Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research

Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research

The Haymarket: Where Justice Was Sold


James Renger


  • James Meriwether, Professor of History, California State University Channel Islands
  • Amy Caldwell, Associate Professor of History, California State University Channel Islands

The Haymarket “Anarchists” were eight men: August Spies, Albert Parsons, Samual Fielden, Adolph Fischer, George Engels, Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe and Louis Lingg. They were called martyrs, anarchists, socialists, communists, labor leaders, murderers and rights activists. It was May 4th, 1886. Karl Marx had died, but his ideas were only beginning to emerge in America. The accused were members of the movement for the eight hour work day. With the execution of these men, some claim that we saw the first shots in a war. Not a war fought on the battlefield, but a war on an ideology. The Haymarket Affair, which was one of the first attacks in the war on socialism, was the direct result of government corruption by commercial interests. Through examination of primary source documents ranging from broadsides, newspapers, court records and autobiographies from detective’s working the case, it is possible to present an understanding of the events of the Haymarket. Through this understanding, it is possible to examine how the government through pressure from private investors conducted illegal martial law, bypassed due process and conducted an investigation so corrupt that it would ultimately require new rulings by the Supreme Court. While some reforms were made, the practice of repressing the voice of socialist leaders started in the Haymarket would continue to be used throughout the Cold War, and arguably to this very day. Using the evidence of the Haymarket Affair as a model, comparison is drawn to the first and second red scare, as well as to the contemporary Occupy movement. This pivotal event is shown to be an early example of a culture manipulated to ignore justice through the unification of fear.

Presented by:

James Renger


Saturday, November 17, 2012


2:15 PM — 2:30 PM


Bell Tower 1704

Presentation Type:

Oral Presentation