My First Impressions

I was a mere slip of a boy, but ten years old, when in 1887 our comrades Parsons, Fischer, Engel and Spies were hanged.

At that time, under the bloody tyrant Porfirio Diaz' regime, it was so common to learn of men being shot, hanged or who had otherwise vanished from the face of the earth, that the news of the tragedy, read by my father to my mother, did not attract much my attention except the fact that it happened in the United States. In my childish fancy, I placed America far away, at the end of the world, surrounded by misery and with odd landscapes, people and things as those described in the fairy tales of the Arabian Nights, the reading of which deeply impressed me.

Another thing that caught my fancy was the fact that these men, being classified as Anarchists, whom my father, not knowing the goal of the Anarchists and their sublime Ideals, described as men who were much like the Terrorists and the Nihilists of Russia. I had heard my father dwell on the marvelous exploits of these two last named and reverenced their sacrifices for the liberation of the Russian people, and that was enough for my childish mind to think of our martyred comrades from Chicago as of big, bold, beautiful men who were all devotion to those who suffer from such tyrants as Porfirio Diaz and the czars of the world.

Times passed on and with it the memory of my big, beautiful men who were hanged in Chicago. Suddenly they were again before me. I was standing at my mother's side near our cheap, unpainted table, when my father was reading to her something in memoriam of the Chicago Anarchists. I listened intently and wondered how the bodies of the hanged men must have looked, dangling to and fro from the ends of the ropes fastened to the branches of a tall and leafy oak, as men are hanged in Mexico…

And a full realization of the horrible and shameful tragedy of Chicago struck me for the first time. A world of thoughts, feelings and passions like a hurricane opened up before my mental eye. I thought of them going to the gallows with manly poise, serene, smiling, conscious of the end, but conscious also of the immortality of their Ideals for which they were made to die. I thought of the human herd, humbly placing their necks in their daily yoke in factories and sweat-shops instead of rising in rebellious protest against the murder of their comrades.

A sense of humiliation, a feeling of disappointment overcame me, for I still had the fancy in those days, due to distance, that America was really to a large extent the Home of the FREE and the Land of the BRAVE, and not another poor Mexico, populated by cowardly PEONS who submit to the brutal oppression and exploitation of their masters…

Enrique Flores Magon,

Editor of Regeneracion. Los Angeles, Cal., October 19th, 1916.

From: Mother Earth, November 1916..