Hay Market Massacre of 1886

haymarket-riot-hero-ABKalamazoo, MI (Majyck Radio)-May 1, 1886 was  the beginning of a nationwide movement for the eight-hour  work day. Tension mounting from labor, skilled and unskilled workers because the federal government did not enforce a 1867 law that covered eight-hour day work, so the State of Illinois did not enforce this law as well.

 On Sunday, May 2, more than 35,000 workers walked off their jobs. But on Monday, May 3, the peaceful scene turned violent when the Chicago police attacked and killed picketing workers at the McCormick Reaper Plant. This police violence provoked a protest meeting which was planned for Hay Market Square on the evening of Tuesday, May 4.  Almost 200 officers marched to the meeting and ordered it to disperse.

Then someone threw a bomb at the police, killing one officer instantly. Police returned fire. Sixty officers were injured, and eight died; an undetermined number of the crowd were killed or wounded.

Police arrested hundreds of people, but never determined the identity of the bomb thrower.

In August 1886, eight men, labeled as anarchists, were convicted in  controversial trial in which the jury was considered to be biased and no evidence  presented linking them to the bombing. Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On November 11, 1887, four of the men were hanged.

United States President Glover Cleveland feared that honoring labor day on May 1st would give attention to the HayMarket Massacre. 1887, it was established the September would known as “Labor Day”  celebrating the contributions of workers on the first Monday of September.

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