Haymarket Martyr Albert Parsons's Last Letter to His Wife
Digital History ID 1081
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1848, Albert Parsons a labor activist who edited radical newspapers, was sentenced to death for his purported role in the Haymarket Square bombing. At the time of the bombing he was head of the Chicago Knights of Labor.
Cook County Bastille, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, August 20, 1886.
My Darling Wife:
Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellowman. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.
We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day.
There was no evidence that any one of the eight doomed men knew of, or advised, or abetted the Haymarket tragedy. But what does that matter? The privileged class demands a victim, and we are offered a sacrifice to appease the hungry yells of an infuriated mob of millionaires who will be contented with nothing less than our lives. Monopoly triumphs! Labor in chains ascends the scaffold for having dared to cry out for liberty and right!
Well, my poor, dear wife, I, personally, feel sorry for you and the helpless little babes of our loins.
You I bequeath to the people, a woman of the people. I have one request to make of you: Commit no rash act to yourself when I am gone, but take up the great cause of Socialism where I am compelled to lay it down.
My children—well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage-slavery and poverty. Bless them; I love them unspeakably, my poor helpless little ones.
Ah, wife, living or dead, we are as one. For you my affection is everlasting. For the people, humanity. I cry out again and again in the doomed victim’s cell: Liberty! Justice! Equality!
Albert R. Parsons.
Source: Lucy Parsons, Life of Albert R. Parsons (Chicago: 1889), 211–212.
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