The Trial Of The Haymarket Anarchists: Terrorism And Justice In The Gilded Age

Paperback | August 15, 2011

byTimothy Messer-kruse

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In this controversial and groundbreaking new history, Timothy Messer-Kruse rewrites the standard narrative of the most iconic event in American labor history: the Haymarket Bombing and Trial of 1886. Using thousands of pages of previously unexamined materials, Messer-Kruse demonstrates that, contrary to longstanding historical opinion, the trial was not the “travesty of justice” it has commonly been depicted as. Prosecutors in the trial successfully brought to light a daunting amount of evidence revealing the inner workings of an anarchist conspiracy to spark insurrection by attacking police, and connected their plans to the bomber through a solid chain of evidence. Rather than being an example of “judicial murder,” the Haymarket trial was a tragic case of judicial suicide, as the defense chose to use the trial as a grandstand for anarchism rather than deploy a sound legal defense. Though bumblers in the courtroom, the anarchist lawyers proved adept in the court of public opinion and succeeded in influencing the way historians and activists would remember this event for the next 125 years. Exhaustively researched and forcefully argued, this is a vital new contribution to our understanding of labor history and the world of Gilded Age America.

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In this controversial and groundbreaking new history, Timothy Messer-Kruse rewrites the standard narrative of the most iconic event in American labor history: the Haymarket Bombing and Trial of 1886. Using thousands of pages of previously unexamined materials, Messer-Kruse demonstrates that, contrary to longstanding historical opinion,...

Timothy Messer-Kruse is Interim Vice-Provost for Academic Programs and Dean of the Graduate College at Bowling Green State University. He is the author of The Yankee International: Marxism and the American Reform Tradition among other books. 

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:244 pages, 10.48 × 6.02 × 0.53 inPublished:August 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230120776

ISBN - 13:9780230120778

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Table of Contents

The Investigation * Preparing for Trial * The Prosecution * The Defense * The Elements of a Riot * The Verdict * Road to the Supreme Court * Executions and Amnesty * The Pardon 

Editorial Reviews

*Winner of the Best Book award from Labor History*   "In The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists, Timothy Messer-Kruse rewrites the Haymarket trial's legacy. He provides well-written, counter-arguments for historians to consider."—Journal of Illinois History'Messer-Kruse chronicles Chicago's underground network of anarchists—sensational stories, ripe for a Hollywood movie.'—Time Out Chicago"Messer-Kruse's greatest discovery: 'Textbooks ignore the transcript and say the trial was unfair. But if you judge it by standards of its day, it was (fair). In those days, you were convicted by testimony, not fingerprints and DNA. They had 162 witnesses and a lot of he said/she said. But then, that's what a trial was."—The Chicago Tribune 'Desiring to present a more complete and nuanced telling of this monumental event in US history, Messer-Kruse will undoubtedly ruffle many academic feathers with his revisionism. Clearly written and impressively researched, this text will spark conversation among historians and those interested in US labor history. Highly recommended.'—CHOICE 'Messer-Kruse chronicles Chicago's underground network of anarchists—sensational stories, ripe for a Hollywood movie.'—Time Out Chicago 'Drawing on his meticulous research, Timothy Messer-Kruse raises provocative questions about a momentous event that scholars thought we understood. He shows that history is in the details, from the chemical makeup of a bomb fragment to the exact moment when a man boarded a streetcar. The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists challenges us to set aside preconceptions, read sources carefully, and challenge prevailing assumptions. How do we reconcile conflicting points of view, and how do we place the minutiae of courtroom records in broader context? Messer-Kruse offers persuasive insights into how various actors in the Haymarket violence saw themselves, and what it all meant for labor, politics, and ideology in industrializing America.'—Rebecca Edwards, Vassar College, author of New Spirits: Americans in the 'Gilded Age,' 1865-1905 'Timothy Messer-Kruse's study extends earlier challenges by Paul Avrich to the generally iconic treatment of the Haymarket 'martyrs' and their martyrdom. It explicitly and directly explodes assumptions about the anarchists in the labor movement and their alleged innocence in the use of dynamite. Whatever the purposes, his subjects emerge sharply and credibly not as victimized leaders of an eight-hour movement but as genuine anarchists attempting to seize and direct the course of history.'—Mark Lause, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Cincinnati