Haymarket Trial (1886)

"If these men are to be tried...for advocating doctrines opposed to our ideas of propriety, there is no use for me to argue the case. Let the Sheriff go and erect a scaffold; let him bring eight ropes with dangling nooses at the ends; let him pass them around the necks of these eight men; and let us stop this farce now."
--Defense Attorney William Foster (closing argument)

"You stand between the living and the dead. You stand between law and violated law. Do your duty courageously, even if the duty is an unpleasant and severe one."
--Prosecutor Julius Grinnell (closing argument)

When an anarchist--whose identity remains a mystery even today--tossed a homemade bomb into a great company of Chicago police at 10:20 P.M. on the night of May 4, 1886, he could not have appreciated the far reaching consequences his reckless action would have. His bomb, thrown in a light drizzle as the last speaker at a labor rally climbed down from the speaker's wagon, set off a frenzy of fire from police pistols that would leave eight officers and an unknown number of civilians dead, and scores more injured. It led to the nation's first "Red Scare," refocused national labor and immigration policy, and set the stage for one of the most infamous trials in the history of American jurisprudence. The Haymarket Trial, the cause celebre for American radicals in the 1880s, produced death sentences for seven of Chicago's most prominent labor leaders--convicted more for their words than deeds at a time when the First Amendment provided scant protection against an outraged public....Continued