The Haymarket affair (also the Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot) refers to the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour day. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they acted to disperse the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians.
Featuring five famous trials, this book examines the way our right to a fair trial can be threatened, when people are tempted to abandon their principles in the name of safety. Trials included are the Salem Witch Trials, the Haymarket Affair Trial, the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, the trial of Alger Hiss, and the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui—the latter not yet covered extensively in any book.
In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy. The evidence was that one of the defendants may have built the bomb, but none of those on trial had thrown it.
Haymarket affair: Newspaper reports declared that anarchist agitators were to blame for the "riot", a view adopted by an alarmed public. Press reports and illustrations of the incident became more elaborate and a consensus developed that suppression of anarchist agitation was necessary. But many workers believed that men of the Pinkerton agency were responsible because of the agency's tactic of secretly infiltrating labor groups and its sometimes violent methods of strike breaking.