Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Emma Goldman comes to Butte

Emma Goldman c. 1911
Most students of Butte history know of one notorious woman’s visit to Butte in 1910: Carrie Nation brought her hatchet but had little impact locally, beyond entertainment. Another woman, prominent in her day, also visited Butte in 1910—Emma Goldman.

Not a household name today, Emma Goldman was indeed well known nationally in 1910, as an anarchist, anti-religion zealot, advocate for birth control and homosexual rights, and more. Butte culminated her five-month 1910 tour, which her manager boasted “had not a single encounter with the police.” Among her previous run-ins with the police was an arrest in 1901, following the assassination of William McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Goldman admitted meeting Czolgosz, but disavowed any connection with his act; she was released two weeks later after “third degree” interrogation. (Image below, from Anaconda Standard, Sept. 22, 1901.)

In Butte at the Carpenter’s Union Hall on Granite Street Goldman spoke in June 1910 on “Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School.” Ferrer was a fellow anarchist and educator, executed in Spain because the church feared his teachings, according to Goldman. Her second speech focused on “The White Slave Trade,” by which she mostly referred to prostitution. Butte had quite a reputation in that area, of course, but it was a nationwide issue.

Goldman came to Butte three more times, in 1912, 1913, and 1914. Although she was an American citizen by virtue of marriage, her husband’s citizenship was revoked and courts held that had invalidated Emma’s as well. She was deported to Russia (her 1869 birthplace was in Lithuania, at the time a part of the Russian Empire) in 1920. She had become known as “the most dangerous woman in America.” Disillusioned with the Soviet experiment, she left in 1921 and spent the rest of her life—not quietly—in Europe and Canada. She died in 1940.

As a personal aside, as much as I know that Butte was an incubator for all manner of ideologies, and that all manner of people needed and wanted to visit Butte in those days, it pretty much freaks me out that Emma Goldman came to Butte four times. And spoke in places that I pass nearly every day.

Photo c. 1911 from Library of Congress via Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. I love that Emma Goldman quote on the political arena "... one must either be a dunce or a rogue." The more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps I should become an anarchist!!!