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Abrams v. United States

Anarchists And War

Jacob Abrams and his codefendants--Hyman Lachowsky, Jacob Schwartz, Mollie Steimer, and Samuel Lipman--were Russian-born Jews living in the East Harlem section of New York. They became involved with the Yiddish-language paper Der Shturm (The Storm), which advocated anarchist doctrines and policies. With their fellow anarchists, they sought to destroy capitalism and government and create a collectivist but uncoerced society.

Although anarchists usually rejected Marxist socialism, many initially were dazzled by the Russian Revolution. During August 1918, the Shturm group reacted with passionate opposition when President Woodrow Wilson sent U.S. troops to Siberia. Samuel Lipman prepared an English pamphlet attacking U.S. intervention, while Jacob Schwartz wrote a much more militant version in Yiddish.

On 22 and 23 August, fellow anarchists distributed the leaflets by scattering them from rooftops in Manhattan. The New York police soon traced the leaflets to the Shturm group. Joined by army officers, the police interrogated the prisoners until each confessed. They later accused the officers of beatings and torture, and Jacob Schwartz died in prison the following October.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Abrams v. United States - Significance, In Uncharted Territory, Creating The Surveillance State, Anarchists And War, Trial And Appeal