The disaster shattered the sense of peace Americans felt and heightened fears about labor unions which gained a reputation of being dangerous radicals. National legislation was passed prohibiting the immigration of socialists and anarchists to the country to protect America from undemocratic ideas. The police became more determined to protect the streets at all costs and began resorting to violence in the name of protecting the social order. In honor of the policemen who were killed, a statue was erected in Haymarket Square in1889.
Despite persecution, radical groups and labor unions continued to survive in America and to them, the deceased anarchists became martyr figures. A memorial was placed on their grave at Waldheim, and the men were exalted by labor groups such as the International Workers of the World. Whenever radical protestors were beset by police or discriminated against by law, the memory of the Haymarket Affair was recalled. Groups sometimes expressed their anger at the statue honoring the policemen killed in the riot. The statue was returned to the Haymarket Square in 1957 and became a target for protestors in the 1960s, such as the Weathermen, who covered it with black paint and blew it up twice before it was removed to Chicago’s Police Training Academy.
The Haymarket bombing highlighted late nineteenth century divisions in America and tested the boundary of free speech and assembly. The case revealed how justice could be overlooked, and personal prejudices influenced by news media could cost men their lives in a nation where everyone, regardless of personal conviction, was supposed to be granted a fair trial. The Haymarket Trial challenged “the image of the United States as a classless society with liberty and justice for all,” and serves as a reminder of the injustice which could occur if prejudices are allowed to prevail over justice.
James Green, Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2006), 12.
Top Picture: Dave Roediger and James Rosemont, Haymarket Scrapbook, (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1986), 20.
Bottom Picture: Ibid., 166.