August Spies
(1855–1887)

August Spies was born near Bad Hersfeld in central Hessen in 1855 and trained at the Polytechnikum in Kassel. Orphaned at age 17, he emigrated to the US, finally settling in Chicago in 1873, where he became a pivotal figure in the emerging labor movement. Spies was one of seven “anarchists” unjustly sentenced to death in connection with the Haymarket affair of 1886, a turning point in the history of American labor relations (the Haymarket Rally of May 1, 1886, had been convened to make the case, unsuccessfully, for the eight-hour working day). During the Cold War, May Day was deemed compromised by its association with communism. President Eisenhower rebranded May 1 as “Loyalty Day” in 1955.

Posted in Public Exhibition