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Anarchism: What It Really Stands For

Minorities Versus Majorities

The Psychology of Political Violence

Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure

Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty

Francisco Ferrer and The Modern School

The Hypocrisy of Puritanism

The Traffic in Women

Woman Suffrage

The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation

Marriage and Love

The Drama: A Powerful Disseminator of Radical Thought


Propagandism is not, as some suppose, a "trade," because nobody will follow a "trade" at which you may work with the industry of a

slave and die with the reputation of a mendicant. The motives of any persons to pursue such a profession must be different from those

of trade, deeper than pride, and stronger than interest.


Among the men and women prominent in the public life of America there are but few whose names are mentioned

as often as that of Emma Goldman. Yet the real Emma Goldman is almost quite unknown. The sensational press

has surrounded her name with so much misrepresentation and slander, it would seem almost a miracle that, in spite

of this web of calumny, the truth breaks through and a better appreciation of this much maligned idealist begins to

manifest itself. There is but little consolation in the fact that almost every representative of a new idea has had to

struggle and suffer under similar difficulties. Is it of any avail that a former president of a republic pays homage at

Osawatomie to the memory of John Brown? Or that the president of another republic participates in the unveiling

of a statue in honor of Pierre Proudhon, and holds up his life to the French nation as a model worthy of

enthusiastic emulation? Of what avail is all this when, at the same time, the LIVING John Browns and Proudhons

are being crucified? The honor and glory of a Mary Wollstonecraft or of a Louise Michel are not enhanced by the

City Fathers of London or Paris naming a street after them—the living generation should be concerned with doing

justice to the LIVING Mary Wollstonecrafts and Louise Michels. Posterity assigns to men like Wendel Phillips

and Lloyd Garrison the proper niche of honor in the temple of human emancipation; but it is the duty of their

contemporaries to bring them due recognition and appreciation while they live.

The path of the propagandist of social justice is strewn with thorns. The powers of darkness and injustice exert all

their might lest a ray of sunshine enter his cheerless life. Nay, even his comrades in the struggle—indeed, too

often his most intimate friends—show but little understanding for the personality of the pioneer. Envy, sometimes

growing to hatred, vanity and jealousy, obstruct his way and fill his heart with sadness. It requires an inflexible

will and tremendous enthusiasm not to lose, under such conditions, all faith in the Cause. The representative of a

revolutionizing idea stands between two fires: on the one hand, the persecution of the existing powers which hold

him responsible for all acts resulting from social conditions; and, on the other, the lack of understanding on the

part of his own followers who often judge all his activity from a narrow standpoint. Thus it happens that the

agitator stands quite alone in the midst of the multitude surrounding him. Even his most intimate friends rarely

understand how solitary and deserted he feels. That is the tragedy of the person prominent in the public eye.

The mist in which the name of Emma Goldman has so long been enveloped is gradually beginning to dissipate.

Her energy in the furtherance of such an unpopular idea as Anarchism, her deep earnestness, her courage and

abilities, find growing understanding and admiration.

The debt American intellectual growth owes to the revolutionary exiles has never been fully appreciated. The seed

disseminated by them, though so little understood at the time, has brought a rich harvest. They have at all times

held aloft the banner of liberty, thus impregnating the social vitality of the Nation. But very few have succeeding in

preserving their European education and culture while at the same time assimilating themselves with American life.

It is difficult for the average man to form an adequate conception what strength, energy, and perseverance are

necessary to absorb the unfamiliar language, habits, and customs of a new country, without the loss of one's own


Emma Goldman is one of the few who, while thoroughly preserving their individuality, have become an important

factor in the social and intellectual atmosphere of America. The life she leads is rich in color, full of change and

variety. She has risen to the topmost heights, and she has also tasted the bitter dregs of life.

Emma Goldman was born of Jewish parentage on the 27th day of June, 1869, in the Russian province of Kovno.

Surely these parents never dreamed what unique position their child would some day occupy. Like all conservative

parents they, too, were quite convinced that their daughter would marry a respectable citizen, bear him children,

and round out her allotted years surrounded by a flock of grandchildren, a good, religious woman. As most

parents, they had no inkling what a strange, impassioned spirit would take hold of the soul of their child, and carry

it to the heights which separate generations in eternal struggle. They lived in a land and at a time when antagonism

between parent and offspring was fated to find its most acute expression, irreconcilable hostility. In this

tremendous struggle between fathers and sons—and especially between parents and daughters—there was no

compromise, no weak yielding, no truce. The spirit of liberty, of progress—an idealism which knew no

considerations and recognized no obstacles—drove the young generation out of the parental house and away from

the hearth of the home. Just as this same spirit once drove out the revolutionary breeder of discontent, Jesus, and

alienated him from his native traditions.

What role the Jewish race—notwithstanding all anti-semitic calumnies the race of transcendental idealism—played

in the struggle of the Old and the New will probably never be appreciated with complete impartiality and clarity.

Only now are we beginning to perceive the tremendous debt we owe to Jewish idealists in the realm of science,

art, and literature. But very little is still known of the important part the sons and daughters of Israel have played in

the revolutionary movement and, especially, in that of modern times.

The first years of her childhood Emma Goldman passed in a small, idyllic place in the German-Russian province

of Kurland, where her father had charge of the government stage. At the time Kurland was thoroughly German;

even the Russian bureaucracy of that Baltic province was recruited mostly from German JUNKERS. German

fairy tales and stories, rich in the miraculous deeds of the heroic knights of Kurland, wove their spell over the

youthful mind. But the beautiful idyl was of short duration. Soon the soul of the growing child was overcast by

the dark shadows of life. Already in her tenderest youth the seeds of rebellion and unrelenting hatred of

oppression were to be planted in the heart of Emma Goldman. Early she learned to know the beauty of the State:

she saw her father harassed by the Christian CHINOVNIKS and doubly persecuted as petty official and hated

Jew. The brutality of forced conscription ever stood before her eyes: she beheld the young men, often the sole

supporter of a large family, brutally dragged to the barracks to lead the miserable life of a soldier. She heard the

weeping of the poor peasant women, and witnessed the shameful scenes of official venality which relieved the rich

from military service at the expense of the poor. She was outraged by the terrible treatment to which the female

servants were subjected: maltreated and exploited by their BARINYAS, they fell to the tender mercies of the

regimental officers, who regarded them as their natural sexual prey. The girls, made pregnant by respectable

gentlemen and driven out by their mistresses, often found refuge in the Goldman home. And the little girl, her

heart palpitating with sympathy, would abstract coins from the parental drawer to clandestinely press the money

into the hands of the unfortunate women. Thus Emma Goldman's most striking characteristic, her sympathy with

the underdog, already became manifest in these early years.

At the age of seven little Emma was sent by her parents to her grandmother at Konigsberg, the city of Emanuel

Kant, in Eastern Prussia. Save for occasional interruptions, she remained there till her 13th birthday. The first

years in these surroundings do not exactly belong to her happiest recollections. The grandmother, indeed, was

very amiable, but the numerous aunts of the household were concerned more with the spirit of practical rather than

pure reason, and the categoric imperative was applied all too frequently. The situation was changed when her

parents migrated to Konigsberg, and little Emma was relieved from her role of Cinderella. She now regularly

attended public school and also enjoyed the advantages of private instruction, customary in middle class life;

French and music lessons played an important part in the curriculum. The future interpreter of Ibsen and Shaw

was then a little German Gretchen, quite at home in the German atmosphere. Her special predilections in literature

were the sentimental romances of Marlitt; she was a great admirer of the good Queen Louise, whom the bad

Napoleon Buonaparte treated with so marked a lack of knightly chivalry. What might have been her future

development had she remained in this milieu? Fate—or was it economic necessity?—willed it otherwise. Her

parents decided to settle in St. Petersburg, the capital of the Almighty Tsar, and there to embark in business. It was

here that a great change took place in the life of the young dreamer.

It was an eventful period—the year of 1882—in which Emma Goldman, then in her 13th year, arrived in St.

Petersburg. A struggle for life and death between the autocracy and the Russian intellectuals swept the country.

Alexander II had fallen the previous year. Sophia Perovskaia, Zheliabov, Grinevitzky, Rissakov, Kibalchitch,

Michailov, the heroic executors of the death sentence upon the tyrant, had then entered the Walhalla of immortality.

Jessie Helfman, the only regicide whose life the government had reluctantly spared because of pregnancy,

followed the unnumbered Russian martyrs to the etapes of Siberia. It was the most heroic period in the great battle

of emancipation, a battle for freedom such as the world had never witnessed before. The names of the Nihilist

martyrs were on all lips, and thousands were enthusiastic to follow their example. The whole INTELLIGENZIA

of Russia was filled with the ILLEGAL spirit: revolutionary sentiments penetrated into every home, from mansion

to hovel, impregnating the military, the CHINOVNIKS, factory workers, and peasants. The atmosphere pierced

the very casemates of the royal palace. New ideas germinated in the youth. The difference of sex was forgotten.

Shoulder to shoulder fought the men and the women. The Russian woman! Who shall ever do justice or

adequately portray her heroism and self-sacrifice, her loyalty and devotion? Holy, Turgeniev calls her in his great

prose poem, ON THE THRESHOLD.

It was inevitable that the young dreamer from Konigsberg should be drawn into the maelstrom. To remain outside

of the circle of free ideas meant a life of vegetation, of death. One need not wonder at the youthful age. Young

enthusiasts were not then—and, fortunately, are not now—a rare phenomenon in Russia. The study of the Russian

language soon brought young Emma Goldman in touch with revolutionary students and new ideas. The place of

Marlitt was taken by Nekrassov and Tchernishevsky. The quondam admirer of the good Queen Louise became a

glowing enthusiast of liberty, resolving, like thousands of others, to devote her life to the emancipation of the


The struggle of generations now took place in the Goldman family. The parents could not comprehend what

interest their daughter could find in the new ideas, which they themselves considered fantastic utopias. They strove

to persuade the young girl out of these chimeras, and daily repetition of soul-racking disputes was the result. Only

in one member of the family did the young idealist find understanding—in her elder sister, Helene, with whom she

later emigrated to America, and whose love and sympathy have never failed her. Even in the darkest hours of later

persecution Emma Goldman always found a haven of refuge in the home of this loyal sister.

Emma Goldman finally resolved to achieve her independence. She saw hundreds of men and women sacrificing

brilliant careers to go V NAROD, to the people. She followed their example. She became a factory worker; at first

employed as a corset maker, and later in the manufacture of gloves. She was now 17 years of age and proud to

earn her own living. Had she remained in Russia, she would have probably sooner or later shared the fate of

thousands buried in the snows of Siberia. But a new chapter of life was to begin for her. Sister Helene decided to

emigrate to America, where another sister had already made her home. Emma prevailed upon Helene to be allowed

to join her, and together they departed for America, filled with the joyous hope of a great, free land, the glorious


America! What magic word. The yearning of the enslaved, the promised land of the oppressed, the goal of all

longing for progress. Here man's ideals had found their fulfillment: no Tsar, no Cossack, no CHINOVNIK. The

Republic! Glorious synonym of equality, freedom, brotherhood.

Thus thought the two girls as they travelled, in the year 1886, from New York to Rochester. Soon, all too soon,

disillusionment awaited them. The ideal conception of America was punctured already at Castle Garden, and soon

burst like a soap bubble. Here Emma Goldman witnessed sights which reminded her of the terrible scenes of her

childhood in Kurland. The brutality and humiliation the future citizens of the great Republic were subjected to on

board ship, were repeated at Castle Garden by the officials of the democracy in a more savage and aggravating

manner. And what bitter disappointment followed as the young idealist began to familiarize herself with the

conditions in the new land! Instead of one Tsar, she found scores of them; the Cossack was replaced by the

policeman with the heavy club, and instead of the Russian CHINOVNIK there was the far more inhuman slave-

driver of the factory.

Emma Goldman soon obtained work in the clothing establishment of the Garson Co. The wages amounted to two

and a half dollars a week. At that time the factories were not provided with motor power, and the poor sewing

girls had to drive the wheels by foot, from early morning till late at night. A terribly exhausting toil it was, without

a ray of light, the drudgery of the long day passed in complete silence—the Russian custom of friendly

conversation at work was not permissible in the free country. But the exploitation of the girls was not only

economic; the poor wage workers were looked upon by their foremen and bosses as sexual commodities. If a girl

resented the advances of her "superiors", she would speedily find herself on the street as an undesirable element in

the factory. There was never a lack of willing victims: the supply always exceeded the demand.

The horrible conditions were made still more unbearable by the fearful dreariness of life in the small American

city. The Puritan spirit suppresses the slightest manifestation of joy; a deadly dullness beclouds the soul; no

intellectual inspiration, no thought exchange between congenial spirits is possible. Emma Goldman almost

suffocated in this atmosphere. She, above all others, longed for ideal surroundings, for friendship and

understanding, for the companionship of kindred minds. Mentally she still lived in Russia. Unfamiliar with the

language and life of the country, she dwelt more in the past than in the present. It was at this period that she met a

young man who spoke Russian. With great joy the acquaintance was cultivated. At last a person with whom she

could converse, one who could help her bridge the dullness of the narrow existence. The friendship gradually

ripened and finally culminated in marriage.

Emma Goldman, too, had to walk the sorrowful road of married life; she, too, had to learn from bitter experience

that legal statutes signify dependence and self-effacement, especially for the woman. The marriage was no

liberation from the Puritan dreariness of American life; indeed, it was rather aggravated by the loss of self-

ownership. The characters of the young people differed too widely. A separation soon followed, and Emma

Goldman went to New Haven, Conn. There she found employment in a factory, and her husband disappeared

from her horizon. Two decades later she was fated to be unexpectedly reminded of him by the Federal authorities.

The revolutionists who were active in the Russian movement of the 80's were but little familiar with the social

ideas then agitating Western Europe and America. Their sole activity consisted in educating the people, their final

goal the destruction of the autocracy. Socialism and Anarchism were terms hardly known even by name. Emma

Goldman, too, was entirely unfamiliar with the significance of those ideals.

She arrived in America, as four years previously in Russia, at a period of great social and political unrest. The

working people were in revolt against the terrible labor conditions; the eight-hour movement of the Knights of

Labor was at its height, and throughout the country echoed the din of sanguine strife between strikers and police.

The struggle culminated in the great strike against the Harvester Company of Chicago, the massacre of the strikers,

and the judicial murder of the labor leaders, which followed upon the historic Haymarket bomb explosion. The

Anarchists stood the martyr test of blood baptism. The apologists of capitalism vainly seek to justify the killing of

Parsons, Spies, Lingg, Fischer, and Engel. Since the publication of Governor Altgeld's reason for his liberation of

the three incarcerated Haymarket Anarchists, no doubt is left that a fivefold legal murder had been committed in

Chicago, in 1887.

Very few have grasped the significance of the Chicago martyrdom; least of all the ruling classes. By the

destruction of a number of labor leaders they thought to stem the tide of a world-inspiring idea. They failed to

consider that from the blood of the martyrs grows the new seed, and that the frightful injustice will win new

converts to the Cause.

The two most prominent representatives of the Anarchist idea in America, Voltairine de Cleyre and Emma

Goldman—the one a native American, the other a Russian—have been converted, like numerous others, to the

ideas of Anarchism by the judicial murder. Two women who had not known each other before, and who had

received a widely different education, were through that murder united in one idea.

Like most working men and women of America, Emma Goldman followed the Chicago trial with great anxiety

and excitement. She, too, could not believe that the leaders of the proletariat would be killed. The 11th of

November, 1887, taught her differently. She realized that no mercy could be expected from the ruling class, that

between the Tsarism of Russia and the plutocracy of America there was no difference save in name. Her whole

being rebelled against the crime, and she vowed to herself a solemn vow to join the ranks of the revolutionary

proletariat and to devote all her energy and strength to their emancipation from wage slavery. With the glowing

enthusiasm so characteristic of her nature, she now began to familiarize herself with the literature of Socialism and

Anarchism. She attended public meetings and became acquainted with socialistically and anarchistically inclined

workingmen. Johanna Greie, the well-known German lecturer, was the first Socialist speaker heard by Emma

Goldman. In New Haven, Conn., where she was employed in a corset factory, she met Anarchists actively

participating in the movement. Here she read the FREIHEIT, edited by John Most. The Haymarket tragedy

developed her inherent Anarchist tendencies: the reading of the FREIHEIT made her a conscious Anarchist.

Subsequently she was to learn that the idea of Anarchism found its highest expression through the best intellects

of America: theoretically by Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Lysander Spooner; philosophically by

Emerson, Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

Made ill by the excessive strain of factory work, Emma Goldman returned to Rochester where she remained till

August, 1889, at which time she removed to New York, the scene of the most important phase of her life. She

was now twenty years old. Features pallid with suffering, eyes large and full of compassion, greet one in her

pictured likeness of those days. Her hair is, as customary with Russian student girls, worn short, giving free play

to the strong forehead.

It is the heroic epoch of militant Anarchism. By leaps and bounds the movement had grown in every country. In

spite of the most severe governmental persecution new converts swell the ranks. The propaganda is almost

exclusively of a secret character. The repressive measures of the government drive the disciples of the new

philosophy to conspirative methods. Thousands of victims fall into the hands of the authorities and languish in

prisons. But nothing can stem the rising tide of enthusiasm, of self-sacrifice and devotion to the Cause. The efforts

of teachers like Peter Kropotkin, Louise Michel, Elisee Reclus, and others, inspire the devotees with ever greater


Disruption is imminent with the Socialists, who have sacrificed the idea of liberty and embraced the State and

politics. The struggle is bitter, the factions irreconcilable. This struggle is not merely between Anarchists and

Socialists; it also finds its echo within the Anarchist groups. Theoretic differences and personal controversies lead

to strife and acrimonious enmities. The anti-Socialist legislation of Germany and Austria had driven thousands of

Socialists and Anarchists across the seas to seek refuge in America. John Most, having lost his seat in the

Reichstag, finally had to flee his native land, and went to London. There, having advanced toward Anarchism, he

entirely withdrew from the Social Democratic Party. Later, coming to America, he continued the publication of the

FREIHEIT in New York, and developed great activity among the German workingmen.

When Emma Goldman arrived in New York in 1889, she experienced little difficulty in associating herself with

active Anarchists. Anarchist meetings were an almost daily occurrence. The first lecturer she heard on the

Anarchist platform was Dr. A. Solotaroff. Of great importance to her future development was her acquaintance

with John Most, who exerted a tremendous influence over the younger elements. His impassioned eloquence,

untiring energy, and the persecution he had endured for the Cause, all combined to enthuse the comrades. It was

also at this period that she met Alexander Berkman, whose friendship played an important part throughout her life.

Her talents as a speaker could not long remain in obscurity. The fire of enthusiasm swept her toward the public

platform. Encouraged by her friends, she began to participate as a German and Yiddish speaker at Anarchist

meetings. Soon followed a brief tour of agitation taking her as far as Cleveland. With the whole strength and

earnestness of her soul she now threw herself into the propaganda of Anarchist ideas. The passionate period of

her life had begun. Through constantly toiling in sweat shops, the fiery young orator was at the same time very

active as an agitator and participated in various labor struggles, notably in the great cloakmakers' strike, in 1889,

led by Professor Garsyde and Joseph Barondess.

A year later Emma Goldman was a delegate to an Anarchist conference in New York. She was elected to the

Executive Committee, but later withdrew because of differences of opinion regarding tactical matters. The ideas of

the German-speaking Anarchists had at that time not yet become clarified. Some still believed in parliamentary

methods, the great majority being adherents of strong centralism. These differences of opinion in regard to tactics

led in 1891 to a breach with John Most. Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and other comrades joined the

group AUTONOMY, in which Joseph Peukert, Otto Rinke, and Claus Timmermann played an active part. The

bitter controversies which followed this secession terminated only with the death of Most, in 1906.

A great source of inspiration to Emma Goldman proved the Russian revolutionists who were associated in the

group ZNAMYA. Goldenberg, Solotaroff, Zametkin, Miller, Cahan, the poet Edelstadt, Ivan von Schewitsch,

husband of Helene von Racowitza and editor of the VOLKSZEITUNG, and numerous other Russian exiles, some

of whom are still living, were members of this group. It was also at this time that Emma Goldman met Robert

Reitzel, the German-American Heine, who exerted a great influence on her development. Through him she became

acquainted with the best writers of modern literature, and the friendship thus begun lasted till Reitzel's death, in


The labor movement of America had not been drowned in the Chicago massacre; the murder of the Anarchists had

failed to bring peace to the profit-greedy capitalist. The struggle for the eight-hour day continued. In 1892 broke

out the great strike in Pittsburg. The Homestead fight, the defeat of the Pinkertons, the appearance of the militia,

the suppression of the strikers, and the complete triumph of the reaction are matters of comparatively recent

history. Stirred to the very depths by the terrible events at the seat of war, Alexander Berkman resolved to sacrifice

his life to the Cause and thus give an object lesson to the wage slaves of America of active Anarchist solidarity

with labor. His attack upon Frick, the Gessler of Pittsburg, failed, and the twenty-two-year-old youth was doomed

to a living death of twenty-two years in the penitentiary. The bourgeoisie, which for decades had exalted and

eulogized tyrannicide, now was filled with terrible rage. The capitalist press organized a systematic campaign of

calumny and misrepresentation against Anarchists. The police exerted every effort to involve Emma Goldman in

the act of Alexander Berkman. The feared agitator was to be silenced by all means. It was only due to the

circumstance of her presence in New York that she escaped the clutches of the law. It was a similar circumstance

which, nine years later, during the McKinley incident, was instrumental in preserving her liberty. It is almost

incredible with what amount of stupidity, baseness, and vileness the journalists of the period sought to overwhelm

the Anarchist. One must peruse the newspaper files to realize the enormity of incrimination and slander. It would

be difficult to portray the agony of soul Emma Goldman experienced in those days. The persecutions of the

capitalist press were to be borne by an Anarchist with comparative equanimity; but the attacks from one's own

ranks were far more painful and unbearable. The act of Berkman was severely criticized by Most and some of his

followers among the German and Jewish Anarchists. Bitter accusations and recriminations at public meetings and

private gatherings followed. Persecuted on all sides, both because she championed Berkman and his act, and on

account of her revolutionary activity, Emma Goldman was harassed even to the extent of inability to secure shelter.

Too proud to seek safety in the denial of her identity, she chose to pass the nights in the public parks rather than

expose her friends to danger or vexation by her visits. The already bitter cup was filled to overflowing by the

attempted suicide of a young comrade who had shared living quarters with Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman,

and a mutual artist friend.

Many changes have since taken place. Alexander Berkman has survived the Pennsylvania Inferno, and is back

again in the ranks of the militant Anarchists, his spirit unbroken, his soul full of enthusiasm for the ideals of his

youth. The artist comrade is now among the well-known illustrators of New York. The suicide candidate left

America shortly after his unfortunate attempt to die, and was subsequently arrested and condemned to eight years

of hard labor for smuggling Anarchist literature into Germany. He, too, has withstood the terrors of prison life,

and has returned to the revolutionary movement, since earning the well deserved reputation of a talented writer in


To avoid indefinite camping in the parks Emma Goldman finally was forced to move into a house on Third Street,

occupied exclusively by prostitutes. There, among the outcasts of our good Christian society, she could at least

rent a bit of a room, and find rest and work at her sewing machine. The women of the street showed more

refinement of feeling and sincere sympathy than the priests of the Church. But human endurance had been

exhausted by overmuch suffering and privation. There was a complete physical breakdown, and the renowned

agitator was removed to the "Bohemian Republic"—a large tenement house which derived its euphonious

appellation from the fact that its occupants were mostly Bohemian Anarchists. Here Emma Goldman found friends

ready to aid her. Justus Schwab, one of the finest representatives of the German revolutionary period of that time,

and Dr. Solotaroff were indefatigable in the care of the patient. Here, too, she met Edward Brady, the new

friendship subsequently ripening into close intimacy. Brady had been an active participant in the revolutionary

movement of Austria and had, at the time of his acquaintance with Emma Goldman, lately been released from an

Austrian prison after an incarceration of ten years.

Physicians diagnosed the illness as consumption, and the patient was advised to leave New York. She went to

Rochester, in the hope that the home circle would help restore her to health. Her parents had several years

previously emigrated to America, settling in that city. Among the leading traits of the Jewish race is the strong

attachment between the members of the family, and, especially, between parents and children. Though her

conservative parents could not sympathize with the idealist aspirations of Emma Goldman and did not approve of

her mode of life, they now received their sick daughter with open arms. The rest and care enjoyed in the parental

home, and the cheering presence of the beloved sister Helene, proved so beneficial that within a short time she was

sufficiently restored to resume her energetic activity.

There is no rest in the life of Emma Goldman. Ceaseless effort and continuous striving toward the conceived goal

are the essentials of her nature. Too much precious time had already been wasted. It was imperative to resume her

labors immediately. The country was in the throes of a crisis, and thousands of unemployed crowded the streets of

the large industrial centers. Cold and hungry they tramped through the land in the vain search for work and bread.

The Anarchists developed a strenuous propaganda among the unemployed and the strikers. A monster

demonstration of striking cloakmakers and of the unemployed took place at Union Square, New York. Emma

Goldman was one of the invited speakers. She delivered an impassioned speech, picturing in fiery words the

misery of the wage slave's life, and quoted the famous maxim of Cardinal Manning: "Necessity knows no law,

and the starving man has a natural right to a share of his neighbor's bread." She concluded her exhortation with the

words: "Ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, then

take bread."

The following day she left for Philadelphia, where she was to address a public meeting. The capitalist press again

raised the alarm. If Socialists and Anarchists were to be permitted to continue agitating, there was imminent danger

that the workingmen would soon learn to understand the manner in which they are robbed of the joy and

happiness of life. Such a possibility was to be prevented at all cost. The Chief of Police of New York, Byrnes,

procured a court order for the arrest of Emma Goldman. She was detained by the Philadelphia authorities and

incarcerated for several days in the Moyamensing prison, awaiting the extradition papers which Byrnes intrusted

to Detective Jacobs. This man Jacobs (whom Emma Goldman again met several years later under very unpleasant

circumstances) proposed to her, while she was returning a prisoner to New York, to betray the cause of labor. In

the name of his superior, Chief Byrnes, he offered lucrative reward. How stupid men sometimes are! What

poverty of psychologic observation to imagine the possibility of betrayal on the part of a young Russian idealist,

who had willingly sacrificed all personal considerations to help in labor's emancipation.

In October, 1893, Emma Goldman was tried in the criminal courts of New York on the charge of inciting to riot.

The "intelligent" jury ignored the testimony of the twelve witnesses for the defense in favor of the evidence given

by one single man—Detective Jacobs. She was found guilty and sentenced to serve one year in the penitentiary at

Blackwell's Island. Since the foundation of the Republic she was the first woman—Mrs. Surratt excepted—to be

imprisoned for a political offense. Respectable society had long before stamped upon her the Scarlet Letter.

Emma Goldman passed her time in the penitentiary in the capacity of nurse in the prison hospital. Here she found

opportunity to shed some rays of kindness into the dark lives of the unfortunates whose sisters of the street did

not disdain two years previously to share with her the same house. She also found in prison opportunity to study

English and its literature, and to familiarize herself with the great American writers. In Bret Harte, Mark Twain,

Walt Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson she found great treasures.

She left Blackwell's Island in the month of August, 1894, a woman of twenty-five, developed and matured, and

intellectually transformed. Back into the arena, richer in experience, purified by suffering. She did not feel herself

deserted and alone any more. Many hands were stretched out to welcome her. There were at the time numerous

intellectual oases in New York. The saloon of Justus Schwab, at Number Fifty, First Street, was the center where

gathered Anarchists, litterateurs, and bohemians. Among others she also met at this time a number of American

Anarchists, and formed the friendship of Voltairine de Cleyre, Wm. C. Owen, Miss Van Etton, and Dyer D. Lum,

former editor of the ALARM and executor of the last wishes of the Chicago martyrs. In John Swinton, the noble

old fighter for liberty, she found one of her staunchest friends. Other intellectual centers there were:

SOLIDARITY, published by John Edelman; LIBERTY, by the Individualist Anarchist, Benjamin R. Tucker; the

REBEL, by Harry Kelly; DER STURMVOGEL, a German Anarchist publication, edited by Claus Timmermann;

DER ARME TEUFEL, whose presiding genius was the inimitable Robert Reitzel. Through Arthur Brisbane, now

chief lieutenant of William Randolph Hearst, she became acquainted with the writings of Fourier. Brisbane then

was not yet submerged in the swamp of political corruption. He sent Emma Goldman an amiable letter to

Blackwell's Island, together with the biography of his father, the enthusiastic American disciple of Fourier.

Emma Goldman became, upon her release from the penitentiary, a factor in the public life of New York. She was

appreciated in radical ranks for her devotion, her idealism, and earnestness. Various persons sought her

friendship, and some tried to persuade her to aid in the furtherance of their special side issues. Thus Rev.

Parkhurst, during the Lexow investigation, did his utmost to induce her to join the Vigilance Committee in order to

fight Tammany Hall. Maria Louise, the moving spirit of a social center, acted as Parkhurst's go-between. It is

hardly necessary to mention what reply the latter received from Emma Goldman. Incidentally, Maria Louise

subsequently became a Mahatma. During the free silver campaign, ex-Burgess McLuckie, one of the most genuine

personalities in the Homestead strike, visited New York in an endeavor to enthuse the local radicals for free silver.

He also attempted to interest Emma Goldman, but with no greater success than Mahatma Maria Louise of

Parkhurst-Lexow fame.

In 1894 the struggle of the Anarchists in France reached its highest expression. The white terror on the part of the

Republican upstarts was answered by the red terror of our French comrades. With feverish anxiety the Anarchists

throughout the world followed this social struggle. Propaganda by deed found its reverberating echo in almost all

countries. In order to better familiarize herself with conditions in the old world, Emma Goldman left for Europe, in

the year 1895. After a lecture tour in England and Scotland, she went to Vienna where she entered the

ALLGEMEINE KRANKENHAUS to prepare herself as midwife and nurse, and where at the same time she

studied social conditions. She also found opportunity to acquaint herself with the newest literature of Europe:

Hauptmann, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Zola, Thomas Hardy, and other artist rebels were read with great enthusiasm.

In the autumn of 1896 she returned to New York by way of Zurich and Paris. The project of Alexander

Berkman's liberation was on hand. The barbaric sentence of twenty-two years had roused tremendous indignation

among the radical elements. It was known that the Pardon Board of Pennsylvania would look to Carnegie and

Frick for advice in the case of Alexander Berkman. It was therefore suggested that these Sultans of Pennsylvania

be approached—not with a view of obtaining their grace, but with the request that they do not attempt to influence

the Board. Ernest Crosby offered to see Carnegie, on condition that Alexander Berkman repudiate his act. That,

however, was absolutely out of the question. He would never be guilty of such forswearing of his own

personality and self-respect. These efforts led to friendly relations between Emma Goldman and the circle of

Ernest Crosby, Bolton Hall, and Leonard Abbott. In the year 1897 she undertook her first great lecture tour, which

extended as far as California. This tour popularized her name as the representative of the oppressed, her eloquence

ringing from coast to coast. In California Emma Goldman became friendly with the members of the Isaak family,

and learned to appreciate their efforts for the Cause. Under tremendous obstacles the Isaaks first published the

FIREBRAND and, upon its suppression by the Postal Department, the FREE SOCIETY. It was also during this

tour that Emma Goldman met that grand old rebel of sexual freedom, Moses Harman.

During the Spanish-American war the spirit of chauvinism was at its highest tide. To check this dangerous

situation, and at the same time collect funds for the revolutionary Cubans, Emma Goldman became affiliated with

the Latin comrades, among others with Gori, Esteve, Palaviccini, Merlino, Petruccini, and Ferrara. In the year

1899 followed another protracted tour of agitation, terminating on the Pacific Coast. Repeated arrests and

accusations, though without ultimate bad results, marked every propaganda tour.

In November of the same year the untiring agitator went on a second lecture tour to England and Scotland, closing

her journey with the first International Anarchist Congress at Paris. It was at the time of the Boer war, and again

jingoism was at its height, as two years previously it had celebrated its orgies during the Spanish-American war.

Various meetings, both in England and Scotland, were disturbed and broken up by patriotic mobs. Emma

Goldman found on this occasion the opportunity of again meeting various English comrades and interesting

personalities like Tom Mann and the sisters Rossetti, the gifted daughters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, then

publishers of the Anarchist review, the TORCH. One of her life-long hopes found here its fulfillment: she came in

close and friendly touch with Peter Kropotkin, Enrico Malatesta, Nicholas Tchaikovsky, W. Tcherkessov, and

Louise Michel. Old warriors in the cause of humanity, whose deeds have enthused thousands of followers

throughout the world, and whose life and work have inspired other thousands with noble idealism and self-

sacrifice. Old warriors they, yet ever young with the courage of earlier days, unbroken in spirit and filled with the

firm hope of the final triumph of Anarchy.

The chasm in the revolutionary labor movement, which resulted from the disruption of the INTERNATIONALE,

could not be bridged any more. Two social philosophies were engaged in bitter combat. The International

Congress in 1889, at Paris; in 1892, at Zurich, and in 1896, at London, produced irreconcilable differences. The

majority of Social Democrats, forswearing their libertarian past and becoming politicians, succeeded in excluding

the revolutionary and Anarchist delegates. The latter decided thenceforth to hold separate congresses. Their first

congress was to take place in 1900, at Paris. The Socialist renegade, Millerand, who had climbed into the Ministry

of the Interior, here played a Judas role. The congress of the revolutionists was suppressed, and the delegates

dispersed two days prior to their scheduled opening. But Millerand had no objections against the Social

Democratic Congress, which was afterwards opened with all the trumpets of the advertiser's art.

However, the renegade did not accomplish his object. A number of delegates succeeded in holding a secret

conference in the house of a comrade outside of Paris, where various points of theory and tactics were discussed.

Emma Goldman took considerable part in these proceedings, and on that occasion came in contact with numerous

representatives of the Anarchist movement of Europe.

Owing to the suppression of the congress, the delegates were in danger of being expelled from France. At this

time also came the bad news from America regarding another unsuccessful attempt to liberate Alexander Berkman,

proving a great shock to Emma Goldman. In November, 1900, she returned to America to devote herself to her

profession of nurse, at the same time taking an active part in the American propaganda. Among other activities she

organized monster meetings of protest against the terrible outrages of the Spanish government, perpetrated upon

the political prisoners tortured in Montjuich.

In her vocation as nurse Emma Goldman enjoyed many opportunities of meeting the most unusual and peculiar

characters. Few would have identified the "notorious Anarchist" in the small blonde woman, simply attired in the

uniform of a nurse. Soon after her return from Europe she became acquainted with a patient by the name of Mrs.

Stander, a morphine fiend, suffering excruciating agonies. She required careful attention to enable her to supervise

a very important business she conducted,—that of Mrs. Warren. In Third Street, near Third Avenue, was situated

her private residence, and near it, connected by a separate entrance, was her place of business. One evening, the

nurse, upon entering the room of her patient, suddenly came face to face with a male visitor, bull-necked and of

brutal appearance. The man was no other than Mr. Jacobs, the detective who seven years previously had brought

Emma Goldman a prisoner from Philadelphia and who had attempted to persuade her, on their way to New York,

to betray the cause of the workingmen. It would be difficult to describe the expression of bewilderment on the

countenance of the man as he so unexpectedly faced Emma Goldman, the nurse of his mistress. The brute was

suddenly transformed into a gentleman, exerting himself to excuse his shameful behavior on the previous

occasion. Jacobs was the "protector" of Mrs. Stander, and go-between for the house and the police. Several years

later, as one of the detective staff of District Attorney Jerome, he committed perjury, was convicted, and sent to

Sing Sing for a year. He is now probably employed by some private detective agency, a desirable pillar of

respectable society.

In 1901 Peter Kropotkin was invited by the Lowell Institute of Massachusetts to deliver a series of lectures on

Russian literature. It was his second American tour, and naturally the comrades were anxious to use his presence

for the benefit of the movement. Emma Goldman entered into correspondence with Kropotkin and succeeded in

securing his consent to arrange for him a series of lectures. She also devoted her energies to organizing the tours

of other well known Anarchists, principally those of Charles W. Mowbray and John Turner. Similarly she always

took part in all the activities of the movement, ever ready to give her time, ability, and energy to the Cause.

On the sixth of September, 1901, President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz at Buffalo. Immediately an

unprecedented campaign of persecution was set in motion against Emma Goldman as the best known Anarchist in

the country. Although there was absolutely no foundation for the accusation, she, together with other prominent

Anarchists, was arrested in Chicago, kept in confinement for several weeks, and subjected to severest cross-

examination. Never before in the history of the country had such a terrible man-hunt taken place against a person

in public life. But the efforts of police and press to connect Emma Goldman with Czolgosz proved futile. Yet the

episode left her wounded to the heart. The physical suffering, the humiliation and brutality at the hands of the

police she could bear. The depression of soul was far worse. She was overwhelmed by realization of the stupidity,

lack of understanding, and vileness which characterized the events of those terrible days. The attitude of

misunderstanding on the part of the majority of her own comrades toward Czolgosz almost drove her to

desperation. Stirred to the very inmost of her soul, she published an article on Czolgosz in which she tried to

explain the deed in its social and individual aspects. As once before, after Berkman's act, she now also was unable

to find quarters; like a veritable wild animal she was driven from place to place. This terrible persecution and,

especially, the attitude of her comrades made it impossible for her to continue propaganda. The soreness of body

and soul had first to heal. During 1901-1903 she did not resume the platform. As "Miss Smith" she lived a quiet

life, practicing her profession and devoting her leisure to the study of literature and, particularly, to the modern

drama, which she considers one of the greatest disseminators of radical ideas and enlightened feeling.

Yet one thing the persecution of Emma Goldman accomplished. Her name was brought before the public with

greater frequency and emphasis than ever before, the malicious harassing of the much maligned agitator arousing

strong sympathy in many circles. Persons in various walks of life began to get interested in her struggle and her

ideas. A better understanding and appreciation were now beginning to manifest themselves.

The arrival in America of the English Anarchist, John Turner, induced Emma Goldman to leave her retirement.

Again she threw herself into her public activities, organizing an energetic movement for the defense of Turner,

whom the Immigration authorities condemned to deportation on account of the Anarchist exclusion law, passed

after the death of McKinley.

When Paul Orleneff and Mme. Nazimova arrived in New York to acquaint the American public with Russian

dramatic art, Emma Goldman became the manager of the undertaking. By much patience and perseverance she

succeeded in raising the necessary funds to introduce the Russian artists to the theater-goers of New York and

Chicago. Though financially not a success, the venture proved of great artistic value. As manager of the Russian

theater Emma Goldman enjoyed some unique experiences. M. Orleneff could converse only in Russian, and

"Miss Smith" was forced to act as his interpreter at various polite functions. Most of the aristocratic ladies of Fifth

Avenue had not the least inkling that the amiable manager who so entertainingly discussed philosophy, drama, and

literature at their five o'clock teas, was the "notorious" Emma Goldman. If the latter should some day write her

autobiography, she will no doubt have many interesting anecdotes to relate in connection with these experiences.

The weekly Anarchist publication, FREE SOCIETY, issued by the Isaak family, was forced to suspend in

consequence of the nation-wide fury that swept the country after the death of McKinley. To fill out the gap Emma

Goldman, in co-operation with Max Baginski and other comrades, decided to publish a monthly magazine devoted

to the furtherance of Anarchist ideas in life and literature. The first issue of MOTHER EARTH appeared in the

month of March, 1906, the initial expenses of the periodical partly covered by the proceeds of a theater benefit

given by Orleneff, Mme. Nazimova, and their company, in favor of the Anarchist magazine. Under tremendous

difficulties and obstacles the tireless propagandist has succeeded in continuing MOTHER EARTH uninterruptedly

since 1906—an achievement rarely equalled in the annals of radical publications.

In May, 1906, Alexander Berkman at last left the hell of Pennsylvania, where he had passed the best fourteen

years of his life. No one had believed in the possibility of his survival. His liberation terminated a nightmare of

fourteen years for Emma Goldman, and an important chapter of her career was thus concluded.

Nowhere had the birth of the Russian revolution aroused such vital and active response as among the Russians

living in America. The heroes of the revolutionary movement in Russia, Tchaikovsky, Mme. Breshkovskaia,

Gershuni, and others visited these shores to waken the sympathies of the American people toward the struggle for

liberty, and to collect aid for its continuance and support. The success of these efforts was to a considerable extent

due to the exertions, eloquence, and the talent for organization on the part of Emma Goldman. This opportunity

enabled her to give valuable services to the struggle for liberty in her native land. It is not generally known that it is

the Anarchists who are mainly instrumental in insuring the success, moral as well as financial, of most of the

radical undertakings. The Anarchist is indifferent to acknowledged appreciation; the needs of the Cause absorb his

whole interest, and to these he devotes his energy and abilities. Yet it may be mentioned that some otherwise

decent folks, though at all times anxious for Anarchist support and co-operation, are ever willing to monopolize all

the credit for the work done. During the last several decades it was chiefly the Anarchists who had organized all

the great revolutionary efforts, and aided in every struggle for liberty. But for fear of shocking the respectable

mob, who looks upon the Anarchists as the apostles of Satan, and because of their social position in bourgeois

society, the would-be radicals ignore the activity of the Anarchists.

In 1907 Emma Goldman participated as delegate to the second Anarchist Congress, at Amsterdam. She was

intensely active in all its proceedings and supported the organization of the Anarchist INTERNATIONALE.

Together with the other American delegate, Max Baginski, she submitted to the congress an exhaustive report of

American conditions, closing with the following characteristic remarks:

"The charge that Anarchism is destructive, rather than constructive, and that, therefore, Anarchism is opposed to

organization, is one of the many falsehoods spread by our opponents. They confound our present social

institutions with organization; hence they fail to understand how we can oppose the former, and yet favor the

latter. The fact, however, is that the two are not identical.

"The State is commonly regarded as the highest form of organization. But is it in reality a true organization? Is it

not rather an arbitrary institution, cunningly imposed upon the masses?

"Industry, too, is called an organization; yet nothing is farther from the truth. Industry is the ceaseless piracy of the

rich against the poor.

"We are asked to believe that the Army is an organization, but a close investigation will show that it is nothing else

than a cruel instrument of blind force.

"The Public School! The colleges and other institutions of learning, are they not models of organization, offering

the people fine opportunities for instruction? Far from it. The school, more than any other institution, is a veritable

barrack, where the human mind is drilled and manipulated into submission to various social and moral spooks,

and thus fitted to continue our system of exploitation and oppression.

"Organization, as WE understand it, however, is a different thing. It is based, primarily, on freedom. It is a natural

and voluntary grouping of energies to secure results beneficial to humanity.

"It is the harmony of organic growth which produces variety of color and form, the complete whole we admire in

the flower. Analogously will the organized activity of free human beings, imbued with the spirit of solidarity,

result in the perfection of social harmony, which we call Anarchism. In fact, Anarchism alone makes non-

authoritarian organization of common interests possible, since it abolishes the existing antagonism between

individuals and classes.

"Under present conditions the antagonism of economic and social interests results in relentless war among the

social units, and creates an insurmountable obstacle in the way of a co-operative commonwealth.

"There is a mistaken notion that organization does not foster individual freedom; that, on the contrary, it means the

decay of individuality. In reality, however, the true function of organization is to aid the development and growth

of personality.

"Just as the animal cells, by mutual co-operation, express their latent powers in formation of the complete

organism, so does the individual, by co-operative effort with other individuals, attain his highest form of


"An organization, in the true sense, cannot result from the combination of mere nonentities. It must be composed

of self-conscious, intelligent individualities. Indeed, the total of the possibilities and activities of an organization is

represented in the expression of individual energies.

"It therefore logically follows that the greater the number of strong, self-conscious personalities in an organization,

the less danger of stagnation, and the more intense its life element.

"Anarchism asserts the possibility of an organization without discipline, fear, or punishment, and without the

pressure of poverty: a new social organism which will make an end to the terrible struggle for the means of

existence,—the savage struggle which undermines the finest qualities in man, and ever widens the social abyss. In

short, Anarchism strives towards a social organization which will establish well-being for all.

"The germ of such an organization can be found in that form of trades unionism which has done away with

centralization, bureaucracy, and discipline, and which favors independent and direct action on the part of its


The very considerable progress of Anarchist ideas in America can best be gauged by the remarkable success of the

three extensive lecture tours of Emma Goldman since the Amsterdam Congress of 1907. Each tour extended over

new territory, including localities where Anarchism had never before received a hearing. But the most gratifying

aspect of her untiring efforts is the tremendous sale of Anarchist literature, whose propagandist effect cannot be

estimated. It was during one of these tours that a remarkable incident happened, strikingly demonstrating the

inspiring potentialities of the Anarchist idea. In San Francisco, in 1908, Emma Goldman's lecture attracted a

soldier of the United States Army, William Buwalda. For daring to attend an Anarchist meeting, the free Republic

court-martialed Buwalda and imprisoned him for one year. Thanks to the regenerating power of the new

philosophy, the government lost a soldier, but the cause of liberty gained a man.

A propagandist of Emma Goldman's importance is necessarily a sharp thorn to the reaction. She is looked upon as

a danger to the continued existence of authoritarian usurpation. No wonder, then, that the enemy resorts to any and

all means to make her impossible. A systematic attempt to suppress her activities was organized a year ago by the

united police force of the country. But like all previous similar attempts, it failed in a most brilliant manner.

Energetic protests on the part of the intellectual element of America succeeded in overthrowing the dastardly

conspiracy against free speech. Another attempt to make Emma Goldman impossible was essayed by the Federal

authorities at Washington. In order to deprive her of the rights of citizenship, the government revoked the

citizenship papers of her husband, whom she had married at the youthful age of eighteen, and whose whereabouts,

if he be alive, could not be determined for the last two decades. The great government of the glorious United States

did not hesitate to stoop to the most despicable methods to accomplish that achievement. But as her citizenship had

never proved of use to Emma Goldman, she can bear the loss with a light heart.

There are personalities who possess such a powerful individuality that by its very force they exert the most potent

influence over the best representatives of their time. Michael Bakunin was such a personality. But for him, Richard

Wagner had never written DIE KUNST UND DIE REVOLUTION. Emma Goldman is a similar personality. She

is a strong factor in the socio-political life of America. By virtue of her eloquence, energy, and brilliant mentality,

she moulds the minds and hearts of thousands of her auditors.

Deep sympathy and compassion for suffering humanity, and an inexorable honesty toward herself, are the leading

traits of Emma Goldman. No person, whether friend or foe, shall presume to control her goal or dictate her mode

of life. She would perish rather than sacrifice her convictions, or the right of self-ownership of soul and body.

Respectability could easily forgive the teaching of theoretic Anarchism; but Emma Goldman does not merely

preach the new philosophy; she also persists in living it,—and that is the one supreme, unforgivable crime. Were

she, like so many radicals, to consider her ideal as merely an intellectual ornament; were she to make concessions

to existing society and compromise with old prejudices,—then even the most radical views could be pardoned in

her. But that she takes her radicalism seriously; that it has permeated her blood and marrow to the extent where she

not merely teaches but also practices her convictions—this shocks even the radical Mrs. Grundy. Emma Goldman

lives her own life; she associates with publicans—hence the indignation of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

It is no mere coincidence that such divergent writers as Pietro Gori and William Marion Reedy find similar traits in

their characterization of Emma Goldman. In a contribution to LA QUESTIONE SOCIALE, Pietro Gori calls her a

"moral power, a woman who, with the vision of a sibyl, prophesies the coming of a new kingdom for the

oppressed; a woman who, with logic and deep earnestness, analyses the ills of society, and portrays, with artist

touch, the coming dawn of humanity, founded on equality, brotherhood, and liberty."

William Reedy sees in Emma Goldman the "daughter of the dream, her gospel a vision which is the vision of

every truly great-souled man and woman who has ever lived."

Cowards who fear the consequences of their deeds have coined the word of philosophic Anarchism. Emma

Goldman is too sincere, too defiant, to seek safety behind such paltry pleas. She is an Anarchist, pure and simple.

She represents the idea of Anarchism as framed by Josiah Warrn, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy. Yet

she also understands the psychologic causes which induce a Caserio, a Vaillant, a Bresci, a Berkman, or a

Czolgosz to commit deeds of violence. To the soldier in the social struggle it is a point of honor to come in conflict

with the powers of darkness and tyranny, and Emma Goldman is proud to count among her best friends and

comrades men and women who bear the wounds and scars received in battle.

In the words of Voltairine de Cleyre, characterizing Emma Goldman after the latter's imprisonment in 1893: The

spirit that animates Emma Goldman is the only one which will emancipate the slave from his slavery, the tyrant

from his tyranny—the spirit which is willing to dare and suffer.


New York, December, 1910.