May 042019

The Haymarket Affair (also known as the Haymarket Massacre, Haymarket Riot, or Haymarket Square Riot) was the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on May 4, 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago. These events contributed to May 1st becoming a significant celebration of organized labor worldwide, but with caveats.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I do not blindly accept simple speculations about the origins of traditions, even if they seem plausible, unless I have solid documentary evidence.  The Haymarket Affair was a contributing factor, but May 1st was entangled in labor celebrations before 1886, and the events of 1886 added to the significance of the date rather than originating it.

In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1st, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard or there would be reprisals. As the chosen date approached, U.S. labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day. On Saturday, May 1st, thousands of workers went on strike and rallies were held throughout the United States, with the cry, “Eight-hour day with no cut in pay.” Estimates of the number of striking workers across the U.S. range from 300,000 to half a million. In New York City, the number of demonstrators was estimated at 10,000 and in Detroit at 11,000. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, abou 10,000 workers turned out. In Chicago, the movement’s center, an estimated 30,000-to-40,000 workers had gone on strike and there were perhaps twice as many people out on the streets participating in various demonstrations and marches, as, for example, a march by 10,000 men employed in the Chicago lumber yards. Though participants in these events added up to 80,000, it is disputed whether there was a march of that number down Michigan Avenue led by anarchist Albert Parsons, founder of the International Working People’s Association [IWPA], his wife Lucy Parsons and their children.

On May 3rd, striking workers in Chicago met near the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant. Union molders at the plant had been locked out since early February and the predominantly Irish-American workers at McCormick had come under attack from Pinkerton guards during an earlier strike action in 1885. This event, along with the eight-hour militancy of McCormick workers, had gained the strikers some respect and notoriety around the city. By the time of the 1886 general strike, strikebreakers entering the McCormick plant were under protection from a garrison of 400 police officers. Although half of the replacement workers defected to the general strike on May 1st, McCormick workers continued to harass strikebreakers as they crossed the picket lines.

Speaking to a rally outside the plant on May 3, August Spies advised the striking workers to “hold together, to stand by their union, or they would not succeed.” The general strike to this point had remained largely nonviolent. When the end-of-the-workday bell sounded, however, a group of workers surged to the gates to confront the strikebreakers. Despite calls for calm by Spies, the police fired on the crowd. Two McCormick workers were killed (although some newspaper accounts said there were six fatalities). Spies later testified, “I was very indignant. I knew from experience of the past that this butchering of people was done for the express purpose of defeating the eight-hour movement.”

Outraged by this act of police violence, local anarchists quickly printed and distributed fliers calling for a rally the following day at Haymarket Square (also called the Haymarket), which was then a bustling commercial center near the corner of Randolph Street and Desplaines Street. Printed in German and English, the fliers claimed that the police had murdered the strikers on behalf of business interests and urged workers to seek justice. The first batch of fliers contain the words Workingmen Arm Yourselves and Appear in Full Force! When Spies saw the line, he said he would not speak at the rally unless the words were removed from the flier. All but a few hundred of the fliers were destroyed, and new fliers were printed without the offending words. More than 20,000 copies of the revised flier were distributed.

The rally began peacefully under a light rain on the evening of May 4th.   August Spies, Albert Parsons, and Samuel Fielden spoke to a crowd estimated variously between 600 and 3,000 while standing in an open wagon adjacent to the square on Des Plaines Street. A large number of on-duty police officers watched from nearby. Following Spies’ speech, Parsons, the Alabama-born editor of the radical English-language weekly The Alarm spoke. The crowd was so calm that mayor Carter Harrison Sr., who had stopped by to watch, walked home early. Parsons spoke for almost an hour before standing down in favor of the last speaker of the evening, the British socialist Samuel Fielden, who delivered a brief ten-minute address. Many of the crowd had already left as the weather was deteriorating. At about 10:30 pm, just as Fielden was finishing his speech, police arrived en masse, marching in formation towards the speakers’ wagon, and ordered the rally to disperse. Fielden insisted that the meeting was peaceful. Police Inspector John Bonfield proclaimed:

 I command you [addressing the speaker] in the name of the law to desist and you [addressing the crowd] to disperse.

A home-made bomb with a brittle metal casing filled with dynamite and ignited by a fuse was thrown into the path of the advancing police. Its fuse briefly sputtered, and then the bomb exploded, killing policeman Mathias J. Degan with flying metal fragments and mortally wounding six other officers.

Witnesses maintained that immediately after the bomb blast there was an exchange of gunshots between police and demonstrators. Accounts vary widely as to who fired first and whether any of the crowd fired at the police. Some historians maintain that the police fired on the fleeing demonstrators, reloaded and then fired again, killing four and wounding as many as 70 people. What is not disputed is that in less than five minutes the square was empty except for the casualties. According to the May 4th New York Times, demonstrators began firing at the police, who then returned fire. In his report on the incident, Inspector Bonfield wrote that he “gave the order to cease firing, fearing that some of our men, in the darkness might fire into each other”. An anonymous police official told the Chicago Tribune, “A very large number of the police were wounded by each other’s revolvers. … It was every man for himself, and while some got two or three squares away, the rest emptied their revolvers, mainly into each other.”

In all, seven policemen and at least four workers were killed. Another policeman died two years after the incident from complications related to injuries received on that day. About 60 policemen were wounded in the incident. The Chicago Herald described a scene of “wild carnage” and estimated at least fifty dead or wounded civilians lay in the streets. It is unclear how many civilians were wounded since many were afraid to seek medical attention, fearing arrest. They found aid where they could.

A harsh anti-union clampdown followed the Haymarket incident. There was a massive outpouring of community and business support for the police and many thousands of dollars were donated to funds for their medical care and to assist their efforts. The entire labor and immigrant community, particularly Germans and Bohemians, came under suspicion. Police raids were carried out on homes and offices of suspected anarchists. Dozens of suspects, many only remotely related to the Haymarket affair, were arrested. Casting legal requirements such as search warrants aside, Chicago police squads subjected the labor activists of Chicago to an eight-week shakedown, ransacking their meeting halls and places of business. The emphasis was on the speakers at the Haymarket rally and the newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung. A small group of anarchists was discovered to have been engaged in making bombs on the same day as the incident, including round ones like the one used in Haymarket Square.

Newspaper reports declared that anarchist agitators were to blame for the “riot”, a view adopted by an alarmed public. As time passed, press reports and illustrations of the incident became more elaborate. Coverage was national, then international. Among property owners, the press, and other elements of society, a consensus developed that suppression of anarchist agitation was necessary while for their part, union organizations such as The Knights of Labor and craft unions were quick to disassociate themselves from the anarchist movement and to repudiate violent tactics as self-defeating. Many workers, on the other hand, believed that men of the Pinkerton agency were responsible because of the agency’s tactic of secretly infiltrating labor groups and its sometimes violent methods of strike breaking.

The police assumed that an anarchist had thrown the bomb as part of a planned conspiracy; their problem was how to prove it. On the morning of May 5th, they raided the offices of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, arresting its editor August Spies, and his brother (who was not charged). Also arrested were editorial assistant Michael Schwab and Adolph Fischer, a typesetter. A search of the premises resulted in the discovery of the Revenge Poster and other “evidence” considered incriminating by the prosecution.

Rudolf Schnaubelt, the police’s lead suspect as the bomb thrower, was arrested twice early on and released. By May 14, when it became apparent he had played a significant role in the event, (in fact, probably had thrown the bomb), he had fled the country. William Seliger, who had turned state’s evidence and testified for the prosecution, was not charged. On June 4th, 1886, seven other suspects, however, were indicted by the grand jury and stood trial for being accessories to the murder of Degan. Of these, only two had been present when the bomb exploded. Newspaper editor August Spies and Samuel Fielden had spoken at the peaceful rally and were stepping down from the speaker’s wagon in compliance with police orders to disperse just before the bomb went off. Two others had been present at the beginning of the rally but had left and were at Zepf’s Hall, an anarchist rendezvous, at the time of the explosion. They were: Arbeiter-Zeitung typesetter Adolph Fischer and the well-known activist Albert Parsons, who had spoken for an hour at the Haymarket rally before going to Zepf’s. Parsons, who believed that the evidence against them all was weak, subsequently voluntarily turned himself in, in solidarity with the accused. A third man, Spies’s assistant editor Michael Schwab (who was the brother-in-law of Schnaubelt) was arrested since he was speaking at another rally at the time of the bombing (he was also later pardoned). Not directly tied to the Haymarket rally, but arrested because they were notorious for their militant radicalism were George Engel (who was at home playing cards on that day), and Louis Lingg, a hot-tempered bomb maker denounced by his associate, Seliger. Another defendant who had not been present that day was Oscar Neebe, an American-born citizen of German descent who was associated with the Arbeiter-Zeitung and had attempted to revive it in the aftermath of the Haymarket riot.

In the trial that followed, all eight defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, even though many were not present at the time of the riot, and all those present were accounted for and clearly not involved in the subsequent violence. All but Neebe were condemned to death. The governor of Illinois commuted 2 of the sentences. Of the remaining 5, one committed suicide and the other 4 were hanged on November 11, 1887. In 1893, Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining defendants and criticized the trial.

The site of the incident was designated a Chicago landmark in 1992, and a sculpture was dedicated there in 2004. In addition, the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997 at the defendants’ burial site in Forest Park.

In scanning past posts, I notice that I have given a number of Chicago recipes but never said much about Chicago deep-dish pizza. This is a serious omission which I will resolve with a video.  It is important to emphasize that Chicago pizza is its own thing and should not be compared with other kinds of pizza. In fact, it’s just as well to work on the principle that dishes with the name “pizza” are going to be completely different worldwide.  Go to 100 different cities in Italy and you’ll get 100 different styles of pizza. Then got to 100 cities around the world from New York to Adelaide to Buenos Aires, and you’ll get 100 more. If you don’t get so hung up on the name, you’ll be able to appreciate Chicago pizza for what it is (and excuse the narrator for thinking that the big battle is between Chicago and New York – because pizza is not made in any other city in the world!!!):

Oct 282016


Today is the feast day in Western Christian churches of Jude the Apostle, also known as Judas Thaddaeus. My title, “Jude the Obscure,” is somewhat sardonic – as is Hardy’s book title. Jude is an obscure apostle. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, the brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus prior to his crucifixion. Judas Thaddaeus became known as Jude in English after early translators of the Greek Bible into English sought to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and subsequently abbreviated his forename. Both Jude and Judas are translations of the name Ὶούδας in the original Greek, a variant of the Aramaic Judah (Y’hudah), a common name at the time. Most versions of the Greek Bible in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name.


“Jude of James” is only mentioned twice in the New Testament: in the lists of apostles in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13. The Epistle of Jude states that it was written by “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Luke’s name, “Jude of James,” is ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James (Jacob). Though such a construction sometimes connoted a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as “Jude, brother of James” (Luke 6:16). Although some modern Protestants identify him as “Jude, son of James” (in the New International Version translation for example), in the King James Version and Revised Standard Version he is “Judas the brother of James.” The Gospel of John also mentions a disciple called “Judas, not the Iscariot” (οὐχ ὁ Ἰσκαριώτης), who asks Jesus, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22). This is often accepted as being the same person as the apostle Jude.

Tradition holds that Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. Although Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the “Apostle to the Armenians” when he baptized King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are traditionally held to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Saint Thaddeus Monastery (now in northern Iran) and Saint Bartholomew Monastery (now in southeastern Turkey) which were both constructed in what was then Armenia.


According to tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom around 65 CE in Beirut, in the Roman province of Syria, together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. The axe that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes his method of execution. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in the Acts of Simon and Jude part of a collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, bishop of Babylon, and said to have been translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus.


Some time after his death, Saint Jude’s body was believed by some to have been taken from Beirut to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica which was visited by many devotees. Now these bones are in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica under the main altar of St. Joseph in one tomb with the relics of the apostle Simon the Zealot. According to another popular tradition, the remains of St. Jude were preserved in an Armenian monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until the mid-15th century.

The Dominicans began working in present-day Armenia soon after their founding in 1216. At that time, there was already a substantial devotion to Saint Jude by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the area. This lasted until persecution drove Christians from the area in the 18th century. Devotion to Saint Jude began again in earnest in the 19th century, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the United States (starting in the area around Chicago) owing to the influence of the Claretians and the Dominicans in the 1920s.


Among some Roman Catholics, Saint Jude is venerated as the “patron saint of lost causes.” Saint Jude is also the patron saint of the Chicago Police Department and of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (a soccer team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). His other patronages include desperate situations and hospitals. One of his namesakes is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which has helped many children with terminal illnesses and their families since its founding in 1962.

I’ll stand by my epithet, “the Obscure.” In truth we know virtually nothing about Jude the Apostle, and don’t even really know if the name Jude has been applied to one or several men indiscriminately. In my more skeptical moments I tend to think that the notion that there were 12 close disciples of Jesus who were contemporaneously known as “the Apostles,” is an invention of the gospel writers (or their sources), perhaps mirroring the 12 tribes of Israel. A select few of Jesus’ disciples, such as Peter, John, and James, are well attested in the gospel narratives, and the rest, including Jude are shadowy at best. They seem to be included in lists of the apostles to make up the number 12, rather than because they had some clear identity.

Whether or not an actual apostle or person from Judea evangelized Armenia is not historically verifiable, but the relationship between St Jude and Armenia is indisputable. So, let’s talk about khash. Khash is a major institution in Armenia. Like all Armenian cuisine, versions of khash can be found across a wide region from Persia to the Caucasus, but the Armenian version is special. At heart it is a soup made from the feet and shanks of sheep or cows (sometimes with tripe as well). The feet are depilated, cleaned, kept in cold water, then simmered slowly all night long until the water has become a thick broth and the meat has separated from the bones. No salt or spices are added during the cooking process. The dish is served hot. Here is a video showing how it is eaten in Armenia. Lavash is traditional Armenian flatbread.

Khash is generally served with a variety of other foods, such as hot green and yellow peppers, pickles, radishes, cheese, and fresh greens such as cress. The meal is almost always accompanied by vodka (preferably mulberry vodka) and mineral water.


Khash was formerly a nutritious winter food but is now considered a delicacy, and is enjoyed as a festive winter meal. Modern-day convention in Armenia dictates that it should be consumed during months with ‘r’ in the name, thus excluding May, June, July, and August (month names in Armenian are derivatives of the Latin names).

There is much ritual involved in khash parties. Many participants abstain from eating the previous evening, and insist upon using only their hands to consume the unusual (and often unwieldy) meal. Because of the potency and strong smell of the meal, and because it is eaten early in the mornings and so often enjoyed in conjunction with alcohol, khash is usually served on the weekend or on holidays.  It is therefore a perfect meal for the feast of St Jude.

Sep 112016


The Parliament of Religions opened on this date in 1893 at the World’s Congress Auxiliary Building which is now The Art Institute of Chicago, and ran from 11 to 27 September. Today it is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide, with representatives of a wide variety of religions and new religious movements. It was not entirely representative of all the faiths of the world, but it was a good start.

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, an early world’s fair. Consequently, because so many people were coming to Chicago from all over the world that many smaller conferences, called Congresses and Parliaments, were scheduled to take advantage of this unprecedented gathering. One of these was the World’s Parliament of Religions, an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman (and judge) Charles Carroll Bonney. The Parliament of Religions was by far the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the Exposition. John Henry Barrows, a clergyman, was appointed as the first chairman of the General Committee of the 1893 Parliament by Charles Bonney.

Representatives of various faiths included:

The Jain preacher Virchand Gandhi.

The Buddhist preacher Anagarika Dharmapala was invited there as a representative of “Southern Buddhism,” the term applied at that time to the Theravada.[citation needed]

Soyen Shaku, the “First American Ancestor” of Zen.

An essay by the Japanese Pure Land master Kiyozawa Manshi, “Skeleton of the philosophy of religion” was read in his absence.

Vivekananda represented the faiths of India as a delegate and introduced Hinduism.

Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, an Anglo-American convert to Islam, and the former US ambassador to the Philippines.

Rev. Henry Jessup, represented Christianity but also introduced the Bahá’í Faith.

There were also representatives of new religious movements of the time, such as Spiritualism and Christian Science. The latter was represented by Septimus J. Hanna, who read an address written by its founder Mary Baker Eddy.

Absent from this event were Native American religious figures, Sikhs, and other indigenous religionists. Nonetheless, it was a good start.


Swami Vivekananda was one of the most important speakers on the opening day of the parliament.  Vivekananda (Bengali: স্বামী বিবেকানন্দ), born Narendranath Datta, was an Indian Hindu monk, and a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He went on to be a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was also a key force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.

The general area of south Asia that was at one time under British colonial rule, has been torn apart by sectarian violence in the name of various religions for centuries  – Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, etc.  Vivekananda believed that he could unite these various faiths and, in the process, expel the British. His agenda was partially realized; the British were eventually expelled, but the sectarian animosity remains. His speech in Chicago is legendary. He was very timid when he rose to address such a large audience which numbered over 7,000 and began (famously):

“Sisters and brothers of America …”


These words got a standing ovation from the crowd which lasted for two minutes. When silence was restored he resumed his address. He greeted all nations on behalf of “the most ancient order of monks in the world, the Vedic order of sannyasins, a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance!” It is not some quirk or coincidence that a Hindu should preach these words. Hinduism is extremely open to all manner of concepts of divinity and spirituality. In the speech Vivekananda also remarked about Hindus, “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.” There are even some Hindus who are technically atheists. Of course, there are also some pockets of rigidity and narrowness of vision within Hinduism. All faiths have their zealots. But at root Hinduism teaches that we all find God in our own way, and there is not a single path that is privileged.

When I was a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian church, my last step before ordination was oral examination by the entire presbytery. This is normally a routine procedure, but I hit a bit of a stumbling block. Being a professional anthropologist had raised some red flags in a few eyes. The formal Presbyterian organization, PC(USA), of which I was a member, is a strange beast. It was created by shoving together distinct organizations that had once been distinct, but were forced into each others arms by financial exigency. One branch in the US South was extremely conservative, and did not lie easily with more “liberal” Presbyterians. My presbytery was known for being extremely “liberal” but it had a small conservative, evangelical faction that was always causing trouble at presbytery meetings. This faction decided to make a point at my examination for ordination.

For ordination each candidate writes a “statement of faith” which is distributed to all members of the presbytery before the examination and becomes the basis for questioning. An evangelical member of the presbytery opened the questioning with the deathless: “I have eleven questions to ask you about your statement.” All the other members of the presbytery groaned in unison, but I smiled, “Bring it on.” I’ll debate anyone on any topic – anywhere, any time.

First question: “Do you believe that Jesus is the only route to salvation?”

This is pretty stock stuff for conservatives, who are adamant that Christianity is the only true faith. My reply was not what they expected, nor wanted.

“I do.” (So far, so good). “But I would not be so arrogant to state categorically that I know what the voice of Jesus sounds like. He may sound like Buddha or Mohammed for all I know.”

That set the cat among the pigeons. Even some “liberal” members were shocked. When it came down to asking me to leave the room after the questioning was over so that the members could vote on my ordination, I had a long wait – much longer than usual. One of my friends left the voting for a few minutes and came out to say, “It’s tough going in there, but you’ll pass.” I wasn’t worried. If they didn’t want me, I didn’t want them either. In the end I was voted in overwhelmingly. Presbyterians just like the sound of their own voices – a lot. I had raised some important issues, which is all I ever want to do.

The thing is that I strongly believe that very few people have the remotest clue about God. For a taste of my ideas about God go here — Here is a sample:

So what is God? I told you – I don’t know. I’m pretty sure of what God is not – not male or female for starters (which is why I assiduously avoid pronouns); not an old guy in the sky sitting on a throne and making things work; not my friend in any conventional sense; not human in any respect. Somehow we have to break free of our limited vision, but how? I’d say that a good starting point is the cross-cultural study of religion. It’s not that I think that Buddhism or Jainism or Hinduism or whatever has a better view of God; they have a different one. Maybe when you put all the visions together you can build a better picture.

That was the agenda of the first Parliament of Religions, and, to a limited extent, it continues. Building bridges and ecumenism are not popular these days. Nationalism and xenophobia are much more popular than ever, and politicians love to use religion as their weapon. Christians can be among the worst offenders. As we know, radical Islam raises its voice these days. In no case is religion actually talking. These are political zealots using religion as a rallying point.


Instead of fostering such conflict I’d like today to be a day of harmony even though it is the anniversary of 9/11 which saw the U.S. and the world torn apart, with the effects very much still with us. Islamophobia and conflict are on the rise in Europe and the U.S. Jesus preached peace – “Love your enemies.” One of my favorite Bible verses in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” He doesn’t follow up with “Open and I will come in and preach to you.” He says: “if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus knew that eating together breaks down barriers. Ancient Jews knew it too. They developed incredibly complicated dietary laws precisely to stop people eating with them. They knew it would lead to friendship and assimilation and they didn’t want that.


You are different. Take today to eat with people, especially strangers. I do it all the time.  When I cook I serve a lot of different dishes and I put them in the middle of the table so that guests can help themselves. This is the norm in China, of course, but also throughout Asia and the Middle East, as well as parts of Africa.  I’ve never liked plating up individual dishes. That’s why I could never be a chef. I want everyone to come together.

What you are going to have to do is think of a dish or dishes that go well communally. I mentioned this recently in my post on the Hajj where big rice dishes featured. I can’t be a whole lot of help because I have only one guest for dinner this evening. I’m roasting a chicken with potatoes and leeks served on one dish – help yourself. I’ll post photos after dinner. Meanwhile some ideas: