|Click on the individual smaller images at the bottom to select the large image on display.
The railroad strike of 1877 had several consequences. On one hand, it led to increased participation by immigrants and workers in groups like the Lehr- & Wehr-Verein and the Socialistic Labor Party. On the other, it prompted those in positions of power to call for greater force and repression to discourage what they saw as class-based social disorder.
Shortly after the strike, Chicago lawyer Charles C. Bonney founded a national "Law and Order League." The league's object was to enforce existing laws, particularly those relating to the sale of liquor to young people. "The supreme purpose of the Law and Order movement," explained historian Alfred T. Andreas approvingly, "is the preservation of the rising generation from habits of dissipation and vice. Protect the young, and the State will endure."
Others thought sterner steps than this were necessary if disorder was to be held in check. Members of the Citizens' Association, which had been formed by prominent citizens in 1874 to work for better government, advocated funding and arming the Illinois National Guard. The page from the Citizens' Association minute book (first image) indicates the disbursement of almost $20,000 to equip the guard. The equipment includes 599 rifles, 50,000 rounds of ammunition, 4 twelve-pound "Napoleon" guns, and a Gatling hand-driven repeating machine gun with "ten long barrels."
Two images of such a gleaming gun from this period can be viewed here. Note that this arsenal was intended to guard the city against local residents. The image here is courtesy of the Illinois State Military Museum, Department of Military Affairs.
The Citizens' Association expressed their fortress mentality in stone. Click on the last to view a photograph of the imposing armory built at the beginning of the 1890s on Michigan Avenue just south of the Loop. The armory was located near the homes of the city's Prairie Avenue elite, including George Pullman and Marshall Field, who belonged to the Citizens' Association.
Alarmed by the strike and other acts or threats of violence in the years that followed, including the Haymarket bombing, men like Pullman and Field desired a larger and stronger military presence in the form of a permanent United States military installation near the city. Heading this campaign was dry goods merchant Charles B. Farwell, who chaired the meeting of civic leaders in the Moody and Sankey Tabernacle in July 1877 and subsequently won appointment to the Senate (senators were not popularly elected until after the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1913).
In March 1887, ten months after Haymarket, Congress approved the construction of a fort in Highwood, on the Lake Michigan shore about thirty miles north of Chicago. The first troops arrived, whether by coincidence or plan, on November 11, 1887, the day of the Haymarket hangings. The fort was named after Philip Sheridan, the Civil War general who, as commander of the Army's Division of the Missouri in the 1870s, had lived in Chicago. In its more than a century of existence (it was decommissioned in the 1990s), Fort Sheridan was used only once—during the Pullman Strike of 1894—as a base from which to dispatch soldiers to put down "internal insurrection."