Free Society

Free Society

"Free Society" (1895-1897 as "The Firebrand"; 1897-1904 as "Free Society") was a major anarchist newspaper in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries."Free Society" was the principal English-language forum for anarchist ideas in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century." "Emma Goldman: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909", p.551.] Most anarchist publications in the US were in Yiddish, German, or Russian, but "Free Society" was published in English, permitting the dissemination of anarchist thought to English-speaking populations in the US.

The newspaper was established as "The Firebrand" in 1895 in Portland, Oregon by the Isaak family, Abe Isaak, Mary Isaak, and their children, along with some associates; the organization served as "the headquarters of anarchist activity on the [West] Coast". [Emma Goldman, "Living My Life" (Volume 1), pp.224-225.] The publication staunchly advocated free love and women's rights, and critiqued "Comstockery" -- censorship of sexual information. Deliberately defying "Comstockism" as civil disobedience, "The Firebrand" published Walt Whitman's "A Woman Waits for Me" in 1897; A.J. Pope, Abe Isaak, and Henry Addis were quickly arrested and charged with publishing obscene information for the Whitman poem and a letter "It Depends on the Women", signed by A.E.K. The A.E.K. letter presented various hypotheticals of women refusing or assenting to sex with their husbands or lovers, and argued that true liberation required education of both sexes and particularly women.Moran, 2004.]

After Isaak was released, the Isaak family moved the publication to San Francisco, California, and resumed publication under the name "Free Society". However, while "Free Society" continued to discuss free love and advocate for equality of the sexes, it did not openly defy the Comstock laws again.

The paper was particularly known for its advocacy of free love, bringing an anarchist critique to bear on social relations and women's rights.

Notable contributors included:
* Kate Austin
* Voltairine de Cleyre
* Michael Cohn
* Jay Fox
* Emma Goldman [See particularly Goldman's "The Condition of the Workers in America" (published in 1895 "Torch" and then "The Firebrand") and "Marriage" (July 18, 1897, "Firebrand", Goldman's first publication about women and free love.]
* Lizzie Holmes
* William Holmes
* C. L. James
* Harry Kelly
* James F. Morton, Jr.
* Ross Winn



* Addis, Henry. "History of Firebrand".
* Carolyn Ashbaugh, "Radical Women: The Haymarket Tradition", IN "Haymarket Scrapbook", ed. by Dave Roediger and Franklin Rosemont, Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., 1986 (available at [ "The Lucy Parsons Project"] ) (discussing "Free Society", including later imprisonment of Isaak family in 1901 after the McKinley assassination, and Jane Addams' efforts to secure their release)
* Emma Goldman, "Living My Life" (Vol. 1).
* "Emma Goldman: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909", p.551.
* Elmer B. Isaak (Interview), IN Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America" (AK Press, 2006, ISBN 1904859275), pp. 27-28. (Elmer was the grandson of Abe Isaak and Mary Isaak.)
* Maurice, Lori Klatt. [ "Stamping Out Indecency, The Postal Way"] (aka "Stamping Out Indecency: Post Office Censorship"] (March 8, 2004, Evergreen State College)
* Moran, Jessica. [ "The Firebrand" and the Forging of a New Anarchism: Anarchist Communism and Free Love"] (2004)

ee also

* List of anarchist periodicals

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