Russia, the land of the nihilists, and the home of the "propaganda of action"-which means assassination-was the birthplace of Emma Goldman. Though still a young woman, she is recognized as a radical among radicals, when it comes to expounding the principles of her faith. For more than ten years she has been known as an enemy of government.
Miss Goldman's contempt for the present system of law is pronounced, bitter, and unrelenting, yet she never fails to deny that she is an advocate of violence.
"I have never advocated violence," she asserted some time ago, in an interview, "but neither do I condemn the Anarchist who resorts to it. I look behind him for the conditions that made him possible, and my horror is swallowed up in pity. Perhaps under the same conditions I would have done the same."
Miss Goldman says she was born a revolutionist, but that her belief in anarchy was not actually crystallized until after the hanging of the Chicago Anarchists in 1887. Then she became what she describes as an active Anarchist, and her activity has never flagged since then. She has been a prolific writer for all publications in this country that would give space to her articles upon anarchy, and has devoted much of her time to lecturing.
Miss Goldman had frequently lectured in Chicago, but until the attack on President McKinley, the police found no reason to arrest her.
The lectures in Chicago attracted little attention, seldom having been announced in an obtrusive manner. Her reputation was such, however, that the management of Hull House refused to permit her to speak in that establishment.
In 1893 the New York police arrested Miss Goldman on a warrant charging her with "inciting to riot." The arrest was a result of her activity during the famous Debs strike, and it was followed by her imprisonment on Blackwell's Island for a term of one year, which was shortened to seven months on account of good behavior. She formerly had led a strike of the Waist and Shirt Maker Girls' union in New York, but without attracting much attention.
In an extended interview which Miss Goldman gave out a few months ago while in New York she told many things about her life and her views on social and political questions which have a special interest at the present moment. She said:
"I am a Russian through and through, although little of my life was spent there. I was born in Russia, but was brought up in Germany and graduated from a German school. All that didn't make a German of me. I went back to Russia when I was 15 years old, and felt that I was returning to my home. My family was orthodox. None of my revolutionary tendencies was inherited-at least my parents were not responsible for them and were horrified by them.
"While I was in Germany I did not think much about anarchy, but when I went back to St. Petersburg my whole attitude toward life changed, and I went into radicalism with all my heart and soul. You see, things are different in Russia from what they are here or anywhere else. One breathes a revolutionary thought with the air, and without being definitely interested in anarchy one learns its principles. There was discussion and thought and enthusiasm all around me, and something within me responded to it all.
WOMAN'S EQUALITY IN RUSSIA.
"There is no other place in the world where woman has what she has in Russia. There the women have not only the same rights in law as the men, they have the same liberties and the same social and intellectual freedom. There man respects woman, looks upon her as his equal, is her good chum- yes, that is the word. Nowhere are men and women chums as they are in Russia.
"A woman student in Russia may receive visitors all day and most of the night, discuss all vital subjects with them, go with men when and where she pleases, and yet she will not be criticized, and no landlady would dream of insinuating that there was anything wrong with her morals. What is more, there wouldn't be anything wrong with them. The standard of morals in the student class is phenomenally high, and the average intelligent Russian woman's mind is as pure as it is broad.
"The relation between the sexes in Russia is the most ideal of any I know about. That is why young Russian women learn to think. And because they think they become Anarchists.
"I was an Anarchist when I left Russia to come to America, but I had hardly formulated my belief. The final influence that crystallized my views was the hanging of the Chicago Anarchists in 1887. I followed that case carefully and it made me an active Anarchist. I was living with my family in Rochester then, and the nearest thing to a radical society the town had was a Social Democratic society, tame as a house cat. I came away to New York and went to work in a factory. That showed me a new side of life. My family had been well-to-do, and I hadn't come in actual contact with the want and suffering of the world until I joined the wage-earners.
"Of course the experience strengthened my revolutionary ideas. When the Waist and Shirtmaker Girls' union went out in 1888 I led the strike. That is, in a way I led it. I have never been an Anarchist leader. I cannot afford it. A leader must be a diplomat. I am not a diplomat. A leader of a party makes concessions to his party, for the sake of holding his power. He must give way to his followers in order to be sure they will sustain him. I can't do all that, I am an Anarchist because I love individual freedom and I will not surrender that freedom.
"You know I am a professional nurse. It has always been the dream of my life to be a doctor, but I never could manage it-could not get means for the study. My factory work undermined my health, so I thought that if I couldn't be a doctor I could at least be a little part of the profession. I went through the training for a nurse, did the hospital work, and now nurse private cases.
"When I came out of prison on Blackwell's Island I was nervous. I decided to try a change and go to Europe for a year. I could lecture for the cause and take a course in massage and in midwifery in Vienna. There is no good training for either here, though we have the best training schools for nurses in the world.
"Well, I went and did my studying and then went to Paris to study and wait for the Anarchists' congress. You know the government prohibited the congress. We had it all the same, but the meetings were secret. I received the honor or dishonor of especially strict surveillance. I was to give a series of lectures, but after the third the authorities warned me that if I gave any more I must leave France, and as I wanted to attend the congress I kept quiet.
"Finally, detectives escorted me to the station and saw my luggage checked to the steamer and then notified the government that the dangerous woman was on her way out of France."
Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President McKinley, asserted immediately after his arrest, that he was led to undertake the assassination of the President by a speech delivered by Emma Goldman, the leader of the Anarchist propaganda in America. This speech was delivered in Cleveland, O., the home of Czolgosz, May 6. In it Miss Goldman outlined the principles of anarchy, and detailed the methods whereby she expected to secure the establishment of anarchy throughout the world. Her talk was full of forceful passages, in some cases more notable for their strength than for their elegance.
"Men under the present state of society," she said, "are mere products of circumstances. Under the galling yoke of government, ecclesiasticism, and a bond of custom and prejudice, it is impossible for the individual to work out his own career as he could wish. Anarchism aims at a new and complete freedom. It strives to bring about the freedom which is not only the freedom from within but a freedom from without, which will prevent any man from having a desire to interfere in any way with the liberty of his neighbor.
"Vanderbilt says, 'I am a free man within myself, but the others be damned.' This is not the freedom we are striving for. We merely desire complete individual liberty, and this can never be obtained as long as there is an existing government.
"We do not favor the socialistic idea of converting men and women into mere producing machines under the eye of a paternal government. We go to the opposite extreme and demand the fullest and most complete liberty for each and every person to work out his own salvation upon any line that he pleases. The degrading notion of men and women as machines is far from our ideals of life.
"Anarchism has nothing to do-with future governments or economic arrangements. We do not favor any particular settlement in this line, but merely ask to do away with the present evils. The future will provide these arrangements after our work has been done. Anarchism deals merely with social relations, and not with economic arrangement."
The speaker then deprecated the idea that all Anarchists were in favor of violence or bomb throwing. She declared that nothing was further from the principles they support. She went on, however, into a detailed explanation of the different crimes committed by Anarchists lately, declaring that the motive was good in each case, and that these acts were merely a matter of temperament.
Some men were so constituted, she said, that they were unable to stand idly by and see the wrong that was being endured by their fellow-mortals.
She herself did not believe in these methods, but she did not think they should be condemned in view of the high and noble motives which prompted their perpetration. She continued: "Some believe we should first obtain by force and let the intelligence and education come afterwards."
Miss Goldman did not hesitate to put forward a number of sentiments far more radical and sensational than any ever publicly advanced here. During Miss Goldman's lecture a strong detail of police was in the hall to keep her from uttering sentiments which were regarded as too radical. This accounts for the tact that the speaker did not give free rein to her thoughts on that occasion. Because of anarchistic uprisings elsewhere it was thought best by the city officials to curb the utterances of the woman.
As soon as it was known that Czolgosz admitted being a disciple of Emma Goldman, the police of a score of cities began an active hunt for her, in the belief that the President's assassination was the result of a conspiracy, of which she was the head. It was known that Miss Goldman had been in Chicago in July, and that she had visited Buffalo in July and August. But her whereabouts immediately following the crime, could not easily be traced. The arrest of a number of anarchists in Chicago, and the capture of a number of letters, gave the police a clue that Miss Goldman was in St. Louis, and the police of that city made active search for her. She was not found, however, though the fact that she was in that city after the attack of Czolgosz on the President, was established. It was then surmised that she had gone to Chicago, and the police of that city redoubled their vigilance. Through a telegram sent to a man living on Oakdale avenue, the Chicago police learned that Miss Goldman had made inquiries concerning the arrest of the Anarchists in that city, and announced her purpose of going to Chicago, and would arrive on Sunday night, Sept. 8. The police watched the house in Oakdale avenue all Sunday night, but no one entered it. The watch was continued, however, and Monday morning the vigilance of the officers was rewarded. A woman approached the house and rang the front door bell. There was no response, and she went around the house to the back door, where she knocked. No one opened the door, nor was there any response. The woman then walked to Sheffield Avenue and rang the bell at No. 303, the third flat in which is the home of Charles G. Norris. Here she was admitted, and while one of the detectives watched the house, the other reported to his superior officers. Captain Herman Schuettler, who had considerable experience with the Chicago Anarchists in 1886, prior to and after the Haymarket riot, immediately went to the Sheffield avenue house. The officer on duty there reported that no one had entered or left the house since the woman had disappeared behind its doors. The police officers tried the usual mode of securing admittance, but no response came to their signals. Then Detective Charles K. Hertz climbed in through a window, and opening the door, admitted Captain Schuettler. Sitting in the parlor, dressed in a light wrapper, with two partly filled valises in front of her, was Emma Goldman. She turned pale when the policemen confronted her and denied her identity, which was established by a fountain pen box, on which her name was written. The woman had said that she was a servant.
Miss Goldman was taken to the office of Chief of Police O'Neill and served with a warrant charging her with having conspired with other Anarchists then under arrest, to kill the President.
She detailed her meeting with the assassin in Chicago.
"I was at the house of Abraham Isaak. Yes, the house at 515 Carroll street. I was preparing to take the Nickel Plate train for the East with Miss Isaak. A ring came at the door. I answered the bell and found a young man there. He asked for Mr. Isaak. The latter had left the house, promising to meet us at the station and say good-by. I so told the young man and I further told him that he might go to the station with us and meet Mr. Isaak there. So you see," she asserted, "he would not even have been with me for thirty-five minutes had I not asked him to go to the train.
"The young man-yes, it was Czolgosz, who shot the President-said that he had met me before. He said he had heard me lecture in Cleveland. I had delivered a lecture there on May 6, but I can't remember all the people who shake hands with me, can I? I had no remembrance of him. We went to the station on the elevated train and this man accompanied us. I asked him where he had heard of Mr. Isaak. He said he had read the latter's paper, Free Society. He did not talk to me about a plot. I never heard of him from that time until McKinley was shot."
Emma Goldman's ideas on anarchy are contained in an interview had with her some months before President McKinley's assassination. She said:
"If a man came to me and told me he was planning an assassination I would think him an utter fool and refuse to pay any attention to him. The man who has such a plan, if he is earnest and honest, knows no secret is safe when told. He does the deed himself, runs the risk himself, pays the penalty himself. I honor him for the spirit that prompts him. It is no small thing for a man to be willing to lay down his life for the cause of humanity. The act is noble, but it is mistaken. While I do not advocate violence, neither do I condemn the anarchist who resorts to it.
"I was an anarchist when I left Russia to come to America," she continued, "but I had hardly formulated my belief. The final influence that crystallized my views was the hanging of the Chicago anarchists in 1887.
"I am an anarchist because I love individual freedom, and I will not surrender that freedom. A leader must sooner or later be the victim of the masses he thinks he controls. When I definitely entered the work I gave myself a solemn pledge that I would study, that I would make passion bow to reason, that I would not be carried away from the truth by sentiment. I soon saw that the safest and wisest way to keep myself free was not to be a leader. That is why I am connected with no party. I am a member of no group. Individual freedom and responsibility-there is the basis of true anarchy.
"No, I have never advocated violence, nor do I know a single truly great anarchist leader who ever did advocate violence. Where violence comes with anarchy it is a result of the conditions, not of anarchy. The biggest fallacy going is the idea that anarchists as a body band together and order violence, assassinations of rulers and all that. I ought to know something about anarchy, and I tell you that is false-absolutely false.
"There is ignorance, cruelty, starvation, poverty, suffering, and some victim grows tired of waiting. He believes a decisive blow will call public attention to the wrongs of his country, and may hasten the remedy. He and perhaps one or two intimate friends or relatives make a plan. They do not have orders. They do not consult other anarchists.
"Perhaps under the same conditions I would do the same. If I had been starving in Milan, and had raised my starving baby in the air as an appeal for justice, and had that baby shot in my arms by a brutal soldiery, who knows what I might have done? I might have changed from a philosophical anarchist to a fighting anarchist. Do you suppose if Santo Caserio had had anarchist organization back of him he would have tramped all the weary way to Paris, without money, in order to kill Carnot? If Bresci had been sent out from us, would he have had to scrape together every cent he could, even forcing one of his anarchist friends to pawn some of his clothes in order to repay a loan Bresci had made him? The friend curses Bresci for a hardhearted creditor, but Bresci never told why he needed the money so desperately.
"Anarchy's best future lies in America. We in America haven't yet reached conditions-economic conditions, I mean-that necessarily breed violence. I am thankful for that; but we are much nearer such conditions than the old-time American ever dreamed we would be, and unless something is done to stop it, the time will come.
"It's all too absolutely silly, this talk about my being dangerous. Half my fellow believers think me a fool because I am always talking against violence and advocating individual work. I believe that the next ten years will see a wonderful spreading of the true principles of anarchy in this country."
Emma Goldman, at the time of the assassination, was a woman thirty-two years old, with coarse features, thick lips, a square jaw and prominent nose. She wore glasses on account of nearsightedness, and her hair was light, almost red-the color of the doctrine she teaches.
She was held without bail, but afterwards released.
After Czolgosz, the first arrests for complicity in the attempt on President McKinley's life were made in the city of Chicago. The metropolis of Illinois, with its cosmopolitan population, has always been a hotbed of anarchy, and it was there the police instantly looked for traces of the movements of the assassin. The police learned from Czolgosz himself that he had recently been in Chicago, and had visited at the house of Abraham Isaak, Sr., 515 Carroll Avenue. Isaak was known as an anarchist and the publisher of a paper called Free Society. The police procured warrants for the arrest of Isaak - and others on a charge of conspiracy to kill and assassinate the President of the United States William McKinley, and on visiting Isaak's house Saturday, September 7, found nine persons there, all of whom were arrested. They were:
Abraham Isaak, Sr., publisher of the Free Society and former publisher of the Firebrand, the organ of anarchy, which was suppressed; Abraham Isaak, Jr., Clemence Pfuetzuer, Alfred Schneider, Hippolyte Havel, Henry Travaglio, Julia Mechanic, Marie Isaak, mother; Marie Isaak, daughter.
The same day three other men were arrested at 100 Newberry Avenue, Chicago, for the same crime. These men were: Martin Raznick, cloakmaker, who rented the premises; Maurice Fox, Michael Raz.
In the house the detectives found box after box heaped with the literature of anarchy and socialism. There were pictures of Emma Goldman and other leaders and many copies of the Firebrand, Isaak's old paper.
The arrests were decided on thus early because of the receipt by the Chicago police of a telegram from the chief of police at Buffalo, reading as follows:
"We have in custody Leon Czolgosz, alias Fred Nieman, the President's assassin. Locate and arrest E. J. Isaak, who is editor of a socialistic paper and a follower of Emma Goldman, from whom Nierman is said to have taken instructions. It looks as if there might be a plot, and that these people may be implicated."
After being taken to the police station the prisoners were taken before Chief O'Neill and questioned. Isaak, Sr., was the first to be brought in, and he told his story without any suggestion of reticence, occasionally punctuating his answers with anarchistic utterances, angry nods of his head or emphatic gestures with his clenched fists. When asked if he knew Emma Goldman he answered:
"Yes, she was at my house during the latter part of June and the first two weeks of July. The last time I saw her was on the twelfth of July. On that day she left Chicago for Buffalo. I met her at the Lake Shore depot as she was leaving. When I reached the depot I found her talking to a strange man, who appeared about 25 years old, was well dressed and smooth shaven. Miss Goldman told me that the fellow had been following her around wanting to talk to her, but she had no time to devote to him. She asked me to find out what the fellow wanted.
"The man made a bad impression on me from the first, and when he called me aside and asked me about the secret meetings of Chicago anarchists I was sure he was a spy. I despised the man as soon as I saw him and was positive he was a spy.
"Emma Goldman went away on a train which left in about half an hour after my meeting with this stranger, who gave his name as Czlosz (Czolgosz). I wanted to learn more about the stranger, so, when I went home, I asked him to accompany me. On the way to my house he asked me again and again about the secret meetings of our societies, and the impression grew on me that he was a spy. He asked me if we would give him money, and I told him no, but added that if he wanted to stay in Chicago I would help him get work.
"When we reached my house we sat out on the porch for about ten minutes, and his talk during that time was radical. He said he had been a Socialist for many years, but was looking for something more active than socialism. I was sure then that the fellow was a spy, and I wanted to search and unmask him, so I arranged with him to come to my house on the following morning for breakfast.
"I took him over to Mrs. Esther Wolfson's rooming-house, at 425 Carroll avenue, and engaged a room for him. Mrs. Wolfson has since moved to New York.
"I didn't see Czolgosz again after that night. He failed to come to my house for breakfast, and when I went over to Mrs. Wolfson's to inquire about him I was told that he had slipped away without saying where he was going. I was suspicious of him all the time, so I wrote to E. Schilling, one of our comrades in Cleveland, Ohio, and asked him if he knew of such a man.
"Schilling replied that a fellow answering his description had called on him, and that he believed the man was a spy in the employ of the police. He said he wanted to 'search' the stranger, but was alone when he called and did not care to attempt the job. Schilling arranged a meeting for another night, but Czolgosz didn't show up, and all trace of him was lost. I wrote to Cleveland because Czolgosz had told me he once lived there.
"After I received Schilling's letter I printed an article in my paper denouncing the fellow as a spy and warning my people against him."
The article renouncing Czolgosz, alluded to by Isaak, was published in the issue of Free Society September I, and was couched in the following language:
The attention of the comrades is called to another spy. He is well dressed, of medium height, rather narrow shoulders, blond and about 25 years of age. Up to the present he has made his appearance in Chicago and Cleveland. In the former place he remained but a short time, while in Cleveland he disappeared when the comrades had confirmed themselves of his identity and were on the point of exposing him. His demeanor is of the usual sort, pretending to be greatly interested in the cause, asking for names or soliciting aid for acts of contemplated violence. If this same individual makes his appearance elsewhere the comrades are warned in advance, and can act accordingly.
The police were suspicious of this alleged fear of Czolgosz, and asserted that the publication of the notice might have been done for the purpose of exculpating the Chicago Anarchists in case they were accused of being parties to the conspiracy.
In his further examination Isaac answered proudly that he was an Anarchist, and when asked what he meant by anarchy, replied:
"I mean a country without government. We recognize neither law nor the right of one man to govern another. The trouble with the world is that it is struggling to abolish effect without seeking to get at the cause. Yes, I am an Anarchist, and there are 10,000 people in Chicago who think and believe as I do. You don't hear about them because they are not organized.
"Assassination is nothing but a natural phenomenon. It always has existed and will exist as long as this tyrannical system of government prevails. However, we don't believe tyranny can be abolished by the killing of one man. Yet there will be absolute anarchy.
"In Russia I was a Nihilist. There are secret meetings there, and I want at tell you that as soon as you attempt to suppress anarchy here there will be secret meetings in the United States.
"I don't believe in killing rulers, but I do believe in self-defense. As long as you let Anarchists talk their creed openly in this country the conservatives will not be in favor of assassinating executives."
Isaak had had an eventful career and had been a socialist and anarchistic agitator for years. He was born in Southern Russia and came to Chicago seven months ago. In Russia, he says, he was a bookkeeper. He was forced to leave the country, and after traveling over South America he came to this country and located first in San Francisco. There he worked as a gardener. Later he removed to Portland, Ore., and began the publication of a rabid anarchistic paper called the Firebrand, but the publication was suppressed by the United States postal authorities.
Then Isaak came to Chicago and started Free Society, a paper devoted to the interests of local Anarchists. Isaak talked intelligently but rabidly on matters pertaining to sociological questions.
Hippolyte Havel, the next in importance to Isaak in the anarchistic group, was also examined by the chief. He proved to be an excitable Bohemian, 35 years of age. In appearance he was the opposite of Isaak. Dwarfed of stature, narrow-eyed, with jet black hair hanging in a confused mass over his low forehead, and a manner of talking that brought into play both hands, he looked the part when he boldly told Chief O'Neill that he was an Anarchist. In Bohemia he was an agitator, and in 1894 was sentenced to two years' confinement in the prison at Plzen for making incendiary speeches. He admitted that he knew Emma Goldman and Czolgosz, and said that if he had known the latter was going to Buffalo to kill the President, he would not have notified the police.
Later, these anarchists were released, as there was no evidence to prove a conspiracy.