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When an anarchist - whose identity remains a mystery even today - tossed a homemade bomb into a great company of Chicago police at 10:20 P.M. on the night of May 4, 1886, he could not have appreciated the far reaching consequences his reckless action would have. His bomb, thrown in a light drizzle as the last speaker at a labor rally climbed down from the speaker's wagon, set off a frenzy of fire from police pistols that would leave eight officers and an unknown number of civilians dead, and scores more injured. It led to the nation's first Red Scare, refocused national labor and immigration policy, and set the stage for one of the most infamous trials in the history of American jurisprudence. The Haymarket Trial, the cause celebre for American radicals in the 1880s, produced death sentences for seven of Chicago's most prominent labor leaders - convicted more for their words than deeds at a time when the First Amendment provided scant protection against an outraged public.

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Famous Trials

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Legal History Commons