The Chicago Martyrs/Address of Adolph Fischer

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Address of Adolph Fischer.

Your Honor: You ask me why sentence of death should not be passed upon me. I will not talk much. I will only say that I protest against my being sentenced to death, because I have committed no crime. I was tried here in this room for murder, and I was convicted of Anarchy. I protest against being sentenced to death, because I have not been found guilty of murder. However, if I am to die on account of being an Anarchist, on account of my love for liberty, fraternity and equality, I will not remonstrate. If death is the penalty for our love of freedom of the human race, then I say openly I have forfeited my life; but a murderer I am not. Although being one of the parties who arranged the Haymarket meeting, I had no more to do with the throwing of that bomb, I had no more connection with it than State's Attorney Grinnell had. I do not deny that I was present at the Haymarket meeting, but that meeting—

(At this point Mr. Salomon stepped up and spoke to Mr. Fischer in a low tone, but the latter waved him off and said:)

Mr. Salomon, be so kind. I know what I am talking about. Now, that Haymarket meeting was not called for the purpose of committing violence and crime. No; but the meeting was called for the purpose of protesting against the outrages and crimes committed by the police on the previous day, out at McCormick's. The State's witness, Waller, and others have testified here, and I only need to repeat it, that we had a meeting on Monday night, and at this meeting—the affair at McCormick's taking place just a few hours previous—took action and called a mass-meeting for the purpose of protesting against the brutal outrages of the police. Waller was chairman of this meeting, and he himself made the motion to hold the meeting at the Haymarket. It was also he who appointed me as a committe to have handbills printed and to provide for speakers; that I did, and nothing else. The next day I went to Wehrer & Klein, and had 25,000 handbills printed, and I invited Spies to speak at the Haymarket meeting. In the original of the "copy" I had the line "Workingmen, appear armed!" and my reason for putting those words in was because I didn't want the workingmen to be shot down in that meeting as on other occasions. But as those circulars were printed, or as a few of them were printed and brought over to me at the Arbeiter-Zeitung office, my Comrade Spies saw one of them. I had invited him to speak before that. He showed me the circular, and said: "Well, Fischer, if those circulars are distributed, I won't speak." I admitted it would be better to take the objectionable words out, and Mr. Spies spoke. And that is all I had to do with that meeting. Well, I went to the Haymarket about 8:15 o'clock, and stayed there until Parsons interrupted Fielden's speech. Parsons stepped up to the stand, and said that it looked like it was going to rain, and that the assembly had better adjourn to Zepf’s Hall. At that moment a friend of mine who testified on the witness stand, went with me to Zepf's Hall, and we sat down at a table and had a glass of beer. At the moment I was going to sit down, my friend Parsons came in with some other persons, and after I was sitting there about five minutes the explosion occurred. I had no idea that anything of the kind would happen, because, as the State's witnesses testified themselves, there was no agreement to defend ourselves that night. It was only a meeting called to protest.

Now, as I said before, this verdict, which was rendered by the jury in this room, is not directed against murder, but against Anarchy. I feel that I am sentenced, or that I will be sentenced, to death because of being an Anarchist, and not because I am a murderer. I have never been a murderer. I have never yet committed a crime in my life; but I know a certain man who is on the way to becoming a murderer, an assassin, and that man is Grinnell—the State's Attorney Grinnell—because he brought men on the witness stand who he knew would swear falsely; and I publicly denounce Mr. Grinnell as a murderer and assassin if I should be executed. But if the ruling class thinks that by executing us, hanging a few Anarchists, they can crush out Anarchy, they will be badly mistaken, because the Anarchist loves his principles better than his life. An Anarchist is always ready to die for his principles; but in this case I have been charged with murder, and I am not a murderer. You will find it impossible to kill a principle, although you may take the life of men who confess these principles. The more the believers in just causes are persecuted, the quicker will their ideas be realized. For instance, in rendering such an unjust and barbarous verdict, the twelve "honorable" men in the jury box have done more for the furtherance of Anarchism than the convicted could have accomplished in a generation. This verdict is a death-blow against free sppeech, free press, and free thought in this country, and the people will be conscious of it, too. This is all I care to say.