unless his visitor should come inside and sit with him. Stone complied. Then for three hours Stone, one of the principal members of the Citizens’ Association, plead with Comrade Parsons to sign the retraction of his principles and live. With kindness, with sarcasm, with appeals to love for wife and children—with all the arts he knew so well to employ—he beseeched him to sign, guaranteeing life as reward. But Albert R. Parsons had already made the sign of obliteration over life and refused to sacrifice honor. At last, wearied with Stone’s importunities, he arose, and, pointing his accusing finger at the great editor, said to him: “You, Mr. Stone, are responsible for my fate. No one has done more than you to compass the iniquity under which I stand here awaiting Friday’s deliverance. I courted trial, knowing my innocence; your venomous attacks condemned us in advance. I shall die with less fear and less regret than you will feel in living, for my blood is upon your head. I am through. Go!” And the interview ended.

When Herr Liebknecht and Dr. Aveling were in Chicago they called at the County Jail to offer their distinguished sympathy to the condemned men. When Aveling was introduced to Parsons he said: “Mr. Parsons, I am sorry to see you in there.” Mr. Parsons smiled and said: “That reminds me of a story. William Lloyd Garrison was once arrested in Boston, for, as you know, he was a social heretic in his day. While in jail his friend, Wendell Phillips, called upon him and said, as you did, ‘I am sorry to see you in there. Mr. Garrison instantly retorted: ‘Mr. Phillips, I am sorry co see you out there.’ Aveling laughed and answered: “Very good story,” but he moved on to proffer sympathy to another. The anecdote seemed too pointed to permit of discussion, but Parsons’ hearty laugh followed him as he passed on.

And this was the man the infamous conspiracy strangled and cowardly sprang the trap to choke off his dying words. Calm, unmoved, and fearless, the men whom so many had tried to humiliate, to dishonor, to apostatize, rose superior to their accusers and stepped upon the scaffold with a smile of pity for the hirelings who were selected to perform their brutal task. And among all names now so dear to working men, as having been borne by men who died in their cause, none will live and shine with greater lustre than that of Albert R. Parsons.

Dyer D. Lum.

Chapter IV. Echoes From His Prison Cell.


With this part is contained many of the letters and correspondence with friends, which gives the reader a clear insight into the thoughts and aspirations occupying the mind of a man sentenced to death, with the sun so far past the meridian of the nineteenth century, for opinion’s sake, in what had hitherto been supposed to be the freest country in the world—a country the founders of which freely spilled their blood on battle-fields to secure to their descendants the right to freely think, speak, and act. And this in America! beneath the folds of the “stars and stripes”—that flag beneath whose protecting folds, when it floated on foreign seas, by foreign shores, every slave fleeing from despotism was supposed to find shelter! It was for this reason and for this reason alone—that the star-spangled banner was first flung to the breeze. Yet, with this atrocious five-fold murder, America stands to-day in the vanguard as the most bloodthirsty of all the despotisms of so-called civilized Governments. She attempted to do the same thing that despots have done in the past and have failed—she erected a scaffold and attempted to murder thought.

That in this attempt she out-stripped even Russia is shown in a communication to a Chicago morning paper by J. V. Farwell, President of the Young Men’s Christian Association of North-America, and ten-millionaire, which reads as follows:

* * * I am proud of our Government. Its beauty and power over all other Governments is demonstrated by the conviction of these Anarchist fiends.* * * Why, even Russia is left behind, for while she sends them to Siberian mines, or to the execution block, it is only as individuals. It was left for our glorious America to teach them all a lesson in how to exterminate this social vermin by chopping off its head, and thus kill the body of the movement.

Will our children be proud of “our” Government for this atrocity? Let us rather hope that the spirit of liberty and the detestation of privilege shall have once more asserted itself on American soil, and that our children, instead of being “proud,” will avert their faces in shame when they come to this page in history, written by the blood of the first martyrs who fell for opinion’s sake in the battle for economic freedom.

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29[11]
Chicago, August 20, 1886.

My Darling Wife:

Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judical murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellow-man. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.

We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day.

There was no evidence that any one of the eight doomed men knew of, or advised, or abetted the Haymarket tragedy. But what does that matter? The privileged class demands a victim, and we are offered a sacrifice to appease the hungry yells of an infuriated mob of millionaires who will be contented with nothing less than our lives. Monopoly triumphs! Labor in chains ascends the scaffold for having dared to cry out for liberty and right!

Well, my poor, dear wife, I, personally, feel sorry for you and the helpless little babes of our loins.

You I bequeath to the people, a woman of the people. I have one request to make of you: Commit no rash act to yourself when I am gone, but take up the great cause of Socialism where I am compelled to lay it down.

My children—well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage-slavery and poverty. Bless them; I love them unspeakably, my poor helpless little ones.

Ah, wife, living or dead, we are as one. For you my affection is everlasting. For the people—humanity—I cry out again and again in the doomed victim’s. cell: Liberty—Justice—Equality.

Albert R. Parsons.

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, August 12, 1886.

My Dear Friends at Waukesha:

Receiving no reply to my letter sent last Tuesday, I write again. I want to hear from you all. How are the children?[12] Bless them. I know they are happy; how else could they be while surrounded by such generous, kind, and honest people as you all are? Bless you. Ah, this Sabbath day my mind wanders back to the happy hours and pleasant scenes while with you in Waukesha. Do you remember that bright and sunny Sabbath morning of June last, when with songs and cheer we put out for a day at Pewaukee Lake? The trip—oh, that glorious ride over hill, through valley, amid winding dell, and across gurgling brooks and green fields; the singing birds, the shady groves, the air laden with nature’s sweet breath, the perfume of wild roses, clover, cherry, apple, and many beautiful flowers in fragrant bloom lining the roadside all the way; and our hearts, yielding to the pure, the noble influences which nature inspires, gave response in merry laugh and joyous songs—oh, that blessed day! It is treasured in my memory as a bright oasis on life’s dreary way. And I involuntarily ask, shall we ever see and feel them again? Perhaps not; very likely not.

Is my life at an end? Am I already buried and in my tomb? The law—man’s law—has so decreed it. Nature—or God’s law—revolts at the verdict. Which ought to—yea, which shall—prevail? I know not. But this I know: that millions of nature’s noblest and best have their thoughts to-day with myself and loved comrades in prison and doomed to suffer unnatural death. Do not think that I am complaining, or that I am disheartened, or cast down. I am not, we are not. If we are called upon to die for Socialism, for liberty, fraternity, equality, for our oppressed and down-trodden fellow-men, we can do it calmy, quietly—yea, cheerfully. If the sacrifice is needed, then we make the offer. Can man do more for his fellow-men?

We eat, sleep, read, write, think; we—all of us—are cheerful, and bid our comrades everywhere stand for the right and falter not.

Kiss the little ones for papa and mamma. Love to all; bless you all.

A. R. Parsons.

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, October 12, 1886.

My Dear Friends at Waukesha:

At the command of those in authority I and my comrades are to be put to death. The power by which they are enabled to murder us is given them by law—man’s law—and is exercised in violation of their own law. They believe it necessary, in order to perpetuate their power and law—statute law—to violate both the constitution and the statute law. Liberty condemns all man-made laws, all authority, all rulership, all coercion or force.

Our crime—our only crime, our only offense—is that we declare, we defend the right of every human being to life and liberty. We seek the millenium of peace, of joy, of fraternal brotherhood. The penalty, or their punishment, is to put us to an ignominious death. Do we die in vain? No, my friends, not in vain; nor do we suffer in vain. We pay the price, but those who come after us will receive the reward of our efforts, viz.: Liberty. Already the people—not the rulers, but the people—are greatly stirred. The day dawns!

The Court was filled with rich Christians, Board of Trade, railroad, real estate, and other millionaires.

In my defence to the Court and before the world, when explaining the working people’s demonstration against the Board of Trade in Chicago last year, I read from the bible which you sent me these words: When Christ “cast out all them that bought and sold;” also from Matthew XXI, 10-14, and St. Luke XI, 15-19. I quoted to the pulpits of Mammon where the pretended followers of Jesus cried: “Execute, execute!” I called these hypocrites’ attention to the fact that we (the Anarchists) desired to neither buy nor sell anything whatsoever, while they (the capitalists) bought and sold everthing—life, liberty, honor, everything. The hypocrites! If we MUST die, then we CAN.

Tell Miss Annie that the beautiful flowers she sent me, which had bloomed from the seed we planted around the porch last spring, are like the seeds of liberty which we now plant; they will blossom and fill with joy the hearts of our fellow-men. I kissed the precious flowers again and again, and watered them with my tears. Yours for Truth,

A. R. Parsons.

Parsons to Powderly.

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, July 26, 1886.

To the Editor of the Chicago Times:

General Master Workman Powderly, of the Knights of Labor, if he is correctly reported in his speech delivered to workingmen at Luzerne, Pa., yesterday, where he is credited with saying: “Anarchy is destructive of civil liberty, and no honest workman can afford to identify himself with an organization, which has for its object the destruction of life and property”—if he uttered these sentiments, then I am justified in denouncing him as a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Whether he said it or not is immaterial, since it has gone forth to the world, which believes he did. What right has Mr. Powderly to define the meaning of Anarchy, unless he knows what it is? Or, knowing what it is, for him to falsify it is both cowardly and despicable. In the names of tens of thousands of workmen I solemnly protest. In the past ten years I have been active as a labor organizer and orator. I am a Knight of Labor. In that time, from New York in the east to St. Louis and Kansas City in the west and from St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Detroit in the north to Louisville and Baltimore in the south, I have addressed at least 500,000 persons, and among all that number in all these years I challenge Mr. Powderly to find a man who can truthfully say that I, as a Socialist or Anarchist, have advocated or countenanced “the destruction of life and property.” Whoever says so lies. The foundation principle of Socialism, or Anarchy, is the same as the Knights of Labor, viz.: “The abolition of the wage-system” and the substitution in its stead of the industrial system of universal co-operation, making every capitalist a laborer and every laborer a capitalist, ending forever the conflict of classes and the inevitable antagonisms of the wage-slave system. If this be “destruction of life and property,” then is Mr. Powderly equally criminal with the Anarchists. The assertion that we use and advise the use of force is gratuitous and untrue. But we have declared that the existing social order is founded on force and maintained by force, and we have and do still predict a social revolt of the wealth-producing against this force system: that they will be driven unconsciously into open rebellion against class rule and class domination. This result will flow from cause to effect and not from anything that Mr. Powderly, myself, or any one else may say or do. The more general and intelligent the diffusion of this truth the less violent and destructive will the period of transition be. This is Anarchy, its teachings, which mean an end forever to brute force; the reign of eternal peace and prosperity.

For saying these things myself and comrades are now in prison awaiting the pleasure of our executioners. I think it ill-befits Mr. Powderly in the name of labor to join in the cry for our blood.

Whether we live or whether we die, the social revolution is inevitable. The boundaries of human freedom must be enlarged and widened. The seventeenth century was a struggle for religious liberty, the eighteenth for political equality, and now in the nineteenth century mankind is demanding economic or industrial freedom. The fruition of this struggle means the social revolution. We see it coming. We predict it, we hail it with joy! Are we criminals for that? The labor movement means the downfall of bosses, of dictators, and rulers, and a ruler or dictator is no more to be tolerated in the order of the Knights of Labor than out of it, and is no more sufferable whether he be a Powderly or a Gould. Mr. Powderly can ill-afford to malign his fellow-laborers, and when he does so in the name of labor his act is doubly despicable.

The labor question is up for consideration and adjustment. To the hundreds of thousands who have heard and know me I say: Beware of false gods and false issues.

A. R. Parsons.

Cook County Jail, Dungeon No. 7,[13]
Chicago, November 7, 1887.

My Dear Friend, George Schilling:

It is at your request I pen these lines, and I cheerfully do so. Concerning my early life, say from 1868–72, there are some things of passing interest. Between the ages of 19 and 20 years (1867-8) I became interested in the question of “reconstruction,” then agitating the Southern States. Born in Alabama, reared in Texas, living at that time in Waco, and though a stripling youth, I had served through the rebellion as a soldier, mainly in Gen W. H. Parsons’ cavalry brigade. Gen. Longstreet, a man dear to “Southern” hearts, made bold to declare about this time (1868) his adherence to the Union and the terms of surrender as embodied in the reconstruction measures. These questions, involving the civil and political enfranchisement of the recently emancipated chattel slaves, were the all absorbing topic around the hearth-stone and upon the rostrum.

It was during the Congressional campaign of 1868 that an elaborate campaign document, of a statistical character, relating to the progress and prosperity of the two sections, “North” and “South,” fell into my hands. From this document I learned the merits of the free school system, free labor (wage) system, etc., etc., together with the fact that all the Government (which was then the Republican party) required of the “South” was loyalty to the Union and compliance, in good faith, with the laws of the country. This newly found information, together with the fact that I had always been at heart a rank abolitionist, led me to constientiously espouse the principles of the Republican party. To resolve was to act. And, though the step I was about to take would, I knew, hurl me from the social precipice of neighbors and friends, conscience and duty, as I saw it, made my action imperative. I took up, I espoused the cause of those who were then powerless to defend themselves or reward their friends. For this I was branded a Benedict Arnold—a traitor—by the whole community, save here and there a timorous white Republican and a multitude of ignorant but devoted blacks. Young men, with whom I had played as a boy, my old army comrades, with whom I had slept under the same blanket in war campaigns, cut me short. Some, with tears streaming down their cheeks when we met, bemoaned my apostasy. But there was that in me which these things served to fasten all the deeper—my conviction and resolution to perform my duty, as I understood it, fearlessly.

In 1868 I began the publication of a weekly newspaper, called the Spectator. It advocated, in a most conciliatory manner, the acceptance of the proposed “reconstruction measures” as the basis of peace and prosperity. The paper was short-lived, in a community of overwhelming opposition. The elections were frequent of county, city, State, Legislative, and Congressional officers, and here the new-born freemen were brought face to face with the enmity of their former owners. Only those who lived amid these scenes can understand the bitterness and hostility which was provoked by the efforts of the blacks to exercise their political freedom. Out of it grew kuklux klans and a feeling of reprisal among the blacks. I soon found myself completely ostracised from my former associates, and during the political campaigns was not permitted shelter and lodging in a white man’s house in my travels over a large extent of territory, which sometimes included several counties. On horseback, over prairie, or through the swamps of the Brazos river, accompanied generally by one or two intelligent colored men, we traveled. At noontime or nightfall our fare was only such as could be had in the rude and poverty-stricken huts of the colored people. I ate at their table with them, and slept in the same room, as the huts rarely had but one room. This was a degree of self-degradation in the eyes of the whites, which rendered me odious. Around or through the plantations we would give out the time and place where a public meeting was to be held to discuss the issues of the campaign. And often have I, amid the rows of slave huts, at night, stood upon a bale of cotton as a platform, and by the faint-light of a tallow dip harrangued the hundreds assembled around me. What a scene! The stars shone brightly above; a somber, heavy darkness covered the earth’s surface—peculiar to Southern swamp regions; the flickering light of the tallow dip; the mass of upturned, eager faces, coal black, with shining black eyes imbedded in sparkling white, with uncovered heads (but few possessed hats). The kinky hair was curled or tied around strips of corn-shucks about the size of a finger, the lint of the gin or cotton field, in which they had worked all day, clung to their worn and tattered garments, making altogether a grotesque, strange, weird scene. Such was my audience, such their school and teacher in the first lessons of political economy. But on great occasions the meetings were held in the court-house at the county seat, where persons from all portions of the county attended. On these occasions the meeting had an effect upon the whites similar to a red rag in the face of a wild bull. Fear was often entertained that a wholesale massacre of blacks would take place, but this was offset by the counter fear that the blacks might in retaliation burn the town, etc. A garrison of United States troops was stationed for two or three years during this period at certain centers, Waco being designated for this region. I remember vividly one of these general meetings held at Marlin, the county seat of Falls county, some forty-five miles distant from Waco. This meeting had been arranged two weeks ahead to be held on Saturday in the court-house. Marlin contained a population of probably 500, and, like most Southern towns, possessed the inevitable public square with a court-house in the center. These court-houses were always two stories high, the upper floor generally being a hall where the citizens could assemble to the number of a thousand on great occasions. The day finally arrived, and from 9 a. m, until 2 p. m. the blacks gathered from all over the county to the meeting. They came, some of them from long distances, on horseback, mules, in ox or horse wagons, and on foot. When, at 2:30 p. m., the meeting opened, there were about 1,000 present, among them a few women. Dressed in every conceivable garb, some with and some without shoes, some with “Sunday” clothes, others in patched and tattered work-day garb, a few with head wrapped in striped bandanas, but most with hats. When the meeting was called to order they removed their hats, disclosing an immense number with hair tied up or curled round strips of corn-shucks. The hall was crowded. I was the principal orator—in fact, the only one—of the day. My remarks were congratulatory of their awakening interest in their own welfare, etc. I told them they now no longer had to call any man “master”; they could work for themselves, and vote for themselves. I exhorted them not to be intimidated; that the United States Government was their friend and protector. I told them to be men. To

“Snatch Fear’s cold hand from off their palsied hearts,
And send the intrepid shudder through their veins;
Arise, and front the blessed light of Heaven
With tyrant-quailing manhood in their looks.”

During my speech an occasional menace and threat came from some fifteen or twenty white men who, on the outer edge of the crowd, hung to the side of the wall and shook their fists at me with muttered curses, and hate gleaming out of their eyes. But the immense throng of blacks, who might be goaded to madness, prevented them from doing anything. At the close of this meeting colored men gathered around me, thanking me, etc., and one old, intelligent man, whose hair was as white as full-blown cotton in the fields, fell upon his knees, and, clasping me in his arms, with upturned face streaming with tears, said: “Bless God that I should ever live to see this day. I never thought a white man could be so good and kind to us poor colored folks.” I rode out of town that afternoon and stopped with old “Uncle Monday,” a famous Baptist preacher, 80 years of age. I can never forget the heartfelt hospitality of this simple-hearted, naturally intelligent old man. At such meetings as these the new-born manhood was aroused and they were stirred with new sensations of independence and self-respect. It was a characteristic of the blacks to be kind and confiding to a degree, and I always found them obliging and true-hearted. Amid such scenes as these I labored for about two years (1870). The Republican party was to them essentially a labor party, since all the wealth and power of the community was arrayed against these poor wage-workers—these proletariat. I engaged in this work with the ardor and disinterestedness of an apostle. I knew nothing of politics in the sense in which that word is now employed. In 1870 I was appointed by President Grant Assistant United States Internal Revenue Assessor. In the election of members of the Legislature a colored man named Shep Mullens, of Waco, a very intelligent blacksmith, was successful over his Democratic competitor. One day John T. Flint, a banker, met me in the hallway of his building and began to upraid and denounce me for aiding the election of a “nigger.” He was a powerful man of 200 pounds, my weight being about 135. I held a walking-cane in my hand, and told him to let me alone. He stooped down, and, picking up a five-pound piece of broken iron cog-wheel, used to prop open the door, made a motion to throw it at me. I told him not to do it, as it would kill if it struck me. Walking up to him, he suddenly drew back and struck me in the temple with the iron, making a cut of two inches, from which rushed a stream of blood that drenched my clothing. He was bound over to keep the peace under bonds, but was never prosecuted. This was the only difficulty I ever had with any one. And, though it was the custom of many to go heavily armed, I never carried a weapon—not even when traveling, of which I did a great deal. Shotgun or pistol fracases were quite frequent occurrences, generally on the public square, when all but the combatants would retire within the stores and leave them an open field. In nearly every neighborhood there was usually a gang of desperados, who, as kuklux, made life a terror to the defenseless blacks. In some instances these gangs took to the highway and began to depredate upon the whites. Such gangs usually became emboldened with their easy terrorization at first, until in sheer desperation the peaceably-disposed portion of the community would combine, and in a frenzy kill them or drive them off. Many Texans will remember the noted outlaw, Bickerstoff, who terrorized a vast region of country till he was finally slain by merchants and people of Alvarado, Johnson county. I have seen his grave often where he is buried on the roadside in the “Cross-timbers,” near that town. In those days it could be said truly

“Oh, that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap.”

In the year 1870, E. J. Davis, now dead, was elected Republican Governor of Texas. On the organization of the State Senate I was elected reading secretary. During this term I was commissioned Colonel of State militia by the Governor. I was not an “ornamental” Colonel, either. On the occasion of an election held in 1871 I was ordered from Austin to Belton, county seat of Bell county, to preserve order and protect the citizens at the polls on election day. I was in command of some twenty-five men, and it was a most warlike and dangerous undertaking. The blacks had no rights which (as Justice Taney í had said) the whites should respect. But at the muzzle of revolvers I protected the poor blacks in the exercise of their elective franchise.

Thus, over a very extensive region of country, among cotton, corn, and sugar plantations, I became somewhat famous as a champion of political liberty. Beloved by the blacks, I was hated and scorned by the whites. I then believed that the colored people were truly freemen, and that they only needed courage to assert it. But I did not then understand or know that economic dependence, i. e., industrial servitude, made political liberty impossible. I did not know, nor did the blacks, they had been merely emancipated from chattel to wage servitude. I did not then know that economic freedom must be the basis for political liberty, and that the wage-labor system created classes, antagonisms, and class servitude.

And now, as the helots of old, the so-called “free” blacks, in common with their white brethren, work and die like beasts in the unceasing treadmill of wage-slavery.

A. R. Parsons.

Whittled With a Pen-Knife from a Solid Piece of Wood by Mr. Parsons in His Prison Cell.
Prison Pastime.

Among the occupations of Mr. Parsons’ idle moments he made two small steamers with his pocket-knife, one of which he sent to Justus H. Schwab, of New York, to be raffled for. In the box containing it was a piece of rope obtained from a deputy sheriff. The grim humor of the following note, accompanying the box, speaks for itself:

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, September 21, 1887.

My Dear Comrade:

With this I express to you the tug boat which I cut and made with my pocket knife to while away the lonely hours in my cell. Also I send you a hangman’s noose which is emblematic of our capitalistic, Christian civilization. The rope is official—the kind which it is proposed to strangle myself and comrades with. The knot was tied by myself, and is the regulation style. I give it to you as a memento of our time. Fraternally,

Albert R. Parsons.[14]

The boat was put up at raffle, and, some doubts having arisen whether such an artistic piece of work could have been made by him with only his pocket knife, a dispatch was wired him for information. The following answer was immediately returned:

Chicago, November 3, 1887.

F. W. Sasse:

It was made in my cell by myself to be raffled for the benefit of my family, but I feel like presenting it to Comrade Schwab. Fraternally,

Albert R. Parsons.

Telegrams to Parsons.

Following are copies of the four dispatches received by Albert R. Parsons a short time before his execution:

New York, November 10, 1887.

Dear Albert:

Another Gethsemane to-night. More than a legion of angels with pitying eyes survey the spectacle of man’s inhumanity to man. Millions of hearts in Europe and America are now thrilling with sympathy for the men who died for humanity. I am proud of your sublimity, fortitude, and hereditary heroism.

Your Brother.
Boston, Mass., November 11, 1887.

Albert R. Parsons, Cook County Jail: Not good-by, but hail brothers, From the gallow’s trap the march will be taken up. I will listen for the beating of the drum.

Josephine Tilton.

St. Louis, Mo., November 11, 1887.

Albert R. Parsons, Prisoner: Glorious martyr, in the name of social progress bravely meet your fate.

C. R. Davis.

San Francisco, November 10, 1887.

Brave Parsons: Your name will live long after people will ask: “Who was Oglesby?”

Four Citizens.

To the sender of the first telegram Parsons desired that his red silk handkerchief be sent.

The Mirror of the Press.

Up to 3 o’clock Parsons had not retired, but was talking to his guards, Bailiffs Hanks and Rooney. At 12:30 o’clock he sang in a low voice an Anarchist song named “Marching to Liberty,” to the tune of the “Marseillaise,” which he sang at several Anarchist meetings formerly. He also sang “Annie Laurie.” Bailiff Hanks suggested that he ought to try and get a little sleep. Parsons answered in a joking way:

“How can a fellow go to sleep with the music made by putting up the gallows?”

Parsons’ Religious Views.

Taken from the Chicago Tribune November 4, 1887.

Albert R. Parsons yesterday sent the following letter to the Tribune:

Cook County Bastile, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, November 3, 1887.

Editor of the Tribune:

In your issue of to-day on the “People’s Page,” and column headed “Voice of the People,” a correspondent asks: “To settle a dispute please state what religion Anarchist Parsons has, or has he any religion?” To which you reply “No.”

To settle a dispute concerning my religious belief, which will doubtless arise after my judicial assassination, when it will be beyond my power to speak, I desire to say to your inquirer, and to all others, that religion in the sense now understood and practiced by those who profess it is merely a blind faith of the honestly superstitious, or a cloak of designing knaves.

If there is a Supreme Being, or Almighty God, who rules the universe, the sphere as well as the actions of puny men, then why do those who profess allegiance to Him cast aside and violate His laws and impeach His integrity and insult His beneficency by erecting man-made governments and enacting man-made laws, and use the bloody weapons of war to prop up and maintain these man-made laws and Governments?

My religion—if it can be called such—is viz.: Who, so lives right dies right; there is but one God—Humanity. Any other kind of religion is a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. Respectfully,

A. R. Parsons.

An Unique Document.

Chicago, November 11, 1887, 9:10 a. m.

C. R. Matson, Sheriff Cook Co., III.[15]

I request you to deliver my dead body to my wife, Lucy E. Parsons, No. 785 Milwaukee avenue.

A. R. Parsons.

Ready for the Scaffold.[16]

The deputies who were with the four during the half-hour before the procession was formed were greatly impressed with their courage and fortitude.

After reading the telegram sent from San Francisco, and signed “Four Citizens,” Parsons took a pencil from his pocket and indorsed it on the back, “A. R. Parsons, November 11, 1887,” and handed it to Bailiff William B. Brainerd, saying: “I will make you a present of this as a relic.”

A short time before the pinioning a deputy offered Parsons a glass of wine. He refused it saying: “No, thanks. I would prefer a cup of coffee.” A pot of coffee and a bowl of crackers were procured. He drank the coffee and ate a few of the crackers, afterwards thanking the deputy and exclaiming: “Now I feel all right. Let’s finish the business.”

Shortly afterward he said to Brainerd: “I am a Mason and have always tried to help my fellow-man all my life. I am going out of the world with a clear conscience. I die that others may live” He then gave Brainerd the Masonic grip and word to authenticate his statement.

Dr. Bolton was met by personal kindness, but with religious indifference. Parsons flattered the exhorter by listening to his proffered grace, mercy, and peace, but overturned the good impression when he answered: “Preachers are all Pharisees, and you know what Jesus Christ’s opinion of the Pharisees was. He called them a generation of vipers and likened them to whited sepulchres. I don’t desire to have anything to do with either.”

When Dr. Bolten said farewell Parsons shook his hand and said: “Thank you,” and added, “Don’t forget, though, I didn’t send for you.” He referred to his wife as a “lion-hearted” woman, said his children would not feel his loss on account of their youth, and favored the turnkey with snatches from the “Marseillaise,” his favorite song of liberty and death to oppressors. On being asked if he wished stimulants he answered, “No.” “I wish to go off sober,” said Parsons, and perhaps the temperance people will be disposed to drop a single tear of sympathy in consequence.

The moment his feet touched the scaffold, Parsons seemed to completely lose his identity and to feel that his spirit was no longer a part of his body. He stood like one transfigured. Only he—the one American—seemed to realize to the full that he must die in a manner to impress, if possible, on all future generations the thought that he was a martyr. No tragedian that has paced a stage in America ever made a more marvelous presentation of a self-chosen part, perfect in every detail. The upward turn of his eyes, his distant, far-away look, and, above all the attitude of apparent complete resignation that every fold of the awkward shroud only served to make more distinct, was by far the most striking feature of the entire gallow’s picture.

In this part is completed all the correspondence upon important topics, and speeches by Mr. Parsons during the last five years of his life. “No!” the reader may say, “You can’t have given all. Where are all those awful articles that were read at the trial, so-called ? Surely, he wrote them.”

Let the accused answer:

Fellow Citizens: As all the world knows, I have been convicted and sentenced to die for the crime of murder; the most heinous offence that can be committed. Under the forms of law, two Courts, viz.: the Criminal and Supreme Courts of the State of Illinois, have sentenced me to death as an accessory before the fact, to the murder of Officer Degan on May 4, 1886. Nevertheless, I am innocent of the crime charged, and to a candid and unprejudiced world I submit the proof.

* * *

“The Supreme Court quotes articles from the Alarm, the paper edited by me, and from my speeches, running back three years before the Haymarket tragedy of May 4, 1886. Upon said articles and speeches the Court affirms the sentence of death as an accessory. The Court says: ‘The articles in the Alarm were most of them written by the defendant Parsons,’ and then proceeds to quote these articles

“I refer to the record to prove that of all the articles quoted only one was shown to have been written by me. I, of course, wrote a great many articles for the Alarm, but the record will show that only one of the many quoted was written by me. And this article appeared in the Alarm December 6, 1884, one year and a half before the Haymarket meeting.[17]

* * *

“Extracts from three speeches alleged to have been delivered by me more than one year prior to May 4, 1886, are given; two of these speeches were repeated from the memory of the Pinkerton detective, Johnson. These are the speeches quoted by the Court as proof of my guilt as accessory to the murder of Degan. I am bold to declare that such a connection is imperceptible to the eye of a fair and unprejudiced mind.

* * *

“But the honorable body, the Supreme Court of Illinois, has condemned me to death for speeches I never made and articles I never wrote. In the affirmation of the death sentence the Court has ‘guessed,’ ‘surmised,’ and ‘presumed’ that I said and did ‘so-and-so.’ This the record fully proves. * * * * Now I defy any one to show from the record that I wrote more than one of the many articles alleged to have been written by me. Yet the Supreme Court says I wrote and am responsible for all of them. Again, concerning the alleged speeches, they were reported by the Pinkerton detective, Johnson, who, as the record shows, was employed by Lyman J. Gage, Vice-President of the First National Bank, as agent of the Citizens’ Association, composed of the millionaire employers of Chicago. I submit to a candid world if this hired spy would not make false reports to earn his blood money, Thus it is for speeches I did not make and articles I did not write I am sentenced to die, because the Court ‘assumes’ that these articles influenced some unknown and still unidentified person to throw the bomb that killed Degan. Is this law? Is this justice?”

A. R. Parsons in His Cell Morning Nov. 11, 1887.
Taken from Sketch in Daily Paper of November 12, 1887.

* * *

“But,” will inquire the reader, “Didn’t he belong to an armed organization which had for its objects the destruction of life and property ?”

Hear Mr. Parsons again on this point:

The Court says:

“‘Among them (meaning the people at the Haymarket) were men who belonged to the International Rifles, an armed organization, in which he himself was an officer, and in which he had been drilling in preparation for the events then transpiring.’

“Now, I challenge the Supreme Court, or any other gentleman, to prove from the record in my trial that there ever existed such an organization as that armed section of the American Group, known as the International Rifles. Members of the American Group did organize the International Rifles, which never met but four or five times, was never armed with rifles, or any other weapons, and disbanded nearly one year before May 4, 1886.

* * *

“I have been tried ostensibly for murder, but in reality for Anarchism. I have been proven guilty of being an Anarchist and condemned to die for that reason. The State’s Attorney said in his statement before the Court and jury in the beginning of the trial: ‘THESE DEFENDANTS WERE PICKED OUT AND INDICTED BY THE GRAND JURY; THEY ARE NO MORE GUILTY THAN THE THOUSANDS WHO FOLLOW THEM. THEY ARE PICKED OUT BECAUSE THEY ARE LEADERS. CONVICT THEM AND OUR SOCIETY IS SAFE.’ And in their last appeal to the jury the prosecution said: “ANARCHY IS ON TRIAL. HANG THESE EIGHT MEN AND SAVE OUR INSTITUTIONS. THESE ARE THE LEADERS; MAKE EXAMPLES OF THEM.” This is a matter of record.

* * *

“My ancestors partook of all the hardships incident to the establishment of this Republic. They fought, bled, and some of them died that the declaration of independence might live and the American flag might wave in triumph over those who disclaim the divine right of kings to rule. Shall that flag now, after a century’s triumph, trail in the mire of oppression, and protect the perpetration of outrages and oppressions that would put the older despotisms of Europe to shame?

“Knowing myself innocent of crime, I came forward and gave myself up for trial. I felt it was my duty to take my chances with the rest of my comrades. I sought a fair and impartial trial before a jury of my peers, and knew that before any fair-minded jury I could with but little difficulty be cleared. I prefered to be tried and take the chances of an acquittal to being hunted as a felon. Have I had a fair trial? * * * No, I am not guilty. I have not been proven guilty. I leave it to the people to decide from the record itself as to my guilt or innocence. I cannot, therefore, accept a commutation to imprisonment. I appeal not for mercy, but for justice. As for me, the utterance of Patrick Henry is so appropos that I cannot do better than let him speak:

“ ‘Is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may pursue, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.’

“Albert R. Parsons.
“Chicago, Ill., September 21, 1887.
“Prison Cell No. 29.”

* * *

These are extracts taken from Mr. Parsons’ “Appeal to the People of America.”

The appeal in full can be found in the book he wrote himself—“Anarchism.” As also his letter to Oglesby regarding his case, under date of October 13, 1887.

It has been claimed by some that Oglesby could not do otherwise than he did, as Mr. Parsons refused to ask for mercy, but instead demanded justice (liberty). I will, in this connection, call the reader’s attention to Gen. Trumbull’s article upon this point on page 152. And, also, ex-State’s Attorney Mills, in an interview but a few days prior to November 11, stated that the Governor had power to do as he pleased in the matter; that the statute gave him this power. Mr. Spies did sign a petition, but Oglesby did not notice it.


The Appendix has been added in order to include some matter of historical interest having a bearing upon the case in a general way:

1. An article from the able pen of Helen Wilmans, as it appeared in her paper at that time, which will give the reader a fair understanding of the reign of terror then prevailing in Chicago. This information is all the more valuable from the fact that it is from disinterested parties.

2. A communication written by the author to a Cleveland paper. [When the verdict of hate and malice was rendered, I determined to go before the American people for the purpose of showing the foul conspiracy of the capitalistic class to send seven innocent men to the scaffold, one of whom I loved dearer than life itself—my husband; and I, of all the world, knew he was not guilty of any crime, much less the heinous crime of murder. One would have supposed that a wife, on a mission of this nature, would have challenged the respect and sympathy of even barbarians, and possibly she would, but Christians, as my sad experience showed, on most occasions threw every obstacle in my way. Sometimes the hall was locked; sometimes policemen intimidated the people by running cordons around the place and gruffly telling them: “There is no meeting,” etc.; sometimes the militia was called out, as was the case in Orange, New Jersey, and Columbus, Ohio. These outrages were always perpetrated by the “authorities,” in the interest of “law and order.”]

3. Affidavit of Otis Favor.

4. The conditions under which our beloved comrades had to be taken to their graves,[18] and comments from Gen. Trumbull’s “Trial of the Judgment” on the same.

5. Capt. Black’s eloquent address at the grave.

6. Gen. B. F. Butler’s letter to Capt. Black.

The Story Told by Helen Wilmans.

Taken from the Woman’s World, June 15, 1886.

At the time the last number of this paper appeared Chicago was under gag law, and no soul dared open his mouth on the subject filling all hearts, unless he opened it to denounce the four Anarchists now lying in prison here. I did not choose to denounce those Anarchists, and so remained silent.

I shall remain silent no longer. One side only of the Chicago riot has been written, by a hundred lying pens. There is another side, which no one has dared to write. I, who speak in the cause of justice and mercy, will write it.

A deadly bomb has been thrown. With the abhorrence of bloodshed which was born with me, and which strengthens with my strength, I cannot indorse the throwing of that bomb. I believe that, in all probability, the rebellion of the working people against capitalistic tyranny will reach the point where bomb-throwing will become a matter of self-preservation. The soul of monopolistic rule is a hellish thing, that will never stop in its encroachments on human rights till the fury of the masses calls a halt. It may be that the Knights of Labor, under the masterly guidance of Powderly, will evolve a quiet adjustment, but I doubt it. And if not, what? Monopoly is steadily pushing its selfish claims. The people are not going to be murdered in smiling serenity. The Knights of Labor are not Socialists. They hate the Socialistic ideas as much as their masters. But a little more pressure from the upper stratification of society, and, without the slightest sympathy with Socialistic theories, they will burst their environments, and Powderly’s voice will be lost in the din of a thousand screaming bombs.

But when that bomb bursted in the old Haymarket square, and the gag law came instantly into force; when it at once became manifest that the great outside public should hear only one side, and that side distorted from the faintest semblance of truth, there was being enacted right here, under the silent sanction of the law, the most brutal outrages upon person and property, and never a breath of it printed in the daily papers, not one of which dared to write the whole truth. Indeed, the paper that could string together the vilest epithets against the four imprisoned men felt itself preeminently ahead in public favor. Distorted and outrageous pictures, purporting to be portraits of these men, appeared; wherever a Socialist is represented in print the head of a baboon is given him, and in the written description this lie is still farther insisted upon. Mrs. Parsons was represented in the dailies with the face of a negro and the retreating forehead of a monkey. I am told that Mrs. Parsons is young, with a handsome, strong face, eyes that emit electric gleams, and a tongue of thrilling eloquence. I regret to say that I am not personally acquainted with any of the Chicago Socialists, but a lady friend of mine, Mrs. Lizzie Swank, who knows the four men now in prison for the throwing of that bomb which they never threw, writes this in the Rock Islander.

August Spies is a remarkably talented and well-informed young man, attracting admiration and esteem from all who know him, and gaining honors, even among old journalists, for his literary ability. His pleasant manners and generous heart gains him hosts of friends, and in his own family he is almost idolized. He is thoroughly in earnest, and is convinced that a revolution of force will come, whether we will or not, in the natural evolution of society, but would not advocate an indiscriminate and unkindly use of dynamite. He also spoke at the meeting, and stood at Mr. Fielden’s side when the explosion occurred.

Mr. Schwab I only know as a hard-working journalist, who has many friends wherever he is known.

Mr. Parsons, who comes in for his share of abuse, though they have not got him behind the bars, is one of the ablest orators of the present day. He is thoroughly American, is a faithful and kind husband and father, a true friend to the hosts who love to call him friend, a clear thinker, and a devoted advocate of the rights of man. Many of the “incendiary” speeches attributed to him he never dreamed of uttering, and he, like Fielden, only went to the Haymarket square when sent for, and was as ignorant of any trouble likely to occur as a babe.

These men, at the call of the people, left their quiet homes to talk to them of their grievances and wrongs. They spoke the convictions of their hearts, and no one grew boisterous or wild under their words. The throng of 3,000 people was a most orderly one; it was about to disperse, under a proper adjournment, when up march 200 policemen, “tightly grasping their clubs, and with one hand on their revolvers,” and order them peremptorily to disperse.

It was at this moment some desperado threw the bomb. This much has been written, and the world knows all about it. But the world does not know what savage lawlessness took possession of the police, and how private dwellings were entered, women insulted, and young sons torn out of their homes and trampled on the pavement. The world does not know how homes were invaded; how a man in capitalistic pay had thrown that bomb for the express purpose of murdering the eight-hour movement. The killing of the eight-hour movement murders more men than the handful of city officers who have been buried; more than the unknown number of Socialists who were murdered then and afterwards, together with those now awaiting murder. It kills by inches the bodies and souls of thousands in the slow grind of incessant toil; it pins back in the old positions the half-arisen forms of a million men, whose stiffening joints will never again straighten in another effort for comparative freedom, unless they straighten with the convulsive jerk of frenzied passion to fill this world with deeds of horror.

The great question of to-day is, will that man Powderly be able to hold his influence with the order of which he is the head? If he does this we may pass the coming revolution quietly. If he does not do it, then the next ten years will see this nation in the dance of death, with the devil for fiddler. And monopoly will be the agent in this business—Monopoly, the father of Socialism and the foe of human rights.

* * *

Since writing the above I find the following in the Chicago Sentinel. It is headed: “Some Cold, Hard Facts:”

Unless you have justice in your soul and the love of truth in your heart do not read what follows. We propose to lay before our readers and the whole world some cold, hard facts in regard to the recent riot in Chicago. And to show that we have no sympathy with lawlessness we preface our comments with this six-line assertion: We never knowingly violated the law in our whole life; as a soldier we spent four years helping to maintain the Union, the constitution, the law, and the old red-white-and-blue flag—and the rest of our life is held in readines for the same cause at all times.

We will say farther that we are not a Socialist nor an Anarchist.

Now for a few plain words in regard to the Chicago riots. May 1, (bear in mind the dates) was set for the day inaugurating the great eight-hour movement. Some thirty or forty thousand employes in Chicago alone quit work in order to enforce the proposed system. It was an eventful day in the cause of labor. No threats were made; no violence offered. The movement was peaceable and orderly. Two days after, Monday, May 3, trouble occurred at the McCormick reaper works—a concern that has made many millions of dollars out of the products of mechanics and laborers, sold to farmers. The strikers assembled near the works, and hooted at the men who had taken their places in the works. There is no evidence that any real violence was offered. In fact, it was simply a recurrence of the proceedings of previous days for nearly a month. Any day during the preceding three or four weeks the same scenes were enacted.

But this was two days after the great eight-hour movement was inaugurated. The opponents of the eight-hour movement became apprehensive of its success. It became necessary to divert popular sympathy. In order to do SO A BLOW MUST BE STRUCK SOMEWHERE. Public opinion must, if possible, be aroused against the new movement. What better place to strike a blow than at the reaper works? At this establishment and in that vicinity were hundreds of the “cheap labor” men who had been imported to take the place of American labor. What better subjects than these very men to work upon? They could be easily excited to riot and bloodshed.

The police were called out. Away they flew in the patrol wagons to McCormick’s reaper works.

The daily press reports—as if working in the interests of the capitalists to precipitate a riot—are filled with reports of “a terrible mob and riot at McCormick’s works. It was necessary to call out the police and quell it.”

Till the police appeared on the ground, however, there is not a particle of evidence to show that a single act of serious violence had been committed, beyond merely hooting and yelling at the so-called “scabs.” No violence had been committed, but “just as the mob were ABOUT to break into the works the police appeared. AFTER the police appeared stones were hurled through the windows of the factory.”

Imported cheap labor was bombarding the greedy employer. A “terrible hand-to-hand fight occurred between the police and the mob, the latter being armed with revolvers, clubs, stones, bricks, etc. They fought hand to hand; the mob hurled stones and fired volley after volley at close contact. The police fired into the air over the heads of the mob.”

So say the reports. Read it in the daily press telegrams. Read it in the patent inside reports—over a thousand of which are sent out of Chicago.

Now listen to the results. Several rioters killed, and many wounded. Not a single policeman hurt-beyond a slight scratch to one or two. Mirabile dictu! The mob, who do all the shooting, get killed; the police, who “fire into the air,” escape.

Then comes the bloodthirsty circular—a mild affair; a paper wad at best. Tuesday arrives; Tuesday night. At Haymarket square several thousand people assemble to listen to “speeches from men who propose to discuss the strike and the McCormick affair.”

If there were any “incendiary speeches” delivered, what were they? Who made them? We have read carefully the daily press reports, but we fail to find any thing actually said that warranted the police in breaking up the meeting. There are plenty of assertions that something awful was said, but that “something awful” has never been printed. Let it be proven and printed, so that the world may judge for itself what it was. For two hours the meeting lasted. The crowd dwindled from three or four thousand to less than a thousand men and boys, idlers, curiosity seekers, and laborers. No riotous. demonstrations; no great noise; no disturbance; no effort to interfere with property in the vicinity. The killing of men at McCormick’s works was discussed; it was bitterly denounced. In all this was there anything unlawful? Ten o’clock comes; the meeting is growing smaller every minute; the last speaker is on the stand; the former speakers had “spoken their little pieces” and departed. Suddenly the police appeared. The meeting is ordered to disperse. A bombshell, a single one, is thrown into the ranks of the police. If the meeting is composed of bombshell throwers, where were they? What became of them?

If there was any preconcerted plan to clean out the police with bombshells, why was it not done? If one bombshell did such terrible work, a dozen of them would have killed the entire force. The fact that only one bombshell was thrown is the very best evidence that only one was there.

Now, then, what the world should know is this—who was responsible for police interference with the meeting? Who threw the bombshell? Let the man or men who were responsible for ordering out the police be condemned and punished. Let the man who threw the bombshell be caught and hung. Both were law-breakers.

Why was bloodshed precipitated at this particular time? Whose cause has been best served by the encounter, the opponents or the promoters in the great eight-hour movement? One thing is certain: the moral effect of the murderous bombshell business has been skillfully and persistently turned by a hireling press against the entire labor cause and the eight-hour movement. In conclusion we simply say that this is a plain synopsis of the “riotous demonstration” in Chicago. We leave the matter for the present where it is earnestly hoping and praying that two things may be developed by the forthcoming trials in the Courts, viz.: Who ordered out the police, and why; who threw the bombshell, and why.

Friends, there has been a deeply concerted and murderous conspiracy of capitalists for the purpose of suppressing the eight-hour movement, and Socialism is being used as the scapegoat of its crimes. It has been impossible so far to find the man who threw that bomb. The man who threw that bomb is not wanted. He could be found if Chicago’s moneyed men desired to see him.

Helen Wilmans.

Mrs. Parsons’ Arrest in Columbus, Ohio.

Taken from the Columbus Sunday Capital.

To the Editor:

Believing that your paper is published in the interest of truth, I ask for space in its columns to state briefly the facts relating to my incarceration in the Columbus prison. The venal capitalistic press has heralded the information all over the country that I was arrested for insulting the Mayor of Columbus. I never insulted the Mayor. My arrest was simply the carrying out of a conspiracy to suppress free speech. The Mayor is reported in the press as saying “he did not propose to have me preach Anarchy in Columbus, which must inevitably lead to bloodshed,” and the Mayor said “the meeting is declared off.”

In this connection, at this stage, it will be observed that there is no pretense that the hall had been rented under false pretenses. This evidently was an after-thought. As to my preaching “murder and incendiarism” I have this to say: that since the 13th day of last October I have lectured in sixteen States of this Union, as far East as the Atlantic seaboard and as far West as Omaha, and from Milwaukee to Louisville and Baltimore in the South, and during this time, in the course of some fifty-odd lectures, I have addressed near onto 200,000 persons, embracing people in every walk of life, yet in this vast concourse of people there is not one who can truthfully say that I ever uttered one word that could be construed into inciting to the commission of murder or that would bring the tinge to the cheek of the most fastidious.

In my lectures I have simply stated facts as they exist, and it will be a sad day for the American people when they supinely witness the dearest rights known to man stolen from them—rights which the founders of this Government said should not be abridged, not even by act of Congress, viz.: the right to peaceably assemble (stolen from them by the crafty use of the word Anarchy)—for, the precedent once established, the way is easy to dump every popular movement under this head, and thus effectually stifle the people’s voice.

But to my subject. On Sunday, March 6, I received a letter stating that a hall had been secured for me to lecture at Columbus, Ohio, and all necessary arrangements made. Acting upon this information, I left Cincinnati on Tuesday, March 8, for Columbus, arriving there at 7 o’clock p. m. Next day, in company with two friends, I walked around the city seeing places of interest. So, remembering I was in the capital of the State of Ohio, I expressed a desire to my friends to visit the halls of legislation.

While we were in the Senate chamber a gentleman entered and informed us that he had heard I would not be permitted to speak in the hall rented for that purpose. At this announcement, as might be imagined, we were much surprised. I suggested to the friends with me that we go and ascertain if there was any foundation for the rumor. So accordingly we went from the State House building to the hall. The janitor stated that he had arranged the chairs in the hall and was putting things in order, but at noon he had received orders to permit no one but members of the State militia in the hall that evening. Upon receiving this information I suggested that we call upon the gentleman from whom the hall had been rented. We repaired to his office. On observing our entrance he became quite angry, and stated that he had rented the hall to the trades association and not to Anarchists. The gentleman accompanying us denied that he had represented himself as engaging it for the trades association. I then produced the receipt and showed it to him, and called his attention to the fact that the receipt read that the hall had been rented for March 8 to “association,” and that no specified association had been mentioned. He said he didn’t care, he was not going to have the Anarchists speaking in that hall, etc.; that we could have the money we had paid, but he would see to it that we didn’t get the hall. I said:

“Do you mean to say after you have rented me the hall you are going to prevent my using it?”

He said that was just what he meant. Then I said:

“If you understand Anarchy to mean violence and disorder, you, sir, are the only Anarchist I know of in Columbus just now.”

We then left his office and went to the Mayor’s office, one block away. As we left the agent ran up stairs (his office was in the basement) and ordered a policeman, who seemed to be stationed there, to arrest the gentleman, myself, and Mrs. Lyndall. The policeman rushed up to the man and slapped him on the shoulder, as if to place him under arrest. I said:

“Don’t arrest that man. He has done nothing. Besides, we are on our way to the Mayor’s office.”

The policeman went on with us, and by this time we had arrived at the Mayor’s office; Police Court had just adjourned. I was told by one of the officers in the corridor to go into the Mayor’s private office; he would be in in a minute. Maj. Coit, the agent from whom the hall had been rented, had reached the Mayor’s office by this time, and had a few moments’ private talk with the Mayor, Then the Mayor and about twenty-five police and detectives crowded into the room where myself and Mrs. Lyndall were seated.

As soon as the Mayor entered, Mrs. Lyndall introduced him to me. I could at once see he was much the worse for drink. I was calm as I ever was in my life, and as politely as I knew how to, began to address him thus:

“You are the Mayor? Well, sir, I have rented a hall in which to speak to-night, but have been told that I will not be permitted to speak in it. Now, sir, I come to you, as the highest peace officer in this city, to request you to see to it that order is maintained—” Just at this juncture, and before I could finish my sentence, he broke in, and with a flourish of his hand, said:

“I don’t want to hear anything from you. There will be no meeting in that hall to-night.”

My answer to this unexpected rejoinder was this, and only this, the venal press to the contrary notwithstanding:

“Sir, I come to you, not as a dictator, but as a servant of the people,” but before I could utter another word he said to the pack of sleuth-hounds (detectives) standing around him:

“Take her down.”

I did not know what he meant, but it seems they did, for one weighing about 200 pounds and near six feet tall jumped at and seized me by the arm and called upon another one to take me by the other arm, and as to the way they handled me, my arms bear their finger prints to this day, and can be seen by any one. I have shown them to my friends, who were moved to tears at the evidences of their brutality, as shown by the black spots on both of my arms. They jerked my shawl off my shoulders and threw it at Mrs. Lyndall, and said to her, “Here, take this!” This was witnessed by at least fifty people in the corridor, not one of whom can truthfully say I was using any language unbecoming a lady. At this juncture, the suddenness of the onslaught and the termination of my interview with the Mayor was so different from what I anticipated, that I think I was more dazed than anything else. But what I do remember saying to those two hulks who had torn my shawl from my shoulders and thrown it at Mrs. Lyndall, as above stated, that they might the better grip my arms as in a vice, and as they dragged me down stairs, was this: “You scoundrels! Does it take two of you to carry one little woman?”

By this time I had been hurried down stairs and the charge of “disorderly conduct” placed opposite my name. And the reader can well imagine that this occurred in ten times less time than it takes to tell it. In fact, it was all over in three minutes.

The place I was put in for the first four hours of my incarceration, I understand from the Columbus papers, is known as the “ranch.” The “ranch” I will describe. This “ranch” consists of a long, narrow passage-way (about four feet wide and twenty feet long) upon which open heavy iron doors, leading from small, dark, filthy, ill-smelling, dungeon-like cells; in fact, they are dungeons. Well, on my being thrust into the narrow passage-way above described, and the iron bolt clicked into its place, denoting that I was buried for the time being from the world, the sights I beheld and what I passed through for the next twenty-one hours can never be erased from my memory, though it were possible for me to live a thousand years. I saw lying upon an indescribably filthy semblance of a quilt a young woman, not particularly bad looking so far as facial expression went. Then sitting about the filthy, hard stone floor were four other females; there was no chair or anything else to sit upon. Standing near the barred window was another rather good-looking, young woman, I should say about 20 years old. As soon as the door closed they all began to ply me with questions which ran thus:

“What are you run in for?”

“Disorderly conduct,” I answered.

“Is this your first time?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Oh, well, it won’t go very hard with you then if it is the first time.”

“How hard do you think it will go with me?” I asked.

“Oh, if it’s the first time $5 and costs, and if you can show you never was in before it won’t be that much.” “Well, do you think I can get out on bail to-night?” I asked.

“Yes, if you have got about $10 to put up, and if you ain’t got that much I see you have got a watch. Put that up. But don’t let’m around here know that you’ve got much money. If you do they will soak you.”

The conversation ran on in this strain for a while, until I obtained all the information I wished, then I turned it off by asking them what they got to eat and when they got it. The answer was:

“Bread and water and salt for breakfast, nothing for dinner, and bread and water and salt for supper. “And is that all you have?”

“Yes,” they replied.

“And this is what you have and you are put in here for punishment. Are you any better off when you go out?”

They all answered in chorus: “Ha! we are a sight worse. It only makes a girl worse to treat them like we are treated.”

I then began to look into the filthy, dark, little dungeons, and was about to enter one when they cried out:

“Don’t go in there! You’ll get full of bedbugs.”

“Well, where do you sleep?” I asked.

“Out here on the floor,” they answered.

“What, on this hard, stone floor. Where are your bed-clothes?”

“We don’t have any,” was the reply.

“What, do you sleep on nothing?”

Some of them began to wish the man would come on around with the bread and salt, as they were getting hungry. I noticed, while engaged in conversation with some, that others were going to the door and talking through a little hole not much larger than a silver dollar, using the vilest language I had ever heard escape from the lips of human beings. About this time a man came to the door and opened it, and asked if we were hungry. I asked the girls if they would like a sandwich. They thanked me, and I sent out for seven—the number present—six besides myself. Afterwards a guard came to the door and I asked him if there was not some way for me to get out, as I didn’t want to stay in that place all night. He said he thought so. I asked him how much would be required. He said $10 was what was usually required, and if I had that amount and would leave it with the desk officer he thought I could get out. I told him I not only had $10, but a $50 watch also, and to go and tell the parties in control I would leave both. I never saw him after. I had now been in this den (which must be seen to be appreciated) about three hours. During all this time it seemed that all the vile, base, low men in Columbus had been admitted, and peeked in and carried on with the creatures in that den—soldiers from the Barracks included—and the language they used must be heard to be believed. About 10 o’clock p.m., a guard came to the door and ordered me to take my things and follow him. My “things” consisted of my shawl which had been snatched from me in the afternoon, and which Mrs. Lyndall had returned to me at my request. I was conducted into a narrow cell, or rather dungeon, about five feet long and four feet wide. In this insufferably hot hole I was kept locked until 4 o’clock next day, without one thing to sleep on except some oaken slats which were held together by iron bolts and suspended by iron chains. Mrs. Lyndall, when she called the next morning, asked the guard why I was not permitted to come out in the passage way and exercise and have fresh air. The reply was that orders had been given that I was to be kept locked in. None of my friends were permitted to see me all the time I was incarcerated, although some thirty or forty called—none but Mrs. Lyndall, who was permitted to bring my meals. But every loating detective and ward bummer in the city, every disreputable male brute who wished to come and lean against the iron grating of the dark, hot, little sweat box I was locked in could do so. Whenever a gang of these put in an appearance—gangs numbering never less than three up to ten—the door leading into at the passage-way containing the dungeon in which I was confined—the great bolt in the outer door flow back and they walked in and would leer at me as though I were a wild beast belonging to a menagerie. And they would laugh at me and asked “how much I liked it;” how was my “health.” Now this did not happen once, twice, thrice, but there was a continuous throng all the time I was there. Next day following the one on which I was incarcerated, I was brought into Court, and here I found, in the same individual, complainant, prosecuting attorney, chief witness all occupying the judicial bench to mete out “impartial” justice to me. This was no less a personage than his Honor, Mayor Walcott, of Columbus, and the kind of “justice” I received from him was ordered sent to jail without a hearing, on $300 bonds, the charge being simply that of, “disorderly conduct,” which was a trumped-up charge to get me behind the bars, and thus preclude the possibility of my speaking in Columbus that night—in other words a foul conspiracy to crush free speech. But suppose the charge of “disorderly conduct” was true? This, very Mayor dismisses from his Court every day in the week the worst characters on a small fine.

I remained in jail all night, was well treated by the Sheriff, with the exception that he had a good many “friends” whom he, too, brought up to see me. My attorneys sued out a writ of habeas corpus and brought me before a Judge who refused to grant it, but who reduced my bail from $300 to $100, to stand trial the middle of April on a charge of “disorderly conduct.”

I know my communication is rather lengthy, but it is as brief as I could possibly make it and give the bare, plain facts in this remarkable case of impartial justice.” Let the people of America read and ponder—those of them who believe the laws are administered alike for rich and poor—and in reading I hope they will lose sight of me and see the simple fact that it is not I who am on trial, but free speech—and ask themselves where are their boasted liberties drifting when a petty tyrant of a Mayor can, with impunity, “declare a meeting off” and lock the speaker up on a trumped-up charge. As to the vile libel about my using “obscene language,” the thousands of, my friends who know me in this and other cities, can bear witness that no language is ever used by me unbecoming a lady,

Lucy E. Parsons.
Chicago, Ill., March, 1887.

Mr. Parsons sent the following telegram to Lucy E. Parsons, Columbus, Ohio: “The poor have no rights which the rich are bound to respect.” Mr. Parsons does strike the truth obliquely—Editorial Columbus Sunday Capital.

The Affidavit of Otis Favor.

Here is the affidavit of Otis Favor, as it was presented to the Governor on the 9th day of November, 1887. It remains uncontradicted:

County of Cook.

Otis S. Favor, being duly sworn on oath, says that he is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Illinois, residing in Chicago, and a merchant doing business at Nos. 6 and 8 Wabash avenue, in the city of Chicago, in said county. That he is very well acquainted with Henry L. Ryce, of Cook county, Illinois, who acted as a special bailiff in summoning jurors in the case of The People, etc., vs. Spies et al., indictment for murder, tried in the Criminal Court of Cook county in the summer of 1886. That affiant was himself summoned by said Ryce for a juror in said case, but was challenged and excused therein because of his prejudice. That on several occasions in conversation between affiant and said Ryce touching the summoning of the jurors by said Ryce, and while said Ryce was so acting as special bailiff as aforesaid, said Ryce said to this affiant and to other persons in affiant’s presence, in substance and effect as follows, to-wit: “I,” (meaning said Ryce) “am managing this case” (meaning the case against Spies et al.), “and know what I am about. Those fellows” (meaning the defendants, Spies, et al.), “are going to be hanged as certain as death. I am calling such men as the defendants will have to challenge peremptorily and waste their time and challenges. Then they will have to take such men as the prosecution wants.” That affiant has been very reluctant to make any affidavit in this case, having no sympathy with Anarchy nor relationship to nor personal interest in the defendants or any of them, and not being a Socialist, Communist, or Anarchist; but affiant has an interest as a citizen in the due administration of the law, and that no injustice should be done under judicial procedure, and believes that jurors should not be selected with reference to their known views or prejudice.

Affiant further says that his personal relations with said Ryce were at said time, and for many years theretofore had been most friendly and even intimate, and that affiant is not prompted by any ill will toward any one in making this affidavit, but solely by a sense of duty and a conviction of what is due to justice. Affiant further says that about the beginning of October, 1886, when the motion for a new trial was being argued in said case before Judge Gary, and when, as he was informed, application was made before Judge Gary for leave to examine affiant in open Court touching the matters above stated, this affiant went upon request from State’s Attorney Grinnell to his office during the noon recess of the Court, and there held an interview with said Grinnell, Mr. Ingham, and said Ryce, in the presence of several other persons, including some police officers, where affiant repeated substantially the matters above stated, and the said Ryce did not deny affiant’s statements, and affiant said he would have to testify thereto if summoned as a witness, but had refused to make an affidavit thereto, and affiant was then and there asked and urged to persist in his refusal and to make no affidavit. And further affiant saith not.

Otis S. Favor.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 7th day of November, A. D., 1887.

Julius Stern,
Notary Public in and for said County.

The significance of the above statement lies in the latter part of it, where, after giving his reasons for declining to appear in Court during the argument of the motion for a new trial, and his reasons for refusing to make an affidavit at that time, Mr. Favor says that he went to Mr. Grinnell’s office at the request of Mr. Grinnell, and was “asked and urged to persist in his refusal, and to make no affidavit.” This, in the presence of Mr. Grinnell, Mr. Ingham, his assistant in the prosecution, and Mr. Ryce, the bailiff who summoned the jury. This is evidence that the State’s Attorney adopted and indorsed the illegal action of the bailiff. It is evidence that the Prosecuting Attorneys were accessories after the fact to the suspicious making of the jury; and it raises a presumption that they were accessories before the fact also. On weaker testimony men were hanged as accessories to the throwing of the bomb.

The Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor.

A comic twinship was that of the Governor and the Mayor making anti-coercion speeches at Battery “D” last May. Moved by counterfeit anger, they condemned force as an agent of Government—in Ireland—but not in Illinois. With deep mock feeling the Mayor exclaimed: “Force cannot endure against the liberty-loving instincts of an earnest and united people.” In theatrical recitation he condemned what he called the “atrocious bill” for the preservation of “law and order” in Ireland. He did not know it at the time, but his denunciations fell more justly and more heavily upon himself than upon Lord Salisbury. He condemned himself as follows:

The act gives the Lord Lieutenant authority to proclaim any district and suppress any association which he thinks disloyal to the Government, and to direct all in such district to be searched, and thus effect a general disarmament of the Irish people. Nor is this all. The bill provides for a special jury, which, in this case, may mean one packed for the Government.

In the practice of coercion there is little difference between the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Lord Lieutenant of Chicago, as. the following arbitrary order will show:

Chicago, Illinois, November 12, 1887.

Frederick Ebersold, Superintendent of Police:

You will issue a permit worded as follows to the committee whose application is enclosed:

“Permission is hereby granted to the families and friends of August Spies, A. R. Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, and Louis Lingg to conduct a funeral Sunday, November 13, between the hours of 12 and 2 o’clock, p. m., on the following conditions:

“The bodies are to be taken from the respective homes directly to the place of burial, the families and friends of deceased forming a line on Milwaukee avenue, commencing near Bryson street, and the procession moving on Milwaukee avenue to Desplaines street, Desplaines to Lake street, Lake to Fifth avenue, and Fifth avenue to the depot of the Wisconsin Central Railway company at Polk street.

“The carrying or displaying of banners is prohibited; no speeches are to be made, and no concealed weapons or arms shall be carried in the procession; nor shall any demonstration of a public character be made except to conduct the funeral in a quiet and orderly manner. The music, if any, to be dirges only.

“This permit is issued subject to the statute laws of the State of Illinois and the laws and ordinances of the city of Chicago, and the procession will be at all times subject to police regulations.

“John A. Roche, Mayor.”

It might be difficult to prove that this harsh proclamation was in accordance with the statute law of Illinois and the laws and ordinances of Chicago; but if it was, the fact would only show that the proposed coercion law for Ireland, which the Mayor so dramatically stigmatized in May, was at that very time the law of the State of Illinois and the city of Chicago. The Mayor “proclaimed” certain streets of the city, and he forbade the carrying of banners. He “disarmed” the people and prohibited speeches. Like a French emperor he proscribed certain hymns and songs, which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland would hardly dare to do. The Mayor of Chicago pretended to be sensitive that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should be empowered to suppress associations which he thought were disloyal to the Government, and to direct searches to be made in the proclaimed districts. Has not the Mayor of Chicago done those very same things? Has he not suppressed associations? And has he not, through his police, searched houses without any lawful warrant whatever? As for the “special jury” wickedness, what sort of a jury did the Anarchists have? Was not that a special jury? And was it not packed for the Government? The Mayor showed a great deal of stage grief over the “rack-renting” in Ireland, forgetting that there is more rack-renting done in Chicago in six months than is done in Ireland in six years. Such leases as are every day enforced by scores in Illinois, the British Government would not allow to be enforced in Ireland. There are more “rack-renting” evictions every year in Illinois, yes, more of them in the single mayoralty of Chicago, than in the whole kingdom of Ireland, for the same period of time…

Capt. Black’s Eulogy at the Tomb.

Capt. Black ascended the platform where the mourning women stood. He motioned for silence, and said:

“If you will all be as quiet as possible many of you may be able to hear what may be said, although to make oneself heard by all this multitude, who have come hither to-day, the common people, to pay their tribute of love and affection, would be an impossibility. Let us keep silence while we are here together.

“Many loved truth and lavished life’s best oil
Amid the dust of books to find her,
Content at last for guerdon of their toil
Many in sad faith sought her,
Many with crossed hands sighed for her,
But these, our brothers, fought for her,
At life’s dear peril wrought for her,
So loved her that they died for her.
Tasting the raptured sweetness
Of her divine completeness,
Their higher instincts knew,
Those love her best who to themselves are true,
And what they dared to dream of, dared to do.
They followed her and found her.
Where all may hope to find,
Not in the ashes of the burnt-out mind,
But beautiful with danger’s sweetness round her,
Where faith made whole with deed,
Breathes its awakening breath Into the lifeless creed.
They saw her plumed and mailed,
With sweet, stern face unveiled,
And all repaying eyes looked proud on them in death.

“And what is truth? Not statements of lifeless dogma, not words here and there spoken, that echo through the corridors of time, but the life-consecrated loyally to the conviction of duty, to the service of that which is apprehended as the highest, and noblest, and best; a life that is thrown into the service of humanity and not withheld even unto death—this is truth. Through eighteen centuries there has come down to us the answer of that lowly but glorious one of Nazareth, to the question: What is truth? in the words, I am the truth.

“No man knows the truth until it has entered into his being, until it has taken possession of him, until it has become the inspiration of his life and his crown in death. And these men, even their enemies being judges, have kept loyal to the conviction that entered into their lives and became the best part of themselves.

“Whatever their mistakes of judgment, their hearts were wrapped up in the cause of the common people, with that sublime infatuation of self-sacrifice which is the one thing that lifts our humanity up to heights where sits the Eternal Good.

“I am not here this afternoon, dear friends, to speak to you any special word concerning the cause for which these men lived, nor concerning the manner of their taking off; but to speak to you rather of themselves, to tell you their love for the cause which commanded their services, was sealed at last by their lives, not grudgingly. but given with unstinted measure for the sake of those they loved. You know, many of you, who have read the press, how grandly they passed out of this life that is seen into the perfect and glorious life that is beyond the reach of misjudgment, cf resentment, or of pain.

“As the years go by, of whose record the story of their services will form a splendid part, they will come to be better known, to be loved, to be revered. I am not here to talk of their violent end as of an ignominious death. We are not beside the caskets of felons consigned to an inglorious tomb. We are here by the bodies of men who were sublime in their self-sacrifice, and for whom the gibbet assumed the glory of a cross. They moved to their appointed death slow-paced and strong—no faltering, no trembling, no turning back. Upon the morning of that fateful day, when August Spies stood already within the shadow of his doom, he said to one near him, holding up his hand in witness of the fact:

“This hand is as steady as when, in the old days,
It plucked the already ripe fruit from life’s tree;
The apple that weighted the bough in the gold days
When blazed the great sun of promise for me.
Yes, perfectly steady, with no trace of trembling,
Though all is near ready to meet my death here!
Pray observe! There is nothing remotely resembling
The outward expression of commonplace fear.

“To such men death had, and could have, no terrors, and their execution, which was self-immolation, could have no touch of shame. Whatever else may be said of these dead, it will not be denied that they were loyal and true to the convictions which had taken captive, years ago, their hearts, and to what they believed to be the welfare of the people, whom they loved.

“I must not keep you long, and yet there is one thing that I specially want to say, because doubtless in this great throng there stand many who misapprehended their position and their views. They were called Anarchists. They were painted and presented to the world as men loving violence, riot, and bloodshed for their own sake; as men full of an unextinguishable and causeless hatred against existing order. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were men who loved peace, men of gentle instincts, men of gracious tenderness of heart, loved by those who knew them, trusted by those who came to understand the loyalty and purity of their lives. And the Anarchy of which they spoke and taught—what was it, but an attempt to answer the question, “After the revolution, what?” They believed—ah! I would that there were no grounds for this belief—that there was that of wrong and hardship in the existing order which pointed to conflict, because they believed that greed and selfishness would not surrender, of their own volition, unto righteousness. But their creed had to do with the to-morrow of the possible revolution, and the whole of their thought and their philosophy, as Anarchists, was the establishment of an order of society that should be symbolized in the words, ‘order without force.’ Is it practicable? I know not.

“I know that it is not practical now; but I know also that through the ages poets, philosophers, and Christians, under the inspiration of love and beneficence, have thought of the day to come when righteousness shall reign in the earth, and when sin and selfishness should come to an end. We look forward to that day, we hope for it, we wait for it; and with such a hope in our hearts can we not bring the judgment of charity to bear upon any mistakes of policy or action that may have been made by any of those who, acknowledging the sublime and glorious hope in their hearts, have rushed forward to meet it?

“We are not here this afternoon to weep, we are not here to mourn over our dead. We are here to pay, by our presence and our words, the tribute of our appreciation and the witness of our love. For I loved these men. I knew them not until I came to know them in the time of their sore travail and anguish. As months went by, and I found in the lives of these with whom I talked the witness of their love for the people, of their patience, gentleness, and courage, my heart was taken captive in their cause, If any of you feel that the tears are coming, listen to the last words spoken by one of these (Parsons), our dead, on that morning before their execution:

“Come not to my grave with your mournings,
With your lamentations and tears,
With your sad forebodings and fears!
When my lips are dumb
Do not thus come.

Bring no long train of carriages,
No hearse crowned with waving plumes,
Which the gaunt glory of death illumes;
But with my hands on my breast
Let me rest.

Insult not my dust with your pity,
Ye who’re left on this desolate shore
Still to suffer and lose and deplore.
‘Tis I should, as I do,
Pity you.

For me no more are the hardships,
The bitterness, heartaches, and strife,
The sadness and sorrow of life,
But the glory divine—
This is mine.

Poor creatures! Afraid of the darkness,
Who groan at the anguish to come.
How silent I go to my home!
Cease your sorrowful bell—
I am well.

“It has been said that these men knew no religion. I repel the charge. I know but one religion, the religion which seeks to manifest itself—its service of God or of the Supreme Good—by its service of humanity in its anguish and its hours of despair. And one of these, our dead, while within the very gloom of approaching death, gave us these words: “My religion is this, to live right; to do right is to live right, and the service of humanity is my worship of God.”

“I remember that back in the centuries it was written in words that shall never perish: “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.”

“There is no worthy conception possible to humanity of that which we call God, other than the conception which sets our life aflame in the service of our fellow-men.

“But I must not keep you. There is no need to multiply words in such a presence as this. There are times when silence is more terrible than speech, When men, moving to the supreme issue of life, can say, standing with one foot on earth and the other upon the shore of the unknown, in a sublime burst of enthusiasm: “This is the happiest moment of my life.” When men, even in that hour, can cheer for the cause to which they have given their lives; when, forgetting themselves, they can speak of “the voice of the people,” until utterance is silent forever. And what need is there, standing by the bodies of such men, to multiply words?

“Yet let me read to you a poem handed to me on the train as I came hither, written by I know not whom, but by some one whose breast was full of love, and whose brain could catch the inspiration of such a death as was theirs in whose memory we are here. Give me your hearts as I read:

“Under the cruel tree,
Planted by tyranny,
Grown in barbarity,
Fostered by wrong;
With stately, soldier pace,
With simple, manly grace,
Each hero took his place,
Steady and strong.

Wearing their robes of white,
As saints or martyrs might,
Calmly, in conscious right,
Faced they the world.
While on each face upturned
Sternly their sad eyes burned
Reproach, for blame unearned
Hatred had hurled.

Hatred, dull-eared and blind,
Hatred, of unsound mind,
Hatred, which gropes to find
That which is worst!
How could it judge a heart,
Where wrong and suffering start
The throbbing valves apart,
E’en till they burst?

How could it hear the call,
Through life’s grim silence fall,
Sounding to waken all
Those souls who sleep?
How could it see the height?
That to those eyes was bright
Where, as a sun, in might,
Freedom shall sweep?

Not for the hearts that bled,
Not for the bride unwed,
Children and wives unfed,
Should our tears flow;
But for the palsied brains,
But for the stagnant veins,
For the greed that sucks its gains
From human woe.

One with a gentle word,
One with a sob unheard
Of warning love; a third
With triumph cry
Meeting the rope’s embrace—
Of gallows’ old disgraced,
Making a holy place;
Thus did they die.

And when, in later days,
Bards all sing lofty lays,
In freedom’s makers’ praise,
Their names shall live;
And hearts which cannot sing
Shall the pure incense swing
Of love, that all may bring,
That each will give.”

Other speeches mere made on this occasion by Robert Reitzel, of Detroit, Michigan, Paul Grottkau, and T. J. Morgan.

Benjamin F. Butler’s Letter to Capt. Black.

Boston, Mass., February 14, 1888.

My Dear Capt. Black:

I am very much obliged to you for your letter, and I am also thankful for the receipt of your argument to the jury in the case of Spies et al., or what will be known in the long history as the “Anarchist case.”

Our pleasant acquaintance under the most unpleasant circumstances, the joint unsuccessful advocacy of life for men who were unlawfully convicted and unwisely executed, has given me an insight into your purpose and character, and will make our friendship a lasting one, at least on my side.

I had not believed it possible that palpable judicial murders could again prevail in this country. They once did, in what we have been accustomed to regard as the best and purest days of the colonies. It is less than two centuries since seven men of the highest standing, a majority of whom were reverend gentlemen, clergymen, as good and pious men as ever lived, as exemplary in every relation of life as it was possible for men to be, sat in a so-called Court of justice, each morning session whereof was opened with fervent prayer to the divine source of all knowledge, grace, and power, to direct the actions of his servants as the Judges of that Court; and in that Court were arraigned, day after day, poor, miserable, broken down, superstitious women and children, upon the accusation that they had commerce with the devil, and used his power as a means of spite upon their neighbors, and as one of the means of inflicting torture, because thereof the devil had empowered these poor creatures to shoot common house pins from a distance into the flesh of their neighbors’ children, by which they were greatly afflicted. Being put to the bar to be tried, they were not allowed counsel, and, thank God, our profession was not disgraced, because the Attorney-General was a merchant. The deluded creatures sometimes pleaded guilty, and sometimes not guilty, but in either event they were found guilty and executed, and the pins, which were produced in evidence, can now be seen among the records of that Court, in the court-house of the county of Essex, Massachusetts.

And beyond all this that Court enforced, worse than the tortures of the Inquisition, dreadful wrongs upon a prisoner in order to accomplish his conviction. Giles Corey was an old man, 80 years of age. He had a daughter some 40 years of age, simple-minded, not able to earn her own living, and a small farm, a piece of land and a house thereon, which he hoped to leave to his daughter at his then impending death. Giles was accused of being a wizard. His life had been blameless in everything except his supposed commerce with the devil. Upon ex parte testimony he was indicted for this too great intimacy with the evil one, and sent to the bar to be tried for his life.

Giles knew that if he pleaded not guilty he was sure to be convicted, because that was the doom of the Anarchists of that day; and if he pleaded guilty he would be sentenced to death, and in either case the farm would be forfeited to the King. But if he did not plead at all—such was the law—then he could not be tried at all, and his property could not be forfeited to the King and taken from his daughter. So Giles stood mute and put the Court at defiance.

And then that Court of pious clergymen resorted to a method to make him plead which had not been in practice in England for 200 years, and never here, and poor Giles was taken and laid on the ground by the side of the court-house, on his back, with the flashing sun burning in his eyes, and a single cup of water from the ditch of the jail, with a crust of bread, was given him every twenty-four hours, and weights were placed upon his body, until at last the life was crushed out of him, but not the father’s love for his child. He died, but not until his parched tongue protruded from the old man’s fevered mouth. It was thrust back by the Chief Justice with his cane. The cherished daughter inherited.

Being fully imbued with this knowledge of what good men will do when they are either frightened for their souls or their bodies, it has not been to me a source of so much wonder as it might otherwise have been, how the law was administered in frenzy in Chicago. Years hence, when you and I have passed away, the case of Giles Corey and the witches, and the case of the Anarchists, will be compared by just-minded men more than they are now. I hope there may be one fact follow in the Anarchists’ cases that followed in the witches’ cases: Judge Sewall, a reverend clergyman, and one of the Judges of the witches, before he died learned how deeply he had erred and sinned before God, and he repented in sack-cloth and ashes, literally coming out in the face of his congregation and standing in the broad aisle of the church exclaiming, while his written confession of his sins and folly in the witches’ case was being read: “Alas! God have mercy on me for what I have done.”

I hope you will live to be present when one of the Judges before whom you argued will find it his duty to take a like step; but I fear that, while he has had the incredible folly of Judge Sewall in the treatment of his prisoners, he won’t have the piety of Sewall in publicly appealing to his God for mercy, as an example against all others offending in a like manner.

A learned and upright Judge, writing the judicial history of witchcraft in this country, sums up as follows:

If the popular cry is to be the standard of what is right, the security of property is at an end, personal liberty is no longer safe, and the blood of the innocent will often seal the triumph of a popular administration of justice, in the triumph of popular vengeance.

Some later writer on judicial proceedings, comparing the judicial murder of the witches with the trial of the Anarchists, will close by saying: “Alas! how surely, from age to age, doth history repeat herself.”

One further fact, which I send to you for your comfort: The determined action of a single member of our profession, standing up against this witchcraft craze, brought it to an end. I look for like fruits to come from what you have done.

Renewing my assurance of kindest regard, I am, very truly, your friend and servant,

Benjamin F. Butler.


[1] This is the “Uncle Jonathan” whom America makes its patron saint.

[2] The grand jury’s indictment alleged, among other things, that Mr. Parsons was only in the movement for the money which he could make of his dupes.

[3] This was being done at that time in the Territories.

[4] The book here refered to is almost exclusively compiled from the records of the police department of Vienna.

[5] Sample report of capitalistic papers of Mr. Parsons’ voluntary surrender in Court for trial when the case was called, June 21, 1886.

[6] Twenty-four hours before the jury retired to consider their verdict, the Chicago Tribune opened its columns for the solicitation of voluntary contributions to pay the jury for the verdict! It was suggested that a sum of $100,000 be raised for this purpose. This was done editorially. Several good Christian gentlemen sent their names to the paper, stating the sum they were willing to contribute to the blood-fund. Possibly this may have had something to do with the “swift” verdict. A brother-in-law of one of the jurors was in constant attendance upon them; brothers-in-law have been known to let their kinsmen know when there was a good thing in prospect for them. The following are a fair sample of letters from some of those good Christian gentlemen:
“A FUND FOR THE JURY. Chicago, August 20, 1886—Editor of the Tribune: In view of the long and close confinement endured by the jury in the Anarchist trial and the display of manly courage evidenced by their prompt and fearless verdict, I beg to suggest the propriety of starting a subscription for the purpose of raising at least $1,000 for the benefit of each juryman. I am far from being rich, but would gladly give $25 for this purpose, and will deliver same at your office the day you may start the subscription. W. C. E.”
“Chicago, August 20, 1886—Editor of the Tribune: The long agony is over. Law has triumphed. Anarchy is defeated. The conspirators have been promptly convicted. Let them be as promptly punished. The ‘twelve good nieu and true,’ whose honesty and fearlesness made a conviction possible should not be forgotten. They have performed their unpleasant duty without flinching. Let them be generously reinembered. Raise a fund—say $100.000—to be presented with the thanks of a grateful people. E. A. MULFORD.”
“Mr. N. B, Ream, in speaking to a Tribune reporter, thought it would be eminently proper to start a fund for the purpose of indemnifying the jurors who so patiently sat for eight weeks at the trial, thereby losing in business and time and endangering their health, for which they were so meagerly paid by the County and then in vouchers which will be cashed nobody knows when. Mr. Ream thought it was not proper to mention this while the trial was in progress, but now that it is over he is willing to head the list with the sum of $500. Thus will the schoolmaster who so nobly sacrificed his vacation be in a measure repaid, and so will the others who, being mostly if not all business men, were greatly inconvenienced by their selection as jurors.”
Nor was the good Judge Gary unmindful of the raising of the blood-fund. For hear what the “honorable” Judge has to say from the bench in thanking the jury for the noble work on their part, so well prearranged in the awful tragedy of judicial murder:
Gentlemen of the Jury: You have finished this long and very arduous trial, which has required a considerable sacrifice of time and some hardship. I hope that everything has been done that could possibly be done to make those sacrifices and hardships as mild as might be permitted. It does not become me to say anything in regard to the case that you have tried or verdict you have rendered, but men compulsorily serving as jurors, as you have done, deserve some recognition of the service you have performed besides the meager compensation you have received.”
Now the “hardships” consisted in the jury’s being put up at a fashionable hotel, just across from the court-house, and in sight of the entrance, so they could observe the part played by the police and detectives. The latter fairly swarmed about the door, and as the jury filed past many times they were heard to make such remarks about the case as to prejudice still further the already prejudiced jury’s minds. The “sacrifice” was relieved by giving the jury carriage rides every Sunday along the avenues of the rich, and occasionally letting a juror visit his family, it being alleged that there was sickness in the family. But this was done possibly because they were a jury of “gentlemen” and a jury of business men.”

[7] See Appendix, page 242, for this affidavit.

[8] The General here gives a decision from the Supreme Court of the State of New York, sustaining this position.

[9] The jury in an interview spoke of themselves as a jury of “gentlemen.”

[10] The author was told by an attorney on the morning of the rendering of the verdict that Grinnell had just expressed the regret to him that he had forgotten to mention to the jury that, in view of the fact that Parsons had voluntarily surrendered, he ought to be entitled to some consideration. This proves what kind of a “fair” trial it was.

[11] The above letter was handed to me by Mr. Parsons in the afternoon of August 20, 1886, the first time I had seen him after the verdict was rendered. —Lucy E. Parsons.

[12] His children, Albert and Lulu, were at this time stopping at Waukesha, Wisconsin.

[13] It will be observed that from November 6 Mr. Parsons dated his communications from “Dungeon No. 7,” while the eighteen previous months they had been dated from “Cell No. 29.” The reason of this was that the five who refused absolutely to sign any document asking Oglesby (then Governor) “clemency,” claiming they had committed no crime to ask “clemency” for, were placed into dungeons, while the three who signed the petition were left in the same cells they had occupied all the time. On my inquiry of a deputy sheriff why this distinction was made, he roughly told me: “It’s because they won’t recognize the Governor.” —Lucy E. Parsons.

[14] For a detailed and faithful account of the last sad hours of his life, when the shadows of the scaffold were thickening and casting their gloom upon the prison cell, read his own graphic account of his thoughts and feelings when on that last night he heard them erecting the gallows upon which he was to die in a few fleeting hours, in his book on “Anarchism,” which he wrote thirty days before his judicial murder. These, together with a great deal of interesting matter, will be found in the Appendix of the book.

[15] It will be observed that Mr. Parsons was compelled to sign an order turning his body over to his wife. This was unprecedented in this State. The reason for it was this: The Citizens’ Association and other capitalists tried to persuade Sheriff Matson to secret the bodies and not turn them over to the families; but he refused to do it. In order to prevent them from stealing the bodies he, on his own responsibility, caused each one to sign an order requesting of him to deliver their bodies to their families, and these orders were placed in the hands or undertakers, who waited in the jail-yard until the murder was committed, with these orders, to prevent the bodies from being stolen by the gouhls.

[16] This extract is from one of the city dailies which was most bitter in urging the officials and jury to ‘discharge their duty to society,’ and, coming from this source could hardly be called a favorable prejudiced account.

[17] The article is given in full, and is simply a comment upon General-in-Chief U. S. A. Sheridan’s annual reports.

[18] The committee who applied for a “permit” to bury them were required to sign an agreement holding themselves personally responsible for any breach of the peace which might occur, before a permit was granted them!