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“I die happy on the gallows, so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words. When you shall have hanged us, then they will do the bomb throwing! In this hope do I say to you, I despise you, I despise your order, your laws, your force propped authority. Hang me for it.”
-Louis Lingg, following sentencing for his part in the Haymarket Affair
If there was a man who knew how to charm a room, it was Louis Lingg. He had a handsome face and a commanding air. Even though he was only twenty-three, even though his English was broken and marked by a heavy German accent, there was something in his eyes, described as a “fine blue” that earned him not just the admiration of his fellow German-born carpenters in Chicago (who elected him as a delegate to the Central Labor Union) but of union organizers across the city.
Perhaps his charisma came from his passion. His father had fallen through an icy river when Louis was only 13, nearly drowning. Adding insult to injury was the man’s employer, who fired him when his health failed to improve fast enough, particularly since it was that same employer who forced Lingg the elder out onto the aforementioned ice to begin with.
Imagine being thirteen again, if you can. Imagine coming home to find out your father almost drowned, and that the man responsible for it fired him. Imagine watching your father grow destitute, and that man growing fat and happy, accumulating more and more wealth from other, similarly downtrodden men. Would your blood thicken, quicken into gunpowder in your veins? Would you find yourself with a vested interest in bringing down those who rule over the working classes, making money on the backs of those they plunge into destitution—and even death?
And if the people who you fell in with, those calling for revolution, were moving too slowly for you—what would you do to make them pick up the pace?