Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 29.
The Alarm (Newspaper) article, "The Black Flag," 1884 Nov. 22
Introduced Vol. K p. 158, 1886 July 26.
Transcript of article.
Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 29.
THE ALARM, Nov.29th, 1884.
THE BLACK FLAG:
The emblem of hunger unfurled by the proletariats of Chicago.
The red Flag borne aloft by thousands of workingmen on Thanksgiving day.
The poverty of the poor is created by the robberies of the rich.
Speeches, Resolutions and a grand demonstration of the unemployed, the tramps and miserables of the city.
A few days before Nov.27th, Thanksgiving day, it was decided by some of the working people of Chicago that the day should be observed in a proper and suitable manner. Steps were taken at once to carry out this resolution and twenty-five thousand copies of the following circular were distributed throughout the city:
TO THE WAGE-WORKERS, THE UNEMPLOYED AND "TRAMPS".
Women and Men, Sisters and Brothers: His excellency, the governor, has by official decree, ordained that next Thursday shall be devoted by the citizens of this state to thanksgiving. You too are called upon to "give thanks." Thanks, because your masters refuse to give you employment! Thanks, because you are hungry and without home or shelter! Thanks, because your masters have kindly taken away from you
whatever you have created! Thanks, because your masters have adopted precautions to end your miserable existence by the bullet of the police or militia when your burden becomes unbearable to you and you refuse to die in your hovel in due observance to "law and order."
Yes, you must give thanks that you are permitted to dare the blizzards of the winter without an over-coat, without fit shoes and clothes, while mountains of good clothing, which you made, spoil in the storehouses! Give thanks that you are allowed to suffer the bitter pangs of hunger, while millions of bushels of grain decay and rot in our elevators! For this purpose a great Thanksgiving meeting has been arranged for you on Market Square. The same will take place at 2.30 o'clock on next Thursday. After the meeting a grand demonstration will be held to express our gratitude to our most benevolent, generous and kind "christian brothers" on Michigan Avenue etc. To them we are principally indebted for the glorious institution which have brought about the blessed condition we enjoy. Every man and woman, and every one who feels the sting of mockery contained in this official order for Thanksgiving, should be present.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE GRATEFUL.
Working People's International Association.
On the day designated, Thursday, the 27th of November, opened in sleet and rain. The wind blew sharp and frosty and left a stinging, uncomfortable sensation upon the exposed
portion of the face or hands. At the time announced, 2.30 P.M., over three thousand persons had assembled on Market street, between Madison and Randolph. The mingled rain and sleet fell unpityingly from above, while the ground beneath was covered with mud and water. The severity of the weather showed some of the spirit that must be in the people who were not deterred by it.
Before the meeting was called to order a stranger mounted the stand and said he would call them to order. He said: "What you want is guns, you don't want to be here talking." Just then several persons stepped up to him and told him the regular arrangement had been made for the speakers, but he could be heard in the end if he so desired.
The meeting was soon called to order by A.R.Parsons He said: "We are assembled here on this Thanksgiving Day as the representatives of the disinherited class of the earth to speak in the name of the forty thousand unemployed workingmen of Chicago. Two Millions in the United States, and fifteen million in other civilized countries. He likened the good dinners the capitalists were enjoying to-day to the feast of Belshazaar, there were wrung from the blood of our wives and children, and the champaign thus obtained ought to strangle them. In all the churches to-day they are preaching the scriptures to the capitalists. But let us read the Scriptures as they are written, and see what their bible has to say of them." He then read:
St. James, Chap. V says: "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your misery which shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as if it were fire. Ye have reaped treasures together for the last day. Behold the hire of the laborers which have reaped down your fields and which you have kept back by fraud drieth. Woe to them that bring about iniquity by law. "The prophet Habakuk says: "Woe to him that built a town by blood, and established a city by iniquity!" The prophet Amos says: Hear this, oh, ye that swallow up the needy even to make the poor to fail from the land, that ye may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes!" The prophet Isiah says: "Woe unto them that join house to house and lay field to field till there is no place, that they may be alone in the midst of the earth!" Solomon says: "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed off their filthiness: a generation, oh, how lofty are their eyes! and how their eye-lids are lifted up! A generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw-teeth as knives to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men."
He closed by saying that we do not intend to leave this matter in the hands of the Lord, or wait for an improved future existence. We intend to do something for ourselves,
and do it in this world.
He introduced as the first speaker C. S. Griffin, who said: This is an international assembly. It represents no locality, or state or nation, it is an assemblage of men in the interest of humanity. We have no quarrel with each other, when we object to being drawn up in line and set to cutting each other's throats, to gratify the political schemes of any government. We do not believe any government, or any class, or any system of industry ought to be allowed to pit man against man, for any cause, and to get at the root of all these evils we must go to the foundation of property rights and the wage system. The old system of labor and capital could no longer meet the demands of our advanced civilization. To-day the whole cry is against over-:production, because it operates against humanity. This is all wrong. An over-production ought to be a blessing instead of a curse, as it now is. Now, when the market is glutted with clothing, the mills shut down, and thousands are thrown out of work and consequently deprived of the means to get any of that over-supply, and the result is that men must go ragged because there is too much clothing in the country. This is true of all other things. People must live out of doors, because there are too many houses in the country. There are so many houses now vacant that there is no demand for more, and therefore the builders are idle and cannot earn money to
pay rent with. Think of it! Ragged because there is too much clothing in the country. Living out doors because there are too many houses in the country. Hungry because there is too much bread in the country, and freezing because there is too much coal in the country. Can this continue? Is there a man so blind that he cannot see that this system must be changed? No man can wear more than one suit of clothes at a time, or live in more than one house at a time, and we know that our ability to consume cannot be greatly increased under any system, while under the present it is growing weaker, and the genius of the age is still inventing and increasing the producing power. The over-production is on the increase and must continue. Must this overproduction be continued as an accumulating lever against the more unfortunate, or shall we uproot this system and let the world enjoy its abundance, and be the more happy the more they produce. A system that tells the working classes that the more they produce the less they shall have of it to enjoy, is a check on all human progress and cannot continue. The only remedy for this evil is to continue production and to refuse to pay for anything. Everything must be made free to all mankind. We can no longer measure the world with dollars. No man should control anything he has no personal use for. Possession should be his only title, and that title alone should be respected.
Mr. Parsons then called for the resolutions, which were then read as folows:
"Whereas, we have outlived the usefulness of the wage and property system, that is now and must hereafter cramp, limit and punish all increase of production, and can no longer gratify the necessities, rights and ambitions of man; and
Whereas, the right of property requires four times more effort to adjust it between man and man than is required to produce, manufacture and distribute it; therefore be it
Resolved, that property rights should no longer be maintained or respected. That the great army of useless workers (among which are the lawyers, insurers, brokers, canvassers, jailers, police, politicians, armies and navies), including all useless employes whose sole business is to adjust property claims between man and man, should be deprived of this useless and corrupting employment, and be allowed to spend their energies producing, manufacturing and delivering the necessaries and luxuries of life.
And this is impossible so long as man continues to pay or receive pay for production; therefore be it further
Resolved, that no man shall pay for anything, or receive pay for anything, or deprive himself of what he may desire that he finds out of use or vacant. While none can eat more than they ought, under any system, or wear more
than one suit of clothes at a time, or occupy more than one house at a time, yet as a free access to all will require more production; therefore be it further
Resolved, that any person who will not spend a reasonable portion of energy in the production, manufacture or distribution of the necessaries, comforts and luxuries of life, is the enemy of all mankind and ought to be treated as such. He who will willfully or maliciously waste is no better!
As this system cannot be introduced against existing ignorance, selfishness and distrust without the force of arms and strong explosives, therefore be it
Resolved, that when all stores, store-houses, vacant tenements and transporting property are thrown open and held open to the free access of the general public, the good of mankind and the saving of blood, requires that all forcible opposition should be dealt with summarily as fast as it may present itself. But none should be harmed or offended for holding opposite opinions; and lastly be it
Resolved, that as natural law provides that the more one has the more he wants, therefore the gratification of human desires only can stimulate human ambition. Therefore our policy is wise, humane and practical and ought to be inforced at the earliest possible moment, with a just regard for numbers and impliments.
As an expression of our thankfulness in this Thanksgiving
Resolved, that we are thankful because we have learned the true cause of poverty and know the remedy, and can only be more thankful when the principles are put in force.
The next speaker was Samuel Fielden. He began by ironically addressing the crowd as christian brothers, in imitation of the opening of the church services, and immediately began to expose the hypocritical character of their blessings, and of the governor's proclamation, in which they call upon all people to thank God for their great prosperity, when so many were in actual want in the midst of abundance, and providing no changes for the better and holding up to ridicule all who try to present the remedy. If it is proper for those who have an abundance to give thanks, then it is proper for those who are deprived of all to give curses. How many of you have got something to be thankful for? We don't want to listen to this talk about future blessings, or that we who are poor were born to be poor, or wait for God to help us. When I was a boy my mother taught me to say, "Our Father, who art in Heaven;" but so far as I know he has never left there. He is where he has got a good thing, and he is going to stick to it. He never will come here until things are better arranged than they are now. Our motto is liberty, equality and fraternity. We do not believe in robbing or abusing a man because he is colored, or a Chinaman,
or was born in this country or that. Our international movement is to unite all countries for the mutual good of all and do away with the robbery class.
The next speaker was August Spies. He pointed to the black flag and said this is the first time that emblem of hunger and starvation has been unfurled on American soil. It represents that these people have begun to reach the condition of starvation of the older countries. We have got to strike down these robbers that are robbing the working people.
In answer to a call from some Germans in the crowd, Mr. Schwab took the stand and spoke for a few minutes in German.
This finished the regular speaking, and the man who first took the stand came up and the Chairman introduced him. He said: "When the slaves wanted liberty they did not stop for anything. We got our guns, and that is the way to do. Get your guns out and go for them. That is all I have got to, say." Three cheers were given for the "social revolution".
The audience fell into line by fours, forming a procession of over three thousand men, and then moved off headed by the band, which woke the echoes of the lofty building around to the strains of the Marseillaise." Two large flags, one black and the other red, headed the procession. About midway the procession there was two more large flags, one black and the other red. The following mottos were displayed in the line of march:
Why we thank? Because our capitalistic christian brothers are happily enjoying our turkey, our wines and our houses!" Shall we thank our lords for our misery, destitution and poverty!" Workmen, organize! Liberty without equality is a lie!" Private capital is the reward of robbery "Thanks to our lords who have the kindness to feast upon our earnings." "Praise to our Heavenly and earthly lords. They have made of us miserable tramps and slaves." "Expoliation is legal theft." "All workmen have identical interests." "The priesthood subserves the expoliator." "Privelege is injustice." "No greater crime in our day than poverty." "Down with wage -slavery." "The turkeys and champaign upon the tables of our grateful capitalists are very cheap---we paid for them." "Our capitalistic robbers may well thank their lords, we, their victims have not yet strangled them." "The prolatariate must be their own liberator."
The line of march was taken up as follows: South on Market street to Monroe, on Monroe to State, north on State to Oak, thence to Rush, north on Rush to Chicago Avenue, West to Dearborn, north on Dearborn to Schiller, west to La Salle, south on La Salle to Erie, thence to Wells, and South on Wells to office of The Alarm and Arbeiter Zeitung, No.107 Fifth Avenue, the point of destination. Here the crowd assembled amid the strains of "Marseillaise". The waving of the black and red flag and the cheers of the thoroughly abused proletariate.
Mr. Parsons spoke from the first floor window of the building, and congratulated the men upon the great success of the demonstration. He said that they had shown by their acts that while they knew they were slaves and bondsmen they were discontented, rebellious slaves, determined to emancipate themselves at any cost. He introduced Samuel Fielden, who made a brief and eloquent speech. He said they had this day given fair warning and made a protest that would be heard, and that in the near future the working-class would also make that protest felt. He urged them to organize and prepare for the inevitable conflict which the capitalistic class would force upon them. He said that all nationalities and creed were swallowed up in the International, which made of all mankind a band of brothers, and by securing justice to each would bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all. Three cheers were proposed and given for our comrades the Anarchists of France and Austria, The Socialists of Germany, the Anihilists of Russia, and the social democrats of England. Three cheers were also given for the noble stand taken by our brothers, in the Hocking Valley, Ohio. Amid cheers for the "Social Revolution," and the greatest enthusiasm the meeting was adjourned and the great crowd quietly dispersed.