Explain the effects of the Haymarket Riot.
The Haymarket Riot, which took place on May 4th 1886 at Haymarket Square Chicago, was a result of a peaceful labor demonstration turned chaotic. This riot had both immediate effects and long term effects some of which will be discussed below.
To begin with, one immediate effect of the riot was the loss of lives caused by both the hurling of the bomb and the indiscriminate open fire by the police in response. It is estimated that approximately eleven people died including seven policemen and an unconfirmed number of civilians.
Another immediate effect was the arrest of eight labor movement radical leaders who were arraigned and tried in court. Eventually, seven of them were slapped with capital punishment and one handed a 15 year jail term.
Also, the Haymarket riot sparked a deep sense of xenophobia throughout the country. Chicago newspapers incited the public against the anarchists by publishing the police version of the Haymarket incident and stirring sympathy for them. While depicting the radical anarchists as a threat to social stability, the newspapers managed to trigger deed hatred and fear towards labor movements and foreigners in entirety.
The Knights of Labor, the largest labor movement, declined in popularity as anti-labor sentiments surged. Alongside the above, the riot caused a delay in the realization of the eight-hour work day as well as other better working conditions advocated for by the labor movement.
In the long term, the labor movement became stronger and organizations such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) were established to agitate for workers’ rights.
The Haymarket Riot had some effects on American society. The Knights of Labor organized a strike for an eight-hour workday in 1886. Violence broke out on two occasions during this strike. One of the places where violence occurred was in Haymarket Square in Chicago. This strike hurt the labor movement significantly.
Many people believed that the union movement consisted of people who believed in anarchy. Immigrants were associated with the labor movement also. Because many of the strikes that occurred in the late 1800s involved violence, including the railroad strike in 1877 and strike at Homestead Steel in 1892, many people took a negative view of the labor movement. The labor movement didn’t have a lot of support with business owners or with politicians.
The Knights of Labor was really hurt by this strike. This union, which had been fairly strong, began to lose members because of the negative image it had with the violence associated with the strike. Another union, the American Federation of Labor, slowly began to gain members.
Some people who feared immigration used the violence associated with labor unions and the number of immigrants in labor unions to push for limits on immigration. Events like the Haymarket Riot gave them more evidence as to why there should be limits on immigration to this country. The Haymarket Riot was not a positive event for the labor movement or for immigration in general.
The major effect of the Haymarket Riot is that it hurt American labor unions. It especially hurt the more radical unions and the Knights of Labor in particular.
Before the Haymarket Riot, the Knights of Labor were an important union in the United States. They were relatively radical since they included women, blacks, immigrants and unskilled workers and because they pretty much wanted workers to have more control over the factories where they worked.
But the Knights were destroyed by the negative public opinion connected with Haymarket. People saw them as dangerous, violent radicals and stopped supporting them and other unions like them. This had the long term effect of helping businesses prevent unions from organizing. Because of that, Haymarket worked to harm the interests of workers.