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Labor Day's the gift of the 13 union strikers killed in the Pullman strike

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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-01-06 10:46 PM
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Labor Day's the gift of the 13 union strikers killed in the Pullman strike
Edited on Fri Sep-01-06 10:57 PM by papau
Below is wording from the web (despite the lack of quote marks around everything) - wiki, Chicago public library, etc.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. But while Labor Day has been celebrated as a national holiday for more than 100 years, it wasnt easy. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland had deployed some 12,000 federal troops to stop a strike at Chicagos Pullman Company that was interrupting mail trains (George Pullman, the inventor of the railroad sleeping car, fired one-third of his workers and cut the wages of those who remained by 30 percent. But he would not cut prices for homes or food in Pullman, the company town near Chicago that he had built to house his employees.... a practice known as "debt slavery" , which kept workers under de facto contract by maintenance of large debts to the company store and to their "landlord," the Pullman Company, with money owed resulting in nothing being paid the worker. 50,000 Pullman Palace Car Company workers went on a wildcat strike in Illinois on May 11, 1894.... With a historic use of an injunction, the strike was eventually broken up by United States Marshals and some 2,000 United States Army troops, commanded by Nelson Miles, sent in by President Grover Cleveland on the basis that the strike interfered with the delivery of U.S. Mail. By the end of the strike 13 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded.

Union protests against Clevelands harsh methods in dealing with Pullman strikers made appeasement of the nations workers a priority (some things never change). Legislation was rushed through Congress - and the bill landed on the Presidents desk just six days after the federal troops broke the Pullman strike. 1894 being an election year (though not for him), Cleveland quickly signed the bill though he was NOT reelected when he came up for reelection in 1896.
Through much of the 1870's and 1880's Chicago was a leading center of labor activism and radical thought. Early in 1886 labor unions were beginning a movement for an eight-hour day. Union activists called a one day general strike in Chicago. On May 1 many Chicago workers struck for shorter hours. An active group of radicals and anarchists became involved in the campaign. Two days later a shooting and one death occurred during a riot at the McCormick Reaper plant when police tangled with the strikers.

On May 4 events reached a tragic climax at Haymarket Square, an open market near Des Plaines Ave. and Randolph St., where a protest meeting was called to denounce the events of the preceding day at the McCormick Works. Speakers exhorted the crowd from a wagon which was used for a makeshift stage. Mayor Carter Harrison joined the crowd briefly, then left, believing everything was orderly. Toward the end of 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.

The following day, under the direction of State's Attorney Julius Grinnel, police began a fierce roundup of radicals, agitators and labor leaders, siezing records and closing socialist and labor press offices. Eight men were finally brought to trial for conspiracy.

Despite the fact that the bomb thrower was never identified, and none of these eight could be connected with the crime, Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of them and the eighth was given fifteen years in prison. The court held that the "inflammatory speeches and publications" of these eight incited the actions of the mob. The Illinois and U.S. Supreme Courts upheld the verdict.

On November 11, 1887 four men, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel were hanged. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison awaiting the death sentence. The sentences of two others were commuted from death to imprisonment for life. On June 26, 1893, Governor John P. Altgeld pardoned the three who were in the penitentiary.

Commemoration of the Haymarket tragedy has, at times, been as contentious as the event itself. Worldwide appeals for clemency for the condemned Haymarket martyrs led to the establishment of May 1st as an International Workers' Day. Though May Day has been commemorated as a labor holiday in many countries, it was never adopted in the United States.

In 1893 a monument was erected to the Haymarket martyrs at Forest Home Cemetery (originally part of German Waldheim Cementery) in suburban Forest Park, Illinois. The site has became a rally point for labor activists since its dedication. Numerous American radical and labor activists have been interred or have had their ashes scattered nearby. The monument became a national landmark in 1997.

The City of Chicago erected a 9-foot bronze Haymarket Riot statue of a Chicago policeman 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. The police monument has had a more troubled history. Originally erected near the site, it was considered a traffic hazzard. In 1900 the statue was moved near Union Park. In 1928 the park district 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, later it was moved to the courtyard of the Police Academy at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd.

A bronze sidewalk plaque was placed at the site in 1992 and later removed. Most recently, to commemorate the international significance of the Haymarket tragedy, the City of Chicago unveiled a new monument on September 18, 2004 by Chicago artist Mary Brogger of a fifteen-foot speakers' wagon at the location on which the labor leaders stood in Haymarket Square in 1886.

By the way -An interesting site

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