One of the items in this collection provides the opportunity to read the courtroom speeches of the eight Haymarket defendants, some of whom were experienced public speakers. In his autobiography, August Spies refers to himself as "an oral agitator among the wage-workers," while Fielden and Parsons were accomplished enough to address the meeting at Haymarket Square on a moment's notice.
These courtroom speeches were published in The Accused of the Accusers: The Famous Speeches of Eight Chicago Anarchists in Court. Select segments from several of the speeches for dramatic reading, such as Neebe's appeal to be executed rather than be given 15 years imprisonment; Parson's opening by reciting a poem or his suggestion that the bomb had been thrown by anti-labor agitators; or the conclusion of Spies' speech in which he declares:
"Now, these are my ideas. They constitute a part of myself. I cannot divest myself of them, nor would I, if I could. And if you think that you can crush out these ideas that are gaining ground more and more every day, if you think you can crush them out by sending us to the gallows-if you would once more have people suffer the penalty of death because they have dared to tell the truth-and I defy you to show us where we have told a lie-I say, if death is the penalty for proclaiming the truth, then I will proudly and defiantly pay the costly price! Call your hangman! Truth crucified in Socrates, in Christ, in Giordano Bruno, in Huss, Gallileo [sic.], still lives-they and others whose number is legion have preceded us on this path. We are ready to follow!"
From The Accused, the accusers : the famous speeches of the eight Chicago anarchists in court when asked if they had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon them. On October 7th, 8th and 9th, 1886, Chicago, Illinois.
- How did each speaker use the opportunity to address the court?
- How effective were the speeches as arguments against the sentencing?
- What else do you think the defendants might have wanted to achieve through their speeches?
- What techniques did each speaker use to achieve his goals?
- What are the differences in the language, tone, and organization of each speech?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each speech?
- Why do you think that the socialist press decided to publish these speeches?