This week in 1887

October 27th, 2012 by admin

“This is the happiest day of my life.”

— Adolph Fischer, convicted of murder, hanging, Illinois.
Executed November 11, 1887

An anarchist and labor union activist, Fischer was present at an organizing meeting the night before what has been called the Haymarket Square Riot, Haymarket Massacre, or Haymarket Tragedy. At this rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, a few thousand people showed up to protest the killing of two workers the previous day, when police had broken up a clash between union workersand their replacements at a local reaper factory. In the square, someone threw a bomb that killed police officer Mathias J. Degan and incited a riot. Officers fired into the crowd. Some accounts say police shot back at armed members of the gathering; others say it was unclear why the officers fired. The Chicago Herald newspaper estimated at least fifty civilian dead, while the Chicago Tribune reported, “A very large number of the police were wounded by each other’s revolvers.”

Seven more officers would die of wounds sustained during the incident. No single person was clearly proved to be the bomb thrower, but German immigrant Fischer was held responsible for the event, along with seven other men.

Haymarket became a symbol of the labor rights struggle and helped set May 1 as International Labor Day.

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