Agnes Boulton, with whom Eugene O'Neill first lived and then married, bore a remarkable resemblance to Louise Bryant.  She was his second wife and gave birth to two of his children; a boy, Shane, and a daughter, Oona, who became Charlie Chaplin's wife.


Were it not for a voice that was slightly huskier, a mole on the lower right cheek and the absence of Louise's Celtic facial coloring, Agnes might have been Louise's identical twin.  And as John Ransome, the San Francisco journalist, told her, a lot of people in the Village, seeing Agnes with O'Neill thought that Louise had returned from Russia to be with him.


When Agnes' husband died, he left her a debt-ridden farm in the Connecticut Valley overlooking the Housatonic River and a small child.  She began to augment her income by writing and providing room and board for a few New Yorkers who found her farm a wonderful place to spend a relaxing summer vacation.  It was in this way that she met Mary Pyne and her poet husband, Harry Kemp.  In this way, also, she met the operator of a Greenwich Village restaurant, whom everyone knew only as Christine.


In October of 1917, she decided to go to New York to try her hand at writing, now that she knew Christine.  It was not her first trip to New York.  She had made one trip in connection with the sale of her article to the Evening World, and in 1916 she was there on the picket line of a dairy farmers' milk strike. It was on this trip that an Evening World reporter recognized the picket sign carrier as the author of the article, and made a great to-do in the paper about a beautiful woman from Connecticut who was a dairy farmer doubling as a writer.


     It was all there on page two; her picture, big headlines, everything. . . "No money in milk cows," says woman dairy farmer who has made a brave fight. . .Now in New York to help her fellow dairy farmers win a strike for higher prices, the beautiful young widow farmer has supported herself, her baby and a herd of cows by her pen. . . "


   In her book about her life with O'Neill, Agnes recalled that when she first met him she showed him the newspaper clipping; he read it and feigned horror: "Good God! Dairy farmer . . .brave fight. .  .supported a child and herd of cows. . .I don't believe it.  A waitress, yes; even a ribbon clerk. . . but a dairy farmer, milking cows and sticking pitchforks into manure;  How could you possibly let them print such a thing?"


     "I'll have you know," Agnes said indignantly, "this write-up got me eleven proposals of marriage, and one farmer came to my home to show me his bankbook.  Another man wrote me that he was a widower and knew I was a fine woman, and that I would be good to his children because I reminded him of Abraham Lincoln."


   "It must be your mole," grinned O'Neill, "it's in the same place his was."


     She had little money when she left Connecticut for New York.  Her parents had agreed to look after the farm and take care of the baby.  She had told them she would return in the spring and make arrangements for moving to New York if she found something to do as a writer.  If she didn't, she would return and try to make the farm pay its way.



      When she arrived in New York, she took a room at the Brevoort, but it was seven the following evening before she could reach Christine by telephone at her restaurant.  "It's too noisy here," said Christine, "I'll close the place and we'll meet at the Hell Hole."  Agnes asked what the Hell Hole was and where it was. Christine laughed:  "It's the back room of the Golden Swan, dearie; everybody knows where the Hell Hole is on Fourth and Sixth Avenue.  I'll meet you there at ten-thirty."


     She arrived at the Golden Swan early and waited uneasily in the darkened Hell Hole off the main bar.  The place smelled of stale beer and tobacco.  She was grateful no one else seemed to be around and no waiter came to ask her to order a drink. Then, as her eyes became accustomed to the dark, she noticed him staring at her from where he was sitting, motionless, in the far corner.  She saw that he was wearing what looked like a seaman's sweater under his jacket, and as he kept staring at her she became uneasy.  There was something both sad and cruel in the way he looked at her.  She had a vague and troubled feeling that they may have met before.  He reminded her of some one or something she could not quite identify.


      Then Christine came in and embraced her. Christine, thoroughly Danish, tall and voluptuous, with a great pile of red-gold hair, called O'Neill and introduced Agnes. "This Is Gene O'Neill," said Christine. Long after 0'Neill's death, Agnes still remembered how pleasant the name sounded to her when pronounced by Christine with a Danish accent. Then his brother Jamie came and Agnes saw at once that Christine was in Love with him. When the two men left and went into the main car, Christine told Agnes that their father gave each of them fifteen dollars a week, and Gene had run out of money so that it was Jamie's turn to do the lending.


      "Keep clear of Jamie," warned Christine, "He's a wild one. He tries to make love to every woman he meets, so look out, dearie."  Christine sighed: "What a man!  He's crude and cruel and foul-mouthed. But you hardly mind when he's making love to you."



      Gene walked her to her hotel that night. It was cold and he had only a light topcoat. At the steps she held out her hand to say goodnight, but he wanted to go on talking. Finally she told him she wanted to go in because she was cold.  He hesitated, and then startled her with: "I want to spend every night of my life with you - every night of my life."  He turned and began walking away.


       She lay awake a long time wondering about this strange man and what he had said only a few hours after meeting her for the first time.  It was, she knew, not an unusual thing for men to say what he had to women with whom they wanted to go to bed.  But she had the strange feeling that if she had invited him to come up to her room, he would not have accepted.



      It was not long before everyone who had known about O'Neill's infatuation with Louise Bryant saw the remarkable way that Agnes resembled Louise and the effect that she had on O'Neill.  A few days after they had met, Christine telephoned her to say that she was planning a party at her apartment Saturday night. She added that some people would be there who might be able to help her with her writing career, and then said: "Gene will be there; do come, dearie." Agnes said she would.


      O'Neill arrived almost two hours after the party had gotten under way. He was drunk and seemed to have forgotten all about Agnes, as he began concentrating his attention mostly on Nina Moise, the least attractive, but perhaps the most talented of the women at the party.  O'Neill had become greatly attached to her. She was, by this time, the producer at the McDougal Street Theater, and it was to her apartment that O'Neill came to talk despairingly about Louise after she left for Russia with John Reed.


Agnes felt depressed and out of place. Christine was busy mixing punch, occasionally taking a drink from a pint bottle of brandy. Suddenly - years later she said she was unaware of what she was doing - Agnes walked across the room, drew O'Neill's attention away from Nina and said: "Hello, remember me? I'm the one with whom you wanted to spend the rest of your life."


      O'Neill stared at her and tried to smile. Then he said: "It's a cold night - a good night for a party.  Ah,the iceman cometh." He staggered away, and at the door Agnes saw him take a flask from his hip pocket and take a long drink, -he gave a loud laugh as though he wanted to draw everyone's attention to himself, and began to walk carefully across the room.  At the fake fireplace mantel he grabbed a chair, mounted it, turned toward the room where all were watching him in silence, and in a thick, dramatic voice declaimed:


Turn back the universe

                  And give me yesterday.

                  Turn back………


      He carefully turned to face the clock on the wall above the mantel, opened the glass cover and began twisting the long hand, and as the small hand followed, he again spoke:


                 Turn back the universe

                 And give me yesterday………


      He stepped from the chair and managed to stagger his way out of the room. Agnes looked about her for Christine.  She became aware that these people whom she'd just met, smiled when she caught them staring at her.  Then she heard Susan Glaspell say to Mary Pyne: "It's your friend from Connecticut. He sees Louise in her. I think right up to the last moment poor Gene hoped she would turn to him and not leave for Russia with Jack, don't you? Poor Gene. How he must be suffering."


      MARY PYNE: "This exhibition to impress us - this 'Turn back the clock and give me yesterday' When a man makes a gesture like that to convince others that he is still in love with a woman, it's safe to say he dramatizing his love, not feeling it."


      SUSAN: "Whatever it is, I hope Louise leaves him alone when, and if, she gets back from Russia."


      As the days passed, Agnes heard a great deal about Louise Bryant: how attractive she was, how talented, how distressed O'Neill had been to find himself in love with the wife of one of his best friends. She saw a snapshot of Louise, her long legs in tight riding breeches spread apart, her hands deep in the pockets of a smart jacket, an impish grin on her face, leaning against a shingled, weather-beaten wall, a gamin cap rakishly on her head.  Agnes Boulton, not yet certain if she was in love with O'Neill, both envied and hated this woman. She had a famous and exciting and adventurous husband, with whom she'd gone to a new world - why couldn't she have left O'Neill alone?


       She continued seeing him. Not once did he try to Make love to her or even hint that he was interested in making love.  He drank a great deal and talked about writing and about revolutions and of how he would die only when the last bullet had been used up.


       One piercingly cold night as they walked along the sidewalks of Washington Square, she said: "This must be the way it is in Russia." He stopped and glared at her, his face reflecting hate.



       It was a week before Christmas.  They had just finished dinner at Christine's restaurant. O'Neill suddenly announced that a friend of his who had an apartment had given him the key while he was out of town, and he asked if she would go there with him. She agreed.


       It was a weird, nightmarish experience for the beautiful woman dairy farmer from Connecticut.  When they reached the apartment they found it was so cold that the gas was frozen, and only a can of Sterno was available for making a cup of coffee.  Then O'Neill's friend turned up unexpectedly with a quart of whiskey.  Both began drinking.  By two in the morning, Agnes, thoroughly miserable and nauseated by the whiskey she had been drinking in an attempt to keep warm, made her way to the bedroom and fell asleep on top of the evil- smelling bedcover. She awakened while it was still dark. O'Neill was asleep beside her, his topcoat covering her and only the edge over his own body. She moved closer to him and again fell into a stupor.


      When she again awakened, it was daylight.  O'Neill was still sleeping and breathing heavily.  The vapor her breath made in the cold room reminded her of the farm in Connecticut, her baby and parents, and the cows and the white clouds their breath made on cold winter mornings.  Crawling out of bed and into the living room, she found that O'Neill's friend had vanished.  In the bathroom she adjusted her hair with her hands, picked up her handbag in the living room and started for the front door.  She heard his voice: Where in hell are you going?"


      O'Neill was standing by the bedroom door. He was furious. He unleashed a string of obscene seaman's oaths that stunned her. She bit her lip to keep the tears back and slammed the door. At the Brevoort, she bathed, tried in vain to sleep, and spent the rest of the day and night trying to decide what to do. In the morning she came downstairs to inform the clerk that she was leaving New York and returning to Connecticut.  But before she could say anything the clerk handed her a thick envelope.  Back in her room, she opened it and found a penciled George Middleton poem:



           I am only a dream that sings           

     In a strange large place,

           And beats with Impotent wings

           Against God's face.


     No more than a dream that sings

           In the streets of space;

           Ah, would that my soul had wings,

           Or a resting place.


       And with it was a typed copy of his "Moon of the Caribees." As she read the manuscript she saw a sensitive, unhappy, confused man in search of an indefinable something.  She knew he would be at the Hell Hole waiting for her.


       "Louise Bryant," wrote Agnes Boulton, "became only a dream for me that sings in the streets of space."



      They had two wonderful, idyllic months in Provincetown. Silent and buried in the snow, the place did not even remotely resemble the raucous, tourist-cluttered resort it was in the summer. They moved into the apartment above John Francis' general merchandise store where O'Neill had lived with Terry Carlin briefly when they first came to Provincetown in the summer of 1916. He tapered off on his drinking and seemed determined to make her happy.  They began working and making progress on "Beyond the Horizon," which was to win O'Neill another Pulitzer award.  (Here, as in "Strange Interlude," O'Neill also drew heavily on his affair with Louise.  He has two friends who are as close to each other as brothers might be.  Both are in love with the same girl, and she alternates her affections, first favoring one and then the other.)


     Agnes had never known such peace and contentment. One afternoon there was a knock at the door and Laurence Lytton, who lived in the apartment next to theirs, said he didn't quite know how to say it, but he had something to tell them.  He looked - recalled Agnes - like something the Dutch painter, Frans Hals, might have produced on canvas.  He was so embarrassed both she and O'Neill had trouble keeping from laughing.  Then it was her turn to blush furiously. Lytton found words to say he couldn't help but hear them talking at night because the walls were so paper-thin.  Agnes realized with a shock that he must have heard them making love.  O'Neill grinned.  Lytton said his girl friend, Alice Uhlman, thought Agnes and O'Neill ought to get married.  Agnes looked at O'Neill.  He continued grinning.  Agnes Boulton became Mrs. Eugene O'Neill in January of 1918 with Laurence Lytton and Agnes Uhlman as witnesses.



     The first letter from Louise arrived on February 20th. Years later Agnes recalled with what she described as "dreadful clarity" that the letter was from New York and had been written only a day or two after Louise arrived from Russia on the Norwegian steamer Bergenfjord.  When John Francis brought it and gave it to O'Neill, he recognized the handwriting on the envelope.  He read it slowly, and then he handed it to Agnes.


     She remembered that when she finished reading, her throat was dry and she was trembling.  It was a most passionate letter, designed to overwhelm O'Neill.  Louise wrote that she had left Jack Reed in Russia and crossed three thousand miles of frozen steppes to be with Gene - her lover.  She must see him.  She filled page after page with a passionate declaration of love for him - a love, she said, that could not - would not die; a love that was unchangeable, eternal.  She knew at last that it was a mistake to have gone off to Russia with Jack instead of staying with him.  She knew, wrote Louise, that he had met a woman who closely resembled her, and she deeply regretted the hurt and loneliness she must have caused him to look for her image in someone else.  Her leaving was all a mistake.  But there was no use trying to explain how she felt about it all in a letter.  She must see him in person.  "It was all my fault. . .I love you, I love you, I love you. . .," she echoed Jack's words to Mabel Dodge.


     Agnes' heart sank as she watched indecision and confusion mirrored in his face.  Finally he said - it was almost a moan: "I must see her.  I have to explain.  I can't leave it like this. - I can't do this to her. . .I. . .I. . ."


"You want to see her?  You want to see this woman?"


"I should tell her in person that it's all over.  She traveled three thousand miles. . ."


     "And don't forget those frozen Russian steppes," broke in Agnes bitterly. (Steppes are the vast plains in Russia with settlements located many miles apart.)  Suddenly she thought that Mary Pyne was right when she came to her and tried to warn her that O'Neill was the kind of man who had to experience torture   to be creative, to be able to write.  "I could see him recalling," wrote Agnes, "all the dark passionate travail of their love."


       She said:  "How can you do this?  She loves John Reed. She chose to go with him, not to stay with you."


       "You don't understand.  She told me herself that there was never any physical relationship between them."


       "Oh, you fool.  You poor naive fool."  Then she realized that she was saying the wrong things to him in his present state of mind.  But even as she watched O'Neill and wondered what she ought to do, there was a knock at the door.  It was the postmaster with a special delivery letter.


      "I don't want to read it," said O'Neill as he took the letter, "She's crazy."  But he did read it, and when he finished reading it, he said:  "I must see her.  I owe her an explanation."


      Agnes began to weep and O'Neill looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time.  "I am not going to drink - I won't get involved with her - I just want to tell her that I have you and that it's all over between us."  It was incredible, simply incredible, thought Agnes.  He was trying to convince her that he was willing to stop work on "Beyond the Horizon", take a long trip to New York, just to convince Louise Bryant that he no longer loved her because he now had her, Agnes Boulton.  It made no sense at all - and it frightened her.


     The letters from New York continued arriving, sometimes twice a day, each more insistent than the one before.  In one she hinted that she had talked to Reed before she left Russia about her love for O'Neill, and Reed was so involved in the Russian revolution and so eager to have her do whatever would make her happy that he had agreed that she should return to the United States.  And this was what she wanted to talk to him about.  O'Neill began to work furiously on "Beyond the Horizon", but Agnes felt he was throwing himself into his work only to get the play finished so that he would have an excuse for going to New York.  Then he began to spend hours framing replies to Louise's letters.  He would write something and tear it up and repeat this time and time again.  They were the best things that O'Neill ever wrote, declared Agnes.  She was in agony as she read them.  They reviewed his love affair with Louise and the torture this meant for the three of them - for him, for Louise and for John Reed.  There was such romance and Irish beauty in them that her heart would seem to stop beating as she read them.  "For," said Agnes, "I had thought that our love had erased this wild longing and restless desire he had once felt for Louise."


     Finally, seeing no other way out, Agnes Boulton made the suggestion that he write and tell Louise that he could not come to New York but would meet her and talk with her someplace between Provincetown and New York - say Fall River.  This, thought Agnes, would keep O'Neill away only one day from Provincetown.  She also thought that perhaps, just perhaps, Louise would become annoyed at his suggestion she travel half-way to meet him and refuse to do so.


     Louise was not annoyed, she was absolutely furious.  She replied that she was bitterly disappointed, not because she was not going to get a chance to see him - but in him personally.  What sort of a man was he!  How dare he play so lightly with her feelings?  Realizing that she was defeated, she went on to scold him.  Here she was participating in sensational world events, playing a part in shaping civilization and he had the nerve to suggest that she drop everything and take time to travel to Fall River just for his convenience.  She added that John Reed was on his way home from Russia.


     Agnes was torn between relief and pleasure that O'Neill was not going to see Louise, and distress as she watched the man she loved suffer and wilt as he read Louise's last letter to him.


     One evening in the fall of 1924, when she was the wife of William C. Bullitt, Louise brought out a pack of letters and handed them to him, one by one.  As he read each one and handed it back, she threw each letter onto the burning logs in the fireplace.


      "He certainly was in love with you," said Bullitt when the last letter had been burned.






Louise was devastated.  She felt that she had been victimized, humiliated and betrayed by this man who had told her he could not live without her, and would wait for her to the end of time.  And then he had the temerity to reject her for a pale carbon copy.  Had he not told her that although he had been involved with many women, he did not know what sex really was until she came along?  It was the first time that a man had truly rejected her.  It would have been no consolation had anyone suggested to her that it happens all the time.


Then the latent masochism that enables humans to enjoy wallowing in self-pity, took over and she tortured herself at night by visualizing Agnes Boulton in bed with O'Neill, and O'Neill responding to her caresses and passionately clinging to her.  She had weird dreams.  She was lost and when she asked a policeman for help he turned and walked away.  She was a child again and saw her mother beckoning to come to her, but Mrs. Bryant kept moving away, and no matter how fast she walked or ran she could not reach her.


     Fortunately, it did not last and before long Louise was telling friends that O'Neill had literally camped on her door-step, pleading with her - but she had been firm; her duty was to her husband whose life was in constant peril, three thousand miles away, and she was certainly too involved in world-shaking events herself to have time to trifle with playwrights, particularly those who drank as heavily as O'Neill did.


      There was another reason she was able to clear her mind so quickly and easily of O'Neill.  There were so many things-she had put off doing since she had returned.  There were the articles she had sent to America to be published, which now had to be assembled for her book, "Six Red Months In Russia." Radical groups wanted her to address meetings where they might get first-hand information about what was going on in Russia - information they were certainly not getting from the newspapers.  Women fighting for an amendment to the Constitution that would give them the political rights men have, were eager to learn more about the Russian women who had been beaten, tortured and raped in czarist prisons, and were now in important posts helping to build a mighty new nation.


       But above and beyond everything else, overshadowing all other considerations was the fearful realization that Jack was on his way home to face conspiracy charges, and that there was a strong possibility he would be convicted and nave to spend many years in a federal prison.


       When the skimpy cable had arrived in Petrograd with word that Reed had been indicted, there were few details and nothing at all to suggest the tremendous impact of the Bolshevik takeover on the American people.  Customary war hysteria was rapidly moving the nation toward mass paranoia - the name Lenin began to stand for something more sinister than Kaiser Wilhelm.


       She recalled the morning in Petrograd when Raymond Robbins turned up while she and Reed were still in bed and pleaded with them not to return to the United States at that particular time.  He must have learned at the embassy, she thought, but could not tell them, that there were powerful people back home, in and out of government, who considered John Reed a traitor and a menace.  She felt a sudden surge of warmth for this gentle man of the Red Cross.  He had tried to impress on American government representatives in Russia, his conviction that Lenin and his Bolsneviki would be around for a long time; that she and Reed were among the very few Americans Lenin trusted and could be helpful in bringing about some sort of an understanding between the two governments. There were other Americans in Russia, but only Raymond Robbins seemed to recognize the dynamics of Russian history.



       Max Eastman had met her when the steamer, "Bergenfjord," docked on February l8th. He had taken her to his sister Crystal's apartment to stay until she could make other arrangements.  Both Eastman and his sister were intensely busy, for - despite suppression of The Masses and the indictments - they had just finished putting final touches to the successor of The Masses, The Liberator, the first issue of which was due off the presses on the first of March.


      Reed had cabled that he was Leaving Russia and, barring something unexpected, was due to reach the United States about the middle of March. The trial on the Indictments was now scheduled to start on April 15th, and feeling certain that Reed would not want to live at their place in Croton while the trial was under way, she rented a dingy apartment on Patchin Place, a short narrow street in the Village, that was no more than a break In the north side of West Tenth, between Sixth Avenue and Greenwich Avenue.


      It was not much of a place, but it was furnished and outside, in front of the building, was a scrawny ailanthus which she promptly adopted and began nursing back to health, as she did with the sickly geranium she found in their Provincetown cottage two years earlier.


      Then something unexpected happened to Reed while he was en-route home.  The American consul in Norway refused to give him the visa he needed to continue the journey. Hs was thus forced to stay in Norway two months, and miss being present with those indicted when the trial got under way.



      The reason John Reed was held up two months in Norway, while Louise was frantically trying to get him home, would surely win first prize in any contest to find the most bizarre unpublished incident in the administration of an American president.  And no one would believe it, if it were not for Louise's testimony before a Congressional Committee a year later.


      During the two months he was held up in Norway, said Louise, only one of the many letters he had written to her was allowed to reach her.  But it was during that time that George Creel, one of the men close to President Wilson - he was head of the propaganda department called The Committee of Public Information and the man who had once offered Reed a job - sought her help and that of Lincoln Steffens.  Creel, she said, wanted Reed is go back to Petrograd and try to convince Lenin and Trotsky of President Wilson's sincerity, and urge them not to sign the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, for this would free me German armies in the East to fight the allies in the West.


      Two cablegrams then reached Reed on the same day. The first signed Steffens-Louise Bryant, said: "Don't return (home) await instructions."  The other: "Trotsky making epochal blunder doubting Wilson literal sincerity.  Am certain President will do whatever he asks other nations to do.  If you can and will change Trotsky's and Lenin's attitudes you can render historical international service." It was signed "Steffens."


      (There was a reason for the sudden decision of radicals to help a President, who had justified the Palmer raids.  It was based on the belief that the only hope the "have-nots" in capitalist countries to win concessions from the "haves" was in survival of socialism in Russia.  Fear of the "Red disease" spreading to their own countries would be the incentive, the radicals were convinced.  The Brest-Litovsk Treaty would so weaken socialism in Russia, the incentive would be gone.  Moreover, President Wilson's fourteen-point plan for world peace, and hints that he would recognize the Lenin regime if they did not capitulate to the Germans, as Russia's best hope, they felt, for saving the revolution.  In Russia, itself, there was a division among the Bolshevik leaders, with Lenin insisting that the plight of Russia was so desperate the masses could not be aroused to continue the fight.  And, anyway, none of them trusted Wilson or any of the other allied leaders.  They all dreaded the consequences of the German demands at Brest-Litovsk, but Lenin's view prevailed - the Russians chose what they considered the lesser of two evils.  John Reed held Lenin's view, but he cabled Steffens that he would return to Petrograd and talk to Lenin and Trotsky if radical American leaders like Eugene Debs asked him. . .Wilson could go to hell.  In the meantime, the Germans began an invasion of Russia, and the Russians signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which was not abrogated until the end of World War Two.)



       For a while, Louise clung to the hope that Reed's return to Russia to talk with Lenin and Trotsky would bring results that would cause the American government to drop charges against him.  When the newspapers reported that the Brest-Litovsk treaty was signed and Reed was still being refused a visa to return home, there was only the one letter in which he told her of his great longing for her and of his isolation.



       As the date for the trial drew nearer, and conditions for war protesters, radicals and other dissenters and no conformers grew worse, Louise began to fear for Reed's very Life.  To the usual aversion Americans always have had for war protesters and radicals, there was suddenly added the word, "Bolshevik-sympathizer".  For while the sympathizers saw the Bolshevik takeover as the dawn of a new day for the world and America  (slogans like "Why Not Here?" were beginning to appear on the West Coast), to most Americans, the words Bolsheviki and Communists came to stand for everything that was evil.


       Incredibly sensational reports and magazine articles fanned the nation's violent reaction to the Bolshevik takeover in Russia.  Some, such as those relating to the murder of the Czar and his family in July of 1917, were true.  Others were sheer fabrications.  Edgar Lloyd Hampton, for instance, in an article in the Saturday Evening Post, declared that Lenin and Trotsky, on their way to Russia, stopped in Seattle, and not only planned the general strike which occurred there early in 1919, but that the strike was to be the signal for a great rising of the American proletariat and the takeover of the American government.


      (Neither Lenin nor Trotsky, of course, had ever been in Seattle.  But the strike, itself, limited though it was to Seattle, gained such nation-wide attention and notoriety for the state of Washington, that two decades later James A. Farley, the postmaster general, toasted the state at a banquet with, "To the forty-seven states and the Soviet of Washington.")



      Louise talked with Max Eastman and all the others indicted with Reed for their work with The Masses. They were indicted under the Espionage Act, which Congress had passed and President Wilson had signed shortly after the United States entered the war. The Act, plus some amendments enacted the same year, were so broad that it became a federal offense to address an audience which contained draft-age men, or even to write and publish anything that might possibly influence the thinking of those involved in building ships or manufacturing munitions. When Eastman protested to President Wilson, a former president of Princeton and a brilliant exponent of democratic principles, the President replied:  ". . .I think that a time of war must be regarded as wholly exceptional and that it is legitimate to regard things which would in ordinary circumstances be very innocent, as very dangerous to the public welfare. . .


Cordially and sincerely yours, Woodrow Wilson."



     So flimsy was the case against The Masses as a magazine busy spreading sedition that, even with the nation well in the grip of mass paranoia, the best the federal government was able to do was get two deadlocked juries after two trials.


     Jack had finally been given a visa to leave Norway, but was not present at the first trial.  The jury deliberated four days after hearing an eloquent appeal by Prosecutor Barnes for conviction.  "A war", said he "is a time when a nation's life is at stake.  The freedoms the defendants claim as their birth-right will be no more if we are vanquished by a mortal enemy." Then Socialist Norris Hilquit for the defendants: "Constitutional rights are not a gift.  Countless thousands paid for them with their lives.  War or no war, constitutional rights taken away and given back are never again the vivifying force they were before when they expressed the soul of a nation.  They become just a gift to be given and to be taken away. ..."


     It was noon, Monday, April 28, 1918.  As the jury was reporting that it was hopelessly deadlocked, the ship bringing John Reed home was clearing customs in New York harbor.






      Less than three years had passed since the day that Louise caught her first glimpse of New York, and with the passage of that brief period of their "Lives went every trace of the care free abandon with which they greeted each day as they awoke, and the anticipated excitement at night as they climbed into what Reed had described as "our scandalous and sinfully voluptuous bed."


      They now lived skimpily in their thoroughly disorganized Patchin Place apartment.  Newspaper clippings, manuscripts, typewriter and carbon paper littered the living room floor.  A flattop desk was full of dusty newspapers.  A smudged coffeepot and a few cups and saucers were on a small table.  Cracked dishes were piled on a shelf above a two-burner gasp-ate. In the bedroom there was a cot in addition to a single bed.  The bed usually showed the speed with which Louise made it up; the cot was always mussed, with a few pillows scattered on its surface. Both in the living room and bedroom were ashtrays full of cigarette butts. Reed smoked chain fashion.


       When summer came, they divided their time between their Patchin Place apartment and their home in Croton, but it was at Patchin Place that Louise with Reed's help finished her "Six Red Months in Russia."  Proceeds from sale of the book, plus a small advance that Reed got from Boni and Liveright for "Ten Days That Shook the World" took care of their living expenses.  A fee for a lecture on Russia occasionally augmented this - both of them remained greatly in demand - but in most cases there was no fee, and Reed continued to wear his threadbare suit and borrow a quarter for coffee before or after lecturing for a comrade.


       Boni and Liveright made the advance on royalties even though the government has confiscated all his notes and other material he had collected in Russia for the book.  This was done in April when Reed's ship reached the United States from Norway, and it was not until the early part of August that his papers were released and he was able to start writing.


       Sex became almost a passionless ritual; often leaving her depressed and frustrated as she recalled what it had been only a short time ago.  But she was becoming bound to him in deeper, quieter ways.  Revolution was now his passion. He had become more serious, often worried and deeply depressed.  A Letter from his mother, again threatening suicide because he was "besmirching the name Reed" while his brother Harry was fighting in Europe, left him so despondent, so pathetic, she was overwhelmed with a yearning to console him.  She knew she would never again leave him.  And when, during the trying weeks and months that followed, she heard reports of an affair Reed had with Edna St. Vincent Millay, she recalled dark-eyed Anne Calahan - how she had frozen with anger at the sight of her walking naked, a lighted candle in her hand, reciting poetry - she brooded only a few days.  When Reed returned from Philadelphia, where he had again been arrested, she embraced him and said how happy she was that he was home.  And this time she knew that she really meant it.


      The years Louise Bryant was most active, 1917 through the early 1920s, were perhaps the most tumultuous and the worst in American history for those attempting to bring about changes in the political status quo of women and any sort of changes in other phases of the American Way of Life.  Louise was deeply involved in both the drive to change the political status of women and that of bringing improved conditions for workers through unions.


      The man leading the drive to keep things as they were was a close friend of Woodrow Wilson's - Alexander Mitchell Palmer - a power in the Democratic Party.  His chief assistant was J. Edgar Hoover, head of the recently created department that would later become known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(The year 1920 also saw the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union by a Princeton-trained sociologist, Roger Nash Baldwin, who had himself been imprisoned for making anti-war speeches.)


      A. Mitchell Palmer was a Quaker, as had been all members of both sides of his family for many generations.  Because he was a Quaker and didn't believe in war, he turned down Presidents Wilson's offer to become Secretary of War.  (There has not been a Department of War in the United States since 1947, when the Department of Defense was created by congress, and it, along with the Navy Department and the Air Force, became units of the newly-created Defense Department.)



      Peace-loving Quaker or no.  Palmer made a clear distinction between external and internal enemies of America, and readily accepted Wilson's offer to become Attorney General with almost religious fervor.  Some Newspaper columnists, however, did not see the distinction quite as clearly.  When he began referring to himself as the "Fighting Quaker," they began referring to him (among themselves) as the "Quaking Fighter."



     Attorney General Palmer had a big job on his hands.  The nation had begun to polarize with America's involvement in the war, and the polarization became more widespread instead of better when the war came to an end in November of 1918.  The law, with new and tougher amendments, under which Reed, Eastman, Debs, Baldwin and so many others were indicted, with some being imprisoned, was still on the books.  Palmer, by a unique form of reasoning, kept on enforcing it long after the shooting in Europe ended.  The Senate, reasoned Palmer, had not yet gotten around to voting on the terms of the peace treaty, therefore, he was legally allowed to use his wartime powers to smash, among other things, the big strikes that had begun in many industries.


     Palmer genuinely believed he was justified in doing what he did.  Throughout the country, government officials and business executives were receiving packages by mail that proved to be time bombs.  Palmer's own home was damaged by a bomb, and near the remains of a man who had been blown to pieces was found a radical magazine advocating bombing tactics.


      In many places, notably in the West Coast states of Oregon and Washington, there came into existence Councils of Workers, Soldiers and Sailors, organized on the Russian Soviet pattern.  The newspapers were full of reports that the Bolsheviki were shipping gold by the trunk load to America to foment a revolution.  Letters to the editors and editorials demanded action, and they got it.


     A. Mitchell Palmer whipped things to a frenzy with public statements, reminding the millions of Americans who had bought war bonds, the owners of farms, and those with savings accounts in banks, that what he called "America's red hordes" intended to take all of this away from them.  His campaign, which became known as the "Palmer Red Scare Raids," resulted in the arrests of thousands - most of whom had to be released for want of even flimsy proof that they were a threat to the nation - and the deportation of those who had not taken out citizenship papers.  Among the first deportees were the anarchists Emma Goldman and her lover, Alexander ("Sasha") Berkman.



      In Washington, a Senate committee turned its attention to the spread of radicalism in the United States.  This was the Overman Committee, named after its chairman. Senator Lee Slater Overman, Democrat of North Carolina.  The committee was formed while the war was still raging in Europe to investigate German propaganda, there having developed a conviction that wealthy German brewers were helping the Kaiser.  But by early 1919, the investigation of Germans no longer made headlines.  The new Attorney General then noticed that many of those who had once been pro-German were now pro-Bolshevik.  He took careful note of the 1917 Kerensky charges that Lenin was an agent of the Germans, and it became easy for him to get full Senate approval for the Overman Committee to start investigating anything that he equated with Bolshevism.  The other members of the committee were Senators King, Wolcott, Nelson and Sterling.  The War Department assigned Major Lowry Humes to help the committee get all the "facts", and it soon went to work.



      The committee members were intrigued almost immediately by the testimony of friendly witnesses.  A. E. Stevenson of New York, a member of the New York Mayor's committee of National Defense and a special agent for the Department of Justice, told them about marriage and divorce in Russia under the new government.  "All one has to do," said Mr. Stevenson, "is appear before a commissar with a woman, or vice versa, and say he wants to be considered married, and he is.  If one of them wants to get divorced, all he or she has to do is say he or she wants to be divorced and he or she is."


      "You mean," asked Senator Overman, "a man can have as many wives as he wants?"


      "Yes," replied the witness, "but not all at once.  He must have them in rotation."


      SENATOR NELSON:  "You mean a man can get a divorce when he gets tired of his wife, and get another wife?"


      MR. STEVENSON:  "Precisely."


      SENATOR OVERMAN:  "Do they teach free love?"


      MR. STEVENSON:  "They do."


      MAJOR HUMES:  "Polygamy is recognized, is it?"


      MR. STEVENSON:  "I do not know.  I have not studied their social order as fully as that, and I cannot say with certainty about polygamy."


      On Sunday, February 2, 1919, Louise was one of the two main speakers at a big rally at Poll's Theater in the nation's capital.  The advertisements in the newspapers said she would tell "the truth about Russia."  The place was packed.  Several congressmen attended and brought down upon their heads abuse from both Representatives and Senators on the floors of both Houses, to say nothing of the newspapers.  It was the presence of Congressmen at the meeting to hear Louise which prompted the New York Times a week later to devote four full columns of space to the event, substituting for the usual writer's byline the words BY ONE WHO WAS THERE.  The headlines: "Bolsheviki Are Busy In The United States.  A Sample of Their Methods and Distortions of Fact at Washington Meeting Attended by Congressmen."


      As the furor over members of Congress listening to a Bolshevist mounted. Senator Overman's committee stepped up its investigation.


     The committee called more witnesses, all of them violently opposed to the Bolshevist regime in Russia.  With the exception of a commercial attaché to the United States embassy in Russia and "Babushka" Breshkovskaya, who was in the United States at that time, none of them seemed to know anything about Russia other than that Lenin and his followers were "anarchist atheists."  (Babushka, which means "little grandmother," came from a family of Russian noblemen and was one of the early advocates of the use of violence to overthrow the czar.  Louise had interviewed her in 1917 in Russia and described her as a charming old woman whom everybody loved.  Soon after the Bolsheviki came into power she became violently anti-Lenin and was forced to flee Russia, coming first to the United States and then moving to Czechoslovakia, where she died in 1934.)


      R. B. Dennis, a professor at Northwestern University, told the committee:  "Now I don't know Mr. Williams or Mr. Reed, but I have read their stuff.  I have also read the book by John Williams' wife."  (He meant Albert Phys Williams - and the book he read was not Mrs. Williams" - it was Louise Bryant's "Six Red Months in Russia.")



      The Reverend George Simonds read the infamous Jewish Protocols to show that the pogroms against Jews in Russia during the Czar's years may, after all, have been justified. He said he had it on good authority that the Bolsheviks "rape and ravish and despoil women at will."  "Babushka" Breshkovskaya's testimony made big headlines.  She made a bitter attack on Lenin and Trotsky, declaring that they were bringing into existence the very things the revolution was supposed to end. They were abolishing freedom of expression.


      Big headlines, with columns upon columns of space, were devoted by the newspapers to the commercial attaché.  Dr. W. C. Huntington, who was in Russia for more than a year. He described atrocities, told the committee of the slaughter of whole families in their cellars, read into the record a long order he said was by M. Petrovsk, the commissar for home affairs, which provided explicit instructions for killing all those opposed to the Lenin-Trotsky regime, and a great deal more.


     SENATOR OVERMAN: "Why do they hate us so?"


     DR. HUNTINGTON: "For two principal reasons. First because we do not have a Soviet government in this country, and secondly, because we went into the war."


      "It seems to me," remarked Senator Overman, apropos of nothing that was germane at the moment, "this man Gorky is a most immoral man."


      (Maxim Gorky, the noted Russian writer, who was living with a beautiful actress, had, as a matter of fact, by this time turned against the bolshevist regime because of the violent methods it was using to suppress opposition.)


      As this went on, and few with any knowledge of Russia were called to testify, Louise, John Reed, Albert Rhys Williams and Raymond Robbins of the Red Cross asked to be heard. Senator Overman finally announced that they would be heard, and on February 2nd, Louise appeared as the first "unfriendly witness" of the Overman Committee.


      Louise looked radiant. In a fashionable dark suit, gunmetal stockings and a large, floppy hat, she looked utterly out of place in a Senate hearing room. "But," said the Portland Oregonian correspondent in a special dispatch, "it soon became clear from the way she responded to questions that this was a brilliant individual.  She looked her questioner squarely in the eye and, in the language of the national game, 'never muffed a ball.'"


      She smiled at the men at the press table, and they smiled back. All papers in the country covered the hearings, Nevada papers especially recalling Louise's days as an agitator on the University of Nevada campus at Reno.  The -New York Times devoted more space to testimony that Louise was an agitator on the Nevada university campus and that while she was defending the Bolshevik!,  two of her brothers were fighting in Europe, than to any other  phase of the hearings.   The incorruptible members of the Fourth Estate strove, and in most cases succeeded, in separating the beautiful woman from the defense she was making of a system they abhorred.


      The first question she was asked, before the oath was administered, was by Senator King of Utah:  "Do you believe in God, in Christ, in the sanctity of an oath and in a hereafter?" 


      "I thought," smiled Louise, "I was here to talk about Russia."


SENATOR OVERMAN:  One who doesn't believe in a Supreme Being can't attach much importance to an oath."


       LOUISE: "I understand." She winked at the reporters at the press table and said: "Let the record show that there is a God."


       Major Humes took over.  He wanted to know about her fist husband, Dr. Trullinger.  A shadow crossed Louise's face.  Sue hesitated, then smiled and said again: "I thought you wanted to know something about Russia."


        "We need to know something about the character of the person we are questioning so as to be able to decide how much credence we can attach to the answers."


        Louise informed Major Hume that she and Dr. Trullinger were divorced in 1916 and that seemed to satisfy the committee.


        The first demonstration by the audience came shortly after that. Senator Nelson asked her: "Were you in Washington at the time when demonstrations were staged before the White House?"


        LOUISE: "I still don't understand what that has to do with the truth about what's going on in Russia. But I was in Washington and I was in the demonstration."


        SENATOR OVERMAN:  "Did you participate in the burning of President Wilson in effigy?"


        LOUISE:  "I did, and I went on a hunger strike."


        SENATOR OVERMAN: "So you mean by that that you went to jail?"


        LOUISE: "I didn't go to jail. I was dragged into a patrol wagon and was hauled off to jail.  And I went hunger Strike."


        SENATOR OVERMAN: "A hunger strike?"


        LOUISE: "Yes, a hunger strike. You see, if you go without food and become weak, the authorities let you out.  They don't want you to die in jail."


  It was then that cheers and jeers broke out among members of the audience and Senator Overman ordered the hearing room cleared of everyone except members of the press and witnesses.  As the audience was being hustled out of the room, two women shouted as with one voice: "Please, Senator, may we remain.  We didn't shout or applaud."


      "No," said Senator Overman, "everyone must get out of the hearing room."




SENATOR OVSRMAN: "No, you may not."


MALE VOICE:  "But I am the husband of the witness. I am John Reed."


SENATOR OVERMAN: "All right, you may remain."


Reporting this remarkable scene (demonstrations at Congressional hearings were rare at that time), the news dispatches said the people excluded held a protest meeting in the corridor and as a result all were allowed to return, to be excluded again shortly thereafter for staging another demonstration.



Despite interruptions and sharp questioning by Major Humes and by Senator Overman and the other senators, Louise managed to provide them with a great deal of what she said was the truth about Russia.


       She painted a bleak picture of Russia before the Revolution; the repression, the autocratic behavior of the czar and czarista under the influence of Rasputin and the war.  She told them of her talks with Kerensky, Trotsky and others. She denied the many news reports of atrocities.


       She insisted that neither she nor her husband, John Reed, favored a Bolshevik-type government for the United States, but that it was the best thing that could have happened for the Russians in Russia.  "I believe," said Louise, "in self-determination."  And if that's what the Russians wanted - and she was certain that it was - she did not want to see her own country's leaders talk about the rights of nations to self-determination and then interfering in the Russian revolution.


      Asked about the Bolsheviki grab of private property without compensation, she replied:


      "They requisitioned the banks, just as Benjamin Franklin requisitioned his majesty's post office funds here."


     About Madame Breshkovskaya, Louise said:  "I know Babushka well.  We had so many talks over tea in Petrograd and she gave me her autographed photograph.  She was one of the early revolutionists and believed in violence against the Czar's government. But things did not turn out as she sincerely believed they should turn out," adding sadly: "Babushka is an old woman with a magnificent past and a pitiful present."


     "Are you," asked Major Humes, "a proletarian?"


     "I must be," smiled Louise, "I am poor and sometimes have to go hungry."


     MAJOR HUMES:  "Did you see people starving in the streets?"


     LOUISE:  "No, I didn't."


     MAJOR HUMES:  "Then you found things not so bad as painted, is that what you are telling us?"


     LOUISE:  "I found conditions in Russia about the same as they were in France when I was there."


     MAJOR HUMES:  "You say you don't want to see this nation intervene in Russian affairs.  Do you then think it is all right for the Bolshevik government to stir up a revolution in the United States?"


      At this question, she rose slightly from her chair, remained silent for several seconds, and then said passionately:  "Revolutions, sir, are not like commodities that are exported from one country to another. They are created by conditions within a country. The Russian Czars made the Bolshevik revolution possible. If there is ever a revolution in this, my country, it will not be created by the Wobblies or the anarchists or anyone else. It will be the result of the sort of repression now sweeping this country, and by those of this country's leaders who want to see the repression go on."


      (There are numerous explanations for the use of the word, Wobblies, for members of the revolutionary labor group Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the I.W.W.s.  The one generally accepted, however, is that a Chinese owner of a small restaurant in Seattle, whose patrons were mostly I.W.W.s referred to them as "wobelyou, wobelyous.")





      Louise wrote Frank Harris, the author - he had not yet written at that time, the sensational, banned-in-Boston book, "My Life and Loves:"


          I have been testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee and I want you to know my impressions of that unpleasant experience. .


          I found myself at a long table, at which sat six men with cold eyes and harsh angry voices.  They were my countrymen, but they were also my enemies.  Their hate was naked and ugly, the flame of it burned away the mist before my eyes and I came away with the old, vague fears suddenly turned into vivid realities. . .


          The men I write about are old men - not so old in years as in obsolete thoughts. They have determined to fight for a world as it was before the Great War - and that world no longer exists.  They had decided to crush unmercifully all defenders of change.  Each aged senator, chewing his everlasting cigar, sees in himself a Marquise de Lantenac - a strong man of the hour.


          I have never been afraid of intelligent conversation, but I am afraid of ignorance, ignorance is cruel and intolerant.  One cannot reason with it. When I went before the Committee I was full of hope. Here in America, I said to myself, we can surely get together. . .the breach is not so wide, there need be no violence. But; I was wrong, there will be. Our conservatives will see to that. It is idle to plead with such men; they will bring the house down on their own heads. They will destroy themselves and thousands of others. How many centuries ago Sophocles wrote:  'Woe for the doom of a dark soul!'


          I could understand their hostility toward those of us who frankly confessed that we are socialists and against capitalism. But their madness ran beyond bounds when they scorned the staunch defender of his own class, the denouncer of socialism, Raymond Robbins.


          Raymond Robbins is a man with a conscience. He has been a devout preacher, which is a grave matter because he reckons with God. . . He is sometimes weak and undetermined, but he does not lie. If they could only have understood, those old men, that he, more than any of the people who told them the things they wanted to hear, was their sincere friend and champion.  They would have thanked him and not Simonds who wants them to plunge the world into another war more terrible than any we have yet faced.


    The truth is, It is stupid of me, or of anyone else, to go humbly before a Committee Investigating Bolshevism with the naive purpose of explaining.  These senators have shut their eyes, their ears, their hearts. . . .When Senator Overman (told) the audience that Maxim Gorky is one of the most immoral men in the world, I realized nothing could touch them. Art means nothing to them. Why should love and life?


WOMEN'S LIB - The Tough Years



      Many of the women today, who talk about a member of their sex becoming president of the United States, and who appear in public or on television wearing provocatively-skimpy apparel, have either forgotten or have never bothered to find out, what was involved in getting laws passed for the simple, basic right to vote.


      Back in the 18th century, Mary Wollstoncroft, the mother-in-law of the great English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote a book, "The Vindication of the Rights of Women," containing everything that had ever been written before and since, about the rights of women to be considered equal to men in both the political and economic life of a nation.  In 1792, when the book was published, it was received with sneers, ridicule and suggestions that the author belonged in a lunatic asylum.  Not too surprisingly, most women agreed.  There were, after all, still places in the world - and there still are today -where women were required to cover their faces and wear loose, ugly, sack-like clothes so as not to arouse men erotically outside the bedroom  (Mary Wollstoncroft's daughter, the wife of poet, Shelly, wrote the horror story, "Frankenstein.")


     "Everything is going to change, except the way people think," said Albert Einstein sadly, when long-dreamed nuclear energy became a reality.  So it is not surprising that more than a century after Mary Wollstoncroft's book was published, England, the world's first and greatest democracy, should be the land where women had the toughest struggle to win the right to vote, with the United States not far behind.


      In England, for instance, the British Liberal Party called a mass meeting in Manchester in 1905 at which Sir Edward Grey was to outline what the Liberals would do if they were elected.  It was at this meeting that Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney had the temerity to get up and ask what, Sir Edward and his Party had in mind for the women who had been campaigning for political rights.  "Troublemakers, troublemakers. . .throw them out," screamed everybody.  A pair of husky males grabbed them, kicked them down the stairs and threw them out.  "We will now go on with the meeting," said Sir Edward.


     Outside, Mrs. Pankhurst and Mrs. Kenney tried to address the crowd that had collected.  They were arrested for obstructing the sidewalk and fined.  They chose to go to jail.


     This was the last straw.  A great many women had, by that time, become involved in the women's struggle, and it became clear to them that they would get nowhere by appealing to the humane side of men or by signing petitions.  They adopted the technique of violence.  They began smashing windows and destroying private and public property.  Sent to prison, they staged hunger strikes.  The authorities tried to feed them forcibly, and when this didn't work, they were paroled, but not for very long - only until they were strong enough to be dragged back to prison to serve out their sentences.  Emily Davison, a militant protester, threw herself in front of the horses at a Derby race in 1913 and was killed trying to dramatize the crusade.


       Every known trick in the parliamentary book, and some that were not in the book, was used to stall proposals to let women vote.  The reached its lowest and meanest point the same year Emily died.  The Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, announced a measure in Parliament to reform the voting laws and said he would accept women's suffrage amendments.   The amendments came to think and fast, and some were so ludicrous, the whole voting reform plan was dropped.  It wasn't until 1928 that English women got full voting rights.


So much for the proud British boast the "Britons never shall be slaves."



In the United States masculine determination to keep women where they would be most useful - in the kitchen and bedroom - never showed up better than immediately after the Civil War, fought to free the Negro slaves.  Among the most vigorous and vocal opponents to Negro slavery were Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan Anthony along with many other great women.  But when the war had been fought and won, the Amendments to the Constitution spoke only of rights for the freed slaves.  The women, who had been campaigning for political rights since 1840, found their pleas falling upon deaf ears.  It would have been little consolation to them had they been clairvoyant enough to know that, even with legislation, nobody would pay much attention to the Amendments barring Negro discrimination for another hundred years.


And that is how things stood when Louise Bryant, upon returning from Russia in 1918, joined the most militant group of American suffragettes - The National Women's Party.  Her articles in the papers about women martyrs in the Russian upheaval made her a popular speaker at meetings of women.  Louise bore down hard on the ineffectiveness of appealing to what used to be called "men's finer instincts" or an orderly process in attempting to make major changes involving governments.  "What can be more orderly, more legal," she would ask, "than urging Congress to submit to the states, a Constitutional amendment?  Why are we being denied permits to parade for a constitutional cause?  If the authorities are afraid of riots, why do they arrest us and not the hoodlums who do the rioting?"


Two other groups of women were involved in the political rights campaign, both of them opposed to the militancy of the group Louise Bryant had joined.  One - the National Women's Suffrage Association - described by the New York Times as "the more gentle branch of suffragettes," believed that Congress could be talked into doing the right thing and submitting a Constitutional Amendment to the states for ratification.  Another group, perhaps the largest, insisted that it was not a matter for the federal government. They wanted the issue handled by the individual states, some of which had already begun doing that.



       On February 10, 1919, John Reed, in New York, dashed off a telegram to his wife who had been arrested for taking part in a Washington D. C. demonstration.


       "Take good care of yourself in jail. Am proud of you. Jack"


       Four days later, a letter in care of the National Women's Party, Jackson Place, Washington D. C.


       ". . . I got your little note today. It gave me a shock and made me mad. Why did you do it? You promised you wouldn't go on any more hunger strikes."


       Reed had learned of her arrest along with other suffragettes from the New York Times under the headlines: "SUFFRAGISTS Burn Wilson in Effigy. MANY LOCKED UP. POLICE STOP DEMONSTRATIONS BEFORE WHITE HOUSE ON EVE OF AMENDMENT VOTE.  VIOLENT SPEECHES MADE."


       "Police", said the dispatch from Washington, "were reluctant to give a list of all who had been arrested. However, those known to be in durance (A rarely-used word for imprisonment which reporters sometimes threw in to show they were erudite despite their paltry salaries) from New York include Mrs. H. 0. Havemeyer, Miss Cora Weeks, Miss Louise Bryant, Miss Edith Ainge, Miss Amy Gungling, Miss Lucy Burns and Mrs. Chevler.  Estimates of the number of women arrested range from forty to sixty-five, and estimates of the size of the demonstration vary, but all agree it was the most impressive the militant National Women's Party had staged so far."


      It was only one of the scores the militant women were staging throughout the United States the night before the Senate was to vote again on an amendment to grant women the right to vote.  A reading of newspapers for 1919 makes hard-to-believe reading today.  Women battled police, broke picket signs over the heads of the guardians of the law, boycotted merchants whose wives didn't join the crusade, went on hunger strikes, chained themselves to telephone poles to make it difficult for police to haul them off to jail before they had finished their speeches, laughed when they were spat upon by male hoodlums.  Louise, herself, glowed with pleasure when her companions described her as "the girl who leaves the best set of teeth marks on wrists of policemen."


      The target of the demonstrations on the eve of the Senate's vote on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution - it again lost, this time by one vote - was President Woodrow Wilson.  He had finally become converted to the cause of women's political rights, but the militants felt he wasn't doing enough to assure passage of the amendment.  He had, as a matter of fact, sent telegrams to key senators urging approval of the amendment, but the women said it was too little and too late.  He was the head of the Democratic Party and they wanted him to put pressure, real pressure, on Southern Senators who had nightmares in which long lines of Negro women were voting against them.  They had managed to keep Negro men from voting despite the 14th and 15th Amendments, but these crazy militant women - who could tell what they might not do?


"The effigy of President Wilson, which looked like a huge doll stuffed with straw and was slightly over two feet in height," said the New York Times, "was dropped into the flames by Miss Sue White. . . there was a good deal of confusion as the district police, the military police and the Boy Scouts, who assisted in the roundup of the women, were getting busy. . . Miss White made   the following statement before she was pushed into the police patrol wagon: 'We burn not the effigy of the President of a free people, but the leader of an autocratic party organization whose tyrannical power holds millions of women in political slavery. . . Mr. Wilson, as the leader of his party, has forgotten, or else he never knew, the spirit of true democracy. . . We feel that this protest will shock Mr. Wilson and his followers and put into action the principle that those who submit to authority shall have a voice in their government.'  And Mrs. Havemeyer of New York fought off those who were dragging her to the patrol   wagon long enough to yell:  'Every government in the world has enfranchised its women.  In Russia, in Hungary, in Austria - in Germany thirty-four women are now sitting in the new Reichstag.  We women of America are here today to voice our deep indignation that while America is devoting its energies to establishing   democracy in Europe, American women remain deprived of a voice in their government.'"


       NEW YORK-Carrying banners on which were inscribed, "Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Suffrage?"  "An Autocrat at Home is a Poor Champion of Democracy Abroad,"200 militant suffragettes attempted to stage a demonstration at Broadway and Fortieth Street against President Wilson.  For more than two   hours a cordon of police had its hands full trying to keep them from crashing through the lines.  Time after time they attacked the patrolmen and civilians with their banners and fingernails only to be repulsed by the police.


       WASHINGTON-While the Senate debated the Suffrage amendment before defeating it, the galleries were packed with women, which gave the Senate chamber the appearance of a style show.  The women wore the latest and showiest apparel and the most colorful millinery.  The ushers were careful to separate the militants, who burned President Wilson in effigy, from the less belligerent   suffragists.  The anti-suffragists were allotted a gallery by themselves.  Senator Wadsworth of New York, whose wife is a member of the anti-suffragists, voted against the amendment.


       PHILADELPHIA-Miss Louise Bryant, wife of well-known Bolshevist propagandist, John Reed, was arrested here yesterday and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after she refused police orders to end a street corner lecture on the subject of women1s suffrage.  The disorderly conduct charge was added when she allegedly addressed the police in unprintable language.


       WASHINGTON-Police put an end to a foot race in Lafayette Square tonight between angry crowds of men and three torch-bearing sentinels of the militant National Women's Party by arresting the women.  They refused to furnish bail.  A statement by the party's headquarters said:  "Our liberty fires are a symbol of our contempt for words unsupported by deeds. We will not sit in silence while the President presents himself to the people of Europe as the representative of a free people, when the American women are not free, and he is chiefly responsible for it."


      WASHINGTON-Senator Jones of New Mexico today announced plans o introduce a resolution which would confer the right of franchise upon women, but only to a number in each state that does not exceed the number of men voting.


(The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was finally passed by the House on May 21, 1919, and the Senate on June 4, 1919.  It then went to the states for ratification.)


     WASHINGTON-There is every indication that from now on the warfare between women suffragists and anti-suffragists over ratification of the Federal suffrage amendment will be carried on with more regressiveness by both sides. With adoption of the amendment by Congress the battleground has shifted to the states. Both sides have moved their headquarters from here to New York.


     WASHINGTON-The militant suffragettes represented by the National Women's Party tonight announced plans for a "Prison Special" train to tour the country and whip up support in the states for ratification of the Federal Suffrage Amendment. The women who will make up the contingent aboard what they call the "Democracy Limited" are those who have served jail terms for picketing. They intend to wear costumes resembling those they wore in jail, but rail authorities rejected their demand to have the train painted to resemble a prison.


      ATLANTA-The Federal suffrage amendment was defeated in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly today.  Not only was the bill defeated in both houses, but a move to have the matter submitted to a vote by the people at the next white primary was voted down.  Senator Rigsdale declared that if the bill passed "it would mean that the American race would be degraded and wiped off the face of the earth."


     On August 26, 1920, when enough states had acted favorably and the right of women to vote became a part of the Federal Constitution, Louise was not there to celebrate.  She was running the Allied blockade of Russia to be with John Reed.  Before returning home, she saw his ashes buried near the spot by the Kremlin Wall where only three years earlier she had seen five hundred revolutionists buried in one huge grave.






     Reed had begun planning a trip to Portland to see his mother, and perhaps a speaking tour in west coast cities at about the time the Overman Committee began its investigation of Bolshevism.  (The Bolsheviki in Russia had by this time begun calling themselves Communists.)  The question he and Louise hadn't settled was whether she should accompany him. He wanted her to go along, but she had no great enthusiasm about returning to Portland where Paul Trullinger was still living, still unmarried.  She also had mixed feelings about returning to a section of the country where her family was living.  She was certain the newspaper headlines describing her as a Bolshevist and revolutionist must have grieved her mother and Sheridan Bryant and her sister Barbara.  She had heard that her brothers, Floyd and Bill, were still in Europe as Army officers, and that Lou Parnell was somewhere in California.  She knew there would be no happy family reunion and for that reason hesitated about joining Reed.


     What prompted Reed to want to make the trip, in addition to his desire to see his mother, was the rapid growth of radicalism on the West Coast, particularly in Oregon.  Although it was spreading everywhere, despite the most repressive measures, it was in Portland, where he was born that the first Council of Workers, Soldiers and Sailors was formed.  Similar councils were active elsewhere on the West Coast, one of the most powerful having been organized in Tacoma, Washington.  The councils proclaimed the bankruptcy of capitalism and saw not far off the Socialist Soviet Republic of the United States.  The federal government's answer was more repression. The newspapers led the crusade against everyone they considered un-American, their most venomous attacks being leveled at the militant Wobblies, who had shaken up the timber and shipping industries and were in the forefront of all radical moves on the West Coast.  A news dispatch from Seattle, published in the Chicago Tribune and reprinted in the New York Times, dated February 10, 1919, declared:


"The first federal blow against the wave of anarchism already launched on the Pacific Coast came to light yesterday when fifty-four labor agitators      passed through Chicago in two heavily guarded tourist sleepers bound for immediate deportation from an Atlantic port.


"A motley company of I.W.W. trouble-makers, bearded fanatics, and red flag supporters huddled in crowded berths and propaganda-strewed compartments of the prison train, which slipped in and out of the city so silently that few were aware of its existence.  As far as is known, no movement of this kind has ever been attempted by the federal government before, and the train blazed a trail that immigration authorities agree will entirely solve the greatest danger of an industrial unrest during the reconstruction period.


"The (government's) move seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the labor agitators.  Only one man rebelled when told of Uncle Sam's decision to rid the country of his presence.  He got out a writ of habeas corpus against the deportation, which was promptly quashed by a Federal judge in Spokane.  The courts have opened every facility and given every co-operation in this work."


Alas for the prediction that this method of handling radicals would "entirely solve the greatest danger of an industrial unrest."  West Coast labor unrest continued to grow, particularly on the water fronts of every west coast city, and in the timber industry, and finally reached the editorial departments of newspapers.




     Reed felt he owed it to his comrades on the West Coast to appear and tell them that what was happening in Oregon, Washington and California was happening throughout the world --workers were beginning a struggle to end exploitation.  Then a letter arrived from Reed's mother.  She told how she longed to see him, but she advised against coming to Portland.  "They throw I.W.W. men in jail without any reason," she pleaded, and again begged him to discontinue his agitation for changes in America.  Reed was depressed, and annoyed that his mother thought that only in Portland were they arresting I.W.W. members without reason.



     As Louise watched John Reed, torn between love for his mother and a desire not to bring her more grief, and a feeling that he must help his comrades on the West Coast, she reached a quick decision.


      "Let me go on a West Coast lecture tour...  I will tell people about the dreadful Overman Committee hearings and about Russia and stir up enthusiasm against intervention by this country in the Russian revolution.  And I will see your mother and explain."



      Reed looked glum.  He knew how distasteful it would be for Louise to return to Portland, but there seemed no other way out of his dilemma and he agreed.


      She reached the West Coast and began her speaking tour in March.  She addressed huge crowds in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tacoma, Portland, Spokane, Salt Lake City, Butte (Montana) and, on her way home, spoke in Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis.  In some places she was sponsored by the newly formed soviet-type councils; in others, by Labor Councils and official Socialist organizations.  Invariably the groups sponsoring her had trouble getting a hall large enough to accommodate the crowds that wanted to hear her and had to settle for small auditoriums or labor temples.




      She was unable to follow any sort of a regular schedule because of this difficulty in obtaining a hall.  In Portland, the Oregonian reported that the Labor Council had made it clear it was in no way connected with her appearance in the city.  And police reminded the owners of a private hall that the Criminal Syndicalism Act made them responsible for what Louise might say during the lecture.  It took a week before Louise could finally wire John Reed jubilantly:  'Got city auditorium.  Will write about mother.  I love you."


      On April 5, the San Francisco Call reported:


"Refused permission to speak in Berkeley by Major Samuel Irving, Mrs. John Reed, writer and lecturer, denied today she is a Bolshevik and said she intends to speak on the mistake of intervention in Russia.  Mrs. Reed, otherwise known as Louise Bryant, will speak tonight at the Dreamland Rink under the direction of the Socialist Party of San Francisco.



"Mrs. Reed was to have spoken at the Burbank School Auditorium in Berkeley.  Mayor Irving, in denying permission, said he would not allow her to speak because he considered 'Any Bolshevik at this time an emissary of Germany bent on stirring up trouble.'"


      Not too surprisingly, it was this opposition, the publicity of difficulty in getting places for her to speak, which packed whatever halls could finally be obtained.  In Tacoma, the News-Tribune carried a slashing editorial attacking her appearance in the city on March 22, 1919.  Result:  more than three thousand people packed a hall built to accommodate fifteen hundred.  The Labor Advocate said:



"The truth about Russia was given to 3,200 Tacomans able to jam their way into Tahoma Hall to hear Louise Bryant, famous war correspondent of the Philadelphia Public Ledger.  This girlish, pretty young woman, with her hair banged in Russian fashion, spoke for two hours and a half, telling what happened in the Russian revolution.  Then she answered questions and showed by her ready wit and instant answers that the Senate Judiciary Committee had 'some' job when it tried to break down her story."



     Louise herself wrote Reed:  "Last night's meeting in Tacoma was the best yet.  They had a fairly large hall-holding about l500--and they decided they could get in twice as many if they removed the seats.  So from 7 until 10 they stood there, packed like sardines."



     The regular commercial daily newspapers, which gave wide publicity to the attacks on her while sponsors were being denied halls and auditoriums, rarely covered the meetings themselves.  In Seattle, she asked Anna Louise Strong, the Seattle schoolteacher who died in Communist China in 1971, to mail to Reed newspaper clippings about the lecture.  Miss Strong smiled:  "There won't be any unless there is a riot or a raid and a lot of us are dragged off to jail."



     After each meeting she wrote long letters to Reed, often while on a train en route to fill a new speaking date.  She described what happened at each meeting and always ended by telling him how lonely she was, how she missed him, how she wished she was with him.  "Take care of the crocuses.... Is the Patchin ailanthus going to live? ...I am going to get a big seed catalogue when I get home and plant and plant and plant."  On the train from Tacoma to Portland, after describing the remarkable success of the meeting, she said:  "I dread returning to that hateful city.  I will stay at the Multnomah."  Afterward she told him about the friendly way his mother greeted her and with what love she spoke of both him and his brother Harry.




                        "April 11, 1919

                         On the train between S.F. and

                         Los Angeles


"Old dearest:


The last hours in San Francisco sped along because I had so many people to see and so little time for each one.  It was wonderful weather.  All the flower stands were alive with bright color and every day I was here about six bouquets arrived for me at the hotel.  I have cancelled the date at San Diego so that I can speak in Salt Lake....Everyone spoke so affectionately of you and sends you their best wishes....  I've written every day so if you don't get the letters you will know that they are being intercepted.  It is impossible to get enough of my books, they sell so fast.  I'm so glad your book is out.  I'll see that it is announced at every single meeting.  Well, my dear old love, I must close for now."









"... I speak in Salt Lake tomorrow, Friday, and then at a great protest meeting in Detroit on Sunday...Los Angeles completely enveloped me.  We had a huge meeting there yesterday.  I started to speak by saying:  'Today Eugene Debs is on his way to prison.'  To my happy amazement my whole audience broke into tears.  It was an emotional audience.  They are so suppressed that at one moment they shout and then they weep.  The audience went wild and donated $1,200.  They threw money all over the stage."



In Spokane she had been stricken with influenza which was at its height throughout the country at that time.  The Seattle Union Record spoke of her in glowing terms:  "She brushes away easily all reference to her recent illness.  Yet Louise Bryant has had an attack of the 'Flu' in the midst of her lecture tour, has lectured while the flames of fever mounted higher, and after going to bed delirious and the doctor expected her to 'cash in' has arisen after three days and gone on lecturing."


She had only hinted to Reed that she was not feeling well, but his reaction was even swifter than when she wrote of her "tummy illness" while he was in Johns Hopkins three years earlier.


telegram             "Croton on Hudson, N.Y.

                                  March 18, 1919



      Louise Bryant

      Davenport Hotel

      Spokane, Wash.


"Do not hesitate send for me if at all serious.  Can now afford to leave immediately.  Have your doctor wire me.  Jack "


2d telegram, same day



            "Don't tempt fate...stop speaking and come home.

             If not enough money wire and will send some.



Reassured she was better. Reed wrote and again urged her not to risk her health and to come home.



                                               "Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

                                                March 25, 1919


"... And did you know that President Wilson had sent Lincoln Steffens, Bill Bullitt and two or three of that sort on a destroyer to investigate the Soviets.  Now you go slow.  Cut out the rest of your dates.  Jack."


                                                     March 28, 1919



"...sent you a copy of the Liberator with your testimony and the cartoon of you.  Am sending a copy of Pearson's with your story in it.  Hurry home.  Many things happening here.  Jack"



Her talks always concerned appeals for nonintervention by the United States in the affairs of Russia.  She hammered away at the point that President Wilson always had stressed self-determination for nations, and what sort of self-determination was interference in the affairs of the Bolsheviki who, she insisted, had the support of the vast majority of Russians?



Once or twice she delighted her large audiences by appearing in her provocative Cossack costume.  In Butte, she brought her audience of mostly Finnish-born copper miners roaring to their feet when she exclaimed:  "It is not the young who make the wars in which they is the old men with frozen minds and frozen hearts because they want to keep "world as it is in their own frozen images."



     But when she returned to New York and reviewed her tour with John Reed she told him that she felt she had not achieved much.  "It was," said she, "like preaching in a church filled with people who had already hit the trail of salvation."



     Reed nodded.  But there was no way out--only the perilous road ahead was open.







If Reed was beginning to feel, when Louise returned to New York in May of 1519, some doubt if the American radical movement could ever be built into an organization powerful enough to topple capitalism, the enthusiasm with which he continued to work for its toppling gave no sign of it. He plunged deeper and deeper into his crusade at a most difficult and dangerous time.



      The year 1919 was one in which the campaign against dissenters - be they radical - Wobblies, mild socialists, violent anarchists, run-of-the-mill labor leaders, or, for that matter, just doubters of any of the accepted moral and social values - reached its most devastating point.  America in 1919 was no place for faint-hearted liberals.



      It was a time of grave crisis for organized labor.  With the end of the war, labor lost its wartime poster-splattered image of a husky worker in overalls, a heavy hammer in his hand, marching beside a handsome soldier, the eyes of both proudly gazing at Old Glory carried by the soldier.  Wartime plants were closing their doors, unemployment increased, and those workers still on the job were either striking or threatening to strike to protect the gains they had made in wages and working conditions during the war years, which began in 1914 with munitions orders from the Allies.



       Employers, with the help of Attorney-General Mitchell Palmer, fought back with court injunctions.  Thousands of other-wise sane Americans read their newspapers and began to equate major strikes in the coal and steel industries as threats to the nation's very existence. But the strikes spread and began to develop into violent confrontations between strikers and police trying to protect strike-breakers. When the strike fever hit the Boston Police Department, and the city was left unprotected, the word spread rapidly that it was the beginning of a Bolshevik insurrection in America.  A sour-faced Massachusetts governor by the name of Calvin Coolidge smashed the police strike with state troops and became an overnight hero.  He was elected President of the United States.



      It was not difficult for Mitchell Palmer and the coal and steel tycoons to convince the American people that the strikes were Bolshevist-inspired.  Eugene Debs was supporting them; one of the steel industry union organizers was the radical William Z. Poster; and giving the strikers his support was that most radical of radicals, John Reed.  Even the head of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers, the darling of Woodrow Wilson's wartime supporters, found himself threatened with prison by the Attorney-General if he didn't order the coal miners back to work.



      But the strikes continued to spread.  Riots became more violent; attacks by the Ku Klux Klan on Jews, Negroes and Catholics increased; the circulation of Henry Ford's violently anti-Semitic, "Dearborn Independent," rose fantastically; mobs, with police standing idly by, broke up protest meetings; Mitchell Palmer stepped up his drive against aliens; John Reed's father's associate in the Oregon timber and land frauds, detective William J. Burns, along with J. Edgar Hoover, became active in the Department of Justice; bombings by mail increased; and for the first time in American labor history, informers began infiltrating unions, some managing to become union leaders and advocating violence to help in the job of union-smashing.



      As the drive against everything believed to be anti-the-American-way-of-life became more and more furious, the established Socialist Party in the United States began its own campaign to rid itself of the Bolshevik Communist label. The leaders began to expel extremist locals throughout the country.



      Large numbers of those expelled from the established Socialist Party then began talking of forming a new and more militant organization.  Reed was not, at that time, among them.  He continued to believe that the hard-shell, old-fashioned leaders of the established Socialist Party could be ousted and the party taken over by activists who would then convert it into the sort of an organization Lenin had In mind when he said:  "We do not want part-time members who will devote their spare evenings to socialism ... we want people willing to devote the whole of their lives to socialism."





      John Reed's dream of capturing control of the established Party and converting it into a revolutionary organization, however, ended in late August of 1919.  At one of the strangest and stormiest special conventions American Socialists ever held, the regulars threw out John Reed and his militant followers, not figuratively but literally, with the help of the police.  The established and conservative Socialist Party of America was at last free of its radicals, but not of its un-American label.  A socialist was a socialist to most Americans, whether he was revolutionary like John Reed or a mild believer in the democratic process like Morris Hilquit, who had defended those indicted in the Masses trial case.



       The upshot of all this was that, in addition to the regular socialists, there were now two groups of extremists: the first made up of those who were ousted shortly after the Bolsheviki took power in Russia because they wanted immediate revolutionary action, and who soon organized themselves into what became known as the Communist Party.  The second group of extremists - John Reed and his followers - organized themselves into a group called the Communist Labor Party, this because Reed remained convinced that if socialism was ever going to replace capitalism in America, it would have to be achieved by the workers themselves.



      All of this occurred in August of 1919. Reed still believed, as Trotsky did, that socialism could not last long except on a world-wide basis.  He felt, therefore, that a Communist Party in the United States needed the approval of the Communist International in Russia, where it all began. Moreover, he was certain that his Communist Labor Party would get that approval since he had the inside track with the Russian leaders.


      A month later he was on his way to Russia on a journey from which he was destined never to return. He had a fake passport.  He was now Jim Gormley, a ship's boiler stocker.



       He spent the very last night he would ever spend in New York with Louise Bryant in their dingy apartment on Patchin Place.




       It was a long, hazardous trip into Russia, most of it by underground.  He was nearly captured on several occasions and narrowly escaped death a half-dozen times.  He wrote to Louise from secret hiding places, but only a few letters managed to reach her by underground channels.


I have thought about my honey so much I am nearly crazy to see her. . . from now on we must never again be separated. This is a grim business. There are Hungarians here and Finns and Russians, and Letts who tell of the most terrible adventures.  They have performed prodigious feats of heroism going/back and forth from Russia.  Others have been shot most brutally.  The White Terror blows out of the East, and its breath is like ice.  There used to be a refuge for revolutionaries, but there is none anywhere in the whole world.  Conditions are now even worse than during the war, for all countries are terrified of Bolshevism. . . I am in good health . . . let mother know that I am well. Good night, my dearest. I'll be back before Christmas. . ."



      So involved had John Reed become in radicalism and so accustomed to having Louise around when he was in trouble that he failed to notice that she had been ailing for months before he left for Russia.  The hunger strikes, the attack of influenza on the West Coast, lack of nourishing food, lectures, and arrests! And she now found herself alone and without funds.  She said good-bye to him in their apartment.  He was going to Russia as Jim Gormley and he didn't dare let her go with him to see him board his ship.




     The newspapers continued reporting developments:




December 21, 1919--both the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party outlawed.



December 24, 1919--Hundreds more aliens deported on The SS Buford.  Ten thousand socialists and other radicals arrested in raids authorized by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer.



January 21, 1920--William Brose Lloyd, wealthy radical; John Reed, Bolshevist propagandist, and 36 other members of the Communist Labor Party indicted in Chicago on charges of plotting to overthrow the American government.




     In Moscow, Russian communist leaders had just worked out a plan for merging the two communist groups in America, which pleased Reed.  Then he learned that he had again been indicted.  As he had done in 1918 when he was indicted for his part in publication of the Masses, he made plans for immediate return to America.  But how?  The Allies had blockaded Russia.  He tried twice, first unsuccessfully through Latvia.  The second time, hidden in a bunker of a Finnish ship bound for Sweden, he was captured at Abo (now the great Finnish port of Turku).  He was held on a charge of smuggling.  Finnish authorities insisted that they found a great quantity of jewels in his possession, as well as Communist propaganda and letters to revolutionary leaders throughout the world.




     Louise's frantic appeals to Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby got her nowhere.  She had no word from John Reed and was forced to depend on New York Times headlines: JOHN REED CUAGHT IN COAL BUNKER ON SHIP IN FINNISH PORT WITH FALSE PASSPORTS. . . JOHN REED IN JAIL IN ABO, FINLAND. . . .STATE DEPARTMENT TELLS ABOUT BOLSHEVIK REED'S ACTIVITIES ABROAD. . . REPORT JOHN REED PUT TO DEATH. . .RED AGENT EXECUTED BY FINNS. . . .REPORTED EXECUTION OF REED DENIED. . .

     In his prison cell in Abo, Finland, John Reed was writing poetry.  Louise found it among his possessions after his death.



          White and slim my lover

          Birch-tree in the shade

          Mountain pools her fearless eyes

          Innocent all-answering

          Were I blinded to the spring

          Happy thrill would in me rise

          Smiling half-afraid

          At the nearness of her.



          All my weak endeavor

          Lay I at her feet

          Like a moth from overseas

          Let my longing lightly rest

          On her flower petal breast

          Til the red dawn set me free

          To be with my sweet

          Ever and forever. ...



     It was a bizarre situation.  To avoid international complications that might follow the arrest of an American citizen, the Finns charged him with smuggling.  This gave the American State Department an out, since the charge was strictly something for the Finns to handle.  To Louise's many frantic appeals, the State Department finally replied that it would arrange for a lawyer to see him in prison, providing she would pay all expenses. This came after Louise had appealed to everyone she knew, including Bernard Baruch, the American financier, who told the State Department: "I don't care who he is. He is an American citizen and he needs help."



      In Finland, Reed learned of Louise's frantic efforts to get him out of prison, no matter by what steps had to be taken. He managed to get a letter smuggled out of the country for her:



. . . Now, honey, I want you please not to influence the American government on my behalf. I mean this very seriously. I want the case decided on its merits . . . and I hate to ask you this, but will you try to get my father's watch out of the pawnshop?



      (The watch bequeathed to him by his father in his handwritten will, appears to have become a symbol of his ties to the past and to all the human virtues his gentle father stood for.  Pawned for a few dollars, it often fed him and Louise when they were broke, and it have him a mysterious feeling of security when he wore it.)      



At this point Lenin acted.  He offered to trade for Reed, two Finnish professors who were being held as spies. "You can nave the whole college faculty," he told the Finns, "in exchange for Comrade Reed."  Still no action. Louise was in agony.  The letters from Reed suddenly began coming regularly. His condition was rapidly deteriorating, but he continued to lie.  "Never felt better in my life," he wrote. "... Have quit  smoking . . . still not a whisper ... it is dreadful to wait day after day after three months . . . Don't forget interest on the Croton place mortgage is due August 1st ... I have nothing to do, nothing to read .. . Did you get father's watch out of hock? ..."           And then: "I'm leaving. This is my last letter to my dear honey from this place.  Wait for news from me, dearest."



      Finally on August 7th, a cable: "Passport to come home refused. . . . Can you come to Russia?"



      Louise answered with a one-word cable: "Yes."







      The year from Reed's departure from New York until she received the cable asking her to join him in Russia, was among the most difficult periods of her life. For income she had only the small royalties from "Six Red Months in Russia." Reed had finished work on "Ten Days That Shook the World" before he left, but there was no income as yet from it.



      Alone and ailing in New York - she had not fully recovered from the hunger strikes in jail - with few of their intimate friends left in the Village, and no one to advise her what to do next in her efforts to help Reed, she turned to Andrew Dasburg, the impressionist artist and close friend of John Reed, who was living in Woodstock, in New York's Catskills.  (The Art Students League of New York had, some fifteen years earlier, launched Woodstock toward eminence as a colony for painters, writers, actors and musicians - everyone who refused to conform to traditional rules for expressing their form of art, and Dasburg, recognized today as one of America's important early impressionists, spent his most creative years there.)


     She began making frequent trips to Woodstock, and since both Reed and Louise were well-known in the colony, a good many nonconformist eyebrows were raised when Louise, with Reed in Russia, kept turning up in Woodstock and was constantly seen in the company of Dasburg.



      Came a day when she returned to New York from Woodstock with a definite plan to run the Allied blockade of Russia to be with Reed.  And she would do it by having the journey financed by a man who, like herself, was a non-traditionalist - the maverick of journalism, William Randolph Hearst, even though his antipathy to radicals like John Reed and Louise Bryant was well-known.




     William Randolph Hearst had revolutionized journalism by not only throwing overboard traditional journalistic methods of publishing reports of events that had actually happened - he arranged to have them happen.



     EXAMPLE:  When reporter James Creelman and photographer Frederick Remington, were sent by Hearst to Cuba to report and take pictures of atrocities the Spaniards were supposed to be perpetrating against the Cuban native rebels - he had been clamoring for American intervention - photographer Remington, upon arrival in Cuba, wired:



          W. R. Hearst

          Journal New York



          Everything quiet.  No trouble here.  There will be no war.  Wish to return.



Hearst replied at once:



          Please remain.  You furnish the pictures,

          I'll furnish the war.



      (This was revealed during Congressional hearings on America's role in the Spanish-American war.)



      In Russia, the new communist regime, facing mountainous problems - imports cut off by the Allied blockade; counter-revolutions financed by the Allies; rebellious peasant land owners called "koolaks" rejecting collectivization; shortages of everything; and trying to reconstruct the nation on a revolutionary set of untried principles - had expelled all American correspondents.  (Even two years later, by which time Louise was no longer a secret correspondent and was listed as an American representative of International News Service, the communists allowed only two other Americans to report news from Russia.  Both J.P. Howe and H.L. Rennick represented the Associated Press.  The New York Times depended for its news on a Britisher, Walther Duranty, and the Chicago Daily News and New York Globe on another Britisher, Richard McKenzie.)


      So even though the Hearst newspapers had labeled Reed "a menace to American values" and Louise herself "a beautiful dupe of the communists," she had far less difficulty than she had expected to get finances for a journey to Russia past the Allied blockade. She was, after all, not only the only American journalist whom the Russians would admit into the country, but she was also someone to whom Lenin, Trotsky and many others in high places would talk.  The understanding was that whatever stories she would be able to send from Russia and bring back with her, would not carry her byline.  The stories would be distributed to Hearst newspapers in America by the Hearst-owned International News Service, INS.  (INS merged with United Press some four decades later and today's UPI.)




     As she had promised him, Louise kept Andrew Dasburg informed.



                            Grand Hotel Royal

                            Stockholm den Aug. 12, 1920


   My dear, nice Andrew:


    I arrived in Gothenburg at nine in the evening and left at ten last night. Arrived in Stockholm and eight this morning and left at five. What a rush after 12 days at sea. I had to change my route, so that it will take at least 12 more days before I reach Petrograd. I will go all the way            to Murmansk, across Norway first and then up around the coast by devious and different routes. The sea trip seemed endless. . .I am writing this from the smelly middle of a third class compartment - the only thing I could get. It is already cold here.  I remember how I used to ache all winter in Russia.  So I bought a cheap fur coat and it nearly broke me - Hearst or the devil will somehow have to bring me back home.



     When the Woodstock and Washington Square sleuths find that I am gone it is best to say that I ran away without a passport and say I worked my way over.  Say I went disguised as a boy, if you wish. It will at least put them on the wrong track.



      (It is this report, spread by Dasburg as she had requested, that has prompted nearly all biographers to say that she went to Russia disguised as a boy sailor.)  When she finally reached Moscow, Jack was not there. He was attending a conference of communist leaders at Baku, a port on the Caspian Sea. It had been cleared of counter-revolutionaries only six months earlier.



     She had little trouble letting him know that she had arrived in Moscow.



A letter to Max Eastman.


Moscow, Nov. 14, 1920


Dear Max:


I knew that you would want details and a story for the Liberator - but I did not have the strength or the courage. . . Jack's death and my strenuous underground trip to Russia and the weeks of horror in the typhus hospital have broken me.  At the funeral I suffered a severe heart attack. ..


All that I went through now seems part of a dream. I find it impossible to believe that Jack is dead and that he will not come into my room at any moment.


Jack was ill twenty days. During only two nights, when he was calmer, did I even lie down.  Spotted typhus is beyond description - one wastes away to nothing before your eyes. But I must tell you how I found Jack after my illegal journey across the world.  When I reached Moscow he was in Baku at the Oriental Congress.  Civil war raged in the Ukraine. A military wire that I was in Moscow reached him and he came back on an armored train.  On the morning of September 15th he came into my room. A month later he was dead.  We had only one week together before he took- to his bed, and we were terribly happy to find each other. I found him older and sadder and grown strangely gentle and aesthetic.  His clothes were rags. He was so impressed with the suffering around him that he would take nothing for himself. The effects of the terrible experience in the Finnish jail were all too apparent. He told me of his cell, dark, cold and wet. Three months of solitary confinement and only raw fish to eat. Sometimes he was delirious and imagined me dead.  Some of the times he expected to die himself and wrote a little verse:


Thinking and dreaming

Day and night and day

Yet cannot think one bitter thought away -

That we have lost each other You and I .....


But (before he took to his bed) walking in the park, under the birch trees, and talking through brief, happy nights, death and separation seemed very far away.  Together we visited Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Enver Pasha, Bela Kun. . .we saw the ballet and Prince Igor and visited the old and the new galleries.



      He was consumed with a desire to go home.  Early in his sickness I told him that going home only meant prison.  He looked at me and said, "My dear little honey, I would do anything I could for you, but don't ask me to be a coward."  I was hurt and burst into tears and said I would go with him any where - to prison, to death, anywhere to be with him.  He smiled happily and held my hand.  I feel I now have no right to be alive.


Of the illness I can scarcely write. . . there was so much pain.  He fought for his life.  The old peasant nurses used to slip out to the chapel and pray and light a candle for him.  He was delirious in the hideous way typhus patients can be.  "You know how it is when you go to Venice," he would say, "you ask 'is this Venice?' just to hear the answer. . .Did you know this water is full of little songs?" Then he would imagine wonderful adventures involving both of us in which we were always very brave.


Five days before he died, his right side was paralyzed and he could not speak.  And so we watched each other silently each hour of the day and night. When he died I just stayed there talking with him and holding his hand.


From the California poet, Sara Bard Field:



     . . .I wanted to put my arms about you and hold you close for I shall always think of you as my own little girl.  So many memories of you crowd in upon me as I write. . . I think of you coming to me at the Multnomah with the tremulous, wistful story of your love for Jack, of your heartache over all it would mean to the other boy who loved you, of your insatiable need to feel your wings against the world. How I understood and responded.  Had I not trod the same path, so bitter and yet so luring that no suffering could make one turn back. . .Then came the black days for you and my heart has been wrung by your agony.  I did not know how to reach you.  Now Steffens is here and we have talked much of you and he has given me your address.  Erskine, too, sends his love.  How terrible your loss.  Jack, so beautiful, so brave, so brilliant. . .1 send you all my love, and tears, too.



     Reed was thirty-three years old when he died, a hero of the world's first proletarian revolution.  His ashes were buried in the Kremlin Wall, a long way from the lavish estate of his wealthy capitalist grandparents overlooking Portland, Oregon.





Nothing Louise Bryant ever wrote matches in poignancy the moving description of her last minutes at John Reed’s deathbed in Moscow in October of 1920, a victim of typhus, at the age of thirty-three.   “Have you ever stared into the white eyes of death,” she asks Max Eastman in a long letter detailing their last days together and the dreadful realization she had been clinging to Reed’s hand long after he had passed away.  Here she is at Reed’s funeral.

Part Five