The Rise and Fall of Anarchy in America_
Eighteen and Eighty Eight_
Geo N. McLean_
Under the fascination of rose-tinted delusion whose fatal mists obscure the mental and moral realm of thought, many become criminals, goaded on by blind infatuation which persevered in becomes a passion all-absorbing in its nature. In the blindness of their infatuation they seek to immortalize their names by a bold and base attempt at the subversion of law and order.
The Second of Chapters_
Anarchists—Their Nationality—The First Agitation—Leaders—Anarchy—The “Revenge” Circular—The Haymarket Meeting—The Massacre.
Scarcely has the chronicler of time recorded fifty years in the eventful history of Chicago since it was known only as a little trading post for the Indians of the west and northwest, but being the central and distributing point for the interminable fertile territories stretching away toward the land of the setting sun, its progress in wealth and population has been unprecedented. The superior facilities for obtaining supplies, and the demand for implements for agricultural purposes, have conspired to render Chicago one of the most important commercial cities on the globe. And to-day it stands the grainery of the American Continent, the great repository and commercial reservoir of continental America, with a cosmopolitan population of over seven hundred thousand. Capitalists engaged in mammoth manufacturing enterprises like McCormick and others, in order to secure cheap labor to the exclusion of native skilled workmen, have imported to this country thousands of foreigners who, after gaining a foothold in the land, have turned upon their employers in organized bands with measures intended to be revolutionary.
The troublesome element consisted largely of the ignorant lower classes of Bavarians, Bohemians, Hungarians, Germans, Austrians, and others who held secret meetings in organized groups armed and equipped like the nihilists of Russia, and the communists of France.
They called themselves socialists. Their emblem was red. They paraded the streets of Chicago without let or hindrance in 1878, carrying a red flag and making insulting and incendiary speeches at Lake front park, and at several of the public halls of the city.
This free country accorded to them without regard to birth or nationality the rights of freedom of speech, and we shall see how that indulgence beyond the bounds of propriety has been abused. In 1877 they held secret meetings to organize their forces, and during the same year there were several labor riots.
In 1879 anarchists and socialists united to endeavor to secure by their votes and influence as mayor Dr. Ernst Schmidt, and as city treasurer F. Stauber. Polling nearly 10,000 votes they secured several representatives in the city council.
On the evening of the 2d of July, 1879, Captain Bielfeld, with ten of the gang known as the Lehr and Werh Verein, left Turner Hall, marching from Twelfth to Union, then returning, Lieut. Callahan secured their arrest. As a test case for a violation of the law relative to the militia, Bielfeld alone was booked to appear before the police court on the 3d of July, 18.91879. Rubens, his attorney, gave bonds for his appearance. The defendant then took a change of venue to Morrison, becoming his own bail to appear at that place in the afternoon. Bielfeld, with his attorney, and prosecuting attorney Cameron, were present. The case was continued for one week. The following day being the Fourth of July, was looked forward to with solicitude as a day when Chicago might expect riot and carnage. Bielfeld had been bound in $300 bonds but was released on habeas corpus the same day on an application to Judge Barnum, who pronounced the majority of the clauses in the militia law as unconstitutional.
In November, 1879, a similar case was argued before the supreme court which in its rulings sustained the constitutionality of the militia law in direct opposition to Judge Barnum’s rulings and opinions. This opinion was a reversing of Judge Barnum’s decision restricting armed bodies of socialists, anarchists, or communists from parading the streets, deciding that in matters pertaining to the peace and safety of citizens the police powers are plenary.
In the autumn of 1879 the Bohemian anarchistic agitators held a picnic at Silver Leaf Grove, in the vicinity of Douglas Park, and being annoyed by uninvited guests, at the command of their captain, Prokop Hudek, they fired a round of ball cartridge into the promiscuous crowd, seriously wounding quite a large number of citizens. Their captain, and the entire company of would-be assassins, were arrested and brought to the corner of Madison and Union streets, where the police were compelled to use their utmost efforts to prevent the enraged and outraged citizens from lynching the leaders of the gang of outlaws. The peace-loving and law-abiding citizens were so exasperated at the audacity and cupidity of the uncivilized horde that it was with difficulty the police induced them to disperse without wreaking a summary vengeance upon these organized bandits, who were beginning to operate with impunity in the very midst of the highest order of civilization and refinement.
The United States Supreme Court acknowledge and defend the right of citizens to assemble, without arms, when the object is to make known, in proper language, any grievance. But they must in all cases be under the control, direction and protection of the police force. But all meetings to organize, or any organized gatherings for the purpose of subverting law and order, all armed mobs making incendiary speeches or advocating violence are subject to military law, and under the control of the police, as the guardians of the public peace.
From the time of the arrest of Herman Presser, on the affirmation of the militia law, by the Federal Court, in 1886, all armed demonstrations of the socialistic element from this time ceased, but in secret they matured their fiendish plottings against the law-abiding citizens and safety of American institutions, becoming skilled in the manufacture and use of dynamite bombs as a weapon for the purpose of destroying life and property, and the intimidation of the officers of law and justice.
The leaders of anarchy and socialism with whom we have to do, more particularly in this volume, are viz.: August Spies, Samuel Fielden and A. R. Parsons, Spies being the editor of the Arbeiter Zeitung, and A. R. Parsons editor of the paper known as the Alarm.
The eight-hour system of labor had been agitated for some time, and the first of May, 1886, was the time set for it to go into effect by all the trade and labor unions. It was suspected by many that the insubordinate element of socialists and anarchists would take advantage of the already fermented state of the working classes, to make a bold stand to revolutionize and demoralize, by their treasonable and inflammatory speeches, the otherwise peaceful and respectable citizens of Chicago. The McCormick reaper works, with over one thousand employes, mostly foreigners, had been out on a strike for several weeks, and being at fever heat the anarchists sought to produce a riot among these turbulent men, who only needed a leader and some encouragement, which they were soon to receive from Spies. On May 2d a large force collected at or near the junction of Eighteenth street and Centre avenue. Here they reversed the American flag, carrying it top side down, symbolic of the revolution they intended to work in American institutions. They marched down the Black Road to the prairie in front of McCormick’s works, where August Spies addressed them in extravagant language, exciting the mob by a seditious and inflammatory speech, at the close of which the effect was plainly visible, as the mob at once attacked the works of McCormick, demolishing a portion of it, and seriously injuring several non-union men who were employed there. The six police there on duty bravely tried to hold the fort, but were forced to give way before nearly three thousand infuriated men, when they turned in a call for assistance, and were reinforced by the arrival of thirty more officers, who bravely beat back their assaiiantsassailants, killing one of the mob by a shot from a revolver, and wounding several others. The repulsed mob then retreated, and their leaders repaired to office of the Zeitungto prepare a circular, and printed it in German and English, which was headed Revenge, and the English copy read as follows, which they circulated throughout the city:
“Revenge, working men! to arms! Your masters sent out their bloodhounds—the police. They killed six of your brothers at McCormick’s this afternoon. They killed the poor wretches, because they, like you, had the courage to disobey the supreme will of your bosses. They killed them because they dared ask for the shortening of the hours of toil. They killed them to show you, ‘free American citizens,’ that you must be satisfied and contented with whatever your bosses condescend to allow you, or you’ll get killed. You have for years endured the most abject humiliation; you have for years suffered immeasurable iniquities; you have worked yourselves to death; you have endured the pangs of want and hunger; your children you have sacrificed to the factory lords—in short, you have been miserable, obedient slaves all these years. Why? To satisfy the insatiable greed to fill the coffers of your lazy, thieving master. When you ask them now to lessen your burden he sends his blood-hounds out to shoot you, kill you. If you are men, if you are the sons of your grandsires who have shed their blood to free you, then you will rise in your might, Hercules, and destroy the hideous monster that seeks to destroy you. To arms we call you! To arms!
The German portion differed from the above mainly in the following passage: “Why? Because you dared ask for the shortening of the hours of labor.” In the German copy it ran: “Because you dared ask for all that you believed to be your rights.” Instead of being addressed, as in the English, to American citizens, it was directed to the followers of anarchy and socialism.
Another circular was distributed calling a meeting at the Haymarket for the night of May 4, and urging working-men to arm and go in full force. In the Arbeiter Zeitung appeared the letter “Y,” meaning Ypsilon, which was the signal for the armed anarchists to turn out, and in the department of the paper known as the “Letter-Box” the word “Ruhe,” signifying that the time for revolution was at hand.
There were about three hundred and fifty anarchists carrying concealed weapons at the Haymarket massacre on the 4th of May, 1886, and probably about fifteen hundred present in all at the time of the explosion. A. R. Parsons had delivered his speech and Samuel Fielden was portraying to the sympathizing crowd, with all the eloquence he could command, the wide and yawning unbridged gulf between capital and labor, when seven companies of police, numbering nearly two hundred men, under command of their superior officers, swooped down upon the lawless mob. Captain Ward, in clear and ringing tones, commanded these land pirates to quietly disperse, when from an alley contiguous was seen in the darkness a little line of fire passing directly over the heads of the motlymotley crowd. The hissing fiend, hurled by some practiced hand to perform its hellish mission, fell directly between two of the ranks of our brave and noble officers, and exploded with a detonation which seemed to shake the city from center to circumference, dealing death to several brave and noble officers, while the wounded and dying numbered over sixty, who a moment before were in the best of spirits and in the discharge of their duty as protectors of public peace, were stricken down without a moment’s warning. But was there a man dismayed, although the groans of the wounded and mangled victims could be heard in every direction, not knowing but the next instant another explosion would strew the ground with fresh victims from their ranks? Scarcely had the sound of the explosion died away in the echoing distance, or the smoke from the fatal bomb rose up to be lost in the dark and murky clouds, ere the spirit of patriotism rose up in their hearts, inspiring them to deeds of noble daring, when they boldly charged in a solid column this band of treacherous outlaws. Captain Bonfield seized a revolver from the hand of a fallen officer, at the same time drawing his own revolver, and from both hands he rained a shower of lead into the ranks of the enemy. Under this aggressive movement the anarchists began beating a hasty retreat.
The wounded officers were removed to the County Hospital, while a large detachment were kept busy during the night caring for the dead and dying. The exact number of killed and wounded among the anarchists could not be ascertained, as they were removed from the ensanguined field immediately by their friends to places of safety, and medical assistance secured for them from among the socialistic fraternity.
On the 5th of May, Rudolph Schnaubelt was arrested on suspicion that he was an important factor in the conspiracy. On an investigation which followed, he very adroitly managed to impress the authorities of his innocence, when he was discharged, and he at once disappeared from the city; but during the progress of the trial, evidence was obtained which proves almost conclusively that Rudolph Schnaubelt was the arch fiend who hurled the deadly bomb causing so many brave officers to bite the dust without a moment’s warning.
The eight-hour system of labor had been agitated for some time, and the first of May, 1886, was the time set for it to go into effect by all the trade and labor unions. It was suspected by many that the insubordinate element of socialists and anarchists would take advantage of the already fermented state of the working classes, to make a bold stand to revolutionize and demoralize, by their treasonable and inflammatory speeches, the otherwise peaceful and respectable citizens of Chicago.
...the constitution itself is not a complete system... it takes none but the first steps in organization... it does little more than lay a foundation of principles... it provides with all possible brevity for the establishment of a government having, in several distinct branches, executive, legislative, and judicial powers... it vests executive power in a single chief magistrate, for whose election and inauguration it makes carefully definite provision, and whose privileges and prerogatives it defines with succinct clearness...