The song lyrics "I fought the law and the law won" could very well be a prÈcis for the tumultuous life of Emma Goldman.
For nearly three decades this impassioned orator defied the establishment by exercising her right of free speech, but in the end the powers that be enacted new laws they could use to run her out of the country.
Her public speeches and writings earned her the enmity of big money and politicians who feared organized labor, feared the Bolsheviks and believed her ideas would corrupt American youth.
She sided with labor unions at a time when 11-hour workdays and half-days on Saturdays were common. She spoke out against the Comstock Act, an 1873 law making the United States the only Western country to criminalize the use or distribution of birth control. Official eyes narrowed when she opposed conscription during World War I, and that was what led to her downfall.