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Labor History Articles

Eulogy at Waldheim Cemetery

Webtrax Admin


November 13, 1887
(Excerpted)

(Delivered by Captain William P. Black, Attorney for the Haymarket defendants, who had been executed on November 11, 1887.)

"I must not keep you long, and yet there is one thing that I specially want to say, because doubtless in this great throng there stand many who misapprehended their position and their views.

"They were called Anarchists. They were painted and presented to the world as men loving violence, riot, and bloodshed for their own sake; as men full of an unextinguishable and causeless hatred against existing order. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"They were men who loved peace, men of gentle instincts, men of gracious tenderness of heart, loved by those who knew them, trusted by those who came to understand the loyalty and purety of their lives.

"And the Anarchy of which they spoke and taught--what was it, but an attempt to answer the question, 'After the revolution what?' They believed--ah! I would that there were no grounds for this belief--that there was that of wrong and hardship in the existing order which pointed to conflict, because they believed that greed and selfishness would not surrender, of their own volition, unto righteousness.

"But their creed had to do with the tomorrow of the possible revolution, and the whole of their thought and their philosophy, as Anarchists, was the establishment of an order of society that should be symbolized in the words, 'Order without force.'

"Is it practicable? I know not. I know it is not practical now; but I know also that through the ages poets, philosophers, and Christians, under the inspiration of love and beneficence, have thought of the day to come when righteousness shall reign in the earth, and when sin and selfishness should come to an end.

"We look forward to that day, we hope for it, and with such a hope in our hearts can we not bring the judgement of charity to bear upon any mistakes of policy for action that may have been made by any of those who, acknowledging the sublime and glorious hope in their hearts, have rushed forward to meet it?

"We are not here this afternoon to weep, we are not here to mourn over our dead. We are here to pay, by our presence and our words, the tribute of our appreciation and the witness of our love. For I love these men. I knew them not until I came to know them in the time of their sore travail and anguish. As months went by, and I found in the lives of these with whom I talked the witness of their love for the people, of their patience, gentleness, and courage, my heart was taken captive in their cause."

Captain William P. Black

Note: An estimated 500,000 Chicago workers lined Milwaukee Ave. on November 13, 1887, as the funeral of the Haymarket Martyrs wound its way along Milwaukee Ave. and on to what was then the Grand Central Railway Station for the trip to German Waldheim Cemetery (now Forest Home Cemetery) in suburban Forest Park. For a most compelling experience, you should visit the Martyrs Monument. The cemetery is on Des Plaines Ave. in Forest Park. (Approximately ten miles west of State St), and just south of I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway. Despite the vandals who have torn off the bronze floral piece from the base, one cannot but be moved by the powerful monument which marks the grave site. Take the left hand fork at the entrance to the cemetery. Look for the magnificent female figure with the fallen hero. The ILHS has guide books and other historical materials which may be ordered by mail. In fact, the ILHS holds the deed to the monument and the burial site, having been presented with the document by Irving S. Abrams, then the sole surviving member of the Pioneer Aid & Support Society, which erected the monument in 1894.