The Labor movement and Radicalism
Chicago was a center for the incipient labor and radical movements. Class tensions were high, especially after the economically devastating Panic of 1873. Anarchists, who desired an end to the capitalist system, were admired by workers, but condemned by businessmen and newspapers.
One pound of dynamite is better than a bushel of ballots!
These two fellows [leading anarchists August Spies and Albert Parsons] have been at work fomenting disorder for the last ten years... These fellows do not want any reasonable concessions. They are looking for riot and plunder. They haven't got one honest aim nor one honorable end in view... Hold them personally responsible for any trouble that occurs.