Monday, May 08, 2006

may day

altgeld #3
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
The monument to Altgeld at Chicago's Graceland Cemetery is inscribed with statements and speeches that he made during his lifetime. Altgeld was the Governor of Illinois who pardoned the folks (those who weren't hanged) who were convicted following the Haymarket Tragedy -- as Prof. William Adelman called it in a lecture that I caught this last Sunday.

The folks who were there at the Haymarket were advocating for the eight hour day or, more concisely: "Eight hours for work; eight hours for sleep; and eight hours for what we will."

One of the individuals pardoned many years later by Altgeld had been convicted to 15 years of hard labor in Joliet for donating $2 toward the purchase of the printing press that was used to print the flyers advertising the event. He was not present at the Haymarket that night. The fellow who actually printed the flyers was hanged. He wasn't there either.

This side of Altgeld's monument reads:
The doctrine that 'might makes right' has covered the earth with misery. While it crushes the weak, it also destroys the strong. Every deception, every cruelty, every
wrong, reaches back sooner or later and crushes its author. Justice is moral health, bringing happiness; wrong is moral disease bringing moral death.
Every industrialized nation in the world, with the exception of the US and Canada, celebrate May 1st as Labor Day. In Mexico they call it the Day of the Chicago Martyrs.

Around here we don't talk about it much at all.

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