Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The Haymarket Monument

   Our pilgrimage was not complete.  When we returned to the U.S. we made it a point to visit the scene of the Haymarket riot at DesPlaines and Randolph in Chicago.  We also visited the Chicago Historical Society and the Waldheim Cemetery where all of the ‘Haymarket Martyrs’ are buried except Sam Fielden.

   At present there is a monument at the scene of the Haymarket Riot ½ block north of Randolph on the east side of DesPlaines A at Crane’s Alley.  This is just a few blocks from where I worked as a young man.  Paving bricks that form the alley are reminiscent of Chicago streets in 1886.  The monument is considered a work of art, but is still controversial.  It consists of a base with a wagon on top and faceless speakers gesturing to an imaginary crowd.  It is much easier to forget faceless martyrs and that they sacrificed their lives for a goal that has not been achieved.  The tragedy of martyrs, such as the Christian martyrs, is that they can be co-opted by the system they opposed.

   The base of the monument includes plaques that describe the event.  One states that Fielden, Schwab and Neebe were pardoned.  Written graffiti claims that all were pardoned and is signed with the Anarchist symbol of an A within a circle.  A plaque on the street side of the monument is from the labor movement in Columbia.  Translated from Spanish it states:

   The Fight Continues! Let live International Solidarity!  
   In Memory of the Workers and Union Leaders Assassinated
   In Columbia Who Gave Their Lives to Defend Human
   Rights, National Sovereignty, Social Justice and Democracy.

Hundreds of labor union people have been murdered in recent years in the attempts to impose U.S. neo-liberal hegemony in oil rich Columbia.  The Obama administration recently signed a ‘free trade’ deal with Columbia. Joe Shansky, Communications Director at Voces de la Frontera, recently witnessed resistance in Columbia to the Neo-Liberal ‘Free Trade’ policy.  Farmers blocked roadways in and out of a small town near Bogota.  Shansky reported:

Farmers and laborers all frequently speak in anger against ‘TLC’   (‘Free Trade’), the international free trade agreement which has allowed an influx of cheaper agricultural products…  (Joe Shansky. “Upside Down World,” 5-24- 13)

   Nothing new turned up at the Chicago Historical Society although there is a display on the Haymarket Riot.  But across the street from the Historical Society is a reminder of Sam Fielden of the Haymarket’s spiritual journey, the Moody Bible Church.  Haymarket Sam had an encounter with the now famous Dwight L. Moody founder of the Moody Bible Institute and the Moody Bible Church.

   After serving as an itinerant Methodist preacher in Ohio, Sam ‘overhauled’ his ‘religious opinions’ in Chicago and became a Freethinker. Sam describes his meeting with the Evangelist Moody by prefacing the account with a debate he heard at one of Moody’s Bible meetings.  Someone had stated that a Christian, in good conscience, could not be a business man.  The counter argument was classic.  Sam sarcastically wrote,

   I was thoroughly convinced that all a man had to do in this
   world in order to make his calling and election sure in the
   next was to sell for a dollar what only cost fifteen cents.(ibid. p. 150)

Sam then had a discussion with the evangelical which ended in a draw.  Sam kindly stated,

   We parted at the door with the best feeling for each other.
   I am only sorry to say that my opponent has persisted in
   following the wrong path to this day.  I am truly sorry for
   him. (ibid. p. 150)

   Moody’s argument prevails to this day.  Chicagoans have heard of the Moody Bible Institute, but who knows of Sam of Todmorden and his sacrifice for the working people of the world?


   Our pilgrimage ended a few miles from my boyhood home at the Waldheim Cemetery in Park Forest just west of Chicago.
At one time the cemetery was a Native American burial ground.  The trumpet-like announcement of a train in the distance reminded me of my dad, grandfather and uncles who were railroad men and knew well the massive Proviso Railroad Yard just to the west.  At one time the Proviso Yards were the largest in the U.S.

   Governor Oglesby commuted the death sentences of Sam Fielden and Michael Schwab to life imprisonment the day before they were to be executed.  Louis Lingg committed suicide, or was murdered while in prison; the court sentenced Oscar Neebe to fifteen years in prison.  Albert R. Parsons refused to appeal for a commutation, not wanting to abandon his foreign born comrades.  August Spies pleaded that the other defendants be released and that he be executed to satisfy the demand for vengeance.  Spies, George Engle, Adolph Fisher and Parsons were executed on November 11, 1887.

   Although Fielden and Parsons spoke at the Haymarket they were called away from another meeting to speak.  The meeting concerned the organizing of women that did sewing in Chicago sweat shops.  A messenger arrived from the Haymarket pleading for Fielden and Parsons to speak.  As many as three thousand people were at the Haymarket; Spies was the only speaker and more were needed.

   The four that were executed, November 11, 1887, and Louis Lingg were buried in the Waldheim cemetery where a monument to Justice marks their graves.  Neebe and Schawb were also buried at Waldheim, but not Sam Fielden, who left Chicago for Colorado after his pardon where he and his family settled on a farm.  He died in 1922.

   Also buried near the martyrs’ monument at Waldheim are three women revolutionaries, Lucy Parsons, the wife of martyred Albert Parsons, Voltairine de Cleyre, an anarchist and feminist who gave speeches around the country about the heroism of the Haymarket Martyrs, and Emma Goldman also an anarchist and pioneer feminist.

   We visited Waldheim on a cold, grey November day, but the monument to Justice inspired hope.  It appeared to me to be a modern ‘Pieta.’  Michelangelo’s Pieta depicts the slain carpenter’s mother as an icon of compassion and love; at Waldheim, mother Justice, inspired by her slain Son, has the Faith to move forward and create a society of compassion and love.

    Was the sacrifice of the martyrs in vain?  Spies’ words at the trial appear on a mural at the office of an independent labor union in Mexico, Frente Autentico de Trabajo.  Spies began by stating, “Your honor, in addressing this court I speak as the representative of one class to the representative of another.” The mural records the next lines:

   Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there,
   behind you-and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze
   up.  It is a subterranean fire.  You cannot put it out.

The mural emphasizes cross border solidarity.  Today we are witnesses that the subterranean fire still burns and erupts not only in Mexico but in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and major cities throughout the world.

   Gus Hall, in 1951 as National Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States predicted a time when,

   The working class of the U.S.A. will be in a position to
   make this day-May Day-that started in support of the
   struggle for the eight hour day, a legal holiday celebrated
   by all the people of the United States.  (Foner, Philip S. May Day,    International Publishers, New York, p. 160)

In 2006 hundreds of thousands marched for immigrant worker rights on May Day in the U.S.  Milwaukee had 70,000 in the streets and Chicago had one of the largest marches with 300,000 protesters. The revised tradition continues.  In 2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline screamed, “May Day rallies unite workers across the globe.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 2, 2013 p.3A).  Again thousands marched in Milwaukee.  The subterranean fire is still burning. 

(Why do we march and remember on May first?   “OSHA cites Palermo’s for violations”  “ The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued seven ‘serious’ violations and one ‘other than serious’ violation against Palermo Villa Inc. a Milwaukee frozen pizza firm.”  “The NLRB has ruled that Palermo Villa Inc. did not violate labor relations laws when it fired 75 workers last year as part of an immigration audit as retaliation for efforts to unionize the plant.” M.J.S. May 22, 2013, p. 3B.)

   What was the result of these marches?  “Today we march, tomorrow we vote became a reality.” The 2006 November elections produced a dramatic change in U.S. politics that generated hope for social justice and peace.  LCLAA (Labor Council for Latin American Advancement) report stated:

   In effect, exit polls demonstrated that 6.5 million Latinos
   voted in this year’s mid-terms.  Why is that significant?
   Because in comparison with the previous mid term election
   in 2002 when Latino voters represented 5.3 percent of all
   voters, the number of Hispanic voters in 2006 increased
   By 37 percent to a total of 8 percent of all voters!

In 2012,
   The record number of Latinos who cast ballots for president this   
    year are the leading edge of an ascendant voting bloc that is
    likely to double in size within a generation, according to a Pew
   Hispanic Center analysis based on U.S. Census Bureau data,
   Election Day exit polls and a new nationwide survey of Hispanic
   Immigrants. (Pew Research – Hispanic Center, November 14, 2012)

    Power at the ballot box!  Will it result in justice for the working class?  If it is to be, a renewed consciousness of solidarity and identity is essential for the working class.  This is not the not the solution advocated by some anarchists, but terrorism hurts all, including workers and their quest for justice.  Farm worker founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta taught and demonstrated that violence negates Faith and is clearly counter-productive.  My sense is that Sam the Freethinker with the Chartist, Methodist and Quaker background would give politics a chance.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


    As mentioned before, the Voces de la Frontera May Day March ended at Milwaukee’s Pere Marquette Park.  As we left the park I pointed to Marquette’s statue and said to a policeman, ”Officer, that man over there doesn’t have documents to prove he is here legally.” “Sorry Sir,” the policeman replied, “I can’t move that individual.”

The Tale of the Historian and Magistrate

   Tricia had invited two friends to lunch, Douglas and Heather Wilson, who were very knowledgeable and especially interested in local history.  Douglas is a retired solicitor for the city of Todmorden and Heather is a city magistrate.

   The Wilsons were delighted to share their knowledge of the Todmorden story with us.  Neither knew much about Sam Fielden of the Haymarket and welcomed the opportunity to discuss his autobiography and the history of the Todmorden Fielden family.  Douglas Wilson is described in a local historical pamphlet as a person with ‘inexhaustible knowledge of local Parish Registers.’

   We exchanged questions and information about the Fielden family.  Both Tricia and Douglas had ancestors who were Fieldens.  Douglas noted that the first Fielden in the area was Nicholas Fielden of Pendle who settled in Walsden near Todmorden in the late 1500’s.  Douglas Wilson described Nicholas Fielden as a Grindletonian or a pre-Quaker.  Jeremy Burgoine had told us the Fieldens were Quakers.  Joshua, founder of the Todmorden Cotton Mill and father of ‘Honest John’ was a Quaker, but Douglas Wilson makes a case the Joshua got his religious principles from his grandfather Nicholas Fielden.  According to Douglas Wilson, during the time of Nicholas Fielden, “The whole Pendle area was a seedbed of non conformity.” Grindleton is a small village north of Pendle Hill in the Todmorden area.  The Grindletonians’ formulating principle was family love which meant that, according to Douglas Wilson, “Christian communities should respect no hierarchy either in religion or society. (which) sounds like Quakerism and Anarchy in its principled form.”

   George Fox is considered to be the founder of the Quakers.  He claimed his ‘illumination’ occurred at Pendle Hill.  Does ‘illumination’ mean that he learned something talking to the Grindletonians?   The Fielden’s faith commitment is significant because Todmorden is considered a non-conformist community.  Can their non-conformist reputation be attributed to their Grindletonian and Quaker roots?  Fieldens proudly bore given names from the Hebrew Bible.  Torah, The Prophets and the Writings emphasize freedom from slavery and government oppression. 

   Max Weber’s classic work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, provides a useful guide in understanding the influence of religion on the development of capitalism. According to the pioneer sociologist Max Weber the Quaker insistence on respect for individual conscience, belief in the ability of the individual to receive direct revelation from God was crucial to capitalism overcoming mercantilism which was directed by the crown.  Quakers also saw government service as questionable and refused to pay taxes used to support the Church of England.  Strict Quaker moral principles resulted in their acceptance and trust in the business community.   Weber cites Calvinist Benjamin Franklin’s advise, ‘honesty is the best policy’ as an example of Protestant ethics.  Weber explains:

   Now, all Franklin’s moral attitudes are coloured with
   Utilitarianism.  Honesty is useful, because it assures credit;
   so are punctuality, industry, frugality, and that is the
   reason they are virtues.

Do such people stand above good and evil or are they missing the notion of the common good and responsibility to future generations?

   Sam Fielden was not the first Fielden to serve time in prison.  The Quaker Book of Suffering dated 1688 reports, John Fielden and fellow Quaker John Whalley:

   were both taken from a Meeting of the People of God who
   were mett to worship him at Padeham in Lancashire and
   sent to the house of correction at Preston in the said county
   where they remained eight weeks. (Shore in Stansfield a Pennine Weaving Community 1660-1750, Worker’s Educational Association, Todmorden, 1986, p. 48)

   Quakers refused the ‘hat honor’ (the custom of removing one’s hat to social superiors).   Sam related a story about his brother who refused to doff his cap to a boss and left Mr. Fielden’s employment.
   Thus must the proletariat bow the knee to the bourgeoisie
   or starve, and some people call this liberty of contract.
   There was no work to be had in the town, and he was
   compelled to go on the tramp. (The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs, op. cite. P. 144)

Walsden Cemetery – The Graves of Sam’s Parents

   After lunch Douglas and Heather offered to take us to Walsden were Sam’s father and mother are buried. Again as we drove to the nearby cemetery we were treated to a view of the beautiful green landscape of the Pennine Hills area.   I felt connected to the land and the people.

   The cemetery grounds were on a hillside just below the soot blackened Walsden Church of England.  Douglas Wilson knew approximately where the graves were and after a little searching we found the grave of Sam’s father Abraham Fielden, Alice Fielden, Sam’s mother and Abraham Fielden’s second wife all buried under the same headstone.

   In his death row autobiography Sam wrote about a visit to his mother’s grave when he returned to Todmorden in 1880.

   My uncle remarked, they have been selling graves between
   the graves as the place has filled up, and crowding the
   bodies between the others.  I remarked they have crowded us
   while we live, and they are not satisfied but they must follow
   us to our graves, and make us move over there also to satisfy
   their greed.(ibid. p. 135)

   Douglas Wilson informed us that the non-conformist act passed shortly before Abraham Fielden’s death made it possible for dissenters such as Abraham Fielden to be buried in a Church of England cemetery.  The brooding soot covered Gothic Church of England looked down at the cemetery. The graveyard reminded me of the Jewish cemetery in Prague where bodies are piled on bodies under a sea of headstones.

The Unitarian Church of Todmorden

   I felt uncomfortable and alienated as we headed back towards Todmorden to see the Unitarian Church and the grave of ‘Honest John’ Fielden.  The friendly conversation of the Wilsons and the beautiful vista provided a cure.  A gigantic rainbow appeared and we were appreciative.

   ‘Honest John’ has a simple grave site and marker; Douglas assured us that he wanted it that way.  The nearby Unitarian church built by his sons is another matter.

   ‘Honest John’ was originally a Quaker but changed to Methodism, then Methodist Unitarianism.  His sons, John, Joshua and Samuel were Unitarians.   In 1864 the three brothers, wealthy from the textile business, decided to build a classical Gothic church reminiscent of the great cathedrals of Europe.  Expense was not spared.  John Gibson of London, who designed the Dobroyd Castle and the town hall, was hired as the architect.

   The church is located on a hill overlooking the town.  Its steeple seems to penetrate the heavens.  Early Quakers characterized such churches, usually Anglican, as ‘steeplehouses.’  The caretaker knew the Wilsons and opened the building for us.  We were amazed.  The inside of the church, like the exterior, looked like a cathedral. Marble pillars, a marble baptismal font, and beautifully carved choir stalls are unusual in a Unitarian church.  There were no symbols of the Trinity to be seen but otherwise cannons from the Church of England would have felt comfortable in the building.  

   The church closed in 1987 and is now owned by the Historical Chapels Trust which, according to a pamphlet, “has been established to take into care redundant chapels and other (non-Anglican) places of worship in England of outstanding architectural and historic interest.”

   We drove back to Todmorden and said goodbye to the Wilsons at their home a short way from our hotel.  We expressed our appreciation for their hospitality, and our admiration for the rich cultural heritage of Todmorden.  Heather commented that Joanne and I must have an interesting cultural heritage as well.  We agreed, and we mentioned our immigrant ancestors from Germany and Ireland.  It was then I realized that as American working people our heritage also included Todmorden.  The people of Todmorden were non-conformists.  They demanded sovereignty as did the American revolutionaries.  They were working people that demanded justice as did those of the American labor movement.  I felt I could claim Sam as one of our own.

(Why do we remember and march on May Day?    “A small percentage of Milwaukee’s fast food workforce walked off the job this week demanding a greater than 100% increase in the minimum wage – to $15.00 an hour from Wisconsin’s current $7.25 an hour.”  “The striking Milwaukee workers might be well intended, but they are only fighting the laws of economics – and that’s a fight they can’t win.”  ‘Fight for $15’ protest only fights the future, Michael Saltzman, “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,” May 17, 2013, p. 11A)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


ALL BUT FORGOTTEN:  The same day of the Bay View Tragedy at the southern edge of Milwaukee (May 5, 1886), German immigrant workers who were on strike for the eight hour day gathered at the Milwaukee Garden on the north side of the city for a demonstration.  They were confronted by the police.  “Shots were fired before the crowd finally dispersed.  Had any of the bullets found their mark, the German incident at the Milwaukee Garden might have ended as tragically as the Polish march on Bay View.”
(John Gurda, The Making of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Historical Society, 1999, p. 155)

(Why did we march and remember on May 1, 2013?  “The National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC recently  upheld a regional ruling that found the company (Palermo Pizza) acted lawfully when it terminated 75 workers as part of the immigration audit and did not use the audit as retaliation for the workers’  effort to form a union.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, p. 3B May 9th, 2013 )

(A continuing story – scroll down to get previous postings)

The Tourist’s Tale

   We rose early, had a sumptuous English breakfast, and walked the mile into town.  The crisp morning air and bright sunlight gave life to our step.  The well dressed joyful children heading for school were inspiring.

The Todmorden Open Market

   Our first stop was the very busy open market.  I talked to a man selling fresh fish from the western seacoast.  He was very proud of his work purchasing ‘just caught fish’ from the coast and selling the fish in Todmorden.  “I must be doing something right’” he said; “I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years.”  He was not able to relate the first of May holiday to trade unionism.  I talked to several others.  No one considered May Day as a celebration for workers. 

St. Mary’s Church

   We left the market and walked a short way to the quaint and pleasingly impressive Gothic church that demands attention on the main street of Todmorden.   The church, called St. Mary’s, is under the jurisdiction of the Church of England. There is a small graveyard in front with monuments indicating that many Fieldens were buried there.   I found that to be curious because Jeremy Burgoine told us about the Quaker origins of the Fieldens and Sam Fielden wrote that the ‘rich Fieldens’ were Unitarians.(The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs, op. cit. pp.141-142)  Sam also says that his mother was a Methodist and that he had joined the Methodist Church.(ibid. p.134, p145)  Sectarian distinctions were very important in post reformation England and it would be surprising if some of the non-conformist Fieldens were members of the Church of England.  A similar grave yard could have been found in Ireland because of the prominence of a large Celtic cross.

   As indicated in his autobiography, Sam of the Chicago Haymarket didn’t think much of the English royalty or aristocracy.  A story in the St. Mary’s Church in Community magazine indicated the current absurdity of the monarchy.  Queen Elizabeth II, participates in the washing the feet ceremony for Holy Thursday.  (Maundy Thursday in England) This has been a practice of the monarchy for centuries.  The Queen, the head of the Church of England, invites special people to have their, ‘feet washed.’  Three people from the Todmorden area, Church of England adherents, were selected to participate.  Instead of getting a wash from the Queen Mother, the participants received two small bags of money, one containing a silver coin of five pounds sterling to commemorate the victory of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar and the other with 79 pence in commemoration of the writing of Ben Johnson’s English dictionary.  This year 2013 participants received two small bags of money. One contained five pounds and the other 50 pence to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.  The ceremony in the Vatican was quite different with Pope Francis actually washing feet in a prison.
   “Perhaps no symbol was more poignant than (Pope) Francis’
   decision to move the Holy Thursday evening service to a
   Roman juvenile detention center, where he washed the feet
  of detainees – including two women and two Muslims.
  National Catholic Reporter,”p. 6, April 12-25, 2013)

 But did the symbolism really cover up the monarchical reality of the papacy?

   The story in the St. Mary’s magazine of the Queen doing Easter washing is told as quaint and humorous; so much for the mandatum – Maundy- command of scripture to serve.  Sam of the Chicago Haymarket in his death row autobiography wrote, “I undoubtedly inherited from my father that hatred of shame and hypocrisy which I hope I possess to some extent.”(ibid. pp.135-136)

   However, Sam would be impressed with the spiritual growth of the community.  St. Mary’s along with the other Todmorden Christian Churches cooperate in liturgical events.  Also meetings are held with the Imam of the Todmorden Mosque.

     The person that greeted us and welcomed us to St. Mary’s expressed disgust with the wars in the Middle East.  Would it be such a great leap forward to recognize the injustice of a failed economic system that has allowed free reign to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse – war, famine, poverty, and disease?  We are indeed a ‘Distant Mirror’ of the 14th century.

Todmorden Town Hall

   Across the street from St. Mary’s is the Todmorden town hall. 
The classical edifice was built in honor of ‘Honest John’ Fielden by his three sons.  It is considered one of the finest municipal buildings in the country.  On the floor of the entrance a mosaic of the town’s coat of arms summarizes the symbols found throughout the building.  It states, “BY INDUSTRY WE PROSPER.” This statement is found below a weaver’s shuttle and a spindle.  At the top is a representation of the Stoodley Pike Peace Monument.  Does this mean the artist thought that peace was a prerequisite for industry?  Perhaps it meant that British military hegemony and enforced peace was needed to provide markets and resources for industry.   

   Another point of view is indicated by the beautiful plaster medallions that decorate the Great Hall.  At one end of the Hall is the peace medallion and at the other is a medallion representing justice.  Do these symbols indicate that peace is commensurate with justice – not military might?

   We didn’t see a specific representation that would honor the workers of Todmorden.  This would fit the classic scheme which considers workers to be of lesser value than their bosses.

   The prominent architect from London John Gibson designed the building.  He also designed two other Fielden projects, Dobroyd Castle and the Unitarian Church completed in 1869.    The Fieldens got involved in the construction of the town hall in 1866 and opened to the public in 1891.  Where did they get the labor for these projects?  Was the U.S. Civil War (1861- 1865) a factor in the supply of surplus labor?  Cotton production in the U.S. did not reach prewar levels until 1870.

   The suffering of the English mill workers during the U.S. Civil War is another example of the failure of the ‘liberal’ economic system of Adam Smith that does not value the workers -- those who create wealth -- as human persons.  International trade, with the primary goal of profit, made the staple of Irish peasants to be potatoes, and for the mill workers in Todmorden, it was cotton.  Sam wrote that for the ‘poor starving people’ of Todmorden the staff of life was cotton, American cotton. (ibid. p. 145)

   One of the causes of the U.S. Civil War was the dispute about trade and tariffs. The New England States wanted to impose tariffs on English manufactured goods to protect its nascent textile industry.  The Confederate States advocated free trade. English commercial interests supported the Confederacy, but Todmorden mill workers saw the war as a conflict over the moral issue of slavery. Despite the hardship born by the Todmorden mill workers, they were in worker solidarity with the U.S. slaves.  Sam wrote: 

   When the American civil war broke out I was an enthusiastic
   champion among my fellows of the cause of the north, and in
   fact, so were all my family, my sister not being undone by
   any of us.(ibid. p. 142)  

The Todmorden mill workers, in siding with southern U.S. slaves, disproved ‘liberal’ economic theory of the ‘Economic Man’ that people will always act according to their self serving financial best interest.  On the other side of the class divide, such action is similar to ‘Honest John’ Fielden supporting the ‘Plug Pullers’ and advocating for the ten hour day.

The Methodists

   England passed a law against British participation in the slave trade in 1807.  The driving force behind the law was William Wilberforce, M.P. a friend of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church.  In 1833 Wilberforce was able to get
legislation passed to abolish slavery.  Free labor was a basic principle of ‘liberalism’ or capitalism.  Labor was then hired or fired depending on the supply and demand.  After experiencing post U.S. Civil War conditions in the South and seeing the suffering of the newly freed slaves, Sam of Haymarket called the new capitalist form of wage slavery worse than the latter.

   Our next stop was the Methodist Church not far from the Town Hall.  Sam the Anarchist wrote that as a young man in Todmorden he joined the Methodist Church and became a Methodist preacher. In this way he developed a recognized skill as an orator which served him well as a labor activist.  In his autobiography, Sam remembers his mother Alice as a devout Methodist.  

   The Methodists appealed to the working class.  Founder John Wesley thought it was important to reach out to the people so he developed itinerant preachers such as Sam Fielden.  There was no early official break from the Church of England, but their reaching out to people and their criticism of ostentatious life styles endeared them to the working class. 

   Like the Quakers the Methodists encouraged people to take an active part in church services and meetings. Methodists insist on the primacy of conscience. In contrast to the Calvinists, Wesley taught that all could be saved, even low class workers.  Good works such as social service was crucial in achieving redemption.  Wesley had no problem with people accumulating wealth but not at the expense of others.  Wealth was accumulated for the “greater honor and glory of God.”  Charitable contributions to the community of time and substance were expected.

   The Todmorden Methodist Church is a large box like structure located in the middle of town.  Like the other buildings in the area it is blackened by the soot from the now closed cotton mills.  Compared to the Gothic Church of England St. Mary’s and the rich Fielden brothers’ more ornate Unitarian Church, the Todmorden Methodist Church is simple and functional, and reminds one of classical Roman architecture.

   We dropped in on the weekly 10:00 a.m. coffee social.  Church members welcomed us with warm greetings.  No one had heard of Sam of the Haymarket but he certainly knew of the Fieldens.  They were baffled when I asked about ‘Lord Fielden’ whose name among many others appears on one of the sandstone blocks at the front of the building.  I was assured that ‘Lord Fielden’ was not an entitled Lord, but that the name Lord was probably a family surname used as a given name.  No one knew who this person was, but someone remembered that her grandmother had told her that anyone giving even a small donation to build the church would have their name etched on the front wall.  The Church was completed in 1906, too late for Sam to have known it.

   The Todmorden Methodists were interested in Sam of the Haymarket story, and the pastor looked for a record of Sam and his mother’s baptism without success.  Someone recalled that there had been a split in the early Methodist Church and that the baptismal records of the Church may not be complete.  In his death row autobiography Sam notes that his mother was a ‘Primitive’ Methodist and that he joined the Wesleyan group years after her death. (ibid. p, 134, p. 145 )  As mentioned above, as a young man Sam honed his skills as a future effective labor speaker volunteering as a Methodist preacher in the Todmorden area. (ibid. p. 147)

Todmorden Connection to World Trade

   Before we met Trisha for lunch we walked to the canal locks not far from the Methodist Church.  The canal system is a non- designated functioning monument to the workers of 18th & 19th century England.  The canals allowed shipments of cotton from the seacoast to reach the interior by barges.   Because of the hilly nature of the terrain, locks needed to be built to move the boats from level to level.  The locks of Todmorden still function and tourists travel the canals to enjoy the beautiful countryside of Lancashire.

   It was now time for lunch with Tricia.  We met at Sinclairs, a small restaurant near St. Mary’s Church.  The restaurant featured local dishes including soup and sandwiches for the lunch time cliental.  I ordered the Lancashire vegetable soup – perfect for a chilly day.
(Why do we march and remember on May 1st,  2013?  “Caterpillar contract talks stalled, union leaders say.” Company says no further negotiations scheduled.”  “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,” p. 9A, May 11th,   2013)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


   Pere Marquette Park was the final stop for Voces de la Frontera’s annual May Day march.  Father Jacques Marquette, S.J. (1637 – 1675) camped in what is now Milwaukee in 1674.  Marquette was a French Jesuit missionary whose travels in the U.S. Midwest established boundaries for the lucrative French fur trade.

   The father of international law, Dominican Friar Francisco de Vitoria, O.P. (1483-1546) gave his opinion in Salamanca, Spain that evangelists had a legal right under natural law to preach the gospel in the New World.   Pere Marquette was well received by the Native Americans.  As impossible as it is to imagine, what if a “Sitting Jim Sensenbrenner” were chief of the Midwest tribes?  It would have been a different story.

TRICIA FIELDEN KNOWLES: LOCAL ARTIST & FIELDEN FAMILY MEMBER (A continuing story – scroll down for previous postings)


   It took us about a half-hour to walk to our hotel.  After talking to Jeremy, we already knew quite a bit about the Fieldens and the town of Todmorden but we had just begun.

   Our hotel, Scaitcliffe Hall, dated back to the Middle Ages; a perfect base for our research.  Wall hangings remind guests of the history of the Scaitcliffe Hall and the area around Todmorden of  the Brontes, Emily and Charlotte.  They lived in the area, and the hills and moors above Todmorden are the setting for their novels.

   After checking in I called Tricia Fielden Knowles whom I had contacted before from London.  Tricia met us at the hotel and we talked about Sam Fielden, the Haymarket and the Fielden family.  She knew some of Sam’s story, but she didn’t know about Sam’s death row autobiography. 
   Tricia told us that she knew Scaitcliffe Hall well, because she and a classmate, who was the Vicar’s daughter, were invited to use the tennis court by Miss Sutcliff who lived there with her elderly mother before they sold it.  Tricia remembered the old lady sitting in a high backed chair by the big fireplace in what is now the reception area.  Before we left Todmorden we purchased one of Trisha’s paintings.  She is a well known artist.  The painting we bought was of an abandoned canal lock in Todmorden.  England’s industrial revolution was facilitated by a canal system that moved raw materials and products throughout the country.  Cotton from the U.S. Southern States was shipped inland to Todmorden through the canal system.

   Tricia showed us a photo of Sam Fielden and his two children.  The photo was taken after Sam’s pardon by Illinois Governor Altgeld in 1893.  It was sent to Tricia by Keith Fielden who lives in Richmond, VA.  The photo shows Sam with his children, Alice noted as born in 1884 and Samuel Henry noted only as born in Chicago.  Alice was probably named after Alice Jackson, Sam’s mother.

   I asked how Sam of the Chicago Haymarket and his family could have been forced to work in a mill under horrible conditions yet were members of the Fielden family.  Sam, in describing his work in the mill as a child wrote,  
   I think that if the devil had a particular enemy whom he
   wished to unmercifully torture the best thing for him to
   do would be to put his soul into the body of a Lancashire
   factory child and keep him as a child in the factory the
   rest of his life.(The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs, op.cite. p. 137)

After a moment of thought Tricia responded that it wasn’t
unusual at all; everyone worked at the mill.  Her father who retired as “Works Manager” had also labored as a weaver in the mill.  However there was tension.  The wealthy Fieldens were called “Castle Fieldens” and have since left Todmorden.

   Looking at Tricia’s photo of Sam and his children made me think of Sam’s comments about his children in his death row autobiography.  Sam records that he went back to England, “to fulfill a matrimonial engagement which I had entered into eleven years before. … The fruit of my marriage has been two children, one a girl of 2 ½ years of age, the other a boy who has been born since my imprisonment.”(ibid. p. 154)  The size of the children indicates that this photo would have been taken after his pardon, around 1900 at their farm in Colorado.

   Samuel Fielden was a devoted family man.  An account referenced in the Chicago Historical Society website describes Sam and his Todmorden wife meeting during a brief security lapse when Sam was being transferred to another section of the jail.  Sam’s wife,

  “Holding her new born babe to her breast threw the other
   arm around his neck and showered kisses upon his homely
   face and shaggy, unkempt beard, weeping convulsively all the


   Tricia offered to take us up to the house where Sam lived as a boy.  She had checked the 1851 census and found the location where the family lived.  The town of Todmorden is located in a valley of the Pennine hills which are called the backbone of England.  Our trip to visit Sam’s home took us up the rather steep hillsides on a narrow winding road.  The vista was a spiritual treat.  The shining emerald landscape and the neat stone hedges reminded me of Ireland.  Sam wrote,

   “It (Todmorden) lies in a beautiful valley, and on the hillsides
   are small farms; back about a mile are the moorlands, which
   could be made into fine farms, as the topography of the
   moors is more level generally than the inclosed land. But
   though thousands of starving Englishmen would be very glad
   to work them, they must be kept for grouse and the games
   keeper and the gentry.”(ibid. 131)

   We reached the house, parked in front of the gate and got out of the car to look around.  The scenery of the hills and moors was breathtaking.  Sam’s house and the area had obviously been gentrified. There was a cement driveway leading to a two car garage. The complex included a neat farm house and farm buildings for tools and animals.  We talked to the owner who told us that he worked in a nearby town.  He and his wife also owned two horses and some sheep which were out in the pasture.  It was hard to imagine this as Sam’s home. It was a moving experience to see the place, but I felt unsettled.  I doubt that the ghosts of Sam and his family find refuge in their old homestead.

   I could see how life in these hills and moors in the 19th century would make travel by foot difficult.  The cottage industry that supplemented subsistence farming had been replaced by the machine operated mills. The trip up and down the hillside to the cotton mill everyday would have been a challenge.  Sam wrote about his mother Alice walking barefoot in the snow.

   In his autobiography Sam describes the area.  “The house that we occupied stood in the midst of some meadows that were owned by two wealthy brothers, who were engaged in flour milling.”(ibid. 136)

   The haymakers were migrant workers from Ireland.  Sam wrote: 

   “These men are compelled to harvest crops in England for
   the privilege of living in their own country; for the money
   they earn in the English harvest the English landlord
   compels them to give up again, and his lordship brings
   It back again to England, until Pat comes again and harvests
   his crops for him.”(ibid.137)

Tricia said she was amazed at the prices for the properties in the area.  She showed us a two story sand stone building, darkened with soot that was going for over 300,000 pounds.


   Our next stop was the Dobroyd Castle. The Castle sits high in the hills and can be easily seen from Todmorden located in the valley.  We stopped and walked around, awe-inspired by the magnificent building and the surrounding scenery.  Perhaps the Castle could be called a symbol of the love John Fielden felt for his wife and the Todmorden community.  The structure was built while the cotton mills were shut down by the American Civil War and provided work for the laid-off mill workers.  Then again, could it have been an opportunity to hire, for low pay, workers desperate for jobs?  If so, it would have been a symbol of capitalist exploitation for imagined personal immortality.  The building is now a Buddhist monastery and could be called a symbol for peace along with the Stoodley Pike.  Both of these structures are conflicted anchors of Todmorden identity.

   Tricia took us back to our hotel and agreed to meet us for lunch the next day. 

To read more about current May Day marches including the Milwaukee rally and march, check out “MAY DAY RALLIES UNITE WORKERS ACROSS THE GLOBE,” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 2, 2013)

 A continuing story - next posting, Tuesday, May 14th