May 4, 1886: Haymarket Tragedy in Chicago:
” In connection with the nation-wide strike for the 8-hour workday, which began May 1, 1886, a mass meeting was held on the night of May 4th in the Chicago haymarket. Its purpose was to protest a police attack on Union pickettes at McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in which workers were injured and killed. When police ordered the protest meeting to disperse (peaceful though it was), a bomb was thrown toward the police by an unknown person. The police responded by firing at the crowd.… “:an unknown of civilians died.
Governor John Peter Altgeld dared to defy the combined financial, political, and journalistic powers of the state simply to do the right thing. …Altgeld boldly scrawled his name across the pardons for Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab on June 26, 1893, he unleashed upon himself a torrent of political and personal abuse from such “respectable” organs as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times that has rarely been matched.
As surely as the term “communist” during the McCarthy era was enough to brand an individual undeserving of simple justice and constitutional rights, affixing the description “anarchist” to one in late 19th-Century America made them fair game for an uneasy and vindictive ruling class that in Chicago and other places controlled the courts and the press.
Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab were the survivors of the Haymarket martyrs–originally a group of eight men who were charged with murder following the explosion of a bomb at a Chicago labor rally on May 4, 1886 that killed several policemen. None of the eight was ever tied to the bomb, some were not even at the rally when the explosion occurred and the bombthrower was never found. But the Chicago establishment, led by Joseph Medill’s Tribune, saw the incident as a chance to wipe out the leadership of the city’s radical labor movement and send a message to all who would seek just wages, decent working conditions, and reduced hours for working men and women.
In a trial that Altgeld would later expose as riddled by abuses from jury-packing to blatantly biased rulings from the judge, the eight were convicted on evidence consisting of nothing more than popular passion and prejudice. Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, and Adolph Fischer died on the gallows. Louis Lingg committed suicide in his jail cell. Weak- willed Gov. Richard Ogelsby, who privately admitted the innocence of the men, worked up enough spine to reduce the sentences of Fielden and Schwab to life in prison. Neebe, who even the state’s prosecutor confided was innocent, received a sentence of 15 years.
Those enjoying increasingly concentrated wealth in Chicago had little patience with working people, especially those of foreign birth, who had the gall to stand up for their rights. Such activities were seen as a threat to the free market, the individual’s right to work 10 to 12 hours a day for a pittance…”
May 4, 1970: four killed and nine injured at Kent State University,
by random gunfire from National Guard troops. (Two of those killed were changing classes, not even involved in the rally.)
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE words and music by Pete Seeger performed by Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago Where have all the flowers gone? Girls have picked them every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the young girls gone? Long time passing Where have all the young girls gone? Long time ago Where have all the young girls gone? Taken husbands every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the young men gone? Long time passing Where have all the young men gone? Long time ago Where have all the young men gone? Gone for soldiers every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time ago Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time passing Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time ago Where have all the graveyards gone? Covered with flowers every one When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn? ©1961 (Renewed) Fall River Music Inc All Rights Reserved.