Illinois During the Gilded Age
The Haymarket Bomb in Historical Context
On the evening of May 4, 1886, an unknown individual lobbed a dynamite bomb into a formation of Chicago police officers sent to disperse an anarchist meeting in Chicago's Haymarket Square. The panicked police responded with a hail of gunfire directed into the crowd attending the meeting. When order once again prevailed, seven police officers and at least that many private citizens lay dead, with many more wounded. These events touched off a wave of civic upheaval as Americans discussed the Haymarket bomb in light of the period's rapidly changing economic and social conditions. It also led to a celebrated trial of eight avowed anarchists, the execution or death in prison of five of them, and Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld's bold pardon of the remaining three. This incident furnishes a vivid portrait of society and politics during the Gilded Age.