Emma Goldman was dubbed "one of the most dangerous women in America" by J. Edgar Hoover. But that's just the beginning of a legendary life of keen insight, uncompromising anarchism, and burned bridges.
She was horrified by the tragic story of several labor activists who were executed in Chicago, and found herself drawn to the labor movement and eventually to anarchism. Contrary to what the word might suggest, Goldman's philosophy was not about disorder and chaos. It was about personal freedom and rejecting institutions she believed were repressive: government, religion, war, business interests, and even marriage.
Although she did end up marrying several times out of convenience or for citizenship, Goldman rejected traditional notions of marriage, and chose never to have to children.
Goldman quickly became one of the most famous radical figures in America, whose power with words was sometimes referred to as a "sledgehammer." She traveled across the country speaking so passionately that the famed reporter Nellie Bly would dub her a "little Joan of Arc."