Today in History
4 May 2009
May 4, 1886 - A day after police killed four striking workers, protesters gathered at Haymarket Square in Chicago. As the peaceful event drew to a close, a bomb was thrown into the police line. One officer was killed and several were wounded. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one and wounding many. Eight anarchists were later framed for the bombing; four were hanged, one committed suicide and three were pardoned by Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld. The Haymarket affair was a seminal event in U.S. history, providing the pretext for many government officials to crack down on “radical” elements and ending the meteoric rise of the Knights of Labor, an organization that professed solidarity among all workers, regardless of race or ethnicity.
May 4, 1931 - Gun-toting vigilantes attacked striking miners in Harlan County, Kentucky. Coal miners were among those hardest hit by the Great Depression. Some families survived on a diet of dandelions and blackberries.