On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States went on strike for the eight-hour day.
Shaken by the power of the young labor movement, the ruling rich and their political representatives launched a savage counteroffensive. The target was one of the centres of the strike, Chicago, then stringly influenced by revolutionary-minded workers who were anarchists.
On the night of May 4, 1886, at a rally of several thousand workers in Chicago's Haymarket Square, a bomb was thrown into a group of police that were attempting to break up the meeting, killing several of them. The police opened fire, murdering a number of workers.
The government seized on the incident to begin a witch-hunt against the labor movement. With no evidence whatsoever linking them to the bombing, eight workers - some of them leaders of the eight-hour struggle - were framed up and convicted of the bombing, based solely on their anarchist ideas. Despite an international defense effort, seven were condemned to death. Four were eventually hanged and one committed suicide.
This book contains short autobiographies written from prison by the eight convicted workers. They present a living portrait of the labor movement of the time, as well as the lives and ideas of these early martyrs of labor's cause.