The Haymarket riot of 1886 occupies a sacred place in the left-wing imagination, alongside the cases of Sacco and Vanzetti, Alger Hiss, and the Rosenbergs. But what if everything you thought you knew about Haymarket is wrong? My latest article for National Review looks at the groundbreaking scholarship of Timothy Messer-Kruse:
Here was a scholar’s dream: untapped evidence about a landmark moment in history. Messer-Kruse looked at Haymarket from brand-new angles, embarking on the CSI: Haymarket phase of his research. The trial transcript made him question the claim that friendly fire was at least as deadly to the police as the actual bomb, so he consulted old maps and built a scale-model diorama in his basement. Cardboard cutouts represented buildings. Plastic green soldiers stood in for police and protesters. One time, his wife came down the steps to find him fixated on his miniature scene. “A beautiful mind,” she said before turning around and heading back up, in an allusion to the then-current movie about John Nash, a brilliant professor who sinks into madness. “I was just trying to understand the evidence,” says Messer-Kruse.