on the left image to read the statement before sentencing of Michael Schwab
(approximately 1,900 words).
Click on the middle image to read the statement before sentencing of Oscar Neebe (approximately 3000 words).
Click on the right image to read the statement before sentencing of George Engel (approximately 2100 words).
After the jury delivered its verdict on August 20, the court adjourned until the first of October. When it reconvened the defense lawyers presented a series of motions that mainly related to the preparation of the appeal, since they knew that Gary would reject these motions. Gary then asked the defendants if they had any remarks to make before he pronounced sentence.
Beginning on October 7 and lasting for three days, each of the defendants responded. Albert Parsons was the final defendant to speak and took by far the longest time—two hours on October 8, then six hours the next day. Fielden began by reciting Ferdinand Freiligrath's "Revolution," Parsons opened with Georg Herwegh's "Freedom." Both works are examples of the German poetry of democratic resistance that all of the defendants loved so much. Adolph Fischer and Louis Lingg, both speaking in German, took the least time, their remarks lasting only a few minutes.
All of the speeches are available in the Haymarket Affair Digital Collection. Included here are the addresses of Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe, and George Engel (translated from the German), accessible by clicking on their respective images. Like the other defendants, they described their political views and how they came to hold them, the specific circumstances of their arrest and imprisonment, and their scorn for their captors and the system they represented.
Neebe, the only defendant not sentenced to death by the jury, concludes by both proclaiming his innocence and requesting that, for the sake of his family, he should be executed along with the others: "They [his wife and children] can go to the grave, and kneel down by the side of it; but they can't go to the penitentiary and see their father, who was convicted for a crime that he hasn't had anything to do with. Your honor, I am sorry I am not to be hung with the rest of the men."
Permitting those convicted to speak was common practice, but for the anarchists who had so desperately tried to win the public's attention for the last decade and more, this was an extraordinary opportunity. This opportunity may have come at a terrible personal cost, but their conviction and the death sentence had proved in their appalling way that the anarchists were right—the state was willing to go to any length, even murder, to destroy anyone who stood up for the workingman. This was the chance of a lifetime, the last and best occasion they would have to speak in person to the world, with all their enemies, families, and friends close at hand, along with reporters who would publish what they said to a wide and eager readership.
The transcriptions of what the defendants said were soon published in several forms, the main one being a volume titled The Accused and the Accusers. See the "Public Appeal" section of Act IV for a further discussion of this book.