1919 December 21

“Red Ark” Sails: Anarchist Emma Goldman, 248 Others Deported


The ship USAT Buford, labeled the “Red Ark,” embarked from New York City on this day, carrying 249 aliens who were deported because of their alleged anarchist or Communist beliefs. The most famous passenger was the anarchist, birth control advocate and anti-war activist Emma Goldman, who had been arrested June 15, 1917, for opposing the draft. She was accompanied by her companion, the anarchist Alexander Berkman (September 7, 1922). An estimated 184 of the 249 aliens on the Buford were members of the Union of Russian Workers, which had been one of the principal targets of the first Palmer Raids on November 7, 1919. All of the passengers were shipped to the Soviet Union.

J. Edgar Hoover, then a young bureaucrat in the Bureau of Investigation who played a major role in the Palmer Raids, personally went to New York City to witness the sailing of the Buford. They met at the dock and, incredibly, Hoover asked her, “Haven’t I given you a square deal, Miss Goldman?”

The deportation was part of the post-World War I Red Scare that also included a second and larger set Palmer Raids that began on January 2, 1920.

TRIVIA: The Buford was later sold to a private company and, in 1924, rented to be the set in the silent film The Navigator, starring Buster Keaton.

View a cartoon of the Sailing of the “Red Ark”: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Exhibition/eg29.jpg

Learn more at a timeline of Goldman’s life, 1900–1919: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Guide/chronology0119.html

Read: Vivian Gornick, Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life (2011)

Learn more: Paul Avrich and Karen Avrich, Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman (2012)

J. Edgar Hoover’s Memo Requesting Goldman’s Deportation (click both):
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Exhibition/eg27a.jpg;   http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Exhibition/eg27b.jpg

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