Emma Goldman - Free Speech - Anti-Anarchist Legislation

The 1901 assassination of President William McKinley by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz sparked a virulent burst of anti-anarchist hysteria. The New York Criminal Anarchy Act of 1902, for example, made it illegal to promote the overthrow of organized government by force or violence or by assassination of a head of state. The following year, Congress passed an Immigration Act that barred the entry into the United States of anarchists and all those who advocated overthrowing the government by force or violence. A long line of anti-anarchist laws followed in subsequent years. Perhaps most notably, the Alien Immigration Act of 1917 and the Anarchist Act of 1918 allowed for the deportation of radical and subversive aliens.

With such laws making not only actions but also words illegal, Goldman and her comrades had to be extremely careful about how and where they expressed themselves. Magazine editors who published anarchist writings and hall owners who rented out space for radical meetings and speeches were also implicated, thus contributing to the silencing of anarchist activists. Goldman even went underground temporarily, using the assumed name "E.G. Smith."

  1. For information on the New York Criminal Anarchy Act of 1902, see http://darrow.law.umn.edu/documents/NEW%20YORK%20CRIMINAL%20ANARCHY%20ACT_Harv_L_Rev.pdf.
  2. For information on the Alien Immigration Act of 1903, see http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/aboutins/statistics/legishist/460.htm.
  3. For information on the Alien Immigration Act of 1917, see http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAE1917A.htm.
  4. For information on the Anarchist Act of 1918, see http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Curricula/timeline.html.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Emma Goldman - Free Speech - Anti-Anarchist Legislation." (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/goldman/free-speech/antianarchist-legislation>.