Traitors in Name Only: The Haymarket Defendants

in The Trial in American Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226243252
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226243283 | DOI:
Traitors in Name Only: The Haymarket Defendants

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  • Social and Cultural History


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On May 4, 1886, a bomb from an unknown assailant was thrown into the ranks of policemen who had come to break up a peaceful labor rally near Haymarket Square in Chicago. Eight men were accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the bombing. None of the eight defendants could be connected to the bomb that had been thrown, but all were anarchists organizing the labor force against deplorable conditions in the workplace, and seven of the eight were foreign-born. Four of the men were hanged the following year. The execution itself, on November 11, was bungled badly. All four men died by slow strangulation on the scaffold instead of receiving the quick death by broken neck that the mechanism should have given them. The important point to take away from the Haymarket trial and executions is not what happened, but how and why something like it could happen again.

Keywords: Haymarket trial; Chicago; executions; strangulation; anarchists; bombing; Haymarket Square; defendants; murder

Chapter.  16304 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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