The Contested Haymarket Affair: 130 Years Later
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/05/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21390
On May 4th, 1886 someone threw a bomb into a file of Chicago police dispatched to break up a workers' protest rally at the city's Haymarket Square. The blast and ensuing gunfire killed seven cops and at least four civilians, and wounded many more.
Chicago in the post-Civil War decades became a major railroad hub, center of industrial production and heartland engine of unrestrained capitalist development. That rapid expansion was built on the exploitation of a primarily immigrant working class subjected to incredibly long hours, poor pay, and horrific working and living conditions.
The city, through the mid-1870s, was convulsed by a severe economic depression resulting in mass unemployment and wage cuts, working class upheaval and attempts to organize that were met, in turn, with "industrial titan" countermeasures often involving violence and state repression.