The Haymarket Affair

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It’s the evening of May 4th, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. A bomb is thrown by an unknown figure in the protesting crowd at the forceful police trying to calm the mass, killing seven members of the armed forces. To this day it is unknown who threw the bomb and why they did it but this event was one that defined a period of rapid industrialization and great corruption in the United States. The conditions that defined this era in the history of still young country, where the graves still lay fresh from civil war and with the seams that were broken barley mended back together, would become the clamor of the nineteenth century. This riot was not just a random outbreak during a labor demonstration but rather a boiling over of a culmination of many factors that were building up in the late 19th century.

The industrial revolution changed basically every aspect of urban life in America’s swiftly expanding cities. Although industrialization and mechanization began in Britain in the late 18th century it quickly spread across the Atlantic and by the 1840’s it began to boom in the United States. Urbanization in America’s cities during the era of industrialization manifested in which direction America was heading. The United States transformed from a mostly rural agricultural society to quickly advancing urban nation.

A prime example of America’s recent urban explosion at the time would be Chicago. What was once a small northwestern outpost quickly became one on the Unites States’ most urban cities. Chicago owed this great expansion to the creation of the Erie and Michigan canals and the coming of the Transatlantic Railroad. With all this growing came many new people, most of Chicago’s population growth came from immigrants mostly German and Irish. This great mass of immigrants living in Chicago held mostly hardworking blue-collar jobs and with terrible working conditions.

All of this change brought on instability not only to Chicago but also to the Nation as a whole....
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