on the image to see the broadside in larger and legible form (approximately
One of the damning pieces of bomb-talking evidence introduced in the trial was Lucy Parsons's infamous article, "A Word to Tramps," which appeared in the Alarm on October 4, 1884. "A Word to Tramps" was People's Exhibit 18, and a transcription of it is in the Haymarket Affair Digital Collection. On display here is a reprint of the article in the form of a broadside, with a citation to the original source.
The "Word" is addressed to the estimated thirty-five thousand homeless Chicagoans. Lucy Parsons reminds them that although their labor has produced the city's vast wealth, they have not received their fair share. In exchange for working twelve or more hours a day, the capitalist industrial system has given them nothing but the hunger in their stomachs and the rags on their backs. To add insult to injury, that system now blames them for their desperate condition.
Parsons then explicitly employs the drama metaphor in advising these tramps about what to do if their misery has led them to choose suicide. With bitter sarcasm, she does not try to talk them out of it, but tells them to find a more effective method than drowning themselves in the lake. "But halt," she writes, "before you commit this last tragic act in the drama of your simple existence." She says that there is a way to use this act to strike at the enemies of the poor.
Head for the "avenues of the rich," she advises them, where dwell "the very identical robbers" who have put you in this plight. "Then let your tragedy be enacted here! Awaken them from their wanton sports at your expense! Send forth your petition and let them read it by the red glare of destruction!" The "letter" ends a few sentences later with the directive, "Learn the use of explosives!"