Haymarket: A Short Summary

Early in 1886 labor unions were beginning a movement for an eight-hour day. Serious trouble was anticipated and on May 1 many workers struck for shorter hours. An active group of radicals and anarchists became involved in the campaign. Two days later shooting and one death occurred during a riot at the McCormick Harvester plant when police tangled with the rioters.

On May 4 events reached a tragic climax at Haymarket Square where a protest meeting was called to denounce the events of the preceding day. At this meeting, while police were undertaking to disperse the crowd, a bomb was exploded. Policeman Mathias J. Degan died almost instantly and seven other officers died later. Eight men were finally brought to trial and Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of them and the eighth was given fifteen years in prison. Four were hanged, one committed suicide and the sentences of two were commuted from death to imprisonment for life. On June 26, 1893, Governor John P. Altgeld pardoned the three who were in the penitentiary.

The Haymarket Riot statue, a 9-foot bronze of a Chicago policeman of the 1880's, was erected in 1889 near the original site of the riot on Randolph Street near Halsted street as a tribute to the Chicago policemen who lost their lives in the Haymarket square riot of 1886. In 1892, the park district shifted it to Union Park and later relocated it to another spot in Union Park. In 1957 the statue was moved to the northeast corner of the bridge over the Kennedy expressway at Randolph Street. In October, 1969, and again in October of 1970 the statue was blown off of its pedestal in unsolved explosions. In January of 1972 it was moved to the lobby of police headquarters at 1121 S. State Street. Later it was moved to the courtyard of the Police Academy at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd.