Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Clarence P. Dresser, 1886 July 23.

Volume J, 222-236, 15 p.
Dresser, Clarence P.
Newspaper reporter, Chicago Inter Ocean.

Direct and re-direct examination by Mr. Grinnell. Cross-examination by Mr. Foster. Testified on behalf of the Prosecution, People of the State of Illinois.

Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): weapons and explosives (vol.J 226), plans for warfare against the police and/or capitalists (vol.J 223), the Arbeiter-Zeitung (vol.J 222), 1885 April 28 Board of Trade protest (vol.J 222), Lake Front meetings (vol.J 224), Spies, August (vol.J 223), Parsons, Albert (vol.J 223), Fielden, Samuel (vol.J 223).

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a witness produced on behalf of the People, after having been duly sworn, testified as follows:

By Mr Grinnell.

Q What is your name?

A Clarence P. Dresser.

Q Where do you live?

A At the Southern Hotel.

Q What is your business?

A Newspaper reporting and publishing.

Q what papers are you connected with now?

A The Chicago Inter Ocean, the Boston Herald, the Philadelphia Press and Cleveland Leader.

Q What paper were you connected with last summer?

A The Chicago Inter Ocean.

Q At the time of the opening of the new Board of Trade?

A I was at that time a reporter on the Inter Ocean, and one of the reporters who was assigned to report the opening proceedings of the Board of Trade.

Q Were you down at 107 Fifth Avenue that night?

A I was in front of the Arbeiter Zeitung office that evening.

Q When?

A About seven o'clock.

Q Did you see any of the defendants there?

A I did.

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Q Who?

A Mr. Spies I recollect, and the faces that I recall are Mr. Fielden and Mr. Parsons.

Q Did you hear them speak?

A I heard them, not addressing any crowd, but I heard them talking.

Q State what you heard? What did they say there, if anything, as to what should be done? What did Spies say?

Q Objected to; objection overruled, to which ruling of the Court defendants by their counsel then and there duly excepted.

A They asked all present to get ready to go to some meeting that was to be held that night and march to the Board of Trade and there create a demonstration that would, in their language, carry terror to the capitalistic heart.

Q Which one of these defendants did you hear? What did you hear Spies say first?

A Spies said there was to be a meeting that night, and he wanted all possible who could to attend it and march to the Board of Trade and there create a demonstration.

Q Is that all that he said in that connection?

A I asked him what was the object of the demonstration; he said, "That we ought to blow the institution up", and made some reference to the character of the people that did business there. I was in a hurry to go to the Board of Trade and when I went to the Grand Pacific I telephoned to our office that it would be good to send a man---

Objected to

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Q Did you hear Parsons or Fielding say anything at that meeting?

A No, sir, not on that occasion.

Q Did you afterwards see a procession that night?

A I saw the remnants of one.

Q Where?

A Scattered along Madison and La Salle Streets.

Q Did you go down again that night to 107 Fifth Avenue?

A I did.

Q Who did you see there?

A I would not be able to designate any one person that I saw; there was a crowd in front of the Arbeiter Zeitung.

Q Did you ever see any of the defendants that night again?

A Not any that I recognized by face; it was one o'clock at night in front of the Arbeiter Zeitung office.

Q You did not go up into the office?

A No, sir.

Q Were you with the procession when it was near the Board of Trade, or turned from it?

A No, I was in the Board of Trade and came out shortly afterwards, hearing that there had been a demonstration.

Q Have you attended within the last year and a half any meetings on the Lake Front at which any of the defendants have been present and addressed people?

A Yes.

Q Where?

A I have attended probably a dozen meetings on Sunday afternoons at the Lake Front where Mr. Fielden and Mr. Parsons and Mr. Spies have been present, and

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and Mrs. Parsons.

Q Have you ever heard either of them make any addresses, or talk there?

A Yes, I have heard them all speak at different times.

Q Tell me what you have heard Spies say, and when, if you can?

Objected to on behalf of the defendants other than Mr. Spies; objection overruled, to which ruling of the Court the defendants referred to by their counsel then and there duly excepted.

A I cannot give the dates now without reference to the files of our paper. I have heard Spies advocate the principle that property was a crime and say that he would like to head a crowd and carry the black flag down Michigan Avenue, and I have seen Mr. Fielden when he was addressing a crowd point to the carriages on Michigan Avenue and say, "Those are the people that we want to blow" -- he didn't say to eternity. I have heard Mr. Fielden say that they ought to blow all those people to hell.

Q What else was said by him?

A He said that he would be glad also to march down Michigan Avenue and carry terror to the hearts of George Pullman and Marshall Field and such men; he called them by name. I distinctly recall the time when he said that such men as Pullman and Field and Doane and others deserve to be killed.

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Q Was any expression made by Fielden at any of these meetings, or did he at any of these meetings obtain any expression from the crowd themselves by putting to vote the proposition or question?

A He asked who would be willing to follow him, and a great many called out "We all", and he said would they be ready with weapons and be properly equipped to take such an excursion.

Q You say you have heard Parsons; what have you heard Parsons say?

A I have heard Parsons say that the workingmen must rouse up and arm themselves and meet their oppressors, as he termed them, with weapons, meet them face to face, and consider that they were to be treated in the same manner; he especially denounced the militia and the police also.

Q Was anything said in any of those speeches by any of these individuals designating what the means of force to be used by them was -- what it was?

A He said they should arm themselves with guns and pistols and dynamite and anything that they could obtain.

Q Which one of the three that you have mentioned have you heard make utterances of that character?

A I know that I have heard Parsons, and Mrs. Parsons was distributing circulars; she said she was doing missionary work when I asked her what she was doing.

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Motion to strike out part of answer referring to what Mrs. Parsons said; motion allowed.

Motion to exclude all of the testimony of this witness by counsel for defendants; motion overruled; to which ruling of the Court defendants by their counsel then and there duly excepted.

By Mr. Foster.

Q You were there as a reporter, I suppose?

A Yes.

Q You reported that correctly in the Inter Ocean at the time?

A I endeavored to report things correctly.

Q They were published as you reported them?

A Almost all of them.

Mr. GRINNELL: I want to ask this witness a specific question. I want to know if you reported the meeting of the 25th day of April, 1886, or if you were at the Lake Front meeting of the 25th day of April, 1886?

A No, sir, I was not.

Mr. FOSTER (Q) At the time of this Board of Trade meeting Spies proposed to blow it up, did he?

A That was his avowed intention.

Q Now, then, why didn't you tell us about it on the direct examination. You said he said the thing ought to be be blown up.

A If you will give me about five minutes to explain

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in my own way I will tell you.

Q We don't want you to make a speech; he did not say that they were going to blow it up that night.

A He said they intended to blow it up that night.

Q You did not state, did you, before, that he intended to blow it up that night?

A You did not give me an opportunity.

Q Didn't he say this, "We want to go out and make such a demonstration that it will strike terror to the hearts of capitalists".

A Yes.

Q He said that?

A Yes.

Q Then they marched down there to blow the thing up?

A Another man standing by---

Q You haven't been asked that.

A Spies'response was "That is the thing, that is what we will do".

Q Who is the man?

A Another man standing by said "Yes, and we will blow the whole building to hell", and Spies said, "Yes, that is the thing".

Q And then they went down to blow it up?

A Yes.

Q Did they blow it up?

A They attempted to blow it up.

Q I believe some of you reporters headed the procession; were you one of them?

A I was there shortly after.

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Q Were you at the head of the procession?

A No, sir

Q The Board of Trade was not blown up that night?

A No, thanks to the police it was not.

Q Did you see any bombs that night?

A No, sir.

Q Did you see anything that looked like dynamite that night?

A I did not see the dynamite.

Q It has not been blown up yet, has it?

A No, sir.

Q How long ago was that?

A I don't recall the exact date.

Q But they wanted a large crowd?

A Yes.

Q They said they wanted a large crowd, didn't they?

A Yes.

Q Enough to create an impression on the minds of those fellows?

A Yes.

Q And then afterwards you went around to hear those speeches out of a window, didn't you?

A Yes.

Q But you didn't hear any of these men speak?

A They were gathered on the sidewalk when I got there. I got to, the Arbeiter Zeitung office after the general meeting was over.

Q So you didn't hear the speeches?

A I did not hear the speeches; there were two or three reporters assigned that night to work.

Q I only want to know what you know about it. You did not hear Mr. Spies make a speech that night.

A Not the night before the bomb was thrown.

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Q No, the night of the inauguration of the Board of Trade building?

A I didn't hear him make a speech, but I heard him advocate those principles.

Q Did you hear him make a speech?

A No, sir.

Q Did you hear Fielden make a speech?

A No, not that night.

Q Did you hear Parsons?

A Not that night.

Q So then the speeches that you heard them make were made on Sunday afternoons?

A Yes.

Q How long ago was the first one that you heard them make?

A O, I presume a year and a half ago.

Q Now, Spies said that he would like to carry a flag down Michigan Avenue?

A Yes.

Q Did you ever see him carrying it down Michigan Avenue

A He knew better than to attempt it. I never saw it.

Q You never saw it?

A No.

Q That is about all that he said -- that he would like to carry a black flag down Michigan Avenue?

A No, and have a force behind him that would carry terror into the hearts of these persons whose names they mentioned.

Q That is what you said Fielden said?

A I said Fielden and Parsons said the same thing.

Q You said in the first place that Mr. Spies said he would like to carry a black flag down Michigan Avenue?

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A I said Mr. Parsons and Mr. Fielden, I did not say Mr. Spies.

Q Mr. Spies didn't say that?

A I don't say that he did or did not; I didn't hear Mr. Spies say that.

Q You don't say now that Mr. Spies ever said that he would like to carry a black flag down Michigan Avenue, do you?

A I don't recall that Mr. Spies said that.

Q Then tell us what Mr. Spies did say at the Lake Front?

A He said that the workingmen should arm themselves and be prepared to meet their oppressors, like to like.

Q I thought you said that was what Mr. Parsons said.

A That is the tenor of the remarks of all.

Q We don't want the tenor or the bass of it. What was it that Mr. Parsons said?

Objected to; objection sustained.

Q Now then, wasn't it Mr. Parsons that said that he was in favor of arming in order that he might meet force with force?

A Mr. Parsons said that.

Q Mr Fielden said that he would like to go down there he would like to carry the black flag down Michigan Avenue.

A He did.

Q Was he going to blow the passengers to hell with the black flag?

A He didn't make any reference to passengers; he did to the persons living along the Avenue.

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Q The people who were riding?

A Yes.

Q Go with a black flag?

A Yes, and this armed force.

Q Mr. Parsons said that he would like to create such a demonstration as would strike terror to the heart of capitalists?

A Yes.

Q He was arguing -- was he not -- that the laboring men were abused -- that they did not receive pay for their labor?

A No, I didn't hear him say anything about the work or pay.

Q He didn't say anything about the laborers not receiving full compensation for their labor?

A No, but he wondered why they couldn't ride in carriages like the people that passed.

Q I am not asking you anything about the carriages. Leave the carriages for a while. Now, then, Mr. Fielden spoke in regard I suppose to the oppression of the laboring men, didn't he?

A No oppression of the laboring men.

Q He didn't say anything about that -- that they were ground under the heels of the oppressors or the capitalists, or anything like that, did he? Did he say anything like that?

A He did in a general way, but that was an incidental part of his speech.

Q Now did Parsons say that he would like to also shoulder

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the black flag and carry it down Michigan Avenue?

A Yes

Q He did?

A Yes.

Q They were all going to shoulder the black flag?

A Yes.

Q That is the first time that you told us about that, isn't it?

A No.

Q Now, Mr. Parsons was especially enthusiastic in regard to protecting the interests of the laboring men, was he not?

A No protecting about it; just smashing everything, that is what he advocated; there was no talk of protecting, simply let riot run loose, that he advocated. He did not want better wages.

Q You are talking too much?

A Well, you are doing your share.

Q What building did they propose to blow up? Was any building mentioned to blow up?

A They spoke of the homes of Pullman and Field, I know that.

Q Did they say that they were going to blow them up, or did they say that that was an illustration of the result of years in which the oppression of the poor had resulted in magnificent residences.

A They tried to convey that idea to the audience.

Q Then there was not any talk about blowing up anybody

A Yes, after carrying out that idea, that that was the result, they thought it ought to be demolished now.

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Q Did they form and start to go anywhere to demolish anything?

A Not that I know of.

Q How many meetings did you attend there?

A Probably a dozen.

Q The first meeting you ever attended Spies conveyed the same idea?

A I don't say anything about the first meeting; I am speaking of them at different meetings.

Q You are making a job lot of it -- a jackpot of the whole business?

A Well, I am not making a jackpot out of it.

Q The first meeting that you were there was substantially the same as the last meeting, wasn't it?

A In general sentiment, yes.

Q And all the meetings were substantially the same as the first and last?

A They grew a little more violent.

Q The idea of the first meeting was that Spies would get up and make just about such a speech as you have mentioned?

A Yes.

Q Then Parsons would get up, or Fielden, and they would make about the same kind of a speech that Spies had made?

A The same general remark.

Q Then the other one of the three would get up and he would make the same kind of a speech?

A They were not always present.

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Q And then after making these speeches and talking about the black flag and talking about the millionaires and all that kind of thing, they would get down off of the rostrum and everybody would go home quietly?

A They would say to go and arm themselves to prepare.

Q They would start off to arm themselves?

A I don't know where they started to -- probably it is a beer shop.

Q Then the next Sunday you would be out there to report their meetings?

A Yes.

Q Spies would get up and say, "Now here we are under the heels of the oppressor and I would like to carry the black flag down Michigan Avenue", and go on substantially as he had before?

A Just about.

Q And then Fielden would get up and rehearse about the same thing that he had gone through before?

A Yes.

Q And then Parsons would get up and he would go through without about the same lingo?

A Yes.

Q Then they would go home?

A I don't know.

Q And the next Sunday they would appear there and you would appear there?

A Yes.

Q Then Spies would get up and say "Let us carry the black flag down Michigan Avenue", wouldn't he? Then on the third Sunday Spies would get up and say "I would like to carry the black flag down Michigan Avenue", and speak of

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the poor and the oppressors, wouldn't he?

A He would keep it right along.

Q And then Fielden would get up and say the same thing in substance?

A Yes.

Q And then Parsons?

A I don't know what order they would get up in.

Q The three of them would get up and then they would all go home?

A Yes.

Q And the crowd would disperse? They would say "Go arm yourselves", and away they would go to arm themselves with beer, and the next Sunday the whole thing would be gone over again in substance and form?

A You seem to know it all.

Q And the black flag is still parading up and down Michigan Avenue?

A If I could make as good a speech as you I would be proud.

By Mr. Grinnell.

Q Did you ever see the Stars and Stripes there at those meetings?

A No.

Mr. FOSTER (Q) Did you ever see the black flag?

A No, I never saw it there.

Mr. GRINNELL Did you ever see the red flag?

A No.

Adjourned to 2 P.M.

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