Emma Goldman



          Emma Goldman was one of America’s most famous anarchist in the early 1900’s. She was born into a poor, Orthodox Jewish family in Lithuania, on June 27, 1869. As a young child, her family moved to many different places, such as Papile, Prussia and St. Petersburg. She had an abusive family life growing up. Her father would beat her but he ended up sending her away to Germany where she stayed with her grandmother and uncle. Her uncle was violent as well, and when she complained because he made her do housework all day, he hit her hard. Goldman’s uncle was also selfish, keeping the tuition money from her father for himself. Since Emma Goldman didn’t have a further education, she was deeply interested in politics from when she was a teenager.
          Goldman and her sister, Helena, moved to Rochester, New York, when she was just sixteen. There, Goldman was deeply motivated to becoming an anarchist through the Haymarket Square bombing, and how four innocent anarchists were hung after being accused of the bombing. Many said they were hung just because they were anarchists. A year later, the rest of the Goldman family moved to New York to escape the Antisemitism in St. Petersburg. In 1887, Emma was kicked out of the house after a brief marriage and divorce, and she traveled into New York City, where she met the anarchist journalist and orator, Johann Most. He helped Goldman find her true talent and purpose in life: public speaking. This began Goldman's journey and she started giving speeches and people began to make a name for herself. Another anarchist also lived in the city whom Goldman met was Alexander Berkman. The two fell in love, and, after leaving Most because he started to take control of Goldman and her speeches, they moved in together.
          In 1892, Berkman wanted to assassinate Henry Clay Frick because of the Homestead Strike at the Carnegie steel plant. Frick was the manager of the steel plant, and he wasn't paying his workers fair pay. Berkman managed to injure Frick very badly, and was sentenced to twenty-two years in jail. This was heartbreaking for Goldman, yet she didn’t not let it get in the way of her anarchist acts.
          In the next year, the unemployment rate was extremely high and many Americans were poor or homeless. Goldman spoke to over 3,000 people at Union Square, New York and urged them all to take action and not just sit there. She was sent to jail for a year for inciting a riot. In jail, she read many American activist books and took the role of a nurse to some of the women there. Goldman felt that being in jail "helped me to discover strength in being, the strength to stand alone,the strength to live my life and fight for my ideals..." When she was released two months early, Goldman was surprised to see over 3,000 people there to greet her. She was really starting to make change in the world. Goldman then traveled Europe and returned to the USA, where she went across the country giving speeches and lectures on anarchism and other issues she believed in.
          1906 came and brought two great events. Goldman began the anarchist journal, Mother Earth, and Alexander Berkman was released from jail after fourteen years. Goldman and Berkman's relationship changed, though, and they stayed only friends. They soon after started the No Conscription League, yet they were sent to jail for encouraging people not to register into the military.
          Berkman and Goldman traveled to the Soviet Union, Petrograd, Riga, Latvia, and Berlin, where Goldman wrote articles for the magazine New York World which were eventually put into two books. In 1908, she also published another book, Anarchism and Other Essays. In St. Tropez, France, Goldman also spent two years on her autobiography Living My Life. Emma Goldman then moved to London and married an Scottish anarchist named James Colton.
          In Goldman’s final years, she lived in Toronto. Alexander Berkman shot himself and died on June 28, 1936. A few years later, Goldman suffered two strokes that made her partly paralyzed and unable to speak. She died on May 14, 1940 and is buried in Chicago’s Waldheim Cemetery, near other anarchists of her time.
          This strong, free-willed woman will be remembered for her powerful beliefs, courage, passion, and actions for a long time.

"No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution... revolution is but
thought carried into action."