The Eight Hour Day struggle and Haymarket.

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In May, 1886 a strike was began throughout the United States in support a eight-hour day. Over the next few days over 340,000 men and women withdrew their labor.
Over a quarter of these strikers were from Chicago and the employers were so shocked by this show of unity that 45,000 workers in the city were immediately granted a shorter workday.
The campaign for the eight-hour day was organised by the International Working Men’s Association (the First International).
On 3rd May, the IWPA in Chicago held a rally outside the McCormick Harvester Works, where 1,400 workers were on strike.
They were joined by 6,000 lumber-shovers, who had also withdrawn their labour.
While August Spies, one of the leaders of the IWPA was making a speech, the police arrived and opened-fire on the crowd, killing four of the workers.
On 4 May, over 3,000 people turned up at the Haymarket meeting. Speeches were made by August Spies, Albert Parsons and Samuel Fielden.
At 10 a.m. Captain John Bonfield and 180 policemen arrived on the scene. Bonfield was telling the crowd to “disperse immediately and peaceably” when someone threw a bomb into the police ranks from one of the alleys that led into the square.
It exploded killing eight men and wounding sixty-seven others. The police then immediately attacked the crowd. A number of people were killed (the exact number was never disclosed) and over 200 were badly injured.
Several people identified Rudolph Schnaubelt as the man who threw the bomb. He was arrested but was later released without charge. It was later claimed that Schnaubelt was an agent provocateur in the pay of the authorities.
After the release of Schnaubelt, the police arrested Samuel Fielden, an Englishman, and six German immigrants, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab.
The police also sought Albert Parsons, the leader of the International Working Peoples Association in Chicago, but he went into hiding and was able to avoid capture. However, on the morning of the trial, Parsons arrived in court to standby his comrades.
monument1912The 1912 Monument to the Haymarket Martyrs.
There were plenty of witnesses who were able to prove that none of the eight men threw the bomb.
The authorities therefore decided to charge them with conspiracy to commit murder.
The prosecution case was that these men had made speeches and written articles that had encouraged the unnamed man at the Haymarket to throw the bomb at the police.
The jury was chosen by a special bailiff instead of being selected at random. One of those picked was a relative of one of the police victims.
Julius Grinnell, the State’s Attorney, told the jury: “Convict these men make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions.”
Read on via Haymarket Bombing.

The Tjanpi Women Desert Weavers of Australia.

Tjanpi Banner

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers
Building on the traditions of using natural fibres to create objects for medicinal, ceremonial and daily use, the Tjanpi – or ‘dry grass’ – Weavers are women who come together to visit sacred sites and traditional homelands, hunt and gather food for their families and teach their children about country while collecting grasses to sculpt and weave.
Students will work directly with the accomplished artists to learn new techniques and expand upon their own diverse disciplines in painting, drawing, music, sculpture and spatial practice as well as film and television.
Tiriki Onus, Lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Practices at the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, says the masterclasses are a precious experience for budding artists.
“Too often there is a false distinction drawn between craft and fine art.
The women from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers are contemporary fine artists, as well as seasoned teachers, performers and cultural ambassadors who not only maintain traditions within their own art form but also innovate upon them. We are incredibly lucky to be facilitating their presentation of masterclasses at the Wilin Centre.”
Today there are over 400 women across 28 communities making baskets and sculptures out of grass. Working with fibre in this way is firmly embedded in Western and Central Desert Indigenous culture.
via Indigenous weavers give insight into contemporary Australian art | The Melbourne Newsroom.

Flambard Escapes White Tower Prison.

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A visual Impression of what Ranulf Flambard could have looked like.
Ranulf Flambard, chief tax-collector, was imprisoned under King Henry I. He was the Tower of London’s first prisoner and also became its first escapee.
Flambard had made himself unpopular doing King William Rufus’s dirty work, collecting large taxes and becoming very rich.
When William died, his brother Henry I accused the Bishop of extortion and sent him to the White Tower in chains.
Flambard used the cover of the feast of Candlemas to make a bold escape.
He had a rope smuggled to him in a gallon of wine. He invited his guards to join him for a great banquet. When they were completely drunk and snoring soundly, he seized his chance.
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The White Tower of London.
He tied the rope to a column which stood in the middle of a window and, holding his Bishop’s staff, he climbed down the rope.
At the foot of the tower, his friends had horses ready and he galloped off to safety.
Read more via Ranulf Flambard’s Incredible Escape From The White Tower’s Prison.

Boudicca the Warrior Queen of the Iceni, England.

Boudicca was queen of the Iceni people of Eastern England and led a major uprising against occupying Roman forces.
Boudicca was married to Prasutagus, ruler of the Iceni people of East Anglia.
When the Romans conquered southern England in AD 43, they allowed Prasutagus to continue to rule.
However, when Prasutagus died the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen.
They are also said to have stripped and flogged Boudicca and raped her daughters. These actions exacerbated widespread resentment at Roman rule.
In 60 or 61 AD, while the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus was leading a campaign in North Wales, the Iceni rebelled. Members of other tribes joined them.
Boudicca’s warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester.
They went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans). Thousands were killed.
Finally, Boudicca was defeated by a Roman army led by Paulinus.
Many Britons were killed and Boudicca is thought to have poisoned herself to avoid capture.
The site of the battle, and of Boudicca’s death, are unknown.
via BBC History

The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Bird’s-eye view of 1904 World’s Fair buildings from the Administration building. A panoramic view of the construction of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition buildings in the snow. 1904-01-24

In April 1904, St. Louis opened its doors to the world for what was officially called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, but was widely known as the St. Louis World’s Fair.
Millions of dollars had been spent to build the 1,200-acre fairgrounds and its nearly 1,500 buildings—a huge scale that ended up delaying the opening by a year.
During the eight months the fair stayed open, nearly 20 million people paid a visit. On display were marvels of technology, agriculture, art, and history, and there were amusement rides and entertainment to be found in a section called “the Pike.”
The fair introduced a huge audience to some relatively new inventions such as private automobiles, outdoor electric lighting, and the X-ray machine—as well as foods from across the United States and around the world.
The exposition also had a focus on anthropological exhibits—with an approach that is shocking by today’s standards: In some cases, organizers brought people from the Philippines, the Arctic, and elsewhere to the fairgrounds as set pieces among re-creations of their home environment or villages.
After the fair closed, nearly all of its structures were demolished within a short time, leaving only a few footprints, ponds, and canals in Forest Park in St. Louis.
Source: The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair: Photos – The Atlantic

Dan Rice, Famous Circus Clown of the 1860s.

A clown ran for public office – and no, that’s not the beginning of a joke.
On Sept. 15, 1864, America’s most famous circus clown, Dan Rice, accepted the Democratic nomination for the Pennsylvania State Senate.
And it was just his first foray into politics: Even while continuing his career as a clown, a state convention later considered him as a candidate for Congress, and, in 1867, he made a brief but legitimate run for president.
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Dan Rice
While the idea of a clown running for office sounds like a gimmick, in the 1860s it was taken seriously — because circus itself was taken seriously, as adult fare.
Long before it was relegated to children’s entertainment, early circus in this country combined what appealed to grown-up tastes: sex, violence, political commentary and, in a horse-based culture, top-notch horsemanship.
George Washington attended the first circus in 1793 in Philadelphia not for family-friendly amusement — a notion that didn’t emerge until the 1880s — but as a horseman keen to see animals and humans working together at a peak level.
Sex and violence enhanced the appeal. Like later burlesque comedians, talking clowns told dirty jokes in a titillating whirl of the scantily clad: Circus acrobats and riders showed more skin — or flesh-colored fabric that seemed to be skin — than could be seen anywhere else in public life.
Read on via The Civil War’s Most Famous Clown – NYTimes.com.