Emma Goldman

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Person.png Emma Goldman   Amazon Spartacus WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(activist, orator, writer)
Emma Goldman seated.jpg
Kovno, Russian Empire
Died1940-05-14 (Age 70)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Anarchist revolutionary deported from the US during the Palmer Raids

Emma Goldman was an anarchist political activist and writer. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Born in Kaunas, Russian Empire (now Lithuania) to a Jewish family, Goldman emigrated to the United States in 1885.[1] Attracted to anarchism after the Chicago Haymarket affair, Goldman became a writer and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women's rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands.[1] She and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman, her lover and lifelong friend, planned to assassinate industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Frick survived the attempt on his life in 1892, and Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth.

In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to "induce persons not to register" for the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with 248 others—and deported to Russia. Initially supportive of that country's October Revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power, Goldman changed her opinion in the wake of the Kronstadt rebellion; she denounced the Soviet Union for its violent repression of independent voices. She left the Soviet Union and in 1923 published a book about her experiences, My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada, and France, she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life. It was published in two volumes, in 1931 and 1935. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Goldman traveled to Spain to support the anarchist revolution there. She died in Toronto, Canada, on May 14, 1940, aged 70.

During her life, Goldman was lionized as a freethinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and denounced by detractors as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution.[2] Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality, while distancing herself from bourgeois feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage.

Early Life

Emma Goldman, the daughter of Jewish parents, was born in Kovno, Russia on 27th June, 1869. Goldman emigrated to the United States in 1885 and worked in a clothing factory in Rochester before moving to New York City in 1889.

Goldman enjoyed a decades-long relationship with her lover Alexander Berkman. Photo c. 1917–1919.

On her first day in the city, Goldman met two men who greatly changed her life. At Sachs's Café, a gathering place for radicals, she was introduced to Alexander Berkman, an anarchist who invited her to a public speech that evening. They went to hear Johann Most, editor of a radical publication called Freiheit and an advocate of "propaganda of the deed"—the use of violence to instigate change.[3] She was impressed by his fiery oration, and Most took her under his wing, training her in methods of public speaking. He encouraged her vigorously, telling her that she was "to take my place when I am gone."[4] One of her first public talks in support of "the Cause" was in Rochester. After convincing Helena not to tell their parents of her speech, Goldman found her mind a blank once on stage. She later wrote, suddenly:[5]

something strange happened. In a flash I saw it—every incident of my three years in Rochester: the Garson factory, its drudgery and humiliation, the failure of my marriage, the Chicago crime...I began to speak. Words I had never heard myself utter before came pouring forth, faster and faster. They came with passionate intensity...The audience had vanished, the hall itself had disappeared; I was conscious only of my own words, of my ecstatic song.

Excited by the experience, Goldman refined her public persona during subsequent engagements. Quickly, however, she found herself arguing with Most over her independence. After a momentous speech in Cleveland, she felt as though she had become "a parrot repeating Most's views"[6] and resolved to express herself on the stage. When she returned to New York, Most became furious and told her: "Who is not with me is against me!"[7] She left Freiheit and joined another publication, Die Autonomie.[8]

Meanwhile, Goldman had begun a friendship with Berkman, whom she affectionately called Sasha. Before long they became lovers and moved into a communal apartment with his cousin Modest "Fedya" Stein and Goldman's friend, Helen Minkin, on 42nd Street.[9] Although their relationship had numerous difficulties, Goldman and Berkman would share a close bond for decades, united by their anarchist principles and commitment to personal equality.[10]

In 1892, Goldman joined with Berkman and Stein in opening an ice cream shop in Worcester, Massachusetts. After a few months of operating the shop, however, Goldman and Berkman were diverted by becoming involved in the Homestead Strike in western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.[11]

Homestead plot

Berkman and Goldman came together through the Homestead Strike. In June 1892, a steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania owned by Andrew Carnegie became the focus of national attention when talks between the Carnegie Steel Company and the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AA) broke down. The factory's manager was Henry Clay Frick, a fierce opponent of the union. When a final round of talks failed at the end of June, management closed the plant and locked out the workers, who immediately went on strike. Strikebreakers were brought in and the company hired Pinkerton guards to protect them. On July 6, a fight broke out between 300 Pinkerton guards and a crowd of armed union workers. During the twelve-hour gunfight, seven guards and nine strikers were killed.[12]

Goldman and Berkman believed that a retaliatory assassination of Carnegie Steel Company manager Henry Clay Frick (pictured) would "strike terror into the soul of his class" and "bring the teachings of Anarchism before the world".[13]

When a majority of the nation's newspapers expressed support of the strikers, Goldman and Berkman resolved to assassinate Frick, an action they expected would inspire the workers to revolt against the capitalist system. Berkman chose to carry out the assassination, and ordered Goldman to stay behind in order to explain his motives after he went to jail. He would be in charge of "the deed"; she of the associated propaganda.[14] Berkman set off for Pittsburgh on his way to Homestead, where he planned to shoot Frick.[15]

On July 23, Berkman gained access to Frick's office while carrying a concealed handgun; he shot Frick three times, and stabbed him in the leg. A group of workers—far from joining in his attentat—beat Berkman unconscious, and he was carried away by the police.[16] Berkman was convicted of attempted murder[17] and sentenced to 22 years in prison.[18] Goldman suffered during his long absence.[19]

Convinced Goldman was involved in the plot, police raided her apartment. Although they found no evidence, they pressured her landlord into evicting her. Worse, the attentat had failed to rouse the masses: workers and anarchists alike condemned Berkman's action. Johann Most, their former mentor, lashed out at Berkman and the assassination attempt. Furious at these attacks, Goldman brought a toy horsewhip to a public lecture and demanded, onstage, that Most explain his betrayal. He dismissed her, whereupon she struck him with the whip, broke it on her knee, and hurled the pieces at him.[20][21] She later regretted her assault, confiding to a friend: "At the age of twenty-three, one does not reason."[22]

"Inciting to riot"

When the Panic of 1893 struck in the following year, the United States suffered one of its worst economic crises. By year's end, the unemployment rate was higher than 20%,[23] and "hunger demonstrations" sometimes gave way to riots. Goldman began speaking to crowds of frustrated men and women in New York City. On August 21, she spoke to a crowd of nearly 3,000 people in Union Square, where she encouraged unemployed workers to take immediate action. Her exact words are unclear: undercover agents insist she ordered the crowd to "take everything ... by force".[24] But Goldman later recounted this message: "Well then, demonstrate before the palaces of the rich; demand work. If they do not give you work, demand bread. If they deny you both, take bread."[25] Later in court, Detective-Sergeant Charles Jacobs offered yet another version of her speech.[26]

Goldman (shown here in Union Square, New York in 1916) urged unemployed workers to take direct action rather than depend on charity or government aid.

A week later, Goldman was arrested in Philadelphia and returned to New York City for trial, charged with "inciting to riot".[27] During the train ride, Jacobs offered to drop the charges against her if she would inform on other radicals in the area. She responded by throwing a glass of ice water in his face.[28] As she awaited trial, Goldman was visited by Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World. She spent two hours talking to Goldman and wrote a positive article about the woman she described as a "modern Joan of Arc."[29]

Despite this positive publicity, the jury was persuaded by Jacobs' testimony and frightened by Goldman's politics. The assistant District Attorney questioned Goldman about her anarchism, as well as her atheism; the judge spoke of her as "a dangerous woman".[30] She was sentenced to one year in the Blackwell's Island Penitentiary. Once inside she suffered an attack of rheumatism and was sent to the infirmary; there she befriended a visiting doctor and began studying medicine. She also read dozens of books, including works by the American activist-writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne; poet Walt Whitman, and philosopher John Stuart Mill.[31] When Goldman was released after ten months, a raucous crowd of nearly 3,000 people greeted her at the Thalia Theater in New York City. She soon became swamped with requests for interviews and lectures.[32]

To make money, Goldman decided to pursue the medical work she had studied in prison. However, her preferred fields of specialization—midwifery and massage—were not available to nursing students in the US. She sailed to Europe, lecturing in London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. She met with renowned anarchists such as Errico Malatesta, Louise Michel, and Peter Kropotkin. In Vienna, she received two diplomas for midwifery and put them immediately to use back in the US.[33]

Alternating between lectures and midwifery, Goldman conducted the first cross-country tour by an anarchist speaker. In November 1899 she returned to Europe to speak, where she met the Czech anarchist Hippolyte Havel in London. They went together to France and helped organize the 1900 International Anarchist Congress on the outskirts of Paris.[34] Afterward Havel immigrated to the United States, traveling with Goldman to Chicago. They shared a residence there with friends of Goldman.[35]

McKinley assassination

Leon Czolgosz insisted that Goldman had not guided his plan to assassinate US President William McKinley, but she was arrested and held for two weeks.

On September 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz, an unemployed factory worker and registered Republican with a history of mental illness, shot US President William McKinley twice during a public speaking event in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was hit in the breastbone and stomach, and died eight days later.[36] Czolgosz was arrested, and interrogated around the clock. During interrogation he claimed to be an anarchist and said he had been inspired to act after attending a speech by Goldman. The authorities used this as a pretext to charge Goldman with planning McKinley's assassination. They tracked her to the residence in Chicago she shared with Havel, as well as with Mary and Abe Isaak, an anarchist couple and their family.[35][37] Goldman was arrested, along with Isaak, Havel, and ten other anarchists.[38]

Earlier, Czolgosz had tried but failed to become friends with Goldman and her companions. During a talk in Cleveland, Czolgosz had approached Goldman and asked her advice on which books he should read. In July 1901, he had appeared at the Isaak house, asking a series of unusual questions. They assumed he was an infiltrator, like a number of police agents sent to spy on radical groups. They had remained distant from him, and Abe Isaak sent a notice to associates warning of "another spy".[39]

Although Czolgosz repeatedly denied Goldman's involvement, the police held her in close custody, subjecting her to what she called the "third degree".[40] She explained her housemates' distrust of Czolgosz, and the police finally recognized that she had not had any significant contact with the attacker. No evidence was found linking Goldman to the attack, and she was released after two weeks of detention. Before McKinley died, Goldman offered to provide nursing care, referring to him as "merely a human being".[41] Czolgosz, despite considerable evidence of mental illness, was convicted of murder and executed.[42]

Throughout her detention and after her release, Goldman steadfastly refused to condemn Czolgosz's actions, standing virtually alone in doing so. Friends and supporters—including Berkman—urged her to quit his cause. But Goldman defended Czolgosz as a "supersensitive being"[43] and chastised other anarchists for abandoning him.[43] She was vilified in the press as the "high priestess of anarchy",[44] while many newspapers declared the anarchist movement responsible for the murder.[45] In the wake of these events, socialism gained support over anarchism among US radicals. McKinley's successor, Theodore Roosevelt, declared his intent to crack down "not only against anarchists, but against all active and passive sympathizers with anarchists".[46]

Mother Earth and Berkman's release

After Czolgosz was executed, Goldman withdrew from the world and, from 1903 to 1913, in New York City.[47]. Scorned by her fellow anarchists, vilified by the press, and separated from her love, Berkman, she retreated into anonymity and nursing. "It was bitter and hard to face life anew," she wrote later.[48]

Using the name E. G. Smith, she left public life and took on a series of private nursing jobs while suffering from severe depression.[49] When the US Congress passed the Anarchist Exclusion Act (1903), however, a new wave of activism rose to oppose it, and Goldman was pulled back into the movement. A coalition of people and organizations across the left end of the political spectrum opposed the law on grounds that it violated freedom of speech, and she had the nation's ear once again.[50]

After an English anarchist named John Turner was arrested under the Anarchist Exclusion Act and threatened with deportation, Goldman joined forces with the Free Speech League to champion his cause.[51] The league enlisted the aid of noted attorneys Clarence Darrow and Edgar Lee Masters, who took Turner's case to the US Supreme Court. Although Turner and the League lost, Goldman considered it a victory of propaganda.[52] She had returned to anarchist activism, but it was taking its toll on her. "I never felt so weighed down," she wrote to Berkman. "I fear I am forever doomed to remain public property and to have my life worn out through the care for the lives of others."[53]

In 1906, Goldman decided to start a publication, "a place of expression for the young idealists in arts and letters".[54] Mother Earth was staffed by a cadre of radical activists, including Hippolyte Havel, Max Baginski, and Leonard Abbott. In addition to publishing original works by its editors and anarchists around the world, Mother Earth reprinted selections from a variety of writers. These included the French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and British writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Goldman wrote frequently about anarchism, politics, labor issues, atheism, sexuality, and feminism, and was the first editor of the magazine.[55][56]

Goldman's Mother Earth magazine became a home to radical activists and literary free thinkers around the US.

On May 18 of the same year, Alexander Berkman was released from prison. Carrying a bouquet of roses, Goldman met him on the train platform and found herself "seized by terror and pity"[57] as she beheld his gaunt, pale form. Neither was able to speak; they returned to her home in silence. For weeks, he struggled to readjust to life on the outside. An abortive speaking tour ended in failure, and in Cleveland he purchased a revolver with the intent of killing himself.[58][59] He returned to New York, however, and learned that Goldman had been arrested with a group of activists meeting to reflect on Czolgosz. Invigorated anew by this violation of freedom of assembly, he declared, "My resurrection has come!"[60] and set about securing their release.[61]

Berkman took the helm of Mother Earth in 1907, while Goldman toured the country to raise funds to keep it operating. Editing the magazine was a revitalizing experience for Berkman. But his relationship with Goldman faltered, and he had an affair with a 15-year-old anarchist named Becky Edelsohn. Goldman was pained by his rejection of her, but considered it a consequence of his prison experience.[62] Later that year she served as a delegate from the US to the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam. Anarchists and syndicalists from around the world gathered to sort out the tension between the two ideologies, but no decisive agreement was reached. Goldman returned to the US and continued speaking to large audiences.[63]

Reitman, essays, and birth control

For the next ten years, Goldman traveled around the country nonstop, delivering lectures and agitating for anarchism. The coalitions formed in opposition to the Anarchist Exclusion Act had given her an appreciation for reaching out to those of other political positions. When the US Justice Department sent spies to observe, they reported the meetings as "packed".[64] Writers, journalists, artists, judges, and workers from across the spectrum spoke of her "magnetic power", her "convincing presence", her "force, eloquence, and fire".[65]

Goldman joined Margaret Sanger in crusading for women's access to birth control; both women were arrested for violating the Comstock Law.

In the spring of 1908, Goldman met and fell in love with Ben Reitman, the so-called "Hobo doctor". Having grown up in Chicago's Tenderloin District, Reitman spent several years as a drifter before earning a medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago. As a doctor, he treated people suffering from poverty and illness, particularly venereal diseases. He and Goldman began an affair. They shared a commitment to free love and Reitman took a variety of lovers, but Goldman did not. She tried to reconcile her feelings of jealousy with a belief in freedom of the heart, but found it difficult.[66]

Two years later, Goldman began feeling frustrated with lecture audiences. She yearned to "reach the few who really want to learn, rather than the many who come to be amused".[67] She collected a series of speeches and items she had written for Mother Earth and published a book titled Anarchism and Other Essays. Covering a wide variety of topics, Goldman tried to represent "the mental and soul struggles of twenty-one years".[67]

When Margaret Sanger, an advocate of access to contraception, coined the term "birth control" and disseminated information about various methods in the June 1914 issue of her magazine The Woman Rebel, she received aggressive support from Goldman. The latter had already been active in efforts to increase birth control access for several years. In 1916, Goldman was arrested for giving lessons in public on how to use contraceptives.[68] Sanger, too, was arrested under the Comstock Law, which prohibited the dissemination of "obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles", which authorities defined as including information relating to birth control.[69]

Although they later split from Sanger over charges of insufficient support, Goldman and Reitman distributed copies of Sanger's pamphlet Family Limitation (along with a similar essay of Reitman's). In 1915 Goldman conducted a nationwide speaking tour, in part to raise awareness about contraception options. Although the nation's attitude toward the topic seemed to be liberalizing, Goldman was arrested on February 11, 1916, as she was about to give another public lecture.[70] Goldman was charged with violating the Comstock Law. Refusing to pay a $100 fine, she spent two weeks in a prison workhouse, which she saw as an "opportunity" to reconnect with those rejected by society.[71]

World War I

Although President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 under the slogan "He kept us out of the war", at the start of his second term, he made the US enter the Great War. Shortly afterward, Congress passed the Selective Service Act of 1917, which required all males aged 21–30 to register for military conscription. Goldman saw the decision as an exercise in militarist aggression, driven by capitalism. She declared in Mother Earth her intent to resist conscription, and to oppose US involvement in the war.[72]

Goldman on a streetcar in 1917, perhaps during a strike or demonstration

To this end, she and Berkman organized the No Conscription League of New York, which proclaimed: "We oppose conscription because we are internationalists, antimilitarists, and opposed to all wars waged by capitalistic governments."[73] The group became a vanguard for anti-draft activism, and chapters began to appear in other cities. When police began raiding the group's public events to find young men who had not registered for the draft, however, Goldman and others focused their efforts on distributing pamphlets and other writings.[74] In the midst of the nation's patriotic fervor, many elements of the political left refused to support the League's efforts. The Women's Peace Party, for example, ceased its opposition to the war once the US entered it. The Socialist Party of America took an official stance against US involvement, but supported Wilson in most of his activities.[75]

On June 15, 1917, Goldman and Berkman were arrested during a raid of their offices, in which authorities seized "a wagon load of anarchist records and propaganda".[76] The New York Times reported that Goldman asked to change into a more appropriate outfit, and emerged in a gown of "royal purple".[76][77] The pair were charged with conspiracy to "induce persons not to register"[78] under the newly enacted Espionage Act,[79] and were held on US$25,000 bail each. Defending herself and Berkman during their trial, Goldman invoked the First Amendment, asking how the government could claim to fight for democracy abroad while suppressing free speech at home:[80]

We say that if America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe in America. How else is the world to take America seriously, when democracy at home is daily being outraged, free speech suppressed, peaceable assemblies broken up by overbearing and brutal gangsters in uniform; when free press is curtailed and every independent opinion gagged? Verily, poor as we are in democracy, how can we give of it to the world?

The jury found Goldman and Berkman guilty. Judge Julius Marshuetz Mayer imposed the maximum sentence: two years' imprisonment, a $10,000 fine each, and the possibility of deportation after their release from prison. As she was transported to Missouri State Penitentiary, Goldman wrote to a friend: "Two years imprisonment for having made an uncompromising stand for one's ideal. Why that is a small price."[81]

In prison, she was assigned to work as a seamstress, under the eye of a "miserable gutter-snipe of a 21-year-old boy paid to get results".[82] She met the socialist Kate Richards O'Hare, who had also been imprisoned under the Espionage Act. Although they differed on political strategy— O'Hare believed in voting to achieve state power—the two women came together to agitate for better conditions among prisoners.[83] Goldman also met and became friends with Gabriella Segata Antolini, an anarchist and follower of Luigi Galleani. Antolini had been arrested transporting a satchel filled with dynamite on a Chicago-bound train. She had refused to cooperate with authorities, and was sent to prison for 14 months. Working together to make life better for the other inmates, the three women became known as "The Trinity". Goldman was released on September 27, 1919.[84]

Palmer Raids and Deportation

Goldman's deportation photo, 1919

Goldman and Berkman were released from prison during the United States' Red Scare of 1919–20, when public anxiety about wartime pro-German activities had expanded into a pervasive fear of Bolshevism and the prospect of an imminent radical revolution. It was a time of social unrest due to union organizing strikes and actions by activist immigrants. Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer and J. Edgar Hoover, head of the US Department of Justice's General Intelligence Division (now the FBI), were intent on using the Anarchist Exclusion Act and its 1918 expansion to deport any non-citizens they could identify as advocates of anarchy or revolution. "Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman," Hoover wrote while they were in prison, "are, beyond doubt, two of the most dangerous anarchists in this country and return to the community will result in undue harm."[85]

At her deportation hearing on October 27, Goldman refused to answer questions about her beliefs, on the grounds that her American citizenship invalidated any attempt to deport her under the Anarchist Exclusion Act, which could be enforced only against non-citizens of the US. She presented a written statement instead: "Today so-called aliens are deported. Tomorrow native Americans will be banished. Already some patrioteers are suggesting that native American sons to whom democracy is a sacred ideal should be exiled."[86] Louis Post at the Department of Labor, which had ultimate authority over deportation decisions, determined that the revocation of her husband Kershner's American citizenship in 1908 after his conviction had revoked hers as well. After initially promising a court fight,[87] Goldman decided not to appeal his ruling.[88]

The Labor Department included Goldman and Berkman among 249 aliens it deported en masse, mostly people with only vague associations with radical groups, who had been swept up in government raids in November.[89] Buford, a ship the press nicknamed the "Soviet Ark", sailed from the Army's New York Port of Embarkation on December 21.[90] Some 58 enlisted men and four officers provided security on the journey, and pistols were distributed to the crew.[90][91] Most of the press approved enthusiastically. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: "It is hoped and expected that other vessels, larger, more commodious, carrying similar cargoes, will follow in her wake."[92] The ship landed her charges in Hanko, Finland, on Saturday, January 17, 1920.[93][94]


Here, Emma Goldman delivers a eulogy at Peter Kropotkin's funeral procession. Immediately in front of Goldman stands her lifelong comrade Alexander Berkman. Kropotkin's funeral was the occasion of the last great demonstration of anarchists in Moscow—tens of thousands of people poured into the streets to pay their respects.

Goldman initially viewed the Bolshevik revolution in a positive light. She wrote in Mother Earth that despite its dependence on Communist government, it represented "the most fundamental, far-reaching and all-embracing principles of human freedom and of economic well-being".[95] By the time she neared Europe, however, she expressed fears about what was to come. She was worried about the ongoing Russian Civil War and the possibility of being seized by anti-Bolshevik forces. The state, anti-capitalist though it was, also posed a threat. "I could never in my life work within the confines of the State," she wrote to her niece, "Bolshevist or otherwise."[96]

She quickly discovered that her fears were justified. Days after returning to Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), she was shocked to hear a party official refer to free speech as a "bourgeois superstition".[97] As she and Berkman traveled around the country, they found repression, mismanagement, and corruption[98] instead of the equality and worker empowerment they had dreamed of. Those who questioned the government were demonized as counter-revolutionaries,[98] and workers labored under severe conditions.[98] They met with Vladimir Lenin, who assured them that government suppression of press liberties was justified. He told them: "There can be no free speech in a revolutionary period."[99] Berkman was more willing to forgive the government's actions in the name of "historical necessity", but he eventually joined Goldman in opposing the Soviet state's authority.[100]

In March 1921, strikes erupted in Petrograd when workers took to the streets demanding better food rations and more union autonomy. Goldman and Berkman felt a responsibility to support the strikers, stating: "To remain silent now is impossible, even criminal."[101] The unrest spread to the port town of Kronstadt, where the government ordered a military response to suppress striking soldiers and sailors. In the Kronstadt rebellion, approximately 1,000 rebelling sailors and soldiers were killed and two thousand more were arrested; many were later executed. In the wake of these events, Goldman and Berkman decided there was no future in the country for them. "More and more", she wrote, "we have come to the conclusion that we can do nothing here. And as we can not keep up a life of inactivity much longer we have decided to leave."[102]

In December 1921, they left the country and went to the Latvian capital city of Riga. The US commissioner in that city wired officials in Washington DC, who began requesting information from other governments about the couple's activities. After a short trip to Stockholm, they moved to Berlin for several years; during this time Goldman agreed to write a series of articles about her time in Russia for Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper, the New York World. These were later collected and published in book form as My Disillusionment in Russia (1923) and My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924). The publishers added these titles to attract attention; Goldman protested, albeit in vain.[103]

England, Canada, and France

Goldman found it difficult to acclimate to the German leftist community in Berlin. Communists despised her outspokenness about Soviet repression; liberals derided her radicalism. While Berkman remained in Berlin helping Russian exiles, Goldman moved to London in September 1924. Upon her arrival, the novelist Rebecca West arranged a reception dinner for her, attended by philosopher Bertrand Russell, novelist H. G. Wells, and more than 200 other guests. When she spoke of her dissatisfaction with the Soviet government, the audience was shocked. Some left the gathering; others berated her for prematurely criticizing the Communist experiment.[104] Later, in a letter, Russell declined to support her efforts at systemic change in the Soviet Union and ridiculed her anarchist idealism.[105]

The 1927 executions of Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco (right) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were troubling for Goldman, then living alone in Canada.

In 1925, the spectre of deportation loomed again, but a Scottish anarchist named James Colton offered to marry her and provide British citizenship. Although they were only distant acquaintances, she accepted and they were married on June 27, 1925. Her new status gave her peace of mind, and allowed her to travel to France and Canada.[106] Life in London was stressful for Goldman; she wrote to Berkman: "I am awfully tired and so lonely and heartsick. It is a dreadful feeling to come back here from lectures and find not a kindred soul, no one who cares whether one is dead or alive."[107] She worked on analytical studies of drama, expanding on the work she had published in 1914. But the audiences were "awful," and she never finished her second book on the subject.[108]

Goldman traveled to Canada in 1927, just in time to receive news of the impending executions of Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in Boston. Angered by the many irregularities of the case, she saw it as another travesty of justice in the US. She longed to join the mass demonstrations in Boston; memories of the Haymarket affair overwhelmed her, compounded by her isolation. "Then," she wrote, "I had my life before me to take up the cause for those killed. Now I have nothing."[109][110]

In 1928, she began writing her autobiography, with the support of a group of American admirers, including journalist H. L. Mencken, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, novelist Theodore Dreiser and art collector Peggy Guggenheim, who raised $4,000 for her.[111] She secured a cottage in the French coastal city of Saint-Tropez and spent two years recounting her life. Berkman offered sharply critical feedback, which she eventually incorporated at the price of a strain on their relationship.[112] Goldman intended the book, Living My Life, as a single volume for a price the working class could afford (she urged no more than $5.00); her publisher Alfred A. Knopf, however, released it as two volumes sold together for $7.50. Goldman was furious, but unable to force a change. Due in large part to the Great Depression, sales were sluggish despite keen interest from libraries around the US.[113] Critical reviews were generally enthusiastic; The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Saturday Review of Literature all listed it as one of the year's top non-fiction books.[114]



  1. a b https://web.archive.org/web/20130911140147/http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/rjd/findingaids/EGoldmanb.html
  2. https://archive.org/details/voicesofrevoluti0000stre
  3. Chalberg, pp. 27–28.
  4. Goldman, Living, p. 40.
  5. Goldman, Living, p. 51.
  6. Goldman, Living, p. 52.
  7. Goldman, Living, p. 54.
  8. Wexler, Intimate, p. 53.
  9. Wexler, Intimate, p. 57.
  10. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 57–58.
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20150712130323/http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldman/peopleevents/p_frick.html
  12. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 61–62.
  13. Quoted in Wexler, Intimate, p. 63.
  14. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 63–65.
  15. Wexler, Emma Goldman in America, p. 65.
  16. Chalberg, pp. 42–43; Falk, Love, p. 25; Wexler, Intimate, p. 65.
  17. https://www.nytimes.com/1919/11/26/archives/alexander-berkman-the-anarchist-to-be-deported-case-of-emma-goldman.html
  18. Goldman, Living, p. 106.
  19. Wexler, Intimate, p. 65.
  20. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 65–66.
  21. Goldman, Living, p. 105.
  22. Quoted in Wexler, Intimate, p. 66.
  23. https://web.archive.org/web/20080507042708/http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=538
  24. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 46.
  25. Goldman, Living, p. 123.
  26. Drinnon, Rebel, pp. 58–59.
  27. Wexler, Intimate, p. 76.
  28. Drinnon, Rebel, p. 57.
  29. Nellie Bly, "Nelly Bly Again: She Interviews Emma Goldman and Other Anarchists", New York World, September 17, 1893.
  30. Drinnon, Rebel, p. 60.
  31. Wexler, Intimate, p. 78.
  32. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 78–79.
  33. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 84–85.
  34. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 85–89.
  35. a b Drinnon, Rebel, p. 68.
  36. Chalberg, pp. 65–66.
  37. Chalberg, p. 73.
  38. Wexler, Intimate, p. 104.
  39. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 103–104.
  40. Goldman, Living, p. 300.
  41. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 76.
  42. Drinnon, Rebel, p. 74.
  43. a b Chalberg, p. 78.
  44. Falk, The American Years, p. 461.
  45. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 106–112.
  46. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 81.
  47. https://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/30/arts/new-york-cradle-of-labor-history.html
  48. Goldman, Living, p. 318.
  49. Wexler, Intimate, p. 115.
  50. Wexler, Intimate, p. 116.
  51. Falk, Making Speech Free, p. 557.
  52. Chalberg, pp. 84–87.
  53. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 87.
  54. Goldman, Living, p. 377.
  55. Chalberg, pp. 88–91.
  56. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 121–130.
  57. Goldman, Living, p. 384.
  58. Chalberg, p. 94.
  59. Drinnon, Rebel, pp. 97–98.
  60. Quoted in Goldman, Living, p. 391.
  61. Drinnon, Rebel, p. 98.
  62. Chalberg, p. 97.
  63. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 135–137.
  64. Wexler, Intimate, p. 166.
  65. Wexler, Intimate, p. 168.
  66. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 140–147.
  67. a b Goldman, Anarchism, p. 45.
  68. Alice S. Rossi. The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir. Lebanon, New Hampshire: Northeastern University Press, 1988, p. 507
  69. Quoted in Wexler, Intimate, pp. 210–211.
  70. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/feb11.html
  71. Wexler, Intimate, pp. 211–215.
  72. Drinnon, Rebel, pp. 186–187; Wexler, Intimate, p. 230.
  73. Berkman, p. 155.
  74. Drinnon, Rebel, pp. 186–187.
  75. Chalberg, p. 129.
  76. a b https://www.nytimes.com/1917/06/16/archives/emma-goldman-and-a-berkman-behind-the-bars-anarchist-headquarters.html
  77. Quoted in Wexler, Intimate, p. 232.
  78. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 134.
  79. Shaw, Francis H. (July 1964). "The Trials of Emma Goldman, Anarchist". The Review of Politics. 26 (3): 444–445.
  80. Trial and Speeches of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman in the United States District Court, in the City of New York, July 1917 (New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1917)
  81. Wexler, Intimate, p. 235–244.
  82. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 141.
  83. Chalberg, pp. 141–142.
  84. Wexler, Intimate, p. 253–263.
  85. Quoted in Drinnon, Rebel, p. 215.
  86. https://www.nytimes.com/1919/10/28/archives/deportation-defied-by-emma-goldman-anarchist-leader-refuses-to.html
  87. https://www.nytimes.com/1919/12/01/archives/will-fight-deportation-emma-goldman-and-berkman-hailed-as-martyrs.html
  88. Post, pp. 13–14.
  89. McCormick, pp. 158–163.
  90. a b https://www.nytimes.com/1919/12/21/archives/ark-with-300-reds-sails-early-today-for-unnamed-port-bufords.html
  91. Post, p. 4.
  92. Murray, 208-9
  93. https://www.nytimes.com/1920/01/18/archives/soviet-ark-lands-its-reds-in-finland-buford-reaches-hango-and.html
  94. Post, pp. 1–11.
  95. Quoted in Wexler, Intimate, p. 243.
  96. Quoted in Wexler, Exile, p. 17.
  97. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 150.
  98. a b c Goldman, Emma. Living My Life. 1931. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1970. ISBN 0-486-22543-7.
  99. Quoted in Drinnon, Rebel, p. 235.
  100. Drinnon, Rebel, pp. 236–237.
  101. Quoted in Drinnon, Rebel, p. 237.
  102. Wexler, Exile, pp. 47–49.
  103. Wexler, Exile, pp. 56–58.
  104. Chalberg, pp. 161–162.
  105. Quoted in Wexler, Exile, p. 96.
  106. Falk, Love, pp. 209–210.
  107. Quoted in Wexler, Exile, p. 111.
  108. Wexler, Exile, p. 115.
  109. Quoted in Chalberg, p. 164.
  110. Wexler, Exile, p. 122.
  111. Mary V. Dearborn, Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim, Houghton Mifflin, 2004, pp.61–62
  112. Wexler, Exile, p. 135.
  113. Chalberg, pp. 165–166.
  114. Wexler, Exile, p. 154.
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