Assassination Attempts: Henry Clay Frick chairman of Carnegie Steel Part 2

About the assassination of Henry Clay Frick, chairman of Carnegie Steel Company, enemy of unions and workers, history and biography of assassin Alexander Berkman.

The Victim: HENRY CLAY FRICK, chairman and strongman of the Carnegie Steel Company.

Berkman struggled further with this assailant; he fired again at Frick but the "other" man struck his hand and the shot missed. Berkman fired once more, but there was no explosion. Then he was hit from behind with a heavy object and sank to the floor.

Confused voices ring in my ears. Painfully I strive to rise. The weight of many bodies is pressing on me. Now--it's Frick's voice! Not dead? . . . I crawl in the direction of the sound, dragging the struggling men with me. I must get the dagger from my pocket--I have it! Repeatedly I strike with it at the legs of the man near the window. I hear Frick cry out in pain--there is much shouting and stamping--my arms are pulled and twisted, and I am lifted bodily off the floor.

Police, clerks, workmen in overalls, surround me. An officer pulls my head back by the hair, and my eyes meet Frick's. He stands in front of me, supported by several men. His face is ashen gray; the black beard is streaked with red, and blood is oozing from his neck. For an instant a strange feeling, as of shame, comes over me; but the next moment I am filled with anger at the sentiment. so unworthy of a revolutionist. With defiant hatred I look him full in the face. . . .

Berkman was taken away, and spent the next 14 years in prison. Frick was back on the job in a week.

The Would-Be Assassin: Alexander Berkman was born of prosperous Jewish parents in Vilna, Russia, in 1870. Russian populism surged all around him, and one of his uncles was an active revolutionary. At 12, Berkman wrote an essay denying the existence of God. He was reading revolutionary literature at 15 and was expelled from school for "precocious godlessness, dangerous tendencies, and insubordination."

Young Berkman was orphaned in 1887, and left for America 6 months later to start a new life. Upon his arrival in New York, Berkman was heavily influenced by the hanging of the unjustly convicted Haymarket martyrs just 3 months earlier. He joined anarchist groups and began his intense career of antiauthoritarian agitation. It was during this period that Berkman met Emma Goldman, with whom he was to establish a long-term partnership.

At the time of the Homestead lockout, Berkman and Goldman were living together with another couple in Worcester, Mass., where they had opened an ice-cream parlor. When news of the steelworkers' struggle arrived, Berkman jumped up. Emma wrote:

"Homestead!" he exclaimed. "I must go to Homestead!" I flung my arms around him, crying out his name. I too would go. . . . I have never heard Sasha so eloquent. He seemed to have grown in stature. He looked strong and defiant, an inner light on his face making him beautiful, as he had never before appeared to me.

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