Guy A. Aldred Archive

Pioneers of Anti-Parliamentarism
Chapter 8
Pending Execution

Written: 1940.
Source: PDF Scans from; OCR'ing and editing from
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source:; 2021

Lombroso inquired whether, according to the charlatan rules of his psuedo-physiognomy, the Chicago Anarchists were criminals. We prefer the testimony of Captain Black, who was their principal advocate, that they were men. On the morning that they were declared guilty by the packed jury in the packed court, Black saw the prisoners immediately upon their return to jail. He was im- pressed by their calm, fearless, and contented bearing.

Adolph Fischer, who towered above his comrades, said to Black, with the utmost simplicity, and with a smile that lighted up his entire face, that he was not surprised at the verdict. and did not mind if the authorities hanged him on the morrow. He added. “I am ready to die for the cause of the people.”

The idea of witnessing unto death for the cause which he had at heart filled him with a contented gladness.

Louis Lingg, also, smiled at the thought of death, and considered it inevitable from the first day of the trial.

George Engel was the oldest man in this group of martyrs by many years, and Black always wondered how he had become an Anarchist. Engel impressed Black with “his absolute sincerity in all that he did and said.”

Spies’ plea to Governor Oglesby to be the sacrifice of the hour. and to save Parsons from his doom, impressed Black as being typical of the man. It expressed his character and motives. Parsons was Black’s chief concern. His case was outstanding. His execution was the most heinous of all. Black was “anxious to save out of the wreck whatever life was possible,” and even people who agreed with the verdict, and were against the Anarchists, felt that Parsons should not be executed, since he came voluntarily to the bar of the court. They argued that even a Drumhead Court- Martial would never inflict the death sentence under such circum- stances. It was understood that this sentence would be commuted if Parsons would sign a petition to the Governor of the State, which, under the constitution and the statutes of the State of Illinois, was prescribed as a condition of the exercise of pardoning power. Parsons relused to sign any such petition. He refused to desert his comrades who were doomed by such petitioning. He declined to make any technical compliance with the law that had doomed them. Either his comrades must be pardoned with him or he would hang with them, so far as his personal will could affect the result. That was his uncompromising and unhesitating resolution.

And so Parsons died, with his comrades, to witness to the cause and to the faith of Labor!

Black adds : -—

“Of such make were these men as I learned to know them in the months intervening between their arrest and their execution.”

He concludes : --

"I have thought always that, if these men could he known by others as I knew them, those who came thus to know them would understand why my whole heart was in the struggle for their deliverance.”