Altgeld's Reasons for Pardoning Fielden,
Neebe and Schwab.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE.
iihrhtofMay4, 1886, a public meeting was held on Haymarket
are in i iucago; there were from 800 to 1,000 people present, nearly all
laboring men. There had been trouble, growing out of the effort to
introduce an eight hour day, resulting in some collisions with the police, in
ot which several laboring people were killed, and this meeting was called
aa a protest against alleged police brutality.
The meeting was orderly and was attended by the mayor, who remained
until the crowd began to disperse, and then went away. As soon as Capt.
John Bonfield, of the police department, learned that the mavor had gone, he
took a detachment of police and hurried to the meeting for the purpose of
dispersing the few that remained, and as the police approached the place of
ting, a bomb was thrown by some unknown person, which exploded and
wounded many and killed several policemen, among the latter being one
Mathias Began, A number of people were arrested, and after a time August
pies, Albert R. Parsons, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden,
George Engel, Adolph Fischer and Oscar Neebe were indicted for the murder
of Mathias Degan. The prosecution could not discover who had thrown the
bomb and could not bring the really guilty man to justice, and, as some of the
men indicted were not at the Haymarket meeting and had nothing to do with
it, the prosecution was forced to proceed on the theory that the men indicted
were guilty of murder because it was claimed they had at various times in the
past uttered and printed incendiary and Beditious language, practically
advising the killing of policemen, of Pinkerton men and others acting in that
capacity, and that they were therefore responsible for the murder of Mathias
Degan. The public was greatly excited, and after a prolonged trial all the
defendants were found guilty; Oscar Neebe was sentenced to fifteen years
imprisonment and all of the other defendants were sentenced to be hanged.
The case was carried to the Supreme Court and was there affirmed in the fall
of Soon thereafter Lingg committed suicide. The sentence of Fielden
and Schwab was commuted to imprisonment for life, and Parsons, Fischer,
Engel and Spies were hanged, and the petitioners now ask to have Neebe,
Fielden and Schwab set at liberty.
The several thousand merchants, bankers, judges, lawyers and other
prominent citizens of Chicago who have by petition, by letter and in other
ways urged executive clemency, mostly base their appeal on the ground that,
assuming the prisoners to be guilty, they have been punished enough; but a
number of them who have examined the case more carefully, and are more