Hellraisers Journal: Espionage Act Signed; Goldman & Berkman Arrested; Mother Earth & The Blast Seized

The greatest bulwark
of capitalism is militarism.
-Emma Goldman


Hellraisers Journal, Monday June 18, 1917
New York, New York – Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman Arrested

On Friday June 15th, President Wilson signed the Espionage into law (see below). That same day in New York City, the Harlem office of Mother Earth and The Blast was raided, and Anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were arrested.

From the New York Sun of June 16, 1917:

Accused of Inducing Young Men to
Violate Registration Law.

“Literature” in Office of
Anarchist Publications
Seized as Evidence.

Emma Goldman Arrest June 15, Dly Missoulian, June 16, 1917

Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were arrested yesterday afternoon charged with conspiracy against the Government in inducing young men to break the selective conscription law by not registering. If convicted they can be imprisoned for two years and fined $10,000 apiece, and can also be deported for preaching anarchy, both being aliens.

United Suites Marshal McCarthy served the warrants on the pair, who love to be called “the beat known anarchists in America,” in the little Harlem office where they have been publishing Mother Earth and the Blast. He said it was the best thing he ever did in his life.


They were taken to the Federal Building along with a young anarchist helper, W. P. Bales, who had not registered for conscription. It being too late for arraignment they were locked up in the Tombs. They will confront United States Commissioner Hitchcock at 9:45 o’clock this morning, and Berkman and Miss Goldman will probably have to give $25,000 bail apiece if they want to get out pending trial or Grand Jury action. A lot of “literature” in the Harlem office, of which the police and Department of Justice are now in charge, was seized as evidence, including copies of Mother Earth and the Blast. Signed articles in these magazines figure in the Government’s complaint.

End of Rope Reached.

Thursday night’s meeting in the Forward building on the East Side, wherein the two reds now in the Tombs strained even their own vocabularies of denunciation in raving at President Wilson, Gov. Whitman, the United States and the law, brought the Goldman woman and Berkman to the end of the rope which a tolerant Government had been paying out to them. With a stenographic transcript of those speeches before them yesterday United States Attorney Caffey, Capt. Offley of the Department of Justice Investigation bureau and Marshal McCarthy decided it was time to humor me pair and grant them the boon of arrest which they seemed to be coveting.

The evidence, however, will include not only the minutes of the Thursday night meeting but of half a dozen others in the last month in which the Goldman-Berkman howlings have been featured. Sergt. George D. Barnitz of the police bomb squad, who has been specializing on anarchist leaders of late, swore to the complaint which caused Commissioner Hitchcock to issue a joint warrant yesterday. Barnitz charges that since May 18 Berkman and the Goldman woman wilfully and feloniously have conspired between themselves and with other persons to induce men between the ages of 21 and 30 to refuse to present them selves for registration under the selective conscription law.

Articles Under Fire.

Articles in the June number of Mother Earth, published by Emma Goldman, and of the Blast, published by Berkman, are alleged to have been put forth to further the conspiracy. The warrant charges them with violating sections 37 and 332 of the United States criminal Code, which define conspiracy, and section 5 of the conscription law……

[Photograph added.]

More from the New York Sun of June 16, 1917:

Department of Justice Anticipates
Many Prosecutions.

Washington, June 15,-The Administration espionage bill was signed by by President Wilson.

A Public Information Committee statement on the new law says:

Department of Justice officials regard the espionage act as one of the most important pieces of legislation enacted since the declaration of the state of war and numerous prosecutions are anticipated under its provisions.

For the time being the export control chapter is regarded by the War Trade Committee as the most important portion of the new law. That section of the act will not only prove effective in prompting the success of the war by preventing shipments to the enemy, but it will prove a safeguard against the development of another embarrassing situation in the relations with Mexico, since under it shipments of arms and munitions across the border can be absolutely controlled.

Another feature of the law which was designed to prevent embarrassing situations from arising in the nation’s foreign relations prevents any other than a duly accredited diplomatic or consular official from serving as an agent of a foreign Government in the United States unless the individual so serving first gives notice of his position to the Secretary of State.

Section 3 of the Espionage Act:

We find Section 3 of the new Espionage Act to be of particular interest in the case of Goldman and Berkman. Emphasis added is ours.

Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies and whoever when the United States is at war, shall wilfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall wilfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.

Cover of Mother Earth for June 1917:

Mother Earth, Emma Goldman, June 1917

On last page of Mother Earth, June 1917:

Mother Earth, Ad Anti-Draft Meeting, June 1917



The Sun
(New York, New York)
June 16, 1917

Excerpts from Espionage Act of 1917

Emma Goldman Arrest June 15, Dly Missoulian, June 16, 1917
Mother Earth, Emma Goldman, June 1917
Mother Earth, Ad Anti-Draft Meeting, June 1917

See also:

Emma Goldman

Mother Earth, Volume 12, Issue 4
(New York, New York)
-June 1917
Emma Goldman, Proprietor, 1917

Alexander Berkman

The Blast

Espionage Act of 1917

Excerpts from Espionage Act of 1917

History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. 7:
Labor and World War I, 1914-1918

See esp:
Chapter 14-Wartime Repression: the IWW
Chapter 15-Wartime Repression: the Socialist
(Note: Sadly, the Anarchists don’t get their own chapter,
but are included in Chapter 15.)
-by Philip S Foner
International Publishers, 1987

The New York Times
(New York, New York)
-June 16, 1917

EMMA GOLDMAN AND A. BERKMAN BEHIND THE BARS; Anarchist Headquarters Raided and Leaders Held for Anti-Draft Conspiracy. MANY DOCUMENTS SEIZED Card Index of Reds in the United States Simplifies Secret Service Men’s Work. RIOTERS MENACE SOLDIERS Some 200 Without Registration Cards Detained at Anti-Conscription Gatherings in This City. Slacker Arrested Also. EMMA GOLDMAN AND BERKMAN HELD Arrayed in Royal Purple. Berkman’s Offending Article. Miss Goldman’s Proclamation. Will Demand Heavy Ball.

Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, the two most notorious anarchists in the United States, who for weeks have been conducting a campaign against all the aspirations and activities of this Government, particularly against …