Title: The Bomb by Frank Harris
Location: Google Books Date: 1909
It began as simply a labor rally for striking workers. But, when a bomb was thrown and seven Chicago police officers and numerous citizens were killed, it became known as the Haymarket Riot. Eight men considered to be anarchists were put on trial; four were executed and one committed suicide. But, the question of who threw the bomb has been left unanswered until this day.
One man, however, is at the top of the suspect list: Rudolph Schnaubelt (1863-1901). Schnaubelt was identified as the thrower and indited but fled the country before his guilt or innocence could be determined. Through the years, the basis for Schnaubelt’s guilt has been based primarily on a fictionalized account of the incident written from his point of view. That book is “The Bomb” by Frank Harris.
A minute afterwards, as it seems to me now, we had reached our goal; we were in Desplaines Street, between Lake Street and Randolph Street. Desplaines Street is a mean thoroughfare on the west side, three or four hundred yards from the river, and fully half a mile from the edge of the business centre downtown. The Haymarket, as the place was afterwards called, is nearly a hundred yards away. As we came up from the south we passed the Desplaines Street police station, presided over by Inspector Bonfield; there was already a crowd of police at the door.
“They mean business,” said Lingg, “tonight, and so do we.”
When we got to the outskirts of the meeting we saw the mayor of the city, with one or two officials; the mayor was an elderly man called Carter Harrison. He had been, asked to prohibit the meeting, but was unwilling to interfere with what might be a lawful assembly; he attended in person to prevent any incitement to rioting.
The speakers’ stand was a mere truck-wagon, placed where a blind alley intersected the street, in the centre of the block. We were at the rear of the building occupied by the Crane Brothers’ great elevator factory. I should think two or three thousand people were already gathered together.
Spies had finished speaking as we came up. He was followed by Parsons, who rose to the height of the argument if ever a man did. He began by asking the crowd to be quite orderly; he assured them that if they kept order, and simply gave expression to their grievances, the American people would hear them with sympathy, and would see that they had fair play. He really believed this claptrap. He went on to say that their grievances were terrible; unarmed men, women, and children had been shot down. Why were they shot? he asked, and then began his reform speech.
The mayor listened to everything, and evidently saw nothing in the utterances to object to. “Parsons’s speech,” he said afterwards, “was a good political speech.” After Parsons had made an end, the Englishman, Samuel Fielden, with his bushy beard, stood up and began to prose. Some rain-drops fell, a lull came in the rising wind; darkness began to overshadow us. Evidently the storm was at hand.
The crowd began to drift away at the edges. I was alone and curiously watchful. I saw the mayor and the officials move off towards the business part of the town. It looked for a few minutes as if everything was going to pass over in peace; but I was not relieved. I could hear my own heart beating, and suddenly I felt something in the air; it was sentient with expectancy. I slowly turned my head. I was on the very outskirts of the crowd, and as I turned I saw that Bonfield had marched out his police, and was minded to take his own way with the meeting now the mayor had left. I felt personal antagonism stiffen my muscles. It grew darker and darker every moment. Suddenly there came a flash, and then a peal of thunder. At the end of the flash, as it seemed to me, I saw the white clubs falling, saw the police striking down the men running along the side-walk. At once my mind was made up. I put my left hand on the outside of my trousers to hold the bomb tight, and my right hand into the pocket, and drew the tape. I heard a little rasp. I began to count slowly, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven”; as I got to seven the police were quite close to me, bludgeoning every one furiously. Two or three of the foremost had drawn their revolvers. The crowd were flying in all directions. Suddenly there was a shot, and then a dozen shots, all, it seemed to me, fired by the police. Rage blazed in me.
I took the bomb out of my pocket, careless whether I was seen or not, and looked for the right place to throw it; then I hurled it over my shoulder high in the air, towards the middle of the police, and at the same moment I stumbled forward, just as if I had fallen, throwing myself on my hands and face, for I had seen the spark. It seemed as if I had been on my hands for an eternity, when I was crushed to the ground, and my ears split with the roar. I scrambled to my feet again, gasping. Men were thrown down in front of me, and were getting up on their hands. I heard groans and cries, and shrieks behind me. I turned round; as I turned a strong arm was thrust through mine, and I heard Lingg say—
“Come, Rudolph, this way”; and he drew me to the side-walk, and we walked past where the police had been.
“Don’t look,” he whispered suddenly; “don’t look.”
But before he spoke I had looked, and what I saw will be before my eyes till I die. The street was one shambles; in the very centre of it a great pit yawned, and round it men lying, or pieces of men, in every direction, and close to me, near the side-walk as I passed, a leg and foot torn off, and near by two huge pieces of bleeding red meat, skewered together with a thigh-bone. My soul sickened; my senses left me; but Lingg held me up with superhuman strength, and drew me along. “Hold yourself up, Rudolph,” he whispered; “come on, man,” and the next moment we had passed it all, and I clung to him, trembling like a leaf. When we got to the end of the block I realized that I was wet through from head to foot, as if I had been plunged in cold water.