[The following material is reprinted from the Haymarket Scrapbook, edited by Franklin Rosemont and Dave Roediger and published in 1986 for the centenary of Haymarket by Charles Kerr Press. It remains the single best source of materials on Haymarket, the incident, as well as the individuals involved and the consequences of the affair. This is the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket “affair.” Please click this link to find all events scheduled for this May Day weekend, and on the Labor & Arts Festival Calendar for the month of May.]
In Defense of the Chicago Anarchists
If I were speaking anywhere else or at any other time than the present, I should go straight to my subject, which is to make clear to you what we mean by socialism, but in this town, and at this time, I should feel myself a coward, I should feel I was neglecting a manifest duty, if I did not refer to a matter which I am sure is present in the minds and hearts of all here tonight; which is present in the minds and hearts of all honest men and women. I mean, of course, to the anarchist trial-it is called a trial-and the condemnation to death of seven men.
Now I do not hesitate to say most emphatically and explicitly that if that sentence is carried out, it will be one of the most infamous legal murders that has ever been perpetrated. The execution of these men would be neither more nor less than murder. I am no anarchist, but I feel all the more that if am bound to say this. Nor do I make such a statement on socialistic or anarchistic authority alone. Why, only this morning, in the Chicago Tribune, you will find the statement that “they hang anarchists in Chicago.” That is, they are going to hang these men not as murderers, but as anarchists. That is the very confession we wanted. Not we, but our opponents, say this-that seven men are to be done to death not for what they have done, but for what they have said and believe.
That cowardly and infamous sentence will not be carried out. The votes cast by the working class will put a stop to that, at least so I believe. Should these men be murdered, we may say of the executioners what my father said of those who massacred the people of Paris: “They are already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them.”
Speech delivered in Aurora, Illinois,
November 1886, a.s printed in the
Chicago Knights of Labor
The youngest daughter of Karl Marx, and the only one to become a public figure in her own right, Eleanor “Tussy”Marx (1855- 1898) was born in England where she spent nearly all her life. A tireless activist in the British workers’ movement, she organized the first women’s branch of the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers, served on its Executive Committee for several years, and played an important role in many strikes as well as in eight-hour-day agitation. With William Morris and H. M. Hyndman she was one of the most renowned socialists in late-nineteenth-century England, and a popular speaker at radical workers’ meetings.
From September to December 1886 she and her common-law husband Edward Aveling were in the U.S. on an extensive speaking tour. From New York and Rhode Island to Minnesota and Kansas, they addressed large workingclass audiences in dozens of cities. Defense of the Haymarket Eight was a regular feature of their speeches.
FREEDOM IN AMERICA
Where is thy home, 0 Freedom? Have they set
Thine image up upon a rock to greet
All comers shaking from their wandering feet
The dust of the old world bondage, to forget
The tyrannies of fraud and force, nor fret,
Where men are equal, slavish chain unmeet;
Nor bitter bread of discontent to eat, .
Here, where all races of the earth are met?
America! beneath thy banded flag
Of old it was thy boast that men were free,
To think, to speak, to meet, to come, to go.
What up to Labour’s sons who would not see
Fair Freedom but a mask-a hollow show?
from Commonweal, October 15, 1887.
[English painter, designer, and illustrator, Walter Crane was best known for his illustrations of children’s books in a deliberately archaic style. Born in Liverpool, he studied miniature painting and wood engraving in his youth and was apprenticed to W.J.Linton. His paintings and book illustrations were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and by Japanese prints.
With the designer William Morris he was a leader in the Arts and Crafts movement, which sought to reform the decorative arts. Crane founded the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888, becoming their first President. The object of the body was to assist in the revival of the art and handicrafts currently occurring, and to draw attention to the craftsmen involved. Crane designed wallpapers, most notably “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Rush and Iris.” These beautiful papers were produced by Jeffrey & Co.
Walter Crane also illustrated books for William Morrisand other publishers including The Frog Prince (1874), Household Stories from Grimm (1882), and his masterpiece, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1894-1896). He illustrated 50 complete books between 1865 and 1886 and continued with at least two books a year until the end of the century. Found at this site.]
VOLTAIRINE DE CLEYRE
Named for Voltaire by her freethinker father, Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) endured an impoverished midwestern childhood before her father converted to Catholicism and sent her to a Canadian convent, where she spent her teenage years. This experience, which she later invariably referred to as nightmarish, left her a militant atheist, and for many years she was one of the American freethought movement’s star lecturers. She was briefly a socialist after encountering Clarence Darrow in 1887, but the example of the Haymarket martyrs soon inspired her to take up their cause. She is buried near their graves in Waldheim.
LIGHT UPON WALDHEIM
(The figure on the monument over the grave of the Chicago martyrs in Waldheim Cemetery is a warrior woman, dropping with her left hand a crown upon the forehead of a fallen man just past his agony, and with her right drawing a dagger from her bosom.)
Light upon Waldheim! And the earth is gray;
A bitter wind is driving from the north;
The stone is cold, and strange cold whispers say:
What do ye here with Death? Go forth! Go forth!”
Is this thy word, 0 Mother, with stern eyes,
Crowning thy dead with stone-caressing touch?
May we not weep o’er him that martyred lies,
Slain in our name, for that he loved us much?
May we not linger till the day is broad?
Nay, none are stirring in this stinging dawn —
None but poor wretches that make no moan to God:
What use are these, 0 thou with dagger drawn?
“Go forth, go forth! Stand not to weep for these,
Till, weakened with your weeping, like the snow
Ye melt, dissolving in a coward peace!”
Light upon Waldheim! Brother, let us go!
London, October, 1897
Voltairine de CLEYRE
WHO WERE THEY?
They would not sleep in shame, like all the rest,
Nor could they either slaves or swindlers be.
They spoke the free and open truth. Till death
They fought for human rights and liberty.
They carried in their breasts the scarlet flame
Of Truth, sweet radiance that freedom casts.
They bid us speak in Truth’s unsullied name,
And summoned us to man’s unfinished tasks.
They never gave consent to those decrees
Which only blind the people, and enslave.
They ripped apart the laws of tyranny,
To laws of nature recognition gave.
They broke a window through in mankind’s
Prison-house of black obscurity,
And freely let the sunlight permeate
The pallid world of human slavery.
Usurpers paled and tyrants shook in fright;
The slave was waking, tearing at his chain,
Had understood at last his human right,
“Liberty or death!” his fierce refrain,
But when the cruel, man-devouring class
Had barely heard the Truth thus spoken free,
It seized its bloodstained knife in deadly grasp
And plunged into this monstrous butchery.
Oh brothers! They have killed our champions who
Were leading us through strife to victory.
Oh baseness vile! how brilliantly have you
Prevailed, in this, the nineteenth century!
How powerless the people stood, and mute–
So like a child! Not one bold hand to thwart
The rope, to stop the tyrant’s hangman-brute!
Oh masses! Where your reason? Where your heart?
In Waldheim now, man’s freedom-thinkers rest.
And still are heard, from that eternal site,
The savage hangman’s roaring epithets,
Which rouse the world of slaves to freedom’s fight.
They ask no hymns of praise, no monument
Of marble, bloodied by the slave’s own hand,
Their sole request is man’s enlightenment,
The fight for human rights their one demand.
Unite, oh people! Learn your strength! Awake!
And heed the wish that echoes from their grave.
Throw off your yoke! And crush the vicious snake
Which poisoned you and turned you into slaves.
Cincinnati, Ohio, 23 September 1889
(Translated by Max Rosenfeld
[David Edelshtat (or Edelstadt) was born in Kaluga, Russia in 1866. He emigrated to America in 1882, already a radical. Like others, he was further radicalised by the Haymarket affair of 1886-7: he joined the Pionire der Frayhayt (Pioneers of Liberty) and later edited the Fraye Arbayter Shtime (Free Voice of Labor). First writing in Russian, he switched to Yiddish to reach the mass of working immigrant Jews. In three and a half years he became a prolific and powerful anarchist poet, an agitator-in-verse. In 1892 he died of TB caught in a sweatshop, aged twenty-six. Found at the Bulletin for the Kate Sharpley Library]