Lizzie M. Holmes

From Notes from the Margins
Jump to: navigation, search

Lizzie M. Holmes (b. Lizzie Hunt Swank, 1850)<ref>Blaine McKinley (1990), "Free Love and Domesticity: Lizzie M. Holmes, Hagar Lyndon (1893), and the Anarchist-Feminist Imagination, in The Journal of American Culture, Volume 13, Issue 1 (Spring 1990). 55.</ref> was an anarchist-feminist seamstress, writer and labor organizer, active from the 1870s through the 1910s. Holmes wrote prolificly for labor papers, radical journals and freethought publications including Liberty, Mother Earth, Lucifer the Lightbearer the Boston Investigator, The American Federationist, The Tailor, The International Wood-Worker, and Instead of a Magazine.

Holmes began her radical career as a member of the Socialist Labor Party, then joined the anarchist-influenced International Working People's Association in 1883.<ref>Blaine McKinley (1990), "Free Love and Domesticity: Lizzie M. Holmes, Hagar Lyndon (1893), and the Anarchist-Feminist Imagination, in The Journal of American Culture, Volume 13, Issue 1 (Spring 1990). 55.</ref> In 1886, she and her second husband Will Holmes harbored Albert Parsons while the police searched for him after the Haymarket bombing, and she was later arrested with Lucy Parsons when police refused to allow Mrs. Parsons and her children time for a final good-bye to Albert Parsons on the morning he was to be hanged.

Later in life, Holmes continued to profess a belief in Anarchism as an "ideal" but became more heavily involved in the Socialist Party of America, claiming that state socialism represented some practical hope for progress while the hopes for anarchy remained remote.




Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis (1887)

"Arrest of Mrs. Parsons and Children", in Albert Parsons, Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis as Defined by Some of Its Apostles (1887). Chicago: Mrs. A.R. Parsons.

Under the deep shadow of that awful tragedy, enacted on the eleventh day of November, many shameful deeds passed almost unnoticed; the gloom, so dense that the close of the century will scarcely see it lightened, veiled the blackness of injustices that would have appalled the hearts of the people if thrown up against the light of freedom in brighter days. Now, it is well that they be brought forth for investigation; the judgment of the people must be given on proceedings done in the name of "law and order," in this so-called free country.
It will be remembered that in the extras of Friday Nov. 11th a casual notice of the arrest of Mrs. Parsons "for persistent disobedience of orders," and that of a a lady friend "for haranging the people" was given. The officers were reported as being "very courteous and gentle," and the ladies "were given arm-chairs at the registry office merely to keep them away from the crowd and prevent trouble."
This is the true story: On Thursday evening after Governor Oglesby's tardy decision had been given, Mrs. Parsons accompanied Mr. Holmes and myself, went to the jail to plead for a last sad interview. She was denied an entrance, but was told be the deputy-sheriff in charge that she would be admitted at half-past eight the following morning. At that time she, with her children and myself was promptly as near to the gates as the police would permit. Every street for two blocks away leading towards the jail was crossed by rope and guarded by a line of police armed with Winchester rifles. At the first corner Mrs. Parsons quietly made known her errand. The lieutenant said she could not get in there, but that she should pass on to the next corner, and the officer there would let her through.
She did so with the same result. Another captain told her she must get an order from the sheriff; on inquiring where he could be found, she was told to go on to another corner where a message might be sent to him. At this corner no one knew anything about it and again we were sent on; and so, for more than an hour we were urged along in a veritable game of "Pussy wants a corner" that would have been ridiculous had it not been so tragical. . . .
The last sad moments of her dear one's life were wasting so steadily, so relentlessly. Who can picture her agony? Who can wonder at her desperate protest against the "regulations of the law" which were killing her husband and forbidding her approach. She determinedly crossed the death line and told them "to kill her as they were murdering her husband." No, they were not so merciful. They dragged her outside, inveigled her around to a quieter corner, with the promise of "seeing about it," and there ordered her, her two children and myself into a patrol wagon awaiting us. What had the innocent children done?
Pleaded dumbly with soft tearful eyes for their father. What was my crime? faithfulness to a sorrowing sister.
Once when some one asked me if I could not "prevail on that woman to keep quiet and go home," I had answered:
"I have no such influence over her and would not exert it if I had. Do you wonder that she is nearly distracted with grief at being driven from pillar to post like this, when in one short hour her husband will be dead? She has not seen him for five days, and now they deny her the sacred right of a last good bye; why the worst despotisms in Europe are not so bad as that."
At this a burly brutal-looking detective in citizen's clothes said:
"See here young woman! you shut up or we will send you off in the wagon!"
"Must I not even say this much, in a free country?" I asked in surprise.
"No, you can't," he growled with a fierce frown.
And this, I suppose, constituted "my harangue to the people on the streets."

Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847-1903): A Biography (1912)

From Caro Lloyd (1912), Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847-1903): A Biography. Volume One, pp. 84-85.

A panic seized Chicago. The authorities, not finding the bomb-thrower, arrested anarchists conspicuous in the eight-hour movement, August Spies, Michael Schwab, Adolph Fischer, Samuel Fielden, George Engel, Louis Lingg, and Oscar Neebe. Two suspects, Schnaubelt and Seliger, were arrested, but soon released. Albert R. Parsons, a prominent friend of labor, had returned from Cincinnati on the fatal day, in order to organize the sewing women of Chicago, and while thus engaged had been called to the Haymarket meeting and been one of the principal speakers. The police searched for him in vain, though his letter published in the Daily News showed that he was not far away. When the Anarchists were to be tried for conspiracy, Parsons surrendered himself. Mrs. Lizzie M. Holmes, a pioneer organizer of Chicago's working women, whose efforts to help the condemned and whose grief are touching elements in the human side of the story, wrote recently to me:
I remember that Mr. Parsons returned to the court-room, Chicago, on the morning of June 21, 1886. He had been safely hidden, my husband, Mr. W. T. Holmes, and Mr. David Hoan of Waukesha being the only persons in the world who knew where he was. He could have escaped, but his great regard for truth and justice urged him to come back and share the fate of his comrades, to help plead their cause and the cause which had been so dear to him for a number of years. I consider it one of the bravest acts in history. . . .