Texas Radical Republican involved in Haymarket Massacre

May 4th, 1886

On this day in 1886, Albert Richard Parsons, a labor organizer from Texas, was implicated in the infamous Chicago Haymarket Massacre. The brother of Confederate colonel William Henry Parsons, Albert served in Parsons's Brigade, a unit of Texas cavalry commanded by his brother, during the Civil War. After the war he became a Radical Republican and traveled throughout Central Texas registering freed slaves to vote. When Reconstruction came to an end in Texas, Parsons was hated and persecuted as a miscegenationist and a scalawag. He moved to Chicago with his wife, Lucy E. Parsons, a woman of mixed racial heritage, and became a leading agitator for social change there. On the evening of May 4, 1886, Parsons spoke at a meeting in Haymarket Square to protest police brutality. He and his family were in nearby Zepf's Hall when nearly 200 policemen marched into the square; an unknown person threw a bomb, and police began shooting wildly. Most of the seven police officers and seven members of the crowd who died apparently sustained wounds from police revolvers. Albert Parsons and seven others were tried for conspiracy to murder; he was among the four men who were eventually hanged for the crime. Six years later, Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the three defendants who remained in prison and condemned the convictions as a miscarriage of justice.

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Texas Radical Republican involved in Haymarket Massacre

May 4th, 1886

On this day in 1886, Albert Richard Parsons, a labor organizer from Texas, was implicated in the infamous Chicago Haymarket Massacre. The brother of Confederate colonel William Henry Parsons, Albert served in Parsons's Brigade, a unit of Texas cavalry commanded by his brother, during the Civil War. After the war he became a Radical Republican and traveled throughout Central Texas registering freed slaves to vote. When Reconstruction came to an end in Texas, Parsons was hated and persecuted as a miscegenationist and a scalawag. He moved to Chicago with his wife, Lucy E. Parsons, a woman of mixed racial heritage, and became a leading agitator for social change there. On the evening of May 4, 1886, Parsons spoke at a meeting in Haymarket Square to protest police brutality. He and his family were in nearby Zepf's Hall when nearly 200 policemen marched into the square; an unknown person threw a bomb, and police began shooting wildly. Most of the seven police officers and seven members of the crowd who died apparently sustained wounds from police revolvers. Albert Parsons and seven others were tried for conspiracy to murder; he was among the four men who were eventually hanged for the crime. Six years later, Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the three defendants who remained in prison and condemned the convictions as a miscarriage of justice.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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