Haymarket Square Riot

In order to support the 8 hour work day and protest the killing of two McCormick strikers and the wounding of 4 others by factory guards, labor leaders called for a march and rally on May 4, 1886. Mayor Carter Harrison I issued a permit for it, and everything was legal. However, Police Inspector "Black Jack" Bonfield expected a full on riot, and called in 600 police reserves.

On the night of the rally, Harrison visited Haymarket Square around 8:30pm, and, finding a peaceful scene, sent the police reserves home. Bonfield defied him, however, bringing in his own men. At 10:20pm police ordered the crown dispersed. Someone who was never identified threw a bomb at the 200 police, creating chaos. Police began shooting into the crowd, killing 4-6 civilians. Seven policemen were killed, along with 60 injured.

After a riot, a near police state came into being. The Citizen's Association responded by creating a committee to deal with the crisis. This included Marshall Field, Murry Nelson, George Pullman, Philip Armour, and Cyrus McCormick.1 Harrison .attempted to instill calm throughout the city, but Bonfield brutally interrogated hundreds of suspects.

Hundreds of radicals were jailed and abused. Trial and appellate judges railroaded suspects through the system - giving seven of them the death sentence, and one 15 years in jail. Of the seven, four were hanged, and one committed suicide on death row.

When the furor died down, Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the two left on death row and the 15 year convict on June 26, 1893. Although several years later, anger still ran deep, with the press calling for Altgeld's head.2

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