July 23: Berkman Shoots Henry Frick
Alexander Berkman, an anarchist who was lover and comrade to Emma Goldman, attempted to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, in his office on this date in 1892, to avenge the deaths of nine miners killed by Pinkerton guards on July 6 during infamous Homestead Strike in Pennsylvania. Berkman shot Frick twice and stabbed him several times before being subdued. Frick was a notoriously aggressive capitalist described in the press as “the most hated man in America.” He lived to be 70. Berkman would serve fourteen years in prison before being pardoned in 1906. From 1907 until 1915, he was editor of Goldman’s publication, Mother Earth. On the evening of Frick’s death in 1919, Berkman and Emma Goldman were attending a farewell banquet in Chicago before their expulsion from the country. When a reporter asked him to comment on Frick’s death, he said that Frick had been “deported by God. I’m glad he left the country before me.” In 1936, suffering with a painful prostate condition, Berkman took his own life at age 66.
“We all believe in violence and we all disbelieve in violence; it all depends upon the circumstances. Under ordinary circumstances no one wants violence, no one wants bloodshed; and yet certain circumstances arise when violence seems to be necessary in order perhaps to combat greater violence, in order to combat a greater evil that may menace humanity.” —Alexander Berkman