Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Anarchists


Notice of Speech by Parsons, 1885
Anarchists rejected concepts of both private property and organized government in favor of voluntary association and cooperation. Chicago's anarchists were largely skilled, immigrant workers who joined the International Working People's Association (IWPA), which built its organization through local clubs and an anarchist press. By 1886 26 local groups were meeting regularly for lectures and discussions of “the social question.” During the 1880s the IWPA published seven newspapers in Chicago, in German, Czech, Norwegian, and English. Both newspapers and clubs sought to produce a vibrant movement culture that included picnics, parades, festivals, singing societies, and theater groups.

Most anarchists were also trade unionists. In 1884, anarchists established the Central Labor Union (CLU), which came to include some of the city's largest unions. In 1886, the CLU took part in the movement for the eight-hour day and tried to organize previously unorganized workers. After the 1886 Haymarket Affair, which resulted in eight convictions and the execution of four of the anarchists' most prominent leaders, anarchism could no longer claim to be a mass movement in Chicago and the United States.

Avrich, Paul. The Haymarket Tragedy. 1984.
David, Henry. History of the Haymarket Affair. 1936; rev. ed. 1958.
Nelson, Bruce C. Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago's Anarchists, 1870–1900. 1988.