|The broadside that Spies composed in the Arbeiter-Zeitung office after witnessing the riot at McCormick's expresses all his fury and frustration. "I was very indignant," he told the jury at the Haymarket trial. "I was excited. I knew positively by the experiences that I have had in the past that this butchery of the people out there was done for the express purpose of defeating the eight-hour movement in this city."
The prosecution offered the broadside as a prime piece of evidence that the Haymarket bombing the next day was an intentional act of retribution in which Spies played a major part. Spies maintained that he did not write the inflammatory word "Revenge" (or Rache, in German), but that it was added by someone else. At the trial, Arbeiter-Zeitung compositor Herman Podeva (the spelling is different in other sources), who testified for the prosecution, explained under cross-examination that he was the one who inserted the word, mainly to give the heading "a better appearance."
The state also accused Spies of purposely exaggerating the number of workers killed. Spies claimed that he first reported two casualties, and that he then changed the number to six because at this point he honestly believed from his reading of the Daily News that six was the accurate figure. About twenty-five hundred of these circulars were printed, and a little more than half were actually distributed.
As in the case of Flinn's description of Officer Casey's rescue (see the previous entry), and of so much other writing produced at the time about Haymarket, of more importance here than the particulars is the language that Spies deployed. His rhetoric reveals how dangerously charged the moment was. Spies makes a direct appeal to the manhood of workers.
Manhood was an exceptionally sensitive issue because many laborers felt they had lost control of their lives to a capitalist system that devalued the skills that were so essential to their identity as well as their livelihood. Spies characterizes what happened at McCormick's as the capitalist "masters" loosing their bloodhounds—a frequently used derogatory epithet for the police—on workers simply because they stood up for their rights as free Americans.
The broadside declares that the time has come to end the worker's humiliation, exploitation, and hunger, his sacrificing of his children to the "factory-lords," and his "slavery." If you are men, Spies tells laborers, you will prove it by rising to "destroy the hideous monster that seeks to destroy you." Spies concludes, as did so many anarchist articles and speeches and manifestos, with a call to arms. The identification of "the people" with the heroic figure of "Hercules" in the last paragraph dates back at least to the French Revolution.
The German version is, if anything, more vivid and inflammatory. A fairly literal translation:
Working people, this afternoon the bloodhounds of your exploiters murdered six of your brothers at McCormick's. Why did they murder them? Because they had the courage to be dissatisfied with the lot your exploiters assigned to them. They demanded bread, and were answered with lead, because this is the best way to silence the people. Many, many years you have suffered all humiliations without resistance, have toiled from early morning to late evening, have suffered all kinds of wants, have even sacrificed your own children—all in order to fill the treasure houses of your masters, all for them. And now, when you appear before them and request some relief from your burden, they thank you for your sacrifices by setting their bloodhounds, the police, on you, to cure you of your dissatisfaction with leaden bullets. Slaves, we ask and conjure you by everything that is sacred to you, avenge this hideous murder, committed against your brothers today and perhaps tomorrow against you. Working people, Hercules, you have arrived at the crossroads. What are you going to choose? Slavery and hunger or freedom and bread? If you choose the latter, do not wait a moment: to arms, people, to arms! Destruction to the human beasts that call themselves your masters! Ruthless destruction to them, that has to be your password. Think of the heroes whose blood has fertilized the path to progress, freedom, and humanity, and strive to be worthy of them.