Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1
Testimony of Frederick Breest, 1886 Aug. 6.

Volume M, 229-233, 5 p.
Breest, Frederick.
Lumber worker; German immigrant.

Direct examination by Mr. Foster. Cross-examination by Mr. Ingham. Testified on behalf of the Defense, Spies, August et al.

Introduced August Spies as a speaker at the meeting of the Lumber Shovers' on the Black Road, May 3, 1886. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): socialists and/or socialism (vol.M 230), McCormick Reaper Works strike, meeting or riot (vol.M 230), Greif's Hall (vol.M 232), eight-hour movement (vol.M 232), Central Labor Union (vol.M 230), Lumber Shovers' Union (vol.M 229), Spies, August (vol.M 229).

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a witness called on behalf of the defendants, was duly sworn and testified as follows:

Direct Examination
By Mr. Foster.

Q What is your name?

A Frederick Breest.

Q Where do you live?

A 691 Laflin street.

Q How long have you lived in this country?

A Four years

Q How long in Chicago or rather in Cook County?

A Three years.

Q What is your business?

A I work at lumber work, lumber yards.

Q Are you a member of the Lumber Shovers' Union?

A Yes, sir.

Q Are you a socialist?

A No sir.

Q A communist?

A No sir.

Q Anarchist?

A No sir.

Q Do you know Mr. Spies?

A Not beyond his making a speech there.

Q Were you on the Black Road on the 3d day of May last at a Lumber Shovers' meeting in the afternoon?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you hear Spies make a speech there?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did he speak in German or in English?

A German.

Q Were you there when Fehling spoke?

A No.

Q You didn't hear him?

A No, sir.

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Q At the time Mr.Spies began to speak did you hear any objection against his speaking on the ground that he was a socialist?

A Yes, sir, for a few voices, but weak, and then I introduced Mr. Spies as a member of the Central Labor Union and then he was asked to speak.

Q How many voices objected to his speaking because he was a socialist, according to your judgment?

A That I can't say, very weak.

Q It was you, then, who announced that he was a member of the Central Labor Union, was it?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where were you when you made this announcement?

A I stood up on the car.

Q Did you hear all of Spies' speech?

A Yes, sir.

Q Do you remember what he said or a part of what he said?

A Yes, sir, I remember a part, but I made no note of it, and I can't say about him, he spoke simply in the interests of the Union, and said that we should stick together.

Q Now, in that speech was there anything said in regard to the use of arms or dynamite?

A No.

Q Were you there when McCormick's bell rang?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you see a part of the crowd start towards McCormick's when the bell rang?

A Yes, sir, the people that stood at the very extreme of the meeting, a part of them went towards the factory.

Q When they started to go towards the factory did Spies day anything in reference to their going?

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A No, he said the people should remain there, they should not mind that, and should quietly remain with the meeting.

Q When did you first learn that Spies was to speak there that day?

A That I heard on the second at the Central Labor Union.

Q Were you at the Central Labor Union at 54 Lake Street on Sunday?

A Yes, sir.

Q Were you there when the arrangement was made that Spies should speak at the Black Road?

A Yes, sir, a member of the Central Labor Union told us that Spies would come and speak.

Q How did you come to preside at the meeting at the Black Road, or introduce Mr. Spies?

A I was the recording secretary of the Union at that time and because the president was not present and the time had passed and the people wanted the meeting opened I opened the meeting.

Q How long did Spies speak after the people on the outskirts started towards McCormick's?

A Oh, a good 15 minutes.

Q Was he the last speaker?

A No, several spoke afterwards in Bohemian and Polish.

Q Do you know where Spies went after he got off of the car?

A He was, so to speak, the last one coming from the car, and he went off towards Blue Island Avenue and 22nd Street, further I didn't see him.

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Q How long have you belonged to the Central Labor Union?

A Since the Lumber Yard Union started.

Q When was that started?

A On the 4th of April.

Q Where was that started?

A Blue Island Avenue, 550, Grief's Hall.

Q Did it hold its meetings there?

A Yes, sir.

Q Were you one of the delegates to the Central Labor Union?

A No, sir.

Q How did you come to be at Zepf's Hall then--Grief's Hall?

A I went down that Sunday with our delegates, I wanted to know the Central Labor Union.

Q How long were you at Grief's Hall that day?

A It might have been two hours and a half.

Q What time did you get to the meeting near McCormick's?

A Three o'clock.

Q Was that meeting called with reference to the McCormick trouble, or simply for the benefit of the lumber shovers?

A Only in the interest of our own matters.

Q To help you lumber shovers to get 8 hours, was it?

A Yes, sir.

Q It was also to hear reports of committees sent to your bosses, wasn't it?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where did you see Spies last that afternoon?

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A As we went away east to 22nd Street, afterwards I didn't see him.

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