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Emma Goldman - New Criminal Laws

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Upon her release from prison in 1895, Goldman went to Europe where she studied medicine before returning to the United States and continuing her radical activities. In 1901 she was implicated in the murder of President William McKinley (1843–1901; served 1897–1901). Goldman was released because no evidence could be gathered against her, other than that the assassin had attended one of her speeches.

McKinley's assassination led to the passage of the 1902 Aliens Act. The act declared the advocacy of "criminal anarchy" to be a felony. The law became the judicial basis for all future expulsions and deportations from America. Goldman, later dubbed "Red Emma" because of her radical politics associated with the rise of the Communist Party in Russia whose symbolic color was red, founded the Free Speech League in 1903 to promote the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. She claimed the constitutional right for herself as well as other anarchists like Big Bill Haywood and his militant trade union (see sidebar).

From 1906 until 1917 Goldman edited and published the monthly journal Mother Earth. The magazine advocated the banning of all government and recommended it be replaced by voluntary cooperation among the people. She targeted all forms of repression—economic, political, and psychological. She worked in hopes of achieving a cooperative commonwealth in America. Goldman put her energies into lecturing, writing, and tireless political organizing. These activities led to her arrest in the spring of 1916. She received a fifteen-day prison term for giving a public lecture on birth control.

On June 15, 1917, officers arrived once again at the office of Mother Earth with a warrant for her arrest on charges of conspiracy to convince persons not to register for the draft. She and Alexander Berkman, who was arrested as well, each received a two-year prison sentence for their opposition to America's involvement in World War I (1914–18; war in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and their allies defeated Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies).

The federal government, led by a newly empowered J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972) of the U.S. Justice Department, targeted Goldman for deportation as part of the "Palmer Raids" of 1919. The raids on aliens known or suspected of being political radicals resulted in thousands of arrests of mostly aliens (people with citizenship in other countries) believed to be political radicals in over thirty cities, but only around 250 were actually deported.

Hoover labeled Goldman the "Red Queen of Anarchy" and was waiting for her and Berkman upon their release from prison in Jefferson City, Missouri. Hoover needed a high profile case in his campaign against communists and subversives (those who seek overthrow of a government). Hoover had arranged for the deportation of nearly two hundred and fifty anarchists aboard the Buford. Dubbed, the "Soviet Ark," the decrepit, old transport ship carried its human cargo out of the New York harbor bound for Russia with Emma Goldman as its most famous passenger.

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