Haymarket Massacre

In October 1884, a convention was held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in United States of America to announce  May 1, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard. So when the chosen day approached thousands of people in Chicago began demonstrations for this motto with the slogan ‘Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will‘. So a general strike was observed in whole of USA to support this cause.

Haymarket Massacre

But May 4, 1886, was a bloody day for Chicago where a deathly incident occurred at Chicago’s Haymarket Square. A clash between police and demonstrators took place when in a rally an unknown person threw a bomb on the protestors. Resultantly the police guards opened gunfire and eight policemen and several civilians were killed in this clash.  The legal proceedings were followed and consequently four anarchists were convicted , and one of them committed suicide in prison. But the throwing of the bomb was never proved by the prosecution on the accused.

The Haymarket incident is a very important in international labor history as it is deemed to be  the origin of international May Day. Because after this in 1889, the International Labor Congress in Paris suggested May 1 as international Labor Day. On the chosen day all the workers marched for their rights especially for eight working hours during the day and to memorialize the ‘Martyrs of Chicago’. This struggle faced many harsh moments after this as many riots and demonstrations were conducted time to time. But it actually founded the realization of the labor rights and since then the International Labor day became a worldwide public holiday to commemorate the sacrifices of the labor class for their rights.

Haymarket Memorial Statue

On March 25, 1992 the site of the Haymarket incident was declared for the historic Chicago Landmark and  it is now listed as the National Historic Landmark  in the National Register of Historic Places . This Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument in Waldheim Cemetery, Chicago is now a large monument in Waldheim cemetery which serves as a memorial to the four anarchists who were executed for their role in the Haymarket riot.

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