The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right of free speech, free discussion and free assemblage. These are the cardinal doctrines of our free institutions. But when liberty is trenched upon to the extent of advocacy of revolutionary methods, subversion of law and order and the displacement of existing society, Socialism places itself beyond the pale of moral forces and arrays itself on the side of the freebooter, the bandit, the cut-throat and the traitor. Public measures and public men are open to the widest criticism consistent with truth, decency and justice, but differences of opinion are no more to be brought into harmony through blood than the settlement of private disputes is to be effected by means of the bludgeon, the knife or the bullet. The freedom of speech which is valuable either to the individual or to humanity is that which builds up, not destroys, society.
Now, what does Socialism, or Anarchy, precisely teach, and at what does it aim? It is true, there are two schools of Socialism—one conservative and the other radical to a sanguinary degree; one seeking a change in existing society and government through enlightenment, and the other the attainment of the same principles through force. But the conservatives form so small a portion of the Socialistic body that they cut no figure in the general direction and management of the organization; and so far as relates to the visible manifestations of that body, Socialism in the United States may be regarded as synonymous with Anarchy.
As I have shown, the ostensible object of the organization in Chicago, as elsewhere, at the outset, was peaceful, but the ulterior aim—the establishment of Socialism through force, when sufficiently powerful in numbers—has in later years clearly developed. The early Socialist orators only hinted at force as a possible factor in the social revolution they advocated, and it was reserved for the active agitators of the past ten years to boldly and openly proclaim for the methods of the Paris Commune.
Before proceeding to particulars as to the utterances of Anarchist leaders, the sources of their inspiration and their definition of Socialism, it may be well to advert to some incidents in connection with their movements as a revolutionary party. One incident specially worthy of mention was a meeting held at Mueller’s Hall, corner of Sedgwick Street and North Avenue, on the evening of January 12, 1885. It was a secret gathering, but, despite Socialistic vigilance, Officer Michael Hoffman managed to remain and quietly note the drift of the speeches. Parsons first took the floor, and said:
Gentlemen, before we call this meeting to order, I want you to be sure that we are all right and all one. I want you to see if there are any reporters or policemen present. See if you can discover any spies. If you find any one here, you can do with him as you please, but my advice to you is, take him and strangle him and then throw him out of the window; then let the people think that the fellow fell out. And if you should give one of them a chance for his life, tell him, if he has any more notions to come to our meetings, he should first go to St. Michael’s Church, see the priest and prepare himself for death, say farewell to all his friends and family—and then let him enter. I want all these people to know that I am not afraid of them; I don’t like them, and let them stay away from me.
After precautions had been taken to exclude objectionable persons, the proceedings began. Four speeches were delivered, two in English and two in German. Parsons confined his remarks to the capitalists. All present were poor, he said, and they only had themselves to blame. One-half of all the wealth in the country belonged to the poor people, but the capitalists had robbed them of it. The poor offered no resistance, and yet the capitalist was doing the same thing day after day. He was getting richer, and the poor poorer, because the working people lay down and permitted themselves to be robbed. He recounted some of Most’s experiences, and insisted that capitalists must submit to workingmen. They must be shown that their lives are worth no more than the lives of the working people.
He next touched upon the merits of a new invention by which, he said, many hundreds of houses could be set on fire, and exhibited a small tin box or can with a capacity of four ounces. This can, he remarked, could be filled with some chemical stuff to serve as an explosive. A great many of these cans could be carried in a basket, and, traveling around as match peddlers or under some other guise, his hearers could secure entrance to the houses of capitalists. All they would then be obliged to do was to either place or drop one of “those darlings” in a secure place and go about their business. It would do its work, without any one’s presence to attend to it, in less time than an hour. If they would get the boxes ready, he would tell them where to get the “stuff.” This plan of operations would keep the fire and police departments quite busy. If they organized and went to work with a resolute spirit, they could have things all their own way throughout the city and obtain possession of what remained after their work of destruction. He also urged all his comrades to become familiar with dynamite and said that for the necessary instructions they could come to a building on Fifth Avenue (107, the offices of the Arbeiter-Zeitung and Alarm), where he and others could be found to help them. There was no other way now left, he continued, except for the laborers to use the sword, the bullet and dynamite, and, closing sententiously, he said:
I probably will be hung as soon as I get out on the street, but if they do hang me, boys, don’t forget what I have been telling you about the little can and the dear stuff, dynamite, because this is the only way I and you can get our rights.
It goes without saying that Parsons was applauded to the echo. Another speaker emphasized his remarks about dynamite, but refrained from making a speech, because, as he said, Parsons had “covered the ground so well and thoroughly.” One of the German speakers gave his attention to King William and the Pope, scoring them in the strongest language he could command. He held that the “police of Chicago were only kept to protect the property of capitalists and to club poor workingmen.”
Another event memorable in the history of the party was the flaunting of the black flag on the streets of Chicago for the first time. On that occasion—November 25, 1884, Thanksgiving Day—they marched through the fashionable thoroughfares of the South and North Divisions, and, with two women as standard-bearers for the black and the red, they made it a point to halt before the residences of the wealthy, uttering groans and using threatening language. Their route included Dearborn Street to Maple on the North Side. There they massed in front of the residence of Hon. E. B. Washburne, ex-Minister to France. They pulled the door-bell and insulted the family by indulging in all sorts of noises, groans and cat-calls. They rested satisfied with this last exhibition, and retraced their steps, proceeding to Market Square, where they dispersed.
The preliminaries leading up to the procession just described were thus given in the Alarm on the following Saturday:
THE BLACK FLAG.
The Emblem of Hunger Unfolded by the Proletarians of Chicago.—The Red Flag Borne Aloft by Thousands of Workingmen on Thanksgiving Day.—The Poverty of the Poor is Created by the Robbery of the Rich.—Speeches, Resolutions and a Grand Demonstration of the Unemployed, the Tramps and Miserables of the City.—Significant Incidents.
Shortly before Thanksgiving Day some of the working people, after consultation, issued the following circular to wage-workers and tramps:
The Governor has ordained next Thursday for Thanksgiving. You are to give thanks because your masters refuse you employment; because you are hungry and without home or shelter, and your masters have taken away what you have created, and arranged to shoot you by the police or militia if you refuse to die in your hovels, in due observation of Law and Order. You must give thanks that you face the blizzards without an overcoat; without fit shoes and clothes, while abundant clothing made by you spoils in the storehouses; that you suffer hunger while millions of bushels of grain rots in the elevators. For this purpose a thanksgiving meeting will be held on Market Square at 2:30 o’clock, to be followed by a demonstration to express our thanks to our “Christian brothers on Michigan Avenue.” Every one that feels the mockery of this Thanksgiving order should be present. Signed, the Committee of the Grateful Workingpeople’s International Association.
Thursday opened with sleet and rain, cold and miserable. At 2:30 over three thousand people assembled on Market Street, under the unpitying rain and sleet. A stranger said, “What you want is guns; you don’t want to be heard talking.” He was stopped for the regular arrangements. The meeting being called to order, A. R. Parsons said: “We assemble as representatives of the disinherited, to speak in the name of forty thousand unemployed workingmen of Chicago—two millions in the United States and fifteen millions in the civilized world.” He compared the Thanksgiving feast to that of Belshazzar, and said the champagne wrung from the blood of the poor ought to strangle the rich. He then read as follows: “St. James, chapter 5, says, ‘Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries which are to come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasures together for the last days.
Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which ye have kept back by fraud, crieth: ‘Woe to them that bring about iniquity by law.’ The prophet Habakkuk says: ‘Woe to him that buildeth a town by blood, and establisheth a city by iniquity.’ The prophet Amos says: ‘Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor to fail from the land, that I may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes.’ The prophet Isaiah says: ‘Woe unto them that chain house to house, and lay field to field, till there is no place, that they may be alone in the midst of the earth.’ Solomon says: ‘There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed of their filthiness; a generation, O, how lifted are their eyes, and how their eyelids are lifted up: A generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw-teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.’”
And, concluding, he said: “We did not intend to wait for a future existence, but to do something for ourselves in this.”
He introduced S. S. Griffin, who said this was an international assembly in the interests of humanity, having no quarrel with each other and objecting to being set at work by governmental scheme. “Don’t believe that any government or system should be allowed to pit man against man, for any cause; and to get at the root of these evils, we must go to the foundation of property rights and the wage system. The old system could not meet the demands of our present civilization. The present cry is against over-production, because it operates against humanity. Over-production, glutting the market, causes a lock-out, depriving the wage class of the means of purchasing. Vacant houses stop the building industry, and result in throwing builders out of employment. Ragged because of a surplus of clothing; homeless because of too many houses; hungry because there is too much bread; freezing because too much coal is produced. The system must be changed. Man can wear but one suit of clothes at a time and can consume only about so much. The genius of our age is inventing and increasing the productive power. A system that in effect tells the working classes that, the more they produce, the less they will have to enjoy, is a check on human progress and cannot continue. Everything must be made free. No man should control what he has no personal use for.”
Upon Mr. Parsons’ call the resolutions were read, as follows:
Whereas, We have outlived wage and property system; and whereas, the right of property requires more effort to adjust it between man and man than to produce and distribute it:
Resolved, That property rights should no longer be maintained or respected, and that all useless workers should be deprived of useless employment and required to engage in productive industry; and as this is impossible under the payment system,
Resolved, That no man shall pay for anything, or receive pay for anything, or deprive himself of what he may desire, that he finds out of use or vacant.
Resolved, That whoever refuses to devote a reasonable amount of energy to the production or distribution of necessaries is the enemy of mankind and ought to be so treated; and so of the willful waster.
As this system cannot be introduced as against existing ignorance and selfishness without force, Resolved, That, when introduced, the good of mankind and the saving of blood requires that forcible opposition shall be dealt with summarily; but that no one should be harmed for holding opposite opinions.
Resolved, That our policy is wise, humane and practical and ought to be enforced at the earliest possible moment.
As an expression of thankfulness, Resolved, That we are thankful we have learned the true cause of poverty and the remedies, and can only be more thankful when the remedy is applied.
The next speaker was Samuel Fielden. He denounced the hypocrisy of calling upon people to thank God for prosperity, while providing no changes for the better, when so many people were in actual want in the midst of abundance. When he was a boy, his mother had taught him to say, “Our Father who art in Heaven,” but so far as he knew, God remained there and would not come here until things were better arranged. “Our motto is, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, embracing all men. Our international movement is to unite all countries and to do away with the robber class.”
August Spies spoke. Pointing to the black flag, he said it was the first time the emblem of hunger and starvation had been unfurled on American soil. He said we had got to strike down these robbers who were robbing the working people.
In answer to a call from the Germans, Mr. Schwab spoke in German a few minutes. A stranger said: “Get your guns out and go for them. That is all I have got to say.” Three cheers were given for the social revolution. The audience then formed a procession three thousand strong.
Another notable procession was on the evening of the opening of the new Board of Trade building. The Anarchists gathered in front of theArbeiter-Zeitung office and were addressed by Parsons and Fielden. The speeches were highly inflammatory. Parsons insisted that they ought to blow up the institution, and urged them to arm themselves “to meet their oppressors with weapons.” The Board of Trade, he said, was a robbers’ roost, and they were reveling on the proceeds of the workingmen. “How many,” he asked, “of my hearers could give twenty dollars for a supper to-night? We will never gain anything by arguments and words. While those men are enjoying a sumptuous supper, workingmen are starving.” He characterized the police as bloodhounds and servants of the robbing capitalists, and suggested that the mob loot Marshall Field’s dry-goods store and other places and secure such things as they needed. It was apparent that these sentiments appealed strongly to the inclinations of the assembled rabble, and when Parsons had concluded the mob was ready for an even more violent harangue.
Fielden went as far as to urge the mob to follow him and rob those places, and, like Parsons, held that the Board of Trade building had been built out of money of which they had been robbed, and that all who transacted business in that place were “robbers, and thieves, and ought to be killed.”
There were hundreds of tramps in the throng addressed, and naturally all allusions to capitalists as robbers, and all suggestions to plunder, were greeted with applause. A procession was formed, with Oscar W. Neebe, Parsons and Fielden at the head, and with two women following next carrying the red and black flags. They marched down to the Board of Trade, but, arriving at the street leading to the building, a company of police headed them off. Thus balked, they had to content themselves with marching through the streets back to their starting-point, where they separated without further exhibition of violence than subsequently hurling a stone through the window of a carriage occupied by a prominent West Side resident and his wife, whom they took to be a millionaire on his way to the Board of Trade reception. A tougher-looking lot of men than those who composed the procession it would be difficult to find, and, once started in the direction of violence at the building, there is no telling the extent of damage they might have inflicted. The toleration of such a parade by the municipal authorities was severely criticised by the community, for, had it not been for the action of the late Col. Welter, then Inspector of Police, in intercepting the procession, a serious riot would have occurred.
Parsons, when asked subsequently why they had not blown up the Board of Trade building, replied that they had not looked for police interference and were not prepared. “The next time,” he said, “we will be prepared to meet them with bombs and dynamite.” Fielden reiterated the same sentiments and expressed the opinion that in the course of a year they might be ready for the police.
Now what is the Socialism or Anarchy they seek to establish? In his speech before Judge Gary in the Criminal Court, when asked why sentence of death should not be imposed upon him, Anarchist Parsons, among other things, thus described the condition of affairs when Socialism should obtain sway:
Anarchy is a free society where there is no concentrated or centralized power, no state, no king, no emperor, no ruler, no president, no magistrate, no potentate of any character whatever. Law is the enslaving power of men. Blackstone defines the law to be a rule of action, prescribing what is right and prohibiting what is wrong. Now, very true. Anarchists hold that it is wrong for one person to prescribe what is the right action for another person, and then compel that person to obey that rule. Therefore, right action consists in each person attending to his business, and allowing everybody else to do likewise. Whoever prescribes a rule of action for another to obey is a tyrant, a usurper and an enemy of liberty. This is precisely what every statute does. Anarchy is the natural law, instead of the man-made statute, and gives men leaders in the place of drivers and bosses. All political law, statute and common, gets its right to operate from the statute; therefore, all political law is statute law. A statute law is a written scheme by which cunning takes advantage of the unsuspecting, and provides the inducement to do so, and protects the one who does it. In other words, a statute is the science of rascality or the law of usurpation. If a few sharks rob mankind of all the earth,—turn them all out of house and home, make them ragged slaves and beggars, and freeze and starve them to death,—still they are expected to obey the statute because it is sacred. This ridiculous nonsense, that human laws are sacred, and that if they are not respected and continued we cannot prosper, is the stupidest and most criminal nightmare of the age. Statutes are the last and greatest curse of men, and, when destroyed, the world will be free.... The statute law is the great science of rascality, by which alone the few trample upon and enslave the many. There are natural laws provided for every work of man. Natural laws are self-operating. They punish all who violate them, and reward all who obey them. They cannot be repealed, amended, dodged or bribed, and it costs neither time, money nor attention to apply them. It is time to stop legislation against them. We want to obey laws, not men, nor the tricks of men. Statutes are human tricks. The law—the statute law—is the coward’s weapon, the tool of the thief.... Free access to the means of production is the natural right of every man able and willing to work. It is the legal right of the capitalist to refuse such access to labor, and to take from the laborer all the wealth he creates over and above a bare subsistence for allowing him the privilege of working. A laborer has the natural right to life, and, as life is impossible without the means of production, the equal right to life involves an equal right to the means of production.... Laws—just laws—natural laws—are not made; they are discovered. Law-enacting is an insult to divine intelligence; and law-enforcing is the impeachment of God’s integrity and His power.
August Spies on the same memorable occasion gave his views of Socialism in these words:
Socialism is a constructive and not a destructive science. While capitalism expropriates the masses for the benefit of the privileged class; while capitalism is that school of economics which teaches how one can live upon the labor (i. e., property) of the other, Socialism teaches how all may possess property, and further teaches that every man must work honestly for his own living, and not be playing the respectable Board of Trade man, or any other highly too respectable business man or banker. Socialism, in short, seeks to establish a universal system of coöperation and to render accessible to each and every member of the human family the achievements and benefits of civilization, which, under capitalism, are being monopolized by a privileged class, and employed, not, as they should be, for the common good of all, but for the brutish gratification of an avaricious class. Under capitalism, the great inventions of the past, far from being a blessing for mankind, have been turned into a curse! Socialism teaches that machines, the means of transportation and communication, are the result of the combined efforts of society, past and present, and that they are therefore rightfully the indivisible property of society, just the same as the soil and the mines and all natural gifts should be. This declaration implies that those who have appropriated this wealth wrongfully, though lawfully, shall be expropriated by society. The expropriation of the masses by the monopolists has reached such a degree that the expropriation of the expropriateurs has become an imperative necessity, an act of social self-preservation. Society will reclaim its own even though you erect a gibbet on every street-corner. And Anarchism, this terrible “ism,” deduces that under a coöperative organization of society, under economic equality and individual independence, the “state”—the political state—will pass into barbaric antiquity. And we will be where all are free, where there are no longer masters and servants. Where intellect stands for brute force, there will no longer be any use for the policeman and militia to preserve the so-called “peace and order.” Anarchism, or Socialism, means the reorganization of society upon scientific principles and the abolition of causes which produce vice and crime.
Michael Schwab, in his utterances before the same tribunal, held as follows:
Socialism, as we understand it, means that land and machinery shall be held in common by the people. The production of goods shall be carried on by producing groups which shall supply the demands of the people. Under such a system every human being would have an opportunity to do useful work, and no doubt would work. Some hours’ work every day would suffice to produce all that, according to statistics, is necessary for a comfortable living. Time would be left to cultivate the mind and to further science and art. That is what Socialists propose. According to our vocabulary, Anarchy is a state of society in which the only government is reason. A state of society in which all human beings do right for the simple reason that it is right and hate wrong because it is wrong. In such a society no laws, no compulsion will be necessary.
Samuel Fielden, standing before the same court, also dwelt upon Socialism, saying:
And it will be a good time, a grand day for the world; it will be a grand day for humanity; it will never have taken a step so far onward toward perfection, if it can ever reach that goal, as it will when it accepts the principles of Socialism. They are the principles that injure no man. They are the principles that consider the interest of every one. They are the principles which will do away with wrong; and injustice and suffering will be reduced at least to a minimum under such an organization of society. As compared to the present struggle for existence, which is degrading society and making men merely things and animals, Socialism will give them opportunities of developing the possibilities of their nature.
The platform of the International Association of Workingmen, indorsed by the local organization, formulates the principles of Socialism as follows:
1. Destruction of existing class domination, through inexorable revolution and international activity.
2. The building of a free society on communistic organizations or production.
3. Free exchange of equivalent products through the productive organization without jobbing and profit-making.
4. Organization of the educational system upon a non-religious and scientific and equal basis for both sexes.
5. Equal rights for all, without distinction of sex or race.
6. The regulation of public affairs through agreements between the independent communes and confederacies.
The above was published in the Alarm of November 1, 1884, with the following comment:
Proletarians of all countries, unite. Fellow workmen, all we need for the achievement of this great end is organization and unity.
There exists now no great obstacle to that unity. The work of peaceful education and revolutionary conspiracy will, can and ought to run in parallel lines.
The day has come for solidarity. Join our ranks! Let the drum beat defiantly the roll of battle; workingmen of all lands, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have a world to win. Tremble, oppressors of the world! Not far beyond your purblind sight there dawn the scarlet and sable lights of the judgment day!
Such, in brief, are the aims of Socialism as expounded by its most extreme representatives. The state of society they seek to establish may be highly beneficial to a class which, under any conditions, lacks sobriety, frugality, thrift and self-reliance; but just where the general mass of humanity is to be bettered or elevated, socially, morally or politically, is a point not satisfactorily explained. Their theory may look well on paper, and their glittering generalities may draw adherents from the ranks of the illiterate and the vicious, but a condition of society in which there are no masters and no authority can only lead to chaos. In a society “in which all human beings do right for the simple reason that it is right,” there can be neither stability nor permanence, unless human nature is recast, reconstructed and regenerated. Human nature must be treated as it is found in the general make-up of man; and therefore a society in which all special desires, all ambition and all self-elevation have been eliminated, precludes development and progress. It reduces everything to utter shiftlessness and stagnation. In such a society there can be no incentive to great achievements in art, literature, mechanics or invention. If all are to be placed on an equal footing, the ignorant with the educated, the dullard with the genius, the profligate with the provident, and the drunken wretch with the industrious, what encouragement for special effort? If you “render accessible to each and every member of the human family the achievements and benefits of civilization,” holding “property in common,” why should a man rack his brain or strain his muscles in producing something which he expects to prove remunerative to himself in some way, but which under the Socialistic state would go to the financial benefit of all? Take away all incentive to improvement, and you make life scarcely worth the living. Where the state, or the “independent commune,” is to be entrusted with the care and equal distribution of wealth and the employment of men, the individual will give little concern for the morrow or for anything beyond his immediate wants. What need he accomplish more than his neighbor, since everything that is produced is shared jointly?
In the Socialistic society, every man might “work honestly for his own living,” as Spies declares, but what would be the inevitable result of a system in which the state or commune undertakes to see that all have employment?
History does not leave us room for doubt. The various constitutions of France recognized the right of the people to employment. It was provided in 1792 that it was the duty of society to afford such employment, and in the following year it was added that the remuneration of the laborer should be sufficient to support him. This doctrine was recognized until 1819, when it fell into “innocuous desuetude,” and it was not revived until 1848. In that year a placard appeared on the dead walls of Paris, to the following effect:
The Provisional Government of the French Republic guarantees existence to the laborer by labor. It guarantees labor to every citizen. It guarantees that laborers may associate to obtain the profits of their legitimate labor.
In consequence of this proclamation the Government was appealed to, and national work-shops were established under the auspices of the Government. The establishments were open to all, but, as no one was specially interested in their financial success, they soon proved too great a drain upon the resources of the nation. Failure was the result. In the assignment of work at the factories, skill and fitness never entered into consideration. One workman was as good as another, and the men, so long as they had the Government at their back, with living guaranteed, did not bother much about the kind of article they produced. The result was that inferior goods were thrown upon the market, and purchasers were difficult to find. This speedily led to the closing of the work-shops, and since then the French Government has never maintained that society at large must operate work-shops for the benefit of all. Any commune that undertakes the same task again must similarly fail.
Now, suppose that, in the new economic conditions, it should be determined by the “independent communes” that wages should in a measure be fixed according to the skill, ability and energy of the workingmen, what sort of allotment would fall to the great body of workers? Edward Atkinson, an accurate statistician of world-wide reputation, has furnished the public with a compilation showing what each would receive if the aggregate production in the United States were divided among its inhabitants. The annual production, he calculates, of all the industries of our country, does not exceed $200 per head of population. This would give a total of $12,000,000. If this were divided equally among families of five persons each, on a basis of a sixty-million population, each family would have $1,000 per annum. But, as I have said, suppose some families secure more than others, on account of greater efficiency, and that one-third of these families secure $2,000 each per annum. The remaining two-thirds would only secure an average of $500. “Suppose,” it has been said, “one-half of this third to be fortunate enough, or skillful enough, to increase their average to $3,000. The remaining half continuing at $2,000, the average share of the two-thirds would fall to $250, or $50 only per head, per annum.”
As Prof. Barnard, dwelling upon the facts to be deduced from Atkinson’s showing, says: “Inasmuch as the idea of an average implies that as many are below it as are above it, it is easy to see that the only way of removing the scourge of poverty from the entire human race is to increase the productiveness of labor so that want can only be a consequence of willful idleness, or improvidence, or vice.”
In the “wonderful readjustment” of wealth and the products of labor Socialists propose to inaugurate, there would be everywhere more misery, more poverty and more crime than the people are now contending with in the purlieus of London and Paris. That there is room for improvement in the condition of our social state is true, but that changes for the better can be obtained by Socialism and by means of violence is false. These social as well as governmental improvements can only be brought about by peaceable means. Never by force, as the logic of events demonstrated in the Cook County Jail. There is no question that crack-brained theorists will continue to spring up and exist. They have existed in the past. The Babeufs, the Lassalles, the Fouriers and the Karl Marxes may continue to preach their one-sided ideas, but universal education in the United States and the general morality of the masses may be safely counted upon as a guaranty that neither the gospel of violence nor isolated cases of bloodshed will ever succeed in establishing exploded and ruinous theories of politics.
From a Photograph.—The central figure is that of a man in the uniform of the Lehr und Wehr Verein. The reclining figure in foreground is Moritz Neff, proprietor of Neff’s Hall.
After the Socialists of Chicago had organized their military companies, it soon became evident that they intended to use their forces against organized society, and as they paraded them before the community on all public occasions as a menace to good order, the Illinois Legislature in 1879 settled their status effectually by adopting a law prohibiting armed forces in the State except those willing to swear to support the institutions of the State as well as of the nation, or to become members of the State militia. It was also made a punishable offense for any body of men to assemble with arms, drill or parade within the State without authority. The Socialists were not seeking State honors, and they took an appeal to the State Supreme Court on the ground that the legislative act was unconstitutional. They were beaten, and accordingly forced to abandon their ten companies.
From carrying arms, however, they soon turned their attention to the study of explosives. They began experiments at once, and some years later boldly urged their adherents to become adepts in the manufacture and use of the most approved explosive—dynamite.
In the Alarm of October 18, 1884, the following was published:
One man armed with a dynamite bomb is equal to one regiment of militia, when it is used at the right time and place. Anarchists are of the opinion that the bayonet and Gatling gun will cut but sorry part in the social revolution. The whole method of warfare has been revolutionized by latter-day discoveries of science, and the American people will avail themselves of its advantages in the conflict with upstarts and contemptible braggarts who expect to continue their rascality under the plea of preserving law and order.
The same paper, in its issue of November 1, 1884, contained this pronunciamento:
How can all this be done? Simply by making ourselves masters of the use of dynamite, then declaring we will make no further claim to ownership in anything, and deny every other person’s right to be the owner of anything, and administer instant death, by any and all means, to any and every person who attempts to continue to claim personal ownership in anything. This method, and this alone, can relieve the world of this infernal monster called the “right of property.”
Let us try and not strike too soon, when our numbers are too small, or before more of us understand the use and manufacture of the weapons.
To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, confusion and discouragement, we must be prepared, know why we strike and for just what we strike, and then strike in unison and with all our might.
Our war is not against men, but against systems; yet we must prepare to kill men who will try to defeat our cause, or we will strive in vain.
The rich are only worse than the poor because they have more power to wield this infernal “property right,” and because they have more power to reform, and take less interest in doing so. Therefore, it is easy to see where the bloodiest blows must be dealt.
We can expect but few or no converts among the rich, and it will be better for our cause if they do not wait for us to strike first.
Again, on February 21, 1885, from the same paper:
The deep-rooted, malignant evil which compels the wealth-producers to become the independent hirelings of a few capitalistic czars, can not be reached by means of the ballot.
The ballot can be wielded by free men alone; but slaves can only revolt and rise in insurrection against their despoilers.
Let us bear in mind the fact that here in America, as elsewhere, the worker is held in economic bondage by the use of force, and the employment of force, therefore, becomes a necessity to his economic preservation. Poverty can’t vote!
In the same issue also appeared the following:
Dynamite! Of all the good stuff, this is the stuff. Stuff several pounds of this sublime stuff into an inch pipe (gas or water pipe), plug up both ends, insert a cap with a fuse attached, place this in the immediate neighborhood of a lot of rich loafers who live by the sweat of other people’s brows, and light the fuse. A most cheerful and gratifying result will follow. In giving dynamite to the downtrodden millions of the globe science has done its best work. The dear stuff can be carried in the pocket without danger, while it is a formidable weapon against any force of militia, police or detectives that may want to stifle the cry for justice that goes forth from the plundered slaves. It is something not very ornamental, but exceedingly useful. It can be used against persons and things. It is better to use it against the former than against bricks and masonry. It is a genuine boon for the disinherited, while it brings terror and fear to the robbers. A pound of this good stuff beats a bushel of ballots all hollow, and don’t you forget it! Our law-makers might as well try to sit down on the crater of a volcano or a bayonet as to endeavor to stop the manufacture and use of dynamite. It takes more justice and right than is contained in laws to quiet the spirit of unrest.
In the Arbeiter-Zeitung of March 19, 1886, appeared the following, after many articles had been previously published of the same tenor as those in the Alarm:
The only aim of the workingman should be the liberation of mankind from the shackles of the existing damnable slavery. Here, in America, where the workingman possesses yet the freedom of meeting, of speech, and of the press, most should be done for the emancipation of suffering mankind. But the press gang and the teachers in the schools do all in their power to keep the people in the dark. Thus everything tends to degrade mankind more and more, from day to day, and this effects a “beastening,” as is observable with Irishmen, and more apparent, even, with the Chinese.
If we do not soon bestir ourselves for a bloody revolution, we can not leave anything to our children but poverty and slavery. Therefore prepare yourselves, in all quietness, for the revolution.
The following extracts are from the first number of the Anarchist, Engel’s paper, dated January 1, 1886, with the motto, “All government we hate”:
Workingmen and fellows: We recognize it our duty to contend against existing rule, but he who would war successfully must equip himself with all implements adapted to destroy his opponents and secure victory. In consideration thereof we have resolved to publish the Anarchist as a line in the fight for the disinherited. It is necessary to disseminate Anarchistic doctrine. As we strive for freedom from government we advocate the principle of autonomy, in this sense: We strive towards the overthrow of the existing order, that an end may be put to the “abhorrent work of destruction on the part of mankind, and fratricide done away.” The equality of all, without distinction of race, color or nationality, is our fundamental principle, thus ending rule and servitude. We reject reformatory endeavors as useless play, adding to the derision and oppression of the workingmen. Against the never-to-be-satisfied ferocity of capital we recommend the radical means of the present age. All endeavors of the working classes not aiming at the overthrow of existing conditions of ownership and at complete self-government are to us reactionary. The idea of the absence of authority warrants that we will carry on a fight of principles only....
No one can deny that man brings with him into the world the right to live. But this is denied by the property beast. He who has the whip of power will brandish it over the poor. What does the world offer to the poor who are compelled to carry on a mere struggle for existence? Patented machinery, combined with capital and other means of preservation, denies work to the workmen on account of the excessive offer of working powers. Workingmen should, therefore, enter the ranks of those who propose to set aside the present system of inequality and build up a system of equality and freedom. Let every one join the International Workingmen’s Association, and arm himself with the best weapons of modern times....
The authorities in America have hitherto refused to prosecute Anarchists as the European powers do, not because of hatred to despotism, but from fear that the American people might be driven into Anarchism. As Anarchists increase, however, it is intended to do away with them by slow degrees. To this end a bill was introduced in Congress refusing to and revoking citizenship of such. Yet the Anarchist declines citizenship because he regards himself as cosmopolitan. We hope for more foolish things to open the eyes of American workingmen....
Reflections of an Anarchist at the Grave of Leiske.—After the workingman becomes a journeyman he feels free, casts a glance into the world—it is glorious, beautiful. He thinks there is happiness for him somewhere. He proposes to go abroad, but a terrible cry falls upon his ears—the outcry of a tormented people. He inquires, have the pariahs of to-day a right to live? and answers yes. Why otherwise born, if suffered to die with hunger? And hunger and poverty are the results of the stealings of the rich. Having thus concluded, he swears to help in the work of liberation, “in the great struggle of mankind for a better condition;” to take vengeance upon those responsible for this misery. In his investigations he learns the utter vileness of the police power, and a policeman is killed. Whereupon the workman is arrested, charged with the murder of Rumpf, and killed after nearly a year of most devilish torture. With what contempt Leiske met his executioners, and with what heroism he went unto his death, is known to our fellows, and he shall be avenged.
The Alarm, January 13, 1885:
“Force the only defense against injustice and oppression.” Because the Socialists advocate resistance, they are accused of brutality and want of wisdom. All men agree that themselves should not be trampled upon by others. If you can compel a man to agree to allow others to exercise control over him, you will find that the soldier will soon claim all you have acquired for yourselves. This only teaches that it is dangerous for the wicked to teach war; not so with justice. Justice can never create opposition to itself. Therefore “justice is always safe in accumulating force, while injustice can only accumulate force at its peril.” We are told force is cruel, but this is only true when the opposition is less cruel. If the opposition is relentless power, starving, freezing, etc., and the application of force will require less suffering, then force is humane. Therefore we say that dynamite is both humane and economical. It will, at the expense of less suffering, prevent more. It is not humane to compel ten persons to starve to death, when the execution of five persons would prevent it. A system that is starving and freezing tens of thousands of little children, in the midst of a world of plenty, cannot be defended against dynamiters on the ground of humanity. If every child that starved to death in the United States were retaliated for by the execution of a rich man in his own parlor, the brutal system of wage property would not last six weeks. It is a wonder that a father, after his vain search for bread, can see his little ones starve or freeze, without striking that vengeful, just and bloody blow at the cause that would prevent other little ones suffering a similar fate. It is not probable that men will always endure this cruel, relentless process of monopoly and competition.
The privileged class use force to perpetuate their power, and the despoiled workers must use force to prevent it.
The Alarm, July 25, 1885:
How to Meet the Enemy.—Some Valuable Hints for the Revolutionary Soldiers.—What an Officer of the United States Army has to Say.
The following letter, published in the San Francisco Truthsome time ago, will be read with interest. The letter is quoted as follows, in substance: “I am an officer in the army of the United States, and know whereof I write. John Upton said to me, with great earnestness, that the day of armies is passing away. I believe this. This introduces my subject. I desire to place the details of the science of butchery before the people; to point out its weak points, so that in future uprisings the people may stand some chance of winning. They have for the past twenty years been overcome only because of their own ignorance. They have been slaughtered and subdued because of a lack of coolness, want of knowledge, and adherence to what is called ‘humanity,’ ‘honorable warfare,’ etc. I assume that my readers agree with me that against tyrants all means are legitimate, and that in war that course is best, though bloodiest, which soonest ends the contest. My purpose is to persuade the people to add a little common sense in future to their heroism, and thus insure success.
“United States and State regiments are organized on the unit of four, which permits the most rapid and effective change of front that can be devised. The art of war consists in making soldiers fight. The line of retreat must be kept open to avoid capture. In future revolts the people shall assume the aggressive. Army officers have wasted years of study over the science of street fighting, unavailingly. The plan below shows a method adopted as best. The troops are formed on the street in two bodies in column of four, headed by a Gatling gun. On the sidewalk a line of skirmishers and sharpshooters, whose duty it is to fire into the houses, the whole advancing cautiously. When a cross street is reached, a company is left to hold it, in order to keep open the avenue of retreat. Military knowledge has become popularized since 1877, and now, in almost any contest, it would be easy to find some fair leaders of the people who would devise some means of meeting such an advance, as indicated by the following diagram. The diagram represents a street corner. The plan is, at the street crossing to have bodies of revolutionists with movable barracks placed obliquely on the cross street, and who from there will fire vigorously upon the advancing column. They have supporters also in the building, also at the corner, whose duty is to throw dynamite upon the troops. If the position is carried, the party defending escape through the cross streets. The rear of the column can also be attacked from the cross streets. If the men in the barricades are armed with the new international dynamite rifle (which I am told exists in the hands of the revolutionists), I give it as a careful technical opinion, that, pursuing these tactics under brave and able leaders, fifty men can hold at bay and finally destroy in any of your cities an attacking force of five thousand troops.” Signed “R. S. S.” Alcatraz Island, December 8.
The Alarm, December 26, 1885:
Bakounine’s Groundwork for the Social Revolution.—A Revolutionist’s Duty to Himself. (Free translation from the German.)
1. The revolutionist is self-offered; has no personal interest, but is absorbed by the one passion, the revolution.
2. He is at war with the existing order of society and lives to destroy it.
3. He despises society in its present form and leaves its reorganization to the future, himself knowing only the science of destruction. He studies mathematics, chemistry, etc., for this purpose. The quick and sure overthrow of the present unreasonable order is his object.
4. He despises public sentiment and acknowledges as moral whatever favors the revolution; as criminal whatever opposes it.
5. He is consecrated; he will not spare, nor does he expect mercy. Between him and society reigns the war of death or life.
6. Stringent with himself, he must be stringent with others. All sentiment must be suppressed by his passion for the revolutionary work. He must be ready to die and to kill.
7. He excludes romance and sentiment and also personal hatred and revenge; never obeying his personal inclinations, but his revolutionary duty.
Toward his Comrades.
8. His friendship is only for his comrade, and is measured by that comrade’s usefulness in the practical work of the revolution.
9. As to important affairs, he must consult with his comrades, but in execution depend upon himself. Each must be self-operating, and must ask help only when imperatively necessary.
10. He shall use himself and his subordinates as capital to be used for the work of revolution, but no part of which can he dispose of without the consent of the persons involved.
11. If a comrade is in danger, he shall not consider his personal feelings, but the interest of the cause.
His Duty toward Society.
12. A new candidate can be taken into the company only after proof of his merit, and upon unanimous consent.
13. He lives in a so-called civilized world because he believes in its speedy destruction. He clings to nothing as it now is, and does not hesitate to destroy any institution. He is no revolutionist if arrested by personal ties.
14. He must obtain entrance everywhere, even in the detective agency and the emperor’s palace.
15. The present society should be divided into categories, the first including those sentenced to immediate death, the others classifying the delinquents according to their rascality.
16. The lists are not to be influenced by personal considerations, but those are to be first destroyed whose death can terrify governments and deprive them of their most intelligent agents.
17. The second category embraces those who are permitted to live, but whose evil deeds will drive the people to open revolt.
18. The third category embraces the dissolute rich whose secrets must be discovered in order to control their resources.
19. The fourth category consists of ambitious officials and liberals whose purposes we must discover so as to prevent their withdrawing from our cause.
20. The fifth category consists of doctrinaire conspirators; they must be urged to action.
21. The sixth category is the women, who are divided into three classes: First, the brainless and heartless; second, the passionate and qualified; and, third, the wholly consecrated, who are to be guarded as the most valuable part of the revolutionary treasures.
The Alarm of January 9, 1886, then edited, in the absence of its editor and his assistant, by August Spies, contained this suggestive editorial:
“The Right to Bear Arms.”—After the conspiracy of the workingmen, the working classes, in 1877, the breaking up of the meeting on the Haymarket Square, the brutal assault upon a gathering of furniture workers in Vorwaerts Turner Hall, the murder of Tessman, and the general clubbing and shooting down of peaceably inclined wage-workers, the proletarians organized the Lehr und Wehr Verein, which in about a year and a half had grown to a membership of one thousand. This was regarded by the capitalists as a menace, and they procured the passage of the militia law, under which it became an offense for any body of men, other than those authorized by the Governor, to assemble with arms, drill or parade the streets. The members of the Lehr und Wehr Verein, mostly Socialists, who believed in the ballot, made up a test case to determine the constitutionality of this act, rejecting the counsel of the extremists. Judge Barnum held the law to be unconstitutional—an appeal was taken—and the Supreme Court upset this decision and held the law constitutional. Thereupon the Lehr und Wehr Verein applied to the Supreme Court of the United States, which within a few days affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of the State. Do we need comment on this?
That militia law has had its uses. Where there was before a military body publicly organized, whose strength could be easily ascertained, now there exists an organization whose members cannot be estimated, and a network of destructive agencies of modern military character that will defy suppression.
The Arbeiter-Zeitung, February 17, editorial:
In France, during strikes, etc., a new method is lately adopted. The workingmen barricade themselves in the factories with provisions, taking possession of the property, which the manufacturers desire to preserve, and will only resort to force for their ejection in the most extreme case. The conflict between capitalism and workingmen is growing constantly sharper, and the indication is that force will bring about decisive results in the battle for liberty.
The Arbeiter-Zeitung of April 30:
We are advised that the police are ordered to be ready for a conflict upon Saturday of next week. The capitalists are thirsting for the blood of workingmen. The workingmen refuse longer to be tortured and treated like dogs, and for this opposition the capitalists cry for blood. Perhaps they may have it, and lose some of their own. To the workingmen we again say: Arm yourselves, but conceal your arms lest they be stolen from you.
The Arbeiter-Zeitung, May 3:
Courage, courage, is our cry. Don’t forget the words of Herways: “The host of the oppressors grow pale when thou, weary of thy burden, in the corner puttest the plow; when thou sayest, ‘It is enough.’”
The Arbeiter-Zeitung, May 4:
Blood has flown. It happened as it had to. The militia have not been drilling in vain. It is historical that private property had its origin in violence. The war of classes has come. Yesterday, in front of McCormick’s factory, workmen were shot down whose blood cries for vengeance. In the past, countless victims have been offered on the altars of the golden calf amid the shouts of the capitalistic robbers. One has only to think of East St. Louis, Chicago and other places, to recognize the tactics of the extortioners. The white terror will be answered with the red, for the workmen are not asleep. They modestly asked for eight hours. The answer was to drill the police force and militia, and browbeat those advocating the change. And yesterday blood flowed—the reply of these devils to this modest petition of their slaves. Death rather than a life of wretchedness. The capitalistic tiger lies ready for the jump, his eyes sparkling, eager for murder, and his clutches drawn tight. Self-defense cries, “To arms, to arms!” If you do not defend yourselves, you will be ground by the animal’s teeth.
The powers hostile to the workingmen have made common cause, and our differences must be subordinated to the common purpose. The statement of the capitalistic press, that the workmen yesterday fired first, is a bold, barefaced lie.
In the poor shanty miserably clad women and children are weeping for husband and father. In the palace they clink glasses filled with costly wine and drink to the happiness of the bloody bandits of law and order. Dry your tears, ye poor and wretched; take heart, ye slaves; arise in your might and overthrow the system of robbery.
These are a few of the many articles emanating from the Socialistic propaganda, calling the rabble to murder and destruction. Other declarations printed in the Arbeiter-Zeitungand pronounced upon the stump are in the same virulent spirit, couched in varying language as suggested by the events of the moment, but all breathing defiance and death to the so-called “capitalistic class.” There are also minute and specific directions for the preparation as well as the use of dynamite, Herr Most’s work on that subject having been largely drawn upon for the enlightenment of those who believed that dynamite is the weapon through the use of which the social revolution can be accomplished. Paragraphs, sections and chapters of Bakounine’s “Groundwork for the Social Revolution” were likewise read to the Socialists and published in their organs.
Another source from which to draw inspiration was Reinsdorf, the apostle of Anarchy in Germany. The Chicago Anarchists regarded him as a splendid representative of their class, and praised his attempt on the life of the Emperor of Germany. His death on the scaffold was regarded as martyrdom, and his deeds were frequently extolled. His confederates in conspiracy, Hoedel and Nobiling, were referred to in terms of praise by George A. Schilling at a meeting in West Twelfth Street Turner Hall. Louis Lingg had been personally acquainted with Reinsdorf, and gloried in the man’s work and courage. The extreme section of the Chicago Socialists always sought to inculcate his ideas, and that the reader may gain some notion of Reinsdorf’s character, I reproduce the following translation from a German Socialistic paper, showing his career:
He was the principal leader of all the Anarchists in Germany. The people looked upon him as the savior of their great cause. He was admired not only by men, but also by women. Wherever he went he was given great receptions, and he had many pupils.
Reinsdorf was born in Prussia. When he became of age, he joined the party, and, by his good and rapid work, became in a short time the father of the Anarchistic agitation. But the law pursued him, and he wandered from state to state. In the year 1876 we find him in Switzerland, where he had many followers. One of his pupils and admirers was Max Hoedel, who with Reinsdorf conceived a plot to murder King William of Prussia. The attack upon his life was made by Hoedel on the 11th day of May, 1878. He fired several shots at the aged warrior, but failed, as none of them took effect. They missed their mark. Not satisfied with this, another man, Dr. Nobiling, also a pupil of Reinsdorf, made another attempt three weeks later, by firing a shot-gun filled with buck-shot at the old King; but again without effect. Nobiling’s deed was the consequence of Hoedel’s attempt, and Reinsdorf was the agitator. Failing in this, they concluded to wait some time until their party should get stronger and could secure better material. Among others Louis Lingg joined the Anarchists in Zurich. Louis was then very young, but he became as radical as their chief leader. The Socialists were to have held a Congress there in May, 1880, but the gathering did not take place, as the police had notice, and Reinsdorf and his followers were compelled to leave Zurich and go to Freiburg (Baden), where they held secret meetings and where Reinsdorf declared that he himself would go to Berlin and kill the miserable mahdi by stabbing him to the heart. He went to Berlin to carry out this plan, but was arrested by the police. They could not make out a case of conspiracy against him, but he was sent to prison for several months on the charge of carrying a dagger. After his discharge Reinsdorf traveled to and from Switzerland to Germany, France and Belgium, speaking in all places where he stopped, and gaining many followers. His only desire was to put old Emperor William (commonly called “old Lehmann”) out of the way—to do something great so that all the people would look up to him. His only targets were royal palaces and the palaces of diplomates. He and others then formed a plan to murder the King, and Bismarck, and all the princes and others who were to participate in the dedication of the Germania monument at Ruedesheim on the 28th day of September, 1883. But Reinsdorf met with an accident while crossing a railroad track, and was severely injured. This was a very painful situation for Reinsdorf. The day for action drew near, but he was confined to his bed. Should this beautiful plan be given up on that account? Never! Could not other people accomplish what he had thought out? Certainly. But was it sure that they would have the necessary courage at the critical moment? Could he trust them? Tormented by such thoughts, Reinsdorf finally submitted to the inevitable and confided his mission to two of his comrades. He called these people to his bedside and told them what he wanted done. He presented his plan in detail. Rupsch and Kuechler—these are their names—pledged themselves to do what he desired. They started on the journey with the necessary material, reached Ruedesheim safely, and on the night of the 27th they proceeded to a spot not far from the monument, where the railroad runs near the edge of the forest. They filled a culvert with a large quantity of dynamite, put a fulminating cap into it and drew the fuse into the forest. It was raining at the time, and they covered the fuse with moist ground and tied the end of it to a tree, which they marked by cutting into it. They then returned to Ruedesheim. The next morning they returned to the place. The royal train came. Kuechler gave the signal; Rupsch held his burning cigar to the fuse. One moment of breathless expectation! The train passed, and the explosion—failed. Kuechler asked Rupsch about the failure. The latter showed that the end of the fuse had been lighted, but did not burn because it was damp. They did not give up hope, as the train had to return the same way after the ceremonies were over. A new fuse was attached. Again the royal party passed over the critical ground, where death had been prepared for them. Rupsch lit the fuse again, but it did not burn. An investigation afterwards showed that the fuse only burned a short length and then went out. They had followed all Reinsdorf’s instructions but one—instead of water-proof fuse they had supplied themselves with the common kind. With mutual recriminations, Kuechler and Rupsch took the dynamite from under the culvert and went back to Ruedesheim, where they got gloriously drunk. After they had sobered up, they returned to Elberfeld and reported to Reinsdorf, who already knew that his beautiful plan had miscarried. With great wrath he listened to them and said: “No such thing could have happened to me.” He thought there would be another chance. Then he would not be in the hospital, but could carry it out himself. His hopes were in vain. After his discharge from the hospital in Elberfeld, he proceeded to Frankfort-on-the-Main, where he was arrested. The police found out that he was an accomplice in the conspiracy, but, putting him through the sieve, they failed to get anything out of him, as he would not answer a single question. He said: “You may ask me as much as you wish, I shall not answer.” Bachman, one of his companions and an accomplice, escaped to Luxemburg, where he thought he would be safe from the law, but he also was arrested and extradited and sent to Elberfeld to keep Reinsdorf company, together with Rupsch and Kuechler.
Reinsdorf and his accomplices were tried before the courts of Leipsic, and the trial lasted seven days. Bachman and two others were sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. Rupsch got a life sentence, while Reinsdorf was sentenced to be beheaded. At his trial Reinsdorf was as stubborn as ever. He denied everything. When he was asked who he was he answered:
“I am an Anarchist.”
“What is Anarchy?” he was asked.
“A company in which every sensible man can develop his ability. To permit this no one should be burdened with excessive labor; want and misery should be banished; every force should cease; every stupidity, every superstition should be banished from the world.”
The presiding judge asked him if he was guilty or not, and to answer with “yes” or “no.”
Reinsdorf answered with a steady voice: “I look upon this whole thing as a question of power. If we German Anarchists had a couple of army corps at our disposition, then I would not have to talk to this court. I for my part have nothing to say. Do with me as you please.”
After the court had finished, Reinsdorf resumed his remarks and said: “The attempt at Niederwald failed because ‘the hand of Providence appeared,’ as the prosecution terms it. I tell you the awkward hand of Rupsch did it. I am sorry to say I had no one else at my disposal. I have nothing to repent, only that the attempt failed. At the factories the people are going to ruin merely for the benefit of the stockholders. These honest Christians swindle the working people of half of their living. My lawyer wanted to save my head, but for such a hounded proletarian as I am the quickest death is the best. If I had ten heads I would offer them with joy and lay them on the block for the good cause.”
Before going to the scaffold, Reinsdorf ate a hearty meal, smoked a cigar, and sang a song. He walked steadily into the court-yard, where the scaffold was standing, guarded by a squad of soldiers, besides about a hundred other persons.
“Are you August Reinsdorf?” asked the sheriff.
“Yes, that I am.”
The death warrant was then read and the royal signature shown to him. The executioner then bore him to the scaffold. Reinsdorf’s last words were: “Down with barbarism; hurrah for Anarchy!” The axe fell and the head was severed from his body.
The atonement for the decapitation of Reinsdorf followed quickly. The sentence had hardly been carried into execution when, on the 13th of January, 1885, “the miserable Rumpff,” as they called him, was stabbed and killed by the hand of an Anarchist at Frankfort-on-the-Main. Sic semper tyrannis.
With such an example of courage before them, and the revenge his execution invited, it is almost needless to remark that the bloodthirsty Anarchists of Chicago read with eager avidity anything pertaining to their hero. Accordingly, in the Vorbote of December 16, 1885, the following is to be found:
In the pamphlet about Reinsdorf there is a letter published which our great martyr wrote the day previous to his decapitation. We are able now to publish two other letters which Reinsdorf wrote at the same time, to his parents and to his second brother.
One letter reads as follows:
Halle, February 6, 1885.
My Dear Brother: To-day is my last day, and I could not let it pass without writing to you to show you that I always remembered you with brotherly love. When you have read this letter I shall be one of the fortunates who are past and one of whom they can speak nothing but good. Now, my deeds, specially alleged against me before the courts, lie open before the world, and, although I am sentenced to death, I have the feeling that I did my duty; and this feeling it is which makes my last walk easy, to receive joyfully the everlasting sleep as something well earned.
Dear August, you have often had trouble and sorrow, although you are in the blossom of life. People usually heed the words of one deceased more than the speeches of philosophers. I want to tell you a few words. Bear with strength, endurance and friendly submission the burden which you have laden upon yourself, and try to have satisfaction in it, so you can raise your children that they may be useful to you and an adornment to you. What would you gain by it, if you should participate in the good-for-nothing diversions of the people? Think, I could have done it, but I preferred the wandering existence of an Anarchist.
When you, therefore, in years to come, look back upon the days of honest, peaceable labor done, and of hard duty fulfilled, then you will be filled with a joyful certainty and a quiet happiness that will repay you for all your sufferings. We still live, unfortunately, in a world of egotism and incompleteness, and only a few are in position to swim against the stream—even at the risk of their lives. You never did it. Good. So do your duty as the father of your family. Good-by. Accept a greeting from my heart for your wife and family, from
Your brother, August.
The second letter is directed to his parents:
Halle, February 6, 1885.
My Dear Parents: Take in silence what cannot be helped! Who would sacrifice their children, if not you, who have so many? Or should the wealthy do it, when it is the cause of the poor for which we fight? Or should we lay our hands in our laps and wait until others have sacrificed themselves for us? And is it such a great sacrifice I bring? Sick as I am, and with a prospect of long suffering, it should be looked upon as a blessing when such an existence is put to a quick death. And what an end is it? Whoever they are, progressive or reactionary, liberal or conservative, they all hate the Anarchist Reinsdorf. As they have condemned his doings, they cheer his death, the crown of a faithful, self-sacrificing man. But his steadfastness, in defiance of thousands of obstacles, no one can deny. And this shall be your consolation.
How many have had to die for smaller causes? How many have lost their lives in dynamite conquests? Take all this in consideration and don’t let your hearts be made heavy through the babble of paltry and narrow-minded people. My last thoughts are of you and of brothers and sisters, and of the great cause for which I die. Deep-felt wishes fill my heart for the prosperity of every one of you. Greetings to my brothers and sisters, especially Carl, Emilie, Emma and Anna, to whom I could not write personally. Shake once more their hands for me. You and I embrace with all the love of childhood, and I greet you a thousand times. Good-by, all.
What Herr Johann Most, the present American leader of the irreconcilables, thought of Reinsdorf, may be judged by the following extracts from Most’s biography:
From the 15th to the 22nd of December, 1884, eight workingmen, who had been captured in the war of the poor against the rich, were sitting in the dock, not to have justice passed upon them, but to await the sentence of might which the judges, acting as mouth-pieces for the ruling powers, had in preparation for them. The most prominent figure among these victims of a barbaric order of society was August Reinsdorf. To this man my little book is to be a tribute of esteem.
I am well aware of the difficulty of my otherwise quite modest undertaking, to write a biography of the father of the Anarchistic movement within the territory of the German language, yet I hope to do the brothers near and far a service, for the time being at least, by sketching for them a likeness of a true hero of the Social Revolution....
Indeed Reinsdorf was not an agitator of the common sort. Speeches delivered occasionally or written articles were to him only means to a higher purpose—incentives to action.
Since he had recognized his ideal in Anarchism; ... since the necessity of the “tactics of terror” had dawned upon him in contradistinction to the tactics of petitioning, voting, “parliamenting,” bargaining, and of the peaceable and legitimate hide-and-seek practice—all his thinking and planning was directed to but one thing, he knew of but oneendeavor, he gave his entire being to but one motive power of the Social Revolution—that was the propaganda of action.
In this regard he may be put beside the most noble conspirators of ancient and modern times....
To be a revolutionist indeed, one must possess the faculty of thinking with the most acute clearness. But religious “fog” is the opposite of clearness of intellect. Yea, where religious nonsense has once taken a deep root, there every mental development is actually excluded, and a kind of idiocy formally takes its place....
Quite different does the matter stand in the case of a “proletarian.” If he once recognize the old Lord God with his thunderbolt as an invented scarecrow which a shrewd gang of rascals have placed before paradise,—that man should not eat of the tree of knowledge, but that he should rather wait in patience for the roasted birds which, after his death, come flying into his mouth from a heavenly kitchen,—if the poor devil has learned to see that his namesake, too, wherewith they had tried to scare him previously, is also an invention of malicious swindlers,—then he soon applies the rule of the critic to the “high” and “highest” idols of earth. He loses respect for the so-called “Governments” and more and more learns to see in them a horde of brutal tormentors. These custodians of existing treasures attract his eye also to the possessors of the riches of the earth, and soon the question dawns upon him, Who has created all these things? The answer comes of itself. He and his like have done that. To them, therefore, belongs the whole world. They only need to take.
Thus the man, having cut loose from God, becomes the revolutionist par excellence.
After Reinsdorf had succeeded in finding people who he thought were fit to take part in revolutionary actions and even risk their lives, he was also fortunate enough to discover a source from which dynamite, that glorious stuff which will literally make a road for liberty, could be procured.
And how did he die? Shortly before the moment of death, and while in the hands of the hangman, he cried out: “Down with barbarism! Let Anarchy live!”
These are admonishing words, which no one should leave unheeded who marches under the flag of the Revolution.
Well, then! Let us act accordingly! Away with all sentimental hesitation when it comes to strike a blow against State, Church and Society and their representatives, as well as against all that exists.
Let us never forget that the revolutionists of modern times can enter into the society of free and equal men only over ruins and ashes, over blood and dead bodies.
Let us rise to the height of an August Reinsdorf! Let us complete the work which he so boldly began! Only thus can we avenge ourselves; only thus can we show ourselves worthy of him; only thus can we conquer.
Workingmen! Look down into the freshly dug pit. There lies your best friend and adviser, an advance champion of your cause, a martyred witness to the greatness of the Anarchistic idea. Live, strive and act as he! Anarchists, in your name I lay the well-earned laurel-wreath upon his grave....
The retribution for the annihilation of Reinsdorf came rapidly. Scarcely had the sentence been spoken, and before it had been executed, the dagger of a Nemesis had already taken revenge. On January 13, 1885, the head of the German detective forces, the miserable Rumpff, was stabbed to death by the hand of an Anarchist.
“Sic semper tyrannis—So be it to all tyrants!” was heard everywhere. With great satisfaction every honorable man, especially every man of work, experienced that Rumpff had to die because he was the cause of Reinsdorf’s death....
The combustibles are heaped up. Proletarians, throw the igniting spark amongst them.
Up with force! Let the Social Resolution live!
The revolutionists of Chicago appear more careful about exposing themselves to danger than their foreign co-conspirators, and, while counseling bloodshed, suggest ways of bringing about destruction with a minimum of danger. In the Arbeiter-Zeitung of March 16, 1885, there appeared the following editorial, suggesting the most effective way of using dynamite:
In all revolutionary action three different epochs of time are to be distinguished: First the portion of preparation for an action, then the moment of the action itself, and finally that portion of time which follows the deed. All these portions of time are to be considered one after another.
In the first place, a revolutionary action should succeed. Then as little as possible ought to be sacrificed,—that is, in other words, the danger of discovery ought to be weakened as much as possible, and, if it can be, should be reduced to naught. This calls for one of the most important tactical principles, which briefly might be formulated in the words: Saving of the combatants. All this constrains us to further explain the measures of organization and tactics which must be taken into consideration in such an action.
Mention was made of the danger of discovery. That is, in fact, present in all three of the periods of conflict. This danger is imminent in the preparation of the action itself, and finally, after the completion thereof. The question is now, How can it be met?
If we view the different phases of the development of a deed, we have, first, the time of preparation.
It is easily comprehensible for everybody that the danger of discovery is the greater the more numerous the mass of people or the group is which contemplates a deed, and vice versa. On the other hand, the threatening danger approaches the closer the better the acting persons are known to the authorities of the place of action, and vice versa. Holding fast to this, the following results:
In the commission of a deed, a comrade who does not live at the place of action—that is, a comrade of some other place—ought, if possibility admits, to participate in the action; or, formulated differently, a revolutionary deed ought to be enacted where one is not known.
A further conclusion which may be drawn from what was mentioned is this:
Whoever is willing to execute a deed has, in the first place, to put the question to himself, whether he is able, or not, to carry out the action by himself. If the former is the case, let him absolutely initiate no one into the matter and let him act alone; but if that is not the case, then let him look, with the greatest care, for just so many fellows as he must have, absolutely—not one more nor less; with these let him unite himself into a fighting group.
The founding of special groups of action or of war is an absolute necessity. If it were attempted to make use of an existing group to effect an action, discovery of the deed would follow upon its heels, if it came to a revolutionary action at all, which would be very doubtful. It is especially true in America, where reaction has velvet paws, and where asinine confidence is, from a certain direction, directly without bounds. In the preparation, even, endless debates would develop; the thing would be hung upon the big bell; it would be at first a public secret, and then, after the thing was known to everybody, it would also reach the long ears of the holy Hermandad (the sacred precinct of the watchman over the public safety), which, as is known to every man, woman and child, hear the grass grow and the fleas cough.
In the formation of a group of action, the greatest care must be exercised. Men must be selected who have head and heart in the right spot.
Has the formation of a fighting group been effected, has the intention been developed, does each one see perfectly clear the manner of the execution, then action must follow with the greatest possible swiftness, without delay, for now they move within the scope of the greatest danger, simply from the very adjacent reason, because the select allies might yet commit treason without exposing themselves in so doing.
In the action itself, one must be personally at the place, to select personally that point of the place of action, and that part of the action, which are the most important and are coupled with the greatest danger, upon which depend chiefly the success or failure of the whole affair.
Has the deed been completed, then the group of action dissolves at once, without further parley, according to an understanding which must be had beforehand, leaves the place of action, and scatters in all directions.
If this theory is acted upon, then the danger of discovery is extremely small—yea, reduced to almost nothing, and from this point of view the author ventures to say, thus, and not otherwise, must be acted, if the advance is to be proper.
It would be an easy matter to furnish the proof, by the different revolutionary acts in which the history of the immediate past is so rich, that the executors sinned against the one or the other of the aforementioned principles, and that in this fact lies the cause of the discovery, and the loss to us of very important fellow-champions connected therewith; but we will be brief, and leave that to the individual reflection of the reader. But one fact is established—that is this: That all the rules mentioned can be observed without great difficulty; further, that the blood of our best comrades can be spared thereby; finally, as a consequence of the last-mentioned, that light actions can be increased materially, for the complete success of an action is the best impulse to a new deed, and the things must always succeed when the rules of wisdom are followed.
A further question which might probably be raised would be this: In case a special or conditional group must be formed for the purpose of action, what is the duty, in that case, of the public groups, or the entire public organization, in view of the aforesaid action? The answer is very near at hand. In the first place, they have to serve as a covering—as a shield behind which one of the most effective weapons of revolution is bared; then these permanent groups are to be the source from which the necessary pecuniary means are drawn and fellow-combatants are recruited; finally, the accomplished deeds are to furnish to permanent groups the material for critical illustration. These discussions are to wake the spirit of rebellion,—that important lever of the advancing course of the development of our race,—without which we would be forever nailed down to the state of development of a gorilla or an orang-outang. This right spirit is to be inflamed, the revolutionary instinct is to be roused which still sleeps in the breast of man, although these monsters, which, by an oversight of nature, were covered with human skin, are earnestly endeavoring to cripple the truly noble and elevated form of man by the pressure of a thousand and again a thousand years—to morally castrate the human race. Finally, the means and form of conquest are to be found by untiring search and comparison, which enhance the strength of each proletarian a thousandfold, and make him the giant Briareus, alone able to crush the ogres of Capital.
I have thus shown the manner and methods by which Socialism seeks to gain a foothold in America. In their declarations of principles and encouragements to violence, these agitators have proved themselves traitors to their country or the country of their adoption, and ingrates to society. They have sought, and are seeking, to establish “Anarchy in the midst of the state, war in times of peace, and conspiracy in open day.” They are the “Huns and Vandals of modern civilization.”
As De Tocqueville says: “Democracy and Socialism are the antipodes of each other. While Democracy extends the sphere of individual independence, Socialism contracts it. Democracy develops a man’s whole manhood; Socialism makes him an agent, an instrument, a cipher. Democracy and Socialism harmonize on one point only—the equality which they introduce. But mark the difference: Democracy seeks equality in liberty, while Socialism seeks it in servitude and constraint.”