|Click on the image of Adolph Fischer's handwritten letter of November 8, 1887, to read a new translation of its contents, followed by a transcription of the original German.
On November 1, Fischer wrote to Governor Oglesby disavowing the "action of a sympathizing and well-meaning portion of the people" in trying to secure a commutation of his sentence. "As a man of honor, as a man of conscience, and as a man of principle," Fischer declared, "I cannot accept mercy." Like Leonard Swett, Fischer said that he and the others were no more responsible for the murders in the Haymarket than were abolitionists for the crimes of John Brown. Like Spies and William Dean Howells, among others, Fischer blamed "the malicious newspaper fraternity" for stirring up public opinion, and he recapitulated his critique of the current order.
Fischer finished by citing Benjamin Franklin in predicting that hanging "the disciples of progress" would "work miracles in bringing about the downfall of modern society and in hastening the birth of a new era of civilization." Whether Oglesby would have granted clemency for any others besides Schwab and Fielden, particularly those with views like Fischer's, is a matter of conjecture, made moot by Fischer's letter.
A week later Fischer wrote the much more intimate letter here, to his fellow members in Typographical Union No. 9. Fischer asked them to join his family in arranging his funeral, and to make sure that it was free of "religious humbug of any kind." He expresses the hope that he would be buried with the men alongside whom he died. He requests that "the beloved red badge" of revolution be placed in his grave, and that "strong and free words, like the Marseillaise," be sung. Fischer explained once more to his colleagues that he could not accept mercy, and he entrusted to them the welfare of his family.