The textbook says that “On May 3, 1886, violence erupted at the McCormick Reaper Works plant, where farm equipment was made” (Shi and Tindall 595). Union and non-union workers began to fight with each other. The police came, shots were fired, and two strikers were killed. This was only the start of the onslaught of violence that would occur. The strikers saw this as police brutality and called for revenge. They saw the killing of the other strikers as the police as disobeying their hierarchy (“Mob Violence Feared”). The protesters used the police killing the poor men to fuel their stance on the whole situation of striking. A day later, on May 4th, 1886 tensions were still very high. The speakers of the protest were highly promoting anarchism by the employees against their companies. The police came later that evening to disperse the protesters. Someone then hurled a bomb at law enforcement. Seven people were deceased and sixty were injured. This action was considered the first act of terror in America. Police started to arrest citizens without any evidence against them. Labor meetings were then suspended within Chicago.
The anarchists were given a trial in court during the summer of 1886. There was little evidence to convict the seven head anarchists that were arrested, but they were all given the death penalty. This trial was not fair, and it was unjust because none of the leaders had evidence showing that they threw the bomb towards the police. The actual bomb there was never identified but someone had to take the fall for this ungracious act. The verdict from the jury was “’We find Spies, Parsons, Fielden, Schwab, Lingg and Engel guilty as charged in the indictment and punishable by death’”(“Seven Chicago Anarchists”). The anarchists were all charged with murder. When the verdict came, the charged did not utter a word. The could not believe what had happened even though there was no reliable evidence against them. The case was later sent to be appealed by the Illinois Supreme Court. The appeal was denied, and convictions were sustained by the court (Shi and Tindall 596).
Anarchism played a large role in this affair because the employee wanted to take away certain powers from their employers. Employees wanted to take back more power from their companies because big business overstepped their power against their laborers. The workers wanted to set up standards that the company’s hierarchy had to abide by. The companies subjugated their workers and overworked them unreasonably.
The Haymarket Riot was a crucial turning point for the start of worker’s rights. The Knights of Labor made some lasting achievements after the riot. The Foran Act of 1885 was created which reprimanded organization who imported contract employment. The idea of unionism became a large notion across the nation and it became broader in order to cover more organizations.
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