Samuel Gompers Urges Clemency for the Haymarket Anarchists, 1887
To the Governor of Illinois:
I have differed all my life with the principles and methods of the condemned, but know no reason why I should not ask the Governor to interpose and save condemned men from the gallows. The execution would not be one of justice; not to the interest of the great state of Illinois; not to the interests of the country; nor the workingmen. I come as a representative of the New York Central Labor Union and as president of the American Federation of Labor, organizations opposed to anarchy.
If these men are executed it would simply be an impetus to this so-called revolutionary movement which no other thing on earth can give. These men would, apart from any consideration of mercy or humanity, be looked upon as martyrs. Thousands and thousands of labor men all over the world would consider that these men had been executed because they were standing up for free speech and free press. . . .
The working people have long begged for justice and very frequently not in vain. They arise now and ask in the name of mercy, in the name of humanity, in the name of progress, not to allow this execution to take place, but, sir, to stand between these men and death, and as I in a letter and dispatch sent to you have said, you will not only be blessed by the country but the unborn thousands that come after us.
I want to say to you, sir, I am not desirous of going into the details of the question. I don't believe I am competent to do so; but I believe that in some measure, however remote, the police of Chicago have been somewhat responsible for this trouble. . . .