[May 4, 1886 (New York Times)]
Bloodshed in Chicago
Initiating the Eight-Hour Fight with Broken
Fiery Speeches Incite
Lumbermen and Others to Acts of Violence-
The Freight handlers’
May 3. – the eight-hour movement spilled its first blood today, and
a lumber shover 18 years old, was fatally wounded, and a dozen more
with bullet holes in their bodies, represented the result of the first
encounter. There was a collision at
McCormick’s Reaper Works, between a mob of 7,000 or 8,000 Anarchist
tramps, maddened with free beer and free speech, and a squad of
policemen. More than 500 shots were fired
of windows in the works were stoned.
There are broken heads and bruised bodies all through the lumber
district tonight but the downtrodden masses have risen and had their
fun. The talk of storming McCormick’s
started early in the morning among the thousands of ignorant
lumbermen who have been on a strike since Friday night.
The sole reason for the animosity against the
reaper works was that it was expected that the men there would work 109
instead of demanding 8. Half of men were
induced by threats and arguments to stay away from the works this
the other half, numbering 700, went to work.
During the day the eight-hour system was adopted by the company
men at work were told that they could quit at 2:30 P.M. today and call
days work. But while this peaceful
solution of what little difficulty there was being reached the hard
working. Anarchists outside were rousing
who had no early interest in the McCormick negotiations, to a pitch of
by incendiary speeches and bad beer.
Over and over again the suggestion was made to “storm the
each time cooler heads held the men in check for the time being.
At 1 o’clock a great mob, howling
drunk, was gathered on the
railroad tracks on the prairies at Blue Island Avenue and Wood Street. From the tops of freight cars various
speakers addressed the crowd, hundreds of whom wore a bit of re ribbon
buttonholes. Fritz Schmidt, a Socialist
from the Central Labor Union, urged the men to strike fro liberty. This could be done with the revolver, the
bludgeon, dynamite, and the torch. “On
to McCormeck’s” he said, “and let us run every one of the damned scabs
“It is they who are taking the bread from you,
and your children. On to them blow up
the factory, strike for your liberty.
This could be done with the revolver, the bludgeon dynamite, and
torch. “On to McCormeck’s,” he said,
“and let us run every one of the damned ‘scabs’ out of the city.”
“It is they who are taking the bread from you,
and your children. On to them, blow up
the factory, strike for your freedom and if the armed murderers of the
interfere shoot them down as you would the ‘scabs.’
Revolution is the only remedy. Do
not be afraid- arm yourselves. Use the
torch and protect your rights. Be men.
Arm yourselves and get what rightfully belongs to you.”
“On to McCormick’s,” cried the mob, and a number
in that direction, but were called back by several of the cool-headed
who took Fritz down from the car and held him to get out of the
vicinity. Just then the factory bell rang,
and the mob,
moved by a common impulse, started on a run toward the big gates which
face Oakley Avenue. It was a race of only twob locks and the head
of the mob reached the gates just as the men began to come out. In the run such of the mob as was not already
provided armed itself with stones. When
the men walked out of the gates the stones began to fly.
The men dodged the missiles as
best they could, and ran
while their fellow workmen, who were still in the yard, retreated to
shops. The stones flew thick and fast;
and above the mad roar of the mob rose the crash of breaking glass as
windows went in. Fifty men and boys
swept in through the gates and in a flash looted the gatekeeper’s house
there was in it. The company has kept a
dozen guards at the works ever since the strike, a few weeks ago and
when the mob reached the gates, fired their revolvers in the air,
frighten the attacking party off. The
strikers laughed at this and amused themselves by pelting the guards
stones till they too retired. Then they
followed them up and began battering sown the doors with crowbars. At this moment a patrol wagon loaded with
officers was seen approaching.
“Kill the police,” cried a
hundred voices. The wagon dashed up Blue Island Avenue,
the horses urged into
a mad gallop. Right into the thick of
the crowd they rode with a crutch that could not be checked by the mob.
Showered with stones and bricks, the officers
in the wagon which turned sharply off the avenue and ran down toward
gate. As the wagon drew up before the
gate the policemen jumped off and drawing their revolvers and leveling
the approaching men, held them at bay.
For a moment had entered the yards got out the best way they
could. Then the cry of “Shoot them!” was
raised. The crowd again advanced a short
distance and pelted stones and other missiles.
The 12 officers stood in the centre of the prairie and were
targets for the missiles of the mob. For
10 minutes they were kept busy dodging the stones, when the crowd got
it and pulled revolvers. It seemed as if
the majority of them were armed and revolvers of every sort flashed in
the sun. A volley was poured into the
little band of
12 policemen the patrol in the meantime standing inside the yards of
factory. Occasionally when the rioters
got dangerously close, a volley was fired by the police, but the
generally shot to scare and not to kill.
They carried themselves throughout the riot in an admirable
manner. One stray shot struck the boy
in the groin. Shots were flying back and
forth, but the strikers were bad marksmen, and though they were
take deliberate aim at the 12 brave policemen, the officers escaped
unhurt. More police were summoned and
arrived the 12 held the mob at bay. It
is known that at least a dozen men were wounded and some quite
their friends carried them off. When
reinforcements reached the ground the police formed and by a determined
scattered the mob. Once broken, the men
fled in every direction. A dozen were
captured and taken to the police station and locked up on the charge of
riot. Many of McCormick’s workmen were
and slightly injured. Patrolman Casey
was sent to Vojtek’s house to tell his family he was injured. There he was surrounded by a mob and a rope
brought out to hang him. A detail of
police came to his rescue just in the mick of time.
A guard of 21 men has been established at the
Armory and will be kept there night and day till this trouble is at an
end. The reserve police force of the
city can be placed under arms in less than an hour.
The outbreak today was unexpected as far as
its location was concerned.
The railroad officials who
expected that their striking
freight handlers would report for duty this morning were generally
disappointed, though every road except the Wisconsin Division of the
Northwestern was able to handle freight at 7 o’clock, and kept it up
day. The work was stared by 40 office
men from the local office here, as many more from the general office in
and 125 men
picked up wherever the company could find them.
Seventy-five of the railroad’s “special agents,” under the
charge of S.B.
Wood, the chief detective force of the road, and 6 uninformed policemen
guard over the 200 men handling freight.
The special agents were armed with double-action revolvers,
Detective Wood carefully loaded himself.
The checking and receiving clerks were office men familiar with
work, but the truckmen were green and awkward and made pretty slow work
it. The 120 strikers marched by the
freight stations where the men were working several times, and in the
the day induced 46 of the new men to quit work.
The company has fitted up dining and sleeping rooms in one of
stations for the men. The 220 men on the
Wisconsin Division of the Northwestern did not report for duty, but
them hung around the station all day.
Superintendent Chyler says new men will be put on in their
places in the
morning if they do not come to work. Of
the 180 Lake
handlers 40 went to work
this morning. The remainder said they
were willing to work, but were afraid of violence.
The 65 men in the out freight station
presented a petition for an increase of pay, but said nothing about
hours. Pending a reply the men went to
work with the promise that they continue until driven out by force or
some strong representation from committees of the other roads.
A committee from the Wabash
strikers tried to induce the 65 to quit work, but failed ignominiously. All the Wabash
men were out. The company picked up 60
men to take their places, but 80 of these quit work as soon as they
they were doing. The Illinois Central’s
men worked quietly all day, waiting to hear what reply the company
to their demand for eight hours’ work and ten hours’ pay.
At 5 o’clock General Superintendent Jeffrey
assembled them together and made them a speech refusing the demand in
course of which he said that during the last three months and three
earnings of the company had decreased $375,642, as compared with the
of the same period last year. By the end
of April the decrease would have reached $400,000, and in all
before the end of the year, through labor disruptions and disorganized
the decease would amount to $800,000.
Nearly every other road had experienced a decease of from 10 to
cent in its earnings. The laboring
classes, therefore, in view of these considerations had struck at the
time. The only outcome of this movement
was that they would remain out, lose money, injure their families, and
to their old places at the same rate.
The men listened quietly to Mr. Jeffrey’s remarks, though they
once what the reply of the company was.
When he had finished, all the men, to the number of 150, quit
marched over to the headquarters of the Freight Handlers’ Union
and joined that organization. The
Michigan Central’s men remained at work, and will not go out before
night when the company has promised to reply to the demand for an
advance of 25
cents a day of 10 hours. The Baltimore and Ohio
freight handlers worked along quietly, having given the company till
reply to a demand for higher wages.
About 75 percent of the Chicago, Burlington
men were at work and the company received and handled an enormous
freight at the out station. No attempt
was made to do business at the two other stations.
A committee of five from the strikers got
inside the station and tried to persuade the men to quit work. They were thrown out and two of them
arrested. The Chicago
or eight men at work in the freight house, and managed to get a little
goods at the depot delivered to the carriers.
To protect these few men 25 police, special and otherwise, were
the vicinity of the depot all day.
Ninety section men employed at
this end of the Galena
division of the
Northwestern struck this morning because the company would not increase
wages from $1.25 to $1.50 per day. Fifty
men, mostly engaged in relaying tracks in the old Milwaukee
and St. Paul yard on Goose Island
did not go to work this morning. Kegs of
beer were opened among them and the men concluded that no work ought to
in the yard. So they spiked the switches
and when Michael Schwartz, one of their number interfered beat him
the head. After that not a wheel was
turned in the yard all day. No police
were on the ground.
The managers of all the roads running into this
met and discussed the eight hour movement as far as the railroads are
present affected by it. It was
unanimously resolved that all the roads centering in the city should
concert; that no reduction in hours or an increase in wages be granted
time the business and condition of the roads being such that neither
could be made: that all will refusing to go to work tomorrow morning
promptly discharged and new men put in their places, and that the
be requested to give the roads such protection as will enable them to