Haymarket Riot 1886

The Haymarket Riot was a confrontation between the Chicago police and workers who were protesting for less working hours. The confrontation turned into a serious conflict and eventually resulted in the death of many people. The riot eventually led to the annual commemoration of May 1 as the International Workers Day.

When and where did the Haymarket Riot take place?

The Haymarket Riot took place in Chicago in the state of Illinois. It took place on May 4, 1886.


During the Civil War which lasted from 1861 to 1865 and afterwards, American witnessed rapid industrialization. This led to the need for a greater number of workers and more working hours. As a result, the condition of the workers was not very good who often had to work long hours and were not paid very well in return.

In Chicago, American workers often had to do more than 10 hours of labor each day. The immigrant workers had to work even more. So the workers decided to protest against this. On May 1, 1886, more than 30,000 workers all over USA went on strike. They held rallies and chanted slogans for their rights. On May 4, 1886, such a rally took place in Chicago. It was this rally which turned into Haymarket Riot.

The Riot

The rally in Chicago was going quite peacefully on May 4, 1886. On 10:30 p.m., the last speaker of the rally was addressing the workers and the rally was about to end. By this time, a large number of policemen had gathered around the rally in order to disperse the protesters.

An anarchist suddenly threw a dynamite bomb into the police squadron. The bomb exploded and killed 7 policemen while injuring many others. The policemen responded by opening fire on the crowd which resulted in many civilian deaths. The whole affair led to a serious panic with people falling here and there, many of them injured and receiving no help.


In all, 7 policemen died as a result of the Haymarket Riot and another 60 were injured. Among the civilians, 4 died due to the gunfire by policemen while more than 70 were injured. The police immediately took action and arrested more than a 100 suspected persons. Later, 8 anarchists were convicted of taking part in the bomb conspiracy. Of these 7 were sentenced to death but the sentence was later carried out for only 4 of them.


The Haymarket Riot proved very unhelpful to the cause of the workers. The demands of the workers were fair but the bombing immediately turned the public against them. People especially became very opposed to the anarchists who had been involved in the bombing.

The police led many raids and arrested hundreds of people following the Haymarket Riot. Most of the people who were not workers showed support for the police. The notable labour organisations all over USA officially denounced the bombing and said that they didn’t support the anarchists or the use of violence in the struggle for the rights of the workers.

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