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Emma Goldman

By | Jan. 2013
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In January 1886 a 16YOA Jewish girl- Emma Goldman arrived to in New York City from St. Petersburg, Russia, where her parents ran a grocery store. As soon as immigration officials had examined her and approved her entry into the US, she hurried to Rochester, New York, where her half-sister lived. Emma was extremely independent-minded. Her father had tried to force her to marry when she was 15, saying when she protested that “all Jewish daughter needs to know is how to prepare gefulte fish, cut noodles fine, and give man plenty of children” Defying her father, Emma had flatly refused to marry. “I wanted to study, to know life, travel,” she explained years later. She had also found the harsh government of Russia Czar unbearable. Like most immigrants she expected the United States “the land of opportunity,” to be a kind of paradise on earth.

Moving in with her stepsister’s family, Emma got a job in a factory sewing coats and earning $2.50 a week. She paid her sister $1.50 for room and board and spent 60 cents a week on carfare to get to and from her job, leaving her only with 40 cents for all her other needs. But when she asked her employer for more money he simply told her to “look for work elsewhere.” This she did, finding a job at another factory that paid $4.00 a week.

In 1887 she married Jacob Kirshnern, another Russian Immigrant, but they did not get along and soon divorced. She moved to new Haven, Connecticut, where she worked in a corset factory. In 1889 she moved to NYC. There she took up with a group of radicals most of them either socialists or anarchists. She herself was by this time an ardent anarchist, convinced by her experiences with all with the darker aspects of American Capitalism that all governments repressed individual freedom and should simply be abolished.

In New York, Emma fell in love with another Russia-Born radical, Alexander Berkman. They started a kind of commune with another couple, sharing everything equally. Emma worked at home...

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