“Most Dangerous Woman in America”–Emma Goldman

One highlight at 58:50–1:03:00, below.

Goldman gets literally thrown out of the country (in 1918) for saying the wrong things. Free speech country? Not at that time.

Emma Goldman was arrested in 1916 for speaking about women’s contraception. Free speech nation indeed. Later, she served was arrested, fined $10,000, and finally served two years for publicly opposing the WWI draft. She pointed out in court that it was something of a contradiction for America to be putatively fighting for democracy abroad, when there was so little democracy and free speech at home, her arrest as a case in point. The jury took one hour to deliver a guilty plea.


Goldman was initially enthralled at the Russian Bolshevik overthrow of the Tsarist state. Welcome to a Workers’ Democracy, she thought. But after over a year there witnessing tyranny and starvation, and after observing the fate of the Kronstadt Revolt, she saw what an authoritarian turn the Russian Revolution had taken. She soon published her condemnation of the Bolsheviks in her pamphlet My Disillusionment in Russia.

Goldman is an interesting symbol for the fate of one strain of radical thought in America. It was destroyed, under Palmer and Hoover, by state violence. Goldman died in exile, at age 70, in 1940.

Here is an interview from Goldman when she was 25.

Here is her arrest record.


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