Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
Graphic Witness home page

Tusche, tone and stone

Thomas Nast (1840-1902)

select image to enlarge
return to fast loading Thomas Nast page or same page with embedded images (slower to load)
Liberty is not Anarchy
Haymarket
1887
The Haymarket Riot, Chicago, May 4, 1886

Nast has no sympathy for the labor leaders tried for the so-called Haymarket Riot and the particularly harsh sentences they receive.

The day before, six demonstrators had been killed by police attempting to disperse a strike for an 8 hour work day at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. In response to those deaths, a demonstration was organized for the next day, in Haymarket Square.

This otherwise peaceful demonstration was close to dispersing when police attempted to break it up, and a bomb was thrown, killing seven policemen. The police then opened fire on the crowd, killing and injuring scores of other victims. It remains unclear who threw the bomb; no connection was ever shown to any of the eight anarchist labor leaders and demonstration organizers.

Despite this, they were convicted of the killings. Seven were sentenced to hang;, one received 15 years in prison. One man committed suicide in his cell; four others were hung in 1887, and two more had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. In 1893, Illinois Governor John Altgeld pardoned the three men still in prison, at the cost of his own political career. [For other views of labor/managment strife in the latter part of the 19th Century, see Joseph Keppler's Puck]