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Topics in Chronicling America - The Haymarket Affair

On May 4, 1886, a bomb detonates near Haymarket Square in Chicago after police arrive to break up a rally in support of striking workers. This protest is one of a number of strikes, demonstrations, and other events held by workers and their supporters in Chicago from May 1-4 to advocate for an eight hour workday. Many police officers and protesters are wounded or killed by the blast, and ultimately 8 individuals are arrested, tried, and convicted in relation to the bombing. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.
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Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • May 1, 1886: Industrial workers across the U.S. go on strike, demanding an 8-hour workday.
  • May 3, 1886: During a strike at McCormick Reaper Works in Chicago, demonstrators clash with police, and several of the strikers are wounded or killed.
  • May 4, 1886: A bomb is detonated after police break up a meeting of labor activists near Haymarket Square in Chicago. One police officer is killed by the blast, and several men, both strikers and police officers, die or are wounded in the ensuing violence.
  • May 27, 1886: Thirty-one men are indicted and 8 men—Albert Parsons, August Spies, Oscar Neebe, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden—are arrested and charged as accessories to murder.
  • July 16, 1886: The eight men go to trial. On August 19th, the men are found guilty, and seven are sentenced to death by hanging. The eighth man, Oscar Neebe is given a lighter sentence of 15 years in the penitentiary.
  • September 14, 1887: After an appeal is filed, the Illinois Supreme Court upholds the lower court’s ruling. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in November is denied.
  • November 10, 1887: Louis Lingg commits suicide in prison.
  • November 11, 1887: Parsons, Spies, Engel, and Fischer are executed. Their funeral is witnessed by over 150,000 people. June 26, 1893: Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardons Neebe, Fielden, and Schwab.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Strike, Chicago, McCormick Reaper Works, bomb, anarchist, Louis Lingg, pardon.
  • To narrow results, search between May 1886 and November 1887. For articles relating to the governor’s pardon of three of the labor activists, search between June 26-27, 1893.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

  • "For Eight Hours," The St. Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, MN), May 1, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "The Great Day for Labor," The Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, NE), May 1, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "Mob Violence Feared," The Washington Critic (Washington, DC), May 4, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 6.
  • "Strike in Chicago," The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), May 5, 1886, Page 2, Image 2, col. 2.
  • "Blood and the Bomb," The Fort Worth Daily Gazette (Fort Worth, TX), May 5, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 4.
  • "Chicago's Wild Mobs," The Sun (New York, NY), May 6, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "The Bomb Butchery," The St. Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, MN), May 27, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "The Anarchists," The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), July 17, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 3.
  • "Seven Chicago Anarchists," The Lancaster Daily Intelligencer (Lancaster, PA), August 20, 1886, Page 1, Image 1, col. 5.
  • "Seven Anarchists to Hang," The Sun (New York, NY), September 15, 1887, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "They Must Hang," The St. Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, MN), November 3, 1887, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "A Human Tiger," The St. Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, MN), November 11, 1887, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "Four Will Hang," The National Republican (Washington, DC), November 11, 1887, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.
  • "The Anarchists' Lives," The Fort Worth Daily Gazette (Fort Worth, TX), November 12, 1887, Page 3, Image 3, col. 4.
  • "Anarchists Consigned to the Grave," The Sacramento Daily Record-Union (Sacramento, CA), November 14, 1887, Page 1, Image 1, col. 3.
  • "Sets them Free," The Morning Call (San Francisco, CA), June 27, 1893, Page 1, Image 1, col. 6".
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  February 11, 2013
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