Biography of Famous Anarchist Emma Goldman Part 2

About the famous anarchist Emma Goldman, history and biography of the woman blamed for the assassination of McKinley.


EMMA GOLDMAN (1869-1940). Anarchist.

On July 6, 1892, a battle broke out between strikers at the Homestead steel plant in Pittsburgh and 300 Pinkerton operatives hired by Henry Clay Frick to break the strike. Ten workers and three detectives were killed. Berkman decided to assassinate Frick in retaliation. He refused to take Emma with him on his deadly mission, so Emma, wishing to make some radical gesture, made a bathetic and short-lived try at becoming a streetwalker on 14th Street in New York City. Berkman made an unsuccessful attempt on Frick's life, though he managed to shoot him three times before being subdued. Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Emma's complicity in the act could not be proven, but she wrote articles praising her lover as the avenger of the Homestead men, making herself a target for the police. On Aug. 21, 1893, Emma addressed a rally of 4,000 in Union Square. A depression that would last for four years had already begun, creating a volatile social climate. Emma was charged with inciting the unemployed to steal bread. Journalist Nellie Bly interviewed her in a New York City prison, where she awaited trial. Bly's article appeared in the New York World on Sept. 22, 1893, describing Emma as being about 5 ft. tall and a trim 120 lb., with expressive blue-gray eyes behind shell-rimmed glasses, a saucy turned-up nose, light brown hair falling loosely over her forehead, full lips, strong white teeth, and a mild pleasant voice. Nellie Bly also called her "a modern Joan of Arc." The judge sentenced her to a year on Blackwell's Island.

Upon release, Emma went to Vienna to study nursing and midwifery. One of her lecturers was Sigmund Freud. In 1899 she was able to return to Europe to study medicine thanks to the generosity of Herman Miller, president of the Cleveland Brewing Company, and another philanthropist named Carl Stone. Emma intended to become a doctor, but before she began her studies, she got involved in rallies against the Boer War and had a love affair with a Czech student named Hippolyte Havel. The benefactors underwriting her medical studies protested against these disgressions, prompting Emma to pen the best dismissal of a patron since Samuel Johnson scored off Lord Chesterfield in 1754; Emma wrote, "E.G. the woman and her ideas are inseparable. She does not exist for the amusement of upstarts, nor will she permit anybody to dictate to her. Keep your money."

Emma returned to the U.S. and continued to lecture. She was a spellbinder whose eloquence was an influence on many a life. Then on Sept. 6, 1901, when President McKinley was appearing at the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, he was shot in the chest and stomach by a man named Leon Czolgosz, who had concealed a gun in a bandaged hand. McKinley died eight days later. Because Czolgosz had heard Emma speak in Chicago, authorities tried to place her at the center of a conspiracy to assassinate the President. Even by doctoring the testimony, they couldn't make this charge stick in the courts, but her guilt was widely assumed, especially since she publicly defended Czolgosz as a demented unfortunate who at least deserved a fair trial.

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » Footnote People in U.S. History » Biography of Famous Anarchist Emma Goldman Part 2
« Biography of Famous Anarchist Emma Goldman Part 1Biography of Famous Anarchist Emma Goldman Part 3 »
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm