Haymarket Square Riots Presentation created by Robert Martinez Primary Content Source: A Story of US by Joy Hakim • When Cyrus McCormick opened the McCormick Harvester Works in Chicago in the 1840s, he worked alongside his 23 employees. Of course, he knew them all by name. • A few years later, the McCormick factory was making more than 1,000 reapers a year. Cyrus still knew all 200 of his workers. • By 1884, the year Cyrus McCormick died, his plant was enormous. It covered 12 acres, 1,300 men worked 10-hour days, six days a week. • That year the company showed a profit of 71 percent. And McCormick no longer knew his workers. Cyrus McCormick • Many of the new factories were owned by corporations. The owners of the corporations sometimes didn’t even live in the same town as their workers. Carnegie Mansion • Some of those owners got very rich but refused to pay their workers a fair wage. Often they treated workers as if they were commodities, like coal or lumber. They seemed to forget they were human beings. • Steelworkers had to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, for little pay. Textile workers, many of them children, worked 60 to 80 hours a week. Conditions were dangerous. • Miners worked underground with explosives, but without safety regulations. In one year, 25,000 workers died on the job, many were injured. • Child workers had three times as many accidents as adults. If a person lost an arm in a job accident, and many did with the new machines, no one helped with doctor’s bills. If a worker complained, he was fired. • Workers organized themselves into unions to try to fight for better conditions and better pay. Sometimes they decided not to work unless they were paid better wages, called strikes. • The owners hated strikes. They often fired anyone who joined a strike or union. Sometimes they hired police or soldiers to break a strike. Sometimes strikers were shot. • Businessmen took the law into their own hands. Carnegie and Rockefeller hired their own police forces. • Workers began to demand their own power. The unions grew. Many Americans, especially the new immigrants, learned about democracy in the unions. • Workers and business owners often had opposing interests. Workers wanted good wages and owners wanted to keep their labor costs low. Sometimes the relationship seemed like war. • Many people distrusted unions, especially because some unions were organized by socialists, who wanted the government to take over the businesses, like railroads, electrical power, and telephones. • Some unions were led by anarchists. They didn’t believe in any government at all, which was not a very practical idea. • Some business leaders wanted capitalism without regulations (Laissez-Faire). • 3,000 workers gathered in Chicago’s Haymarket Square to protest the unfair labor and violence at the McCormick factory. Most of the speakers were Socialists, they were peaceful but angry. • Then it began to rain, only 300 workers remained when 180 policemen marched into the square and demanded the meeting ended. Anarchist Labor Activist August Spies, Haymarket Speaker. • Then out of nowhere, a bomb was thrown at the police. No one has ever discovered who threw the bomb. One policeman was killed (six others died later of wounds.) Police began firing their guns. Four civilians died. Many were wounded. • The nation was outraged. Most people were angry at the strikers. They seemed to believe that the union workers were all anarchists who were plotting to overthrow the government. Policeman Mathias Degan killed in blast. • Many Chicago workers were immigrants. Stories circulated about foreign conspiracies (nativism) . Police rounded up suspects. Eight men were charged with conspiracy and murder. • All eight men were found guilty. Four of them hanged. One was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Two had death sentences changed to life in prison. One committed suicide in prison. • After the McCormick factory, the workers returned to a 10-hour day.