Red Emma, The Most Dangerous Woman In America, Is Deported By J. Edgar Hoover

By Karen Harris
Emma Goldman, the Lithuanian-born anarcho-communist known for her anarchist writings and speeches, feminist, mugshot c. 1901. (APIC/Getty Images)

On December 21, 1919, Emma Goldman, A.K.A. Red Emma, boarded the so-called "Soviet Ark" after being deported from the United States. An anarchist and political agitator, Goldman was named the most dangerous woman in America by none other than J. Edgar Hoover.

Emma Goldman

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in June 1869, Emma Goldman spent her early years in Kovno in what is now Lithuania, where her family lived in a ghetto. Goldman was forced to take a factory job when she was 13 years old to bring much-needed money into her family, but she staunchly resisted her father's attempts to marry her off beginning when she was 15. She yearned to continue her formal education, but her father responded by burning her textbook.

The family moved several times in her childhood, gradually alerting Goldman to the political turmoil in Russia. After her two older sisters moved to New York, the 16-year-old Goldman threatened to drown herself in the river if her parents didn't allow her to follow. One year later, amid growing antisemitism in their native country, Goldman's parents and younger brothers rejoined the sisters, and the whole family settled in Rochester, New York.

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