Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 128.
The Alarm (Newspaper) article, "The Right to Bear Arms," 1885 Jan. 9

3 p.
Introduced Vol. N p. 156, 1886 Aug. 10.
Transcript of translation of article.

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[Image, People's Exhibit 128, Page 1]

THE ALARM, January 9, 1885.

In the absence of the editor, as well as the assistant editor of The Alarm, all their duties and work devolved upon me. The readers thereof will kindly excuse any defects that they may discover in this number.

A. Spies.



The conspiracy of the ruling against the working classes in 1877--the breaking up of the monster meeting on Market Square, the brutal assault upon a gathering of furniture workers in Vorwart's Turner Hall, the murder of Tessmann and the general clubbing and shooting down of peacably inclined wage-workers by the blood-hounds of "law and order"---greatly enraged the producers of this city and also convinced them that they had to do something for their future protection and defense. The result was the organization of an armed proletarian corps, known as the "Lehr und Wehr Verein." About one and one-half years later this "corps" had grown so immensely that it numbered over 1,000 well equipped and well-drilled men.

Such an organization the "good citizens" of our "good city" considered a menace to the commonwealth, public safety and good order, as one might easily imagine, and they concluded

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that "something had to be done." And very soon after something was done. The State legislature passed a new "militia law," under which it became a punishable offense for any body of men, other than those patended by the governor and chosen as the guardian of "peace" to assemble with arms drill or parade the streets. This law was expressly aimed at the "L. & W. V.," who as a matter of course, did not enjoy the sublime confidence and favor of "His Excellency."

The "L. & W. V.," at that time composed principally of Socialists, who believed in the possibility of a revolution by the ballot, looked upon this new law as an invasion into their "constitutional rights" as American citizens, and subsequently instituted a "test case," trusting that the courts would revoke the law expressly manufactured against them as an "Unconstitutional act."

There were a good many of our comrades then, of course, who opposed this comedy most vehemently and called attention to the fact that the dominating classes represented by their agencies, the courts, would not listen to any arguments, nor recognize any so-called "constitutional rights," when their privilege and their "rights" as social drones would be in the least endangered. This counsel, however, was rejected, and not listened to, coming, as it did, from the "extremist"." Thus the "test case" was instituted.

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Judge Barnum, of this city, decided that the law conflicted with the rights of American citizens, and that it was therefore unconstitutional. An appeal was taken. The supreme court of this State upset the decision of Judge Barnum, deciding that the law was unconstitutional. The L. & W. V., not being up in law very high, did not know whom to believe, and took a further appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court in Washington. Here the case has been resting for the last five years, until a few days ago the decision was given by this illustrous tribunal, that "certainly the law was consitutional," and that, in fact, anything which in any way aimed or had the tendency of holding the wage-working mobs, the plebeyans and parias in subjection and---of course--- "peace and order" was constitutional.

Wage-workers, do we need to comment on this? No.

That militia law has also had its beneficial effects. Where there once was a military body of men publicly organized whose strength could easily be ascertained, there exists an organization now whose strength cannot even be estimated, a network of destructive agencies of a modern military character that will defy any and all attempts of suppression. We don't grumble! Make more "laws" if you like."

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