The Chicago radicals convicted of the infamous May 4, 1886 Haymarket Square bombing in which one policeman was killed remained openly defiant to the end. In his final letter to his wife, written August 20, 1886 from the Cook County “Bastille” (jail), convicted Haymarket bombing participant Albert R. Parsons, an Alabama-born printer, admitted that the verdict would cheer “the hearts of tyrants,” but still optimistically predicted that “our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellow-man.”
Cook County Bastille, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, August 20, 1886.
My Darling Wife:
Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellowman. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.
We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day.
There was no evidence that any one of the eight doomed men knew of, or advised, or abetted the Haymarket tragedy. But what does that matter? The privileged class demands a victim, and we are offered a sacrifice to appease the hungry yells of an infuriated mob of millionaires who will be contented with nothing less than our lives. Monopoly triumphs! Labor in chains ascends the scaffold for having dared to cry out for liberty and right!
Well, my poor, dear wife, I, personally, feel sorry for you and the helpless little babes of our loins.
You I bequeath to the people, a woman of the people. I have one request to make of you: Commit no rash act to yourself when I am gone, but take up the great cause of Socialism where I am compelled to lay it down.
My children—well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage-slavery and poverty. Bless them; I love them unspeakably, my poor helpless little ones.
Ah, wife, living or dead, we are as one. For you my affection is everlasting. For the people, humanity. I cry out again and again in the doomed victim’s cell: Liberty! Justice! Equality!
Albert R. Parsons.
Source: Lucy Parsons, Life of Albert R. Parsons (Chicago: 1889), 211–212.
See Also:Haymarket Martyr Louis Lingg Says Good-bye
"I Am Sorry Not to Be Hung": Oscar Neebe and the Haymarket Affair
"We ask it; we demand it, and we intend to have it": Printer Albert R. Parsons Testifies before Congress about the Eight Hour Day