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Top: Jewish Mind Control: Anarchism: Emma Goldman

( The Reader's Companion to American History )

Goldman, Emma

(1869-1940), anarchist and feminist. Opponent of established authority, war, and totalitarian government, Emma Goldman was the most famous rebel of her day. A passionate activist andcharismatic speaker, she committed her life to radical causes in Europe and America. Born in a Jewish ghetto in Lithuania, Goldman immigrated to the United States when she was sixteen. Reared in a Jewish tradition of prophecy and opposition to injustice, her early experience molded by Russian anti-Semitism and reading in Russian nihilist literature, Goldman was destined to become a critic of her newly adopted country, just as she was of the Old World she left behind. But it was the hanging in 1887 of four Chicago anarchists accused of murdering policemen in the Haymarket affair that led her to dedicate her life to political radicalism.

A sewing machine operator in a corset factory, she concluded that she and other workers were exploited by factory owners. She was attracted to anarchism not only because it promised to replace capitalism with worker cooperatives but because anarchism espoused atheism, free speech, and freedom from sexual inhibition. Like many other anarchists of her day, Goldman also flirted with the idea of political violence. During the Homestead strike of 1892 she helped her lover, Alexander Berkman, plan the attempted assassination of steel mill owner Henry Clay Frick. A year later Goldman spent a year in prison for telling unemployed workers to steal bread if they had to. She was also implicated in President William McKinley's assassination.

From 1908 to 1917 Goldman spoke throughout the United States on behalf of the anarchist cause and edited the anarchist journal Mother Earth until 1916. Through her lectures and writing, she helped introduce American audiences to Henrik Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, August Strindberg, and other European playwrights, whom she admired for their advanced social ideas and spirit of rebellion.

Goldman believed that birth control would alleviate human misery by reducing the burden of large families on the poor and giving women of all classes sexual freedom. She was a pioneer lecturer on the subject. The decision not to bear children was a woman's right, she argued, and women should have the means to prevent conception. Having practiced as a midwife and a nurse, and attended a conference in Paris where condoms, douches, and diaphragms were discussed frankly, Goldman was familiar with modern birth-control methods. In 1916 she was arrested for violating a law that forbade giving out information about contraceptives. Goldman also advocated "free love," defined as a spiritual as well as sexual union between two people outside the bounds of matrimony, for marriage, she believed, made women lifelong dependents and sexual objects. To many Goldman embodied the "New Woman" - independent, unmarried, and sexually emancipated.

During World War I, Goldman was arrested and sent to prison for having organized an anticonscription campaign. Afterward, along with other anarchists, she was deported to Russia in 1919. Although an early supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, Goldman became disillusioned with party rule and the suppression of free speech she encountered there. Her book, My Disillusionment with Russia (1923), was one of the first serious critiques of the Soviet system. She left Russia and spent the rest of her life in Europe and Canada. In the 1930s she made three trips to Catalonia during the Spanish civil war and enlisted support in England on behalf of the Spanish Republic.

Richard Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise: A Biography of Emma Goldman (1976); Candace Falk, Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (1984).

Elizabeth H. Pleck

See also: Birth Control; Conscientious Objection; Expatriates and Exiles; Radicalism.

The Reader's Companion to American History Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Sponsored by the Society of American Historians. Copyright ©1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed by Inso Corporation. All rights reserved.

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A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women

Goldman, Emma

1869-1940 anarchist

Born on June 27, 1869, in Kaunas (or Kovno), Lithuania (variously a part of Poland and Russia), Emma Goldman grew up there, in Königsberg, East Prussia, and in St. Petersburg. Her formal education was limited, but she read much on her own and in St. Petersburg associated with a radical student circle. In 1885 she emigrated to the United States and settled in Rochester, New York. There, and later in New Haven, Connecticut, she worked in clothing factories and came into contact with socialist and anarchist groups among fellow workers. In 1889 she moved to New York City, determined to join the anarchist cause. She formed a close association with Alexander Berkman, who was imprisoned in 1892 for an attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead steel strike. The following year she herself was sent to jail in New York City for inciting to riot by a fiery speech to a group of unemployed workers.

Upon her release Goldman embarked on lecture tours of Europe in 1895, of the United States, and again of Europe in 1899. Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President William McKinley, claimed to have been inspired by her, although there was no direct connection between them and by that time she had relinquished her earlier tolerance of violence as an acceptable means of achieving her social ends. In 1906 Berkman was freed and he and Goldman resumed their joint activities. In that year she founded «Mother Earth», a periodical that she edited until its suppression in 1917. In 1908, by a legal stratagem, her naturalization as a U.S. citizen was revoked. In 1910 she published «Anarchism and Other Essays». She spoke often and widely, not only on anarchism and social problems but also on the current European drama of lbsen, Strindberg, Shaw, and others, which she was instrumental in introducing to American audiences. Her lectures on that topic were published in 1914 as «The Social Significance of the Modern Drama». She also lectured on "free love," by which she meant that uncoerced attachment between two persons to whom conventions of law and church were irrelevant, and on birth control, a topic that landed her briefly in jail in 1916.

When World War I broke out in Europe Goldman opposed U.S. involvement, and when that nevertheless came about she agitated against military conscription. In July 1917 she was sentenced to two years in prison for these activities. By the time of her: release in September 1919 the nation was in the throes of hysteria over a largely imaginary subversive network of Communist elements. Goldman -- "Red Emma," as she was called -- was declared a subversive alien and in December, along with Berkman and 247 others, was deported to the Soviet Union. Her stay there was brief. Two years after leaving she recounted her experiences in «My Disillusionment in Russia», 1923. She remained active, living at various times in Sweden, Germany, England, France, and elsewhere, continuing to lecture and writing her autobiography, «Living My Life», 1931. She joined the antifascist cause in Spain during the civil war there and while working in its behalf died in Toronto, Canada, on May 14, 1940.

See also PHOTO. Name and Variations: "Goldman, Emma" "Emma Goldman"

Copyright © 1994, 1995 Pilgrim New Media, Inc. and its licensors. Source biographical data © 1994 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster. All rights reserved.

McHenry, Robert (ed.), Goldman, Emma (biography)., Her Heritage: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women, 12-20-1995.

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GOLDMAN, EMMA (1869-1940)

( Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM )

GOLDMAN, EMMA (1869-1940), was the most controversial woman in American public life almost from the moment she entered the anarchist movement, in 1889, until her death in 1940. Although she was regarded by some as a terrorist, many Americans admired her defense of labor rights and free speech, her advocacy of women's emancipation and birth control, and her critiques of marriage, monogamy, and the double standard of morality. An early defender of homosexual rights, Goldman used lectures on art, literature, and the modern European drama as a means of raising public consciousness. To her, anarchism meant not only a commitment to direct action, a vision of decentralized socialism without the state; it was also an ethical guide to life without domination or hierarchies or coercion of any kind.

Emma Goldman was born on June 27, 1869, in Kovno, Lithuania. Emigrating to the United States in 1885, she soon joined the German-speaking anarchist movement around Johann Most in New York City. Goldman, who quickly earned fame as a charismatic speaker and organizer, was forced to go underground following the assassination of President William McKinley by a young anarchist in 1901. She returned to public life during the Progressive era to find growing interest in anarchist and feminist ideas on the part of young intellectuals and radicals. On her coast-to-coast lecture tours, she called for a revolutionary vision of women's emancipation, criticizing the movement for woman suffrage as too bourgeois and narrow in its goals. In their magazine Mother Earth (1906-1916), Goldman and Alexander Berkman, her lover and lifelong companion, offered an anarchist cultural critique, while introducing libertarian thought to progressives of many intellectual backgrounds.

United States involvement in World War I brought Emma Goldman's American activism to a halt. Arrested because of her opposition to the draft, she spent two years in prison. On her release she was deported to the newly revolutionized Soviet Russia, along with Berkman and 249 other immigrant radicals. Although they had ardently supported the Bolshevik revolution, Goldman and Berkman grew critical of the Communist state and left in December 1921. Unable to secure a visa for the United States, Goldman lived in Stockholm, Berlin, London, Toronto, and in the south of France, where she wrote her autobiography, Living My Life (1931). With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, Goldman traveled to Barcelona to assist the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists. After Franco's victory she went to Toronto to work on behalf of refugees from Nazism and fascism. She died in Toronto on May 14, 1940, and was buried in Haymarket cemetery in Chicago in the only country she called home.

Copyright © 1996 P.F. Collier, A Division of Newfield Publications, Inc.

Alice Wexler, GOLDMAN, EMMA (1869-1940)., Vol. 11, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM, 02-28-1996.

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Sanger, Margaret

( The Reader's Companion to American History )

Sanger, Margaret

(1879-1966), pioneer birth-control advocate. Sanger was born in Corning, New York, one of eleven children of Irish-American parents. Her mother was Catholic, her father a radical follower of freethinker Robert Ingersoll and single-taxer Henry George. Sanger later attributed the family's lack of prosperity and her mother's death at forty-nine to her parents' having had so many children. The inequality she observed between them stimulated her lifelong social activism.

Margaret, with help from her sisters, attended Claverack College, after which she went to nursing school. She did not immediately use her medical training because, she later wrote, William Sanger "pressured" her into marrying and leaving school in 1902. Sanger, an artist and architect, moved the family (soon to include three children) to suburban Westchester. While he commuted to New York, Margaret grew restless as a result of her isolation and full-time housekeeping.

In 1910 the Sangers moved back to Manhattan, and Margaret began working as a visiting nurse on the Lower East Side. She became active in radical politics, joining the Socialist party and working with the Industrial Workers of the World in supporting several militant strikes. From this network she absorbed feminist ideas and came to agree with Emma Goldman that women had a right to control their sexual and reproductive lives. Her work as a nurse with the poor further convinced her that birth control was vital to women's health and freedom.

In 1912 she began to write and speak on sexual and health issues under socialist auspices and was encouraged by her enthusiastic reception. The censorship of one of her columns by the U.S. Post Office in 1913 brought her more publicity. In 1914 she published several issues of the Woman Rebel, a radical feminist newspaper, and Family Limitation, a pamphlet intended for mass distribution and containing explicit instructions for contraception. A warrant was issued for her arrest, and she fled to Europe, where she studied with Havelock Ellis and Dutch feminist physician Aletta Jacobs.

She returned to the United States in 1915 to find a nationwide birth-control movement under way; the charges against her were dropped. In 1916 she and her sister Evelyn Byrne established a birth-control clinic in Brooklyn as an act of civil disobedience, since providing birth control remained illegal. Such clinics were opening throughout the country, in defiance of laws against them, and attracted many clients.

Sanger became increasingly angered by the Left's refusal to make birth control a priority and decided on a strategy of making legalization of contraception a single-issue campaign. Distancing herself from her left-wing friends, she now sought support from physicians and academic eugenicists. Their influence replaced that of the feminist and socialist movements, then in retreat, and Sanger sometimes used eugenic arguments for birth control - that it could help reduce the birthrate of "inferiors." In 1921 she established the American Birth Control League, a national lobbying group, which became Planned Parenthood in 1942. Very much needing personal recognition, Sanger came to think of birth control as virtually her own invention and her leadership as irreplaceable. Her aggressive campaigning, however, did play a large part in the legalization of contraception by many states between the 1920s and 1960s, though the success was qualified in that contraception became understood not as a woman's right but as a medical matter requiring a doctor's prescription.

After World War II, fears of overpopulation renewed political support for birth control, and Sanger was then instrumental in securing funding for research into hormonal contraception.

Sanger today is still controversial. Planned Parenthood regards her as a modern hero, the founder of birth control, downplaying its longer history as a women's rights issue dating from the early nineteenth century. In contrast, antiabortionists in the 1980s have cited her use of racist and eugenic arguments for birth control in their efforts to discredit the contemporary movement.

Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America (1976; rev. ed., 1990); James Reed, From Private Vice to Public Virtue: The Birth Control Movement and American Society since 1830 (1978).

Linda Gordon

See also: Birth Control.

The Reader's Companion to American History Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Sponsored by the Society of American Historians. Copyright ©1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed by Inso Corporation. All rights reserved.

Sanger, Margaret., The Reader's Companion to American History, 01-01-1991.

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