Anarchism and the Haymarket Affair

Historical content: 
The Gilded Age
Historical skills: 
Corroboration, Sourcing



Use this newspaper excerpt and your knowledge of history to answer the questions below. 


Part of a 1908 Utah newspaper article titled "Anarchy and Anarchists of the New World."

Source text: 

“There was no anarchism as an organized movement in the United States until the Haymarket bomb throwing affair in Chicago, which took place May 4, 1886. Now there are scores of local colonies or dens, district federations and a national federation of anarchists. . . . In the past twenty years there have been more anarchistic outbreaks and outrages in America than have occurred in all our previous history. In fact, as indicated above, the Haymarket affair marked the real birth of the hydra-headed horror in this country.”

Question 1: Explain why a historian might not think that this passage provides enough evidence to understand the effect of the Haymarket Affair on the growth of anarchism in the United States.

Question 2: Three documents are described below. Explain whether each document could be used to support the newspaper account about the role of the Haymarket Affair in the growth of anarchism. If the document could not be used to support the newspaper's claims, explain why not.

a. A 1900 speech from a prominent anarchist claiming that the anarchist movement had its roots in the American Revolution.  

b. An editorial in a Chicago newspaper written a month after the Haymarket Affair describing the establishment of new anarchist organizations.

c. Statistics that show a growth in labor union membership from 1888-1908.  

About the Assessment

Like Morale After Fredericksburg, this assessment asks students to source and corroborate a document.  In this assessment, students evaluate an excerpt from a 1908 Utah newspaper that makes claims about the influence that the Haymarket Affair had on the growth of anarchist groups in the United States.  Question 1 asks students to evaluate whether the excerpt provides enough evidence to draw conclusions the growth of anarchism in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. To answer this question, students must source the document to determine whether the account can be thought of as conclusive evidence.  Question 2 asks students to evaluate whether additional documents could be used to corroborate the account.