On this day in 1790 Richard Carlile, the son of a shoemaker from Ashburton, was born on 8th December, 1790. Richard's father abandoned the family in 1794 and it was a struggle for his mother to look after her three children from the profits of the small shop that she ran in the town. Richard received six years free education from the local Church of England school and learnt to read and write.
At the age of twelve Carlile left school and was apprenticed as a tinplateman in Plymouth. In 1813 he married a local woman and soon afterwards the couple moved to London. Over the next few years Jane Carlile gave birth to five children, three of whom survived.
Richard found work as a tinsmith but in the winter of 1816, Carlile had his hours reduced by his employer. Short-time work created serious economic problems for the Carlile family. For the first time in his life, Carlile began attending political meetings. At these meetings Carlile heard speakers like Henry Hunt complain bitterly about a parliamentary system that only allowed three men in every hundred to vote.
Carlile later wrote that as a young man he had the ambition to get my living by the pen, as more respectable and less laborious than working fourteen, sixteen and eighteen hours per day for a very humble living... I shared in the general distress of 1816, and it was this that opened my eyes. Having my attention drawn to politics, I began to read everything I could get at upon the subject with avidity, and I soon saw what was the importance of a free press."
Carlile found the arguments for reform convincing and began to wonder why it had taken him so long to realize that the system was unfair. As a young boy, Carlile remembered taking part in ceremonies where an effigy of Tom Paine was burnt at the stake. Carlile, like the rest of the people living in his village had believed the local vicar when he told them that Paine was an evil man for suggesting the need for parliamentary reform.
In 1817 he became a hawker of pamphlets and journals. The same year he met William Sherwin, who had just started Sherwin's Political Register, and they entered into a business arrangement whereby he became the journal's publisher. He also became the author of several pamphlets. Carlile tried to earn a living by selling the writings of parliamentary reformers on the streets of London. Later Carlile was to comment that he often walked "thirty miles for a profit of eighteen pence".
Carlile decided to rent a shop in Fleet Street and become a publisher. Instead of publishing works such as Paine's The Rights of Man and the Principles of Government in book form, Carlile divided them into sections and then sold them as small pamphlets. In August 1817, he reprinted the political parodies of William Hone and was imprisoned awaiting trial on charges of seditious libel and blasphemy. He remained there for four months until the charges were dropped on Hone's famous acquittal.
Carlile was convinced that the printing press had the power to change society. "The printing press has become the Universal Monarch and the Republic of Letters will go to abolish all minor monarchies, and give freedom to the whole human race by making it as one nation and one family." He thought this was so important that he was willing to go to prison for his beliefs.
During this period he developed the reputation as the most successful popularizer of Paine since the 1790s. This included the publication of Age of Reason, a book that was extremely critical of the Church of England and had been immediately banned when it initially appeared in 1797. Under the seditious libel laws, it was offence to publish material that might encourage people to hate the government and he was the subject of several prosecutions, throughout which he continued to publish despite intermittent spells in prison.
In March 1819, Joseph Johnson, John Knight and James Wroe formed the Manchester Patriotic Union Society. All the leading radicals in Manchester joined the organisation. Johnson was appointed secretary and Wroe became treasurer. The main objective of this new organisation was to obtain parliamentary reform and during the summer of 1819 it was decided to invite Richard Carlile, Major John Cartwright, and Henry Orator Hunt to speak at a public meeting in Manchester. The men were told that this was to be "a meeting of the county of Lancashire, than of Manchester alone. I think by good management the largest assembly may be procured that was ever seen in this country." Cartwright was unable to attend but Hunt and Carlile agreed and the meeting was arranged to take place at St. Peter's Field on 16th August.
At about 11.00 a.m. on 16th August, 1819 William Hulton, the chairman, and nine other magistrates met at Mr. Buxton's house in Mount Street that overlooked St. Peter's Field. Although there was no trouble the magistrates became concerned by the growing size of the crowd. Estimations concerning the size of the crowd vary but Hulton came to the conclusion that there were at least 50,000 people in St. Peter's Field by midday. Hulton therefore took the decision to send Edward Clayton, the Boroughreeve and the special constables to clear a path through the crowd. The 400 special constables were therefore ordered to form two continuous lines between the hustings where the speeches were to take place, and Mr. Buxton's house where the magistrates were staying.
The main speakers at the meeting arrived at 1.20 p.m. This included Richard Carlile, Henry 'Orator' Hunt, John Knight, Joseph Johnson and Mary Fildes. Several of the newspaper reporters, including John Tyas of The Times, Edward Baines of the Leeds Mercury, John Smith of the Liverpool Mercury and John Saxton of the Manchester Observer, joined the speakers on the hustings.
At 1.30 p.m. the magistrates came to the conclusion that "the town was in great danger". William Hulton therefore decided to instruct Joseph Nadin, Deputy Constable of Manchester, to arrest Richard Carlile and the other proposed speakers. Nadin replied that this could not be done without the help of the military. Hulton then wrote two letters and sent them to Lieutenant Colonel L'Estrange, the commander of the military forces in Manchester and Major Thomas Trafford, the commander of the Manchester & Salford Yeomanry.
When Captain Hugh Birley and his men reached the hustings they arrested most of the men. As well as the speakers and the organisers of the meeting, Birley also arrested the newspaper reporters on the hustings. John Edward Taylor reported: "A comparatively undisciplined body, led on by officers who had never had any experience in military affairs, and probably all under the influence both of personal fear and considerable political feeling of hostility, could not be expected to act either with coolness or discrimination; and accordingly, men, women, and children, constables, and Reformers, were equally exposed to their attacks."
Samuel Bamford was another one in the crowd who witnessed the attack on the crowd: "The cavalry were in confusion; they evidently could not, with the weight of man and horse, penetrate that compact mass of human beings; and their sabres were plied to cut a way through naked held-up hands and defenceless heads... On the breaking of the crowd the yeomanry wheeled, and, dashing whenever there was an opening, they followed, pressing and wounding. Women and tender youths were indiscriminately sabred or trampled... A young married woman of our party, with her face all bloody, her hair streaming about her, her bonnet hanging by the string, and her apron weighed with stones, kept her assailant at bay until she fell backwards and was near being taken; but she got away covered with severe bruises. In ten minutes from the commencement of the havoc the field was an open and almost deserted space. The hustings remained, with a few broken and hewed flag-staves erect, and a torn and gashed banner or two dropping; whilst over the whole field were strewed caps, bonnets, hats, shawls, and shoes, and other parts of male and female dress, trampled, torn, and bloody. Several mounds of human flesh still remained where they had fallen, crushed down and smothered. Some of these still groaning, others with staring eyes, were gasping for breath, and others would never breathe again."
Lieutenant Colonel L'Estrange reported to William Hulton at 1.50 p.m. When he asked Hulton what was happening he replied: "Good God, Sir, don't you see they are attacking the Yeomanry? Disperse them." L'Estrange now ordered Lieutenant Jolliffe and the 15th Hussars to rescue the Manchester & Salford Yeomanry. By 2.00 p.m. the soldiers had cleared most of the crowd from St. Peter's Field. In the process, 18 people were killed and about 500, including 100 women, were wounded.
Richard Carlile managed to avoid being arrested and after being hidden by local radicals, he took the first mail coach to London. The following day placards for Sherwin's Political Register began appearing in London with the words: 'Horrid Massacres at Manchester'. A full report of the meeting appeared in the next edition of the newspaper. The authorities responded by raiding Carlile's shop in Fleet Street and confiscating his complete stock of newspapers and pamphlets.
Carlile now decided to change his newspaper's name to The Republican. In the first edition he wrote about the Peterloo Massacre: "The massacre of the unoffending inhabitants of Manchester, on the 16th of August, by the Yeomanry Cavalry and Police at the instigation of the Magistrates, should be the daily theme of the Press until the murderers are brought to justice. Captain Nadin and his banditti of police, are hourly engaged to plunder and ill-use the peaceable inhabitants; whilst every appeal from those repeated assaults to the Magistrates for redress, is treated by them with derision and insult. Every man in Manchester who avows his opinions on the necessity of reform, should never go unarmed - retaliation has become a duty, and revenge an act of justice."
Carlile not only described how the military had charged the crowd but also criticised the government for its role in the incident. Under the seditious libel laws, it was offence to publish material that might encourage people to hate the government. The authorities also disapproved of Carlile publishing books by Tom Paine, including Age of Reason, a book that was extremely critical of the Church of England. In October 1819, Carlile was found guilty of blasphemy and seditious libel and was sentenced to six years in Dorchester Gaol.
Carlile was also fined £1,500 and when he refused to pay, his Fleet Street offices were raided and his stock was confiscated. Carlile was determined not to be silenced. While he was in prison he continued to write material for The Republican, which was now being published by his wife. Due to the publicity created by Carlile's trial, the circulation of the newspaper increased dramatically and was now outselling pro-government newspapers such as The Times.
The government was greatly concerned by the dangers of the parliamentary reform movement and Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary, wrote a letter to Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, arguing that the government needed to take firm action. This was supported by John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, the Lord Chancellor, who was of the clear opinion that the Peterloo meeting "was an overt act of treason".
As Terry Eagleton has pointed out the "liberal state is neutral between capitalism and its critics until the critics look like they're winning." (16) When Parliament reassembled on 23rd November, 1819, Sidmouth announced details of what later became known as the Six Acts. The main objective of this legislation was the "curbing radical journals and meeting as well as the danger of armed insurrection".
This included: (v) The Basphemous and Seditious Libels Act: A measure which provided much stronger punishments, including banishment for publications judged to be blasphemous or seditious. (vi) Newspaper and Stamp Duties Act: A measure which subjected certain radical publications which had previously avoided stamp duty by publishing opinion and not news, to such duty. The government imposed a 4d. tax on cheap newspapers and stipulating that they could not be sold for less than 7d. As most working people were earning less than 10 shillings a week, this severely reduced the number of people who could afford to buy radical newspapers.
A Stamp Tax had been first imposed on British newspapers in 1712. The tax was gradually increased until in 1815 it had reached 4d. a copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. During this period most working people were earning less than 10 shillings a week and this therefore severely reduced the number of people who could afford to buy radical newspapers.
Campaigners against the stamp tax such as William Cobbett and Leigh Hunt described it as a "tax on knowledge". As Richard Carlile pointed out: "Let us then endeavor to progress in knowledge, since knowledge is demonstrably proved to be power. It is the power knowledge that checks the crimes of cabinets and courts; it is the power of knowledge that must put a stop to bloody wars."
Carlile spent most of his six years in prison in isolation. With the help of his family and friends Carlile was able to continue publishing The Republican. In 1820, to avoid Stamp Duty, Carlile put up the price of the newspaper to sixpence. Despite this move, people were still prosecuted for being involved in the publication of the newspaper. This included in the imprisonment of his wife, Jane Carlile (February 1821) and his sister, Mary-Anne Carlile (June 1822) for two years each. Jane was actually imprisoned with her husband and she gave birth to a daughter, Hypatia in June 1822.
These newspapers had no problems finding people willing to sell these newspapers. Joseph Swann had sold Carlile's pamphlets and newspapers in Macclesfield since 1819. He was arrested and in court he was asked if he had anything to say in his defence: "Well, sir, I have been out of employment for some time; neither can I obtain work; my family are all starving... And for another reason, the weightiest of all; I sell them for the good of my fellow countrymen; to let them see how they are misrepresented in parliament... I wish every man to read those publications." The judge responded by sentencing him to three months hard labour.
It has been argued that the significance of Carlile's achievement lies in his contribution to the cause of free speech and a free press. "His publishing career and his championship of the oppressed, of no advantage to himself or his family, stand as testimony to the depth of commitment to be found in the artisan class of the early nineteenth century. Carlile never gave up, never became disaffected, and continuously sought to discover new opportunities of disseminating his conviction that freedom from the shackles of orthodoxy and oppression was essential for the future of his civilization".
Susannah Wright was a Nottingham lace-mender, who sold Carlile's newspapers and pamphlets. She appeared in court in November 1822 with her six-month old baby. The New Times reported that "this wretched and shameless woman" was an "abandoned creature who has cast off all the distinctive shame and fear and decency of her sex" and was a "horrid example" of a woman who gave support to the publication of "gross, vulgar, horrid blasphemy."
In court Susannah Wright argued that "a representative system of government would soon see the propriety of turning our churches and chapels into temples of science... cherishing the philosopher instead of the priest... As the blood of the Christian Martyrs become the seed of the Christian Church, so shall our sufferings become the seed of free discussion, and in those very sufferings we will triumph over you." After her long speech she "was applauded and loudly cheered" before being sent to Newgate Prison. It has been calculated that around 150 vendors and shopmen served over 200 years of imprisonment in the struggle for a free press.
Richard Carlile believed strongly in the educative possibilities of prison. In his letters to other imprisoned radicals he urged them to use the opportunity presented by their prison sentences to further their education. "We should have more philosophers in our gaols than debtors, smugglers or poachers". George Holyoake later argued that Carlile did not trust any man unless he had been imprisoned for his beliefs.
When Richard Carlile was released from prison in November 1825 he returned to publishing newspapers. In The Republican he argued: "My long confinement was, in fact, a sort of penal representation for the whole. I confess that I have touched extremes that many thought imprudent, and which I would only see to be useful with a view of habiting the Government and people to all extremes of discussion so as to remove all ideas of impropriety from the media which were most useful. If I find that I have done this I shall become a most happy man; if not, I have the same disposition unimpaired with which I began my present career-a disposition to suffer fines, imprisonment or banishment, rather than that any man shall hold the power and exercise the audacity to say, and to act upon it, that any kind of discussion is improper and publicly injurious."
The people who worked in Carlile's shop were also persecuted. The authorities used agents to buy newspapers and pamphlets and then gave evidence against them in court. He therefore devised a system that became known as the "invisible shopman". Instead of a counter, the shop used a partition in the middle of which an indicator could be pointed to the names of works arranged around a dial. Customers turned the finger to the book they needed, put their money in a slot, and the book dropped to them along a chute."
Carlile was now a strong supporter of women's rights. He argued that "equality between the sexes" should be the objective of all reformers. Carlile wrote articles in his newspapers suggesting that women should have the right to vote and be elected to Parliament. Carlile pointed out: "I do not like the doctrine of women keeping at home, and minding the house and the family. It is as much the proper business of the man as the woman; and the woman, who is so confined, is not the proper companion of the public useful man".
In 1826 Carlile published Every Woman's Book, a book "which argued for a rational approach to birth control, attacking the Christian demonization of sexual desire while denying the traditional chauvinist assumptions about women". It was "an important contribution to the nineteenth-century debate on birth control" but the book "damaged his support among radicals and the disaffected working class".
The Republican, which ceased publication in December 1826 as a consequence of a dwindling circulation. In his writings Carlile abandoned his stance as a rationalist and began to call himself a "Christian atheist". In early 1827 Carlile embarked on the first of a series of lecture tours in the southern provinces, and in July he set off for six months in the north. Christina Parolin has argued: "Though prison had developed him as a scholar... Carlile was a poor public speaker and lacked the charisma, showmanship and oratorical skills to sustain audiences."
Carlile was involved in the campaign against child labour in factories. In 1827 Carlile was given a copy of manuscript written by John Brown, a radical journalist from Bolton. Brown's manuscript was based on an interview with a former parish apprentice called Robert Blincoe. Carlile published Robert Blincoe's Memoir in his new newspaper, The Lion. Robert Blincoe's story appeared in five weekly episodes from 25th January to 22nd February, 1828.
In his introduction Carlile argued: "John Brown is now dead; he fell, about two or three years ago, by his own hand. He united, with a strong feeling for the injuries and sufferings of others. Hence his suicide. Had he not possessed a fine fellow-feeling with the child of misfortune, he would never have taken such pains to compile the Memoir of Robert Blincoe, and to collect all the wrongs on paper, on which he could gain information, about the various sufferers under the cotton-mill systems. The employment of children is bad for children - first, as their health - and second, as to their manners. The time should be devoted to a better education. The employment of infant children on the cotton-mills furnishes a bad means to dissolute parents, to live in idleness and all sorts of vice."
In May 1830 Carlile opened the Blackfriars Rotunda. Several times a week Carlile and invited speakers would "deliver attacks on the superstitions of Christianity, which Carlile had now identified as the single most obdurate opposition to reform and liberation". The Rotunda became an important centre for working-class dissent and political reform. Speakers included William Cobbett, Henry 'Orator' Hunt, Robert Owen, Daniel O'Connell, Robert Taylor and John Gale Jones. It is reported that at one meeting calling for parliamentary reform, drew a crowd of over 2,000 people.
Richard Carlile was pleased with what he had achieved at the Rotunda: "We have created the best school that was ever open to the human race. Oxford, Cambridge, the London University, the King's College are Folly's seats, contrasted to the Rotunda. There has been more expansion of mind generated at the Rotunda, in the last year, than in all the world beside."
Richard Carlile joined forces with William Lovett, Henry Hetherington, James Watson, John Cleave and William Benbow to form the National Union of the Working Classes (NUWC). It proposed universal male suffrage, annual parliaments, votes by secret ballot and the removal of property qualifications for MPs. Iain McCalman has claimed that it became the "most effective working-class radical organisation in the early 1830s."
Carlile published an article in his new newspaper, The Prompter, in support of agricultural labourers campaigning against wage cuts. Carlile's advice to the labourers was "to go on as you have done".This was interpreted by the authorities as a seditious call to arms. Carlile was arrested and charged with seditious libel and appeared at the Old Bailey in January 1831. Carlile argued that "neither in deed, nor in word, nor in idea, did I ever encourage acts of arson or machine breaking".
The court was not convinced by his arguments and Carlile was found guilty of seditious libel and received a sentence of two years' imprisonment and a large fine which he refused to pay, thereby extending the sentence by a further six months. While in prison he continued to write articles for radical newspapers and pamphlets such as New View of Insanity (1831).
While he was in prison he received a letter from Elizabeth Sharples, a 28 year-old woman from Bolton. After "a rapid exchange of correspondence in which admiration turned to ardent love, she determined to share his work". Even before he had met Sharples in person, Carlile anticipated that she would become "my daughter, my sister, my friend, my companion, my wife, my sweetheart, my everything".
In January 1832 Elizabeth Sharples moved to London and visited Carlile in prison. Carlile had always campaigned for women's rights and he invited her to speak at his Blackfriars Rotunda. Billed as "the first Englishwoman to speak publicly on matters of politics and religion" she gave her first talk on 29th January 1832. The Times reported that she was "pretty, with a good figure and genteel manners" and dressed very well.
Sharples pointed out in her speech: "I will set before my sex the example of asserting an equality for them with their present lords and masters, and strive to teach all, yes, all, that the undue submission, which constitutes slavery, is honourable to none; while the mutual submission, which leads to mutual good, is to all alike dignified and honourable... Cast in the role of the Egyptian goddess Isis, she stood on the stage of the theatre, the floor strewn with whitethorn and laurel, and delivered lectures on mystical religion and women's rights."
Elizabeth Sharples was appointed as editor of a new radical weekly publication, Isis. She gave two lectures every Sunday (at sixpence for the pit and boxes, one shilling for the gallery), on Monday evenings (for half-price). She also gave a free lecture on Friday evenings to accommodate those unable to afford the entry charges.
Not everybody enjoyed her speeches. One man wrote to a national newspaper attacking the idea of a woman speaking in public: "Elizabeth Sharples is a female who exhibits herself in so unfeminine a manner... So utterly illiterate is the poor creature, that she cannot yet read what is set down for her with any degree of intelligibility... with her ignorance and unconquerable brogue... her lecturing is almost as ludicrous as it is painful to witness."
Richard Carlile supported Sharples in her campaign for women's rights: "I do not like the doctrine of women keeping at home, and minding the house and the family. It is as much the proper business of the man as the woman; and the woman, who is so confined, is not the proper companion of the public useful man." (50) It has been claimed that "this just about sums up the position of women in the radical movement". Even if a woman was emancipated she was expected to be the "proper companion of the public useful man".
Elizabeth Sharples argued in her newspaper articles that Christianity was the chief barrier to the dissemination of knowledge; by denying the people education, priests were denying man's liberty. She suggested that passive and non-resistance was seen as the "doctrine of priesthood".
Sharples was Carlile's greatest supporter while he was in prison. She used the Rotunda platform" to castigate the priesthood, expose religious superstition and denigrate established authority". She promised "sweet revenge" on those responsible for the "incarceration of Carlile". She visited him in prison and began a sexual relationship.
In 1832 Jane Carlile moved out of the family home and started a bookshop of her own. In April 1833 Elizabeth Sharples gave birth to a son, Richard Sharples. Carlile realized that he would have to acknowledge their relationship, and thereupon declared that he and Eliza were joined in a "moral marriage".
Elizabeth Sharples had the task of running the Blackfriars Rotunda while Carlile was in prison. In February 1832, she reported that £1,000 was needed to keep the venture open, to cover rent, taxes, lights and repairs. At the same time there had been a reduction in audiences. She admitted that she had lost the support of the radical community: "I believe I stand alone in the country, as a modern Eve, daring to pluck the fruit of the tree, and to give it to timid, sheepish man. I have received kindnesses and encouragements from a few ladies since my appearance in the metropolis, but how few."
On his release from prison in August the couple lived on the corner of Bouverie Street and Fleet Street. Richard Sharples died of smallpox in October 1833. Another son, Julian Hibbert, was born in September 1834. In November 1835 they took a seven-year lease on a cottage in Enfield Highway, where shortly afterwards a daughter, Hypatia, was born. A fourth child, Theophila, followed a year later.
In August 1836 he set off again on tour, lecturing first at Brighton and then to the north, returning home in December. His biographer, Philip W. Martin, pointed out: "Carlile's position was shifting radically. While it is clear that he never retreated to orthodoxy, his increasing use of Christian rhetoric and his own claims for himself as a Christian were a far cry from the radicalism of his early years. Carlile still propounded a sceptical, rational view of religion, but his allegorical readings had diminished to a single interpretation of Christianity in which he saw Christ and the resurrection as the rebirth of the soul of reason in humankind".
Richard Carlile was still capable of drawing large crowds (1500 people in Leeds in 1839, and 3000 people in Stroud, in 1842), it was clear that most radicals rejected his religious views and were attracted to the political arguments of Chartism. He was also in poor health and he died of a bronchial infection on 10th February 1843. As he had dedicated his body to science it was taken to St Thomas's Hospital before his burial at Kensal Green Cemetery in London on 26th February.
On this day in 1842 the philosopher Peter Kropotkin, the son of Aleksei Petrovich Kropotkin and Yekaterina Nikolaevna Sulima, was born in Moscow, Russia, on 12th December, 1842. The family was fairly wealthy and came from a noble lineage (Peter was in fact a prince).
Peter's mother died of tuberculosis in 1846. Two years later his father married Yelizaveta Mar'kovna Korandino. According to one source: "Yelizaveta caused a great deal of tension in the house. An aggressive, domineering woman, she attempted to erase all traces of the children's departed mother rather than offering them comfort. These actions caused further resentment between the children and their father."
His brother Nikolai (born in 1834) left the family home for military service in the Crimean War. His other brother, Alexander Kropotkin (born in 1841) also left home to join the Moscow Cadet Corps. Peter and Alexander had spent a great deal of their early lives together and were very close. Peter went to study at the First Moscow Gymnasium. He was not terribly impressed with the school, feeling that "all the subjects were taught in the most senseless manner." However, while at school, he did develop a strong interest in history and geography. At the age of 15 Kropotkin entered the aristocratic Corps des Pages of St. Petersburg and four years later became personal page to Tsar Alexander II.
Peter Kropotkin n first became aware of political censorship in Russia when his older brother, Alexander, was arrested in 1858 while a student at St. Petersburg University as a result of having a copy of a book, Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The book had been lent to him by one of the faculty, Professor Tikhonravof, but he refused to tell the police this because he did not want to get into trouble with the authorities. When Tikhonravof heard of Kropotkin's arrest he went at once to the rector of the university, and admitted that he was the owner of the book, and the young student was released.
In 1862 he applied for a commission in the Cossack Regiment serving in Eastern Siberia. After reading the work of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the exploits of Mikhail Bakunin he developed an interest in anarchism. Kropotkin took a growing interest in politics. As Paul Avrich points out: "In Siberia he shed his hopes that the state could act as a vehicle of social progress. Soon after his arrival, he drafted, at the request of his superiors, elaborate plans for municipal self-government and for the reform of the penal system (a subject that was to interest him for the rest of his life), only to see them vanish in an impenetrable bureaucratic maze."
Disillusioned by the limits of these reforms, he undertook a geographical exploration in East Siberia and produced a paper on his theory of mountain structure. Kropotkin's reports on the topography of Siberia won him immediate recognition and in 1871 he was offered the coveted post of secretary of the Imperial Geographical Society in St. Petersburg. However, he rejected the post because of his new political commitment. "Although I did not then formulate my observations in terms borrowed from party struggles, I may say now that I lost in Siberia whatever faith in state discipline I had cherished before. I was prepared to become an anarchist."
In 1872 Kropotkin joined a group that was spreading revolutionary propaganda among the workers and peasants of Moscow and St. Petersburg. He joined the Chaikovskii Circle, a group committed to disseminating propaganda among workers and peasants in order to prepare the way for a social revolution. They also published the work of writers such as Karl Marx, Alexander Herzen, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Peter Lavrov, John Stuart Mill and Charles Darwin.
In March 1874 he was arrested by the police. His house was searched and they found copies of a revolutionary manifesto that had been written by Kropotkin. They also found his diary and several books that had been banned by the authorities. Although they found plenty of incriminating evidence, the police had to bribe several witnesses to get a conviction. Kropotkin was imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress but in 1876 he was able to escape and fled to Switzerland.
In 1876 his brother, Alexander Kropotkin, was arrested and charged with "political untrustworthiness" He was exiled to Minusinsk in Siberia, more than 3,000 miles from St. Petersburg and about 150 miles from the boundary line of Mongolia. His wife and children accompanied him into exile. He later told George Kennan that he thought he was being punished because of the political activities of his brother, Peter Kropotkin, who had been imprisoned two years earlier for being a member of the Chaikovskii Circle: "I am not a nihilist nor a revolutionist and I never have been. I was exiled simply because I dared to think, and to say - what I thought, about the things that happened around me, and because I was the brother of a man whom the Russian Government hated."
After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II his radical socialist views made him unwelcome in the country and in 1881 he moved to France where he became a member of the International Working Men's Association (the First International), a federation of radical political parties that hoped to overthrow capitalism and create a socialist commonwealth.
Kropotkin continued to be interested in the work of Charles Darwin. He had profound respect for Darwin's discoveries and regarded the theory of natural selection as "perhaps the most brilliant scientific generalization of the century". Kropotkin accepted that the "struggle for existence" played an important role in the evolution of species. He argued that "life is struggle; and in that struggle the fittest survive". However, Kropotkin rejected the ideas of Thomas Huxley who placed great emphasis on competition and conflict in the evolutionary process.
In 1880 Peter Kropotkin read an article by Karl Kessler, a Russian zoologist, entitled On the Law of Mutual Aid. Kessler's argued that cooperation rather than conflict was the chief factor in the process of evolution. He pointed out "the more individuals keep together, the more they mutually support each other, and the more are the chances of the species for surviving, as well as for making further progress in its intellectual development." Kessler died the following year and Kropotkin decided to spend time developing his theories.
Kropotkin published An Appeal to the Young in 1880. Anna Strunsky wrote that "hundreds of thousands had read that pamphlet and had responded to it as to nothing else in the literature of revolutionary socialism". Elizabeth Gurley Flynn later claimed that the message "struck home to me personally, as if he were speaking to us there in our shabby poverty-stricken Bronx flat."
In 1883 Kropotkin was arrested by the French authorities. He tried at Lyon, and sentenced, under a special law passed on the fall of the Paris Commune, to five years' imprisonment, on the ground that he had belonged to the International Working Men's Association. While in prison Kropotkin's first ideas on anarchism were published. He was eventually released in 1886 and moved to England. Over the next few years he lived in Harrow, Acton, Ealing, Bromley and Highgate.
While living in England he became friends with other socialists, including William Morris, Keir Hardie, James Mavor, Tom Mann and George Bernard Shaw. Hardie once commented that if we were all like Kropotkin "anarchism would be the only possible system, since government and restraint would be unnecessary". In 1886 Kropotkin and his socialist friends organized a mass rally in London protesting against the death sentences imposed on the conviction of Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab for the Haymarket Bombing.
In 1886 he helped to establish the anarchist journal, Freedom. As anarchism's most important philosophers he was in great demand as a writer and contributed to the journals edited by Benjamin Tucker (Liberty), Albert Parsons (Alarm) and Johann Most (Freiheit). Tucker praised Kropotkin's publication as "the most scholarly anarchist journal in existence."
The following year he published In Russian and French Prisons. He argued that prisons are "schools of crime" and that by "subjecting him to brutalizing punishments, teaching him to lie and cheat, and generally hardening him in his criminal ways, so that when he emerges from behind bars he is condemned to repeat his transgressions.... Prisons neither improve the prisoners nor prevent crime; they achieve none of the ends for which they are designed."
Kropotkin continued to develop his ideas on evolution. In 1888 Thomas Huxley published an article entitled The Struggle for Existence. He completely rejected Huxley's argument that competition among individuals of the same species is not merely a law of nature but the driving force of progress. Kropotkin replied to Huxley in a series of articles where he documented his theory of mutual aid with illustrations from animal and human life. Paul Avrich has argued: "Among animals he shows how mutual cooperation is practiced in hunting, in migration, and in the propagation of species. He draws examples from the elaborate social behavior of ants and bees, from wild horses that form a ring when attacked by wolves, from the wolves themselves that form a pack for hunting, from migrating deer that, scattered over a wide territory, come together in herds to cross a river. From these and many similar illustrations Kropotkin demonstrates that sociability is a prevalent feature at every level of the animal world. Moreover, he finds that among humans too mutual aid has been the rule rather than the exception. With a wealth of data he traces the evolution of voluntary cooperation from the primitive tribe, peasant village, and medieval commune to a variety of modern associations that have continued to practice Mutual support despite the rise of the coercive bureaucratic state. His thesis, in short, is a refutation of the doctrine that competition and brute force are the sole - or even the principal - determinants of social progress."
Alexander Kropotkin committed suicide on 25th July, 1890. The St Petersburg Eastern Review reported: "On the 25th of July, about nine o'clock in the evening, Prince A. A. Kropotkin committed suicide in Tomsk by shooting himself with a revolver. He had been in administrative exile about ten years, and his term of banishment would have expired on the 9th of next September. He had begun to make arrangements for returning to Russia, and had already sent his wife and his three children back to his relatives in the province of Kharkof. He was devotedly attached to them, and soon after their departure he grew lonely and low-spirited, and showed that he felt very deeply his separation from them. To this reason for despondency must also be added anxiety with regard to the means of subsistence. Although, at one time, a rather wealthy landed proprietor, Prince Kropotkin, during his long period of exile in Siberia, had expended almost his whole fortune; so that on the day of his death his entire property did not amount to three hundred rubles. At the age of forty-five, therefore, he was compelled, for the first time, seriously to consider the question how lie should live and support his family - a question which was the more difficult to answer for the reason that a scientific man, in Russia, cannot count upon earning a great deal in the field of literature, and Prince Kropotkin was not fitted for anything else. While under the disheartening influence of these considerations he received, moreover, several telegrams from his relatives which he misinterpreted. Whether he committed suicide as a result of sane deliberation, or whether a combination of circumstances super induced acute mental disorder, none who were near him at the moment of his death can say."
In 1892 Kropotkin published Conquest of Bread. It is generally agreed that the book is Kropotkin's clearest statement of his anarchist social doctrines. As Paul Avrich has pointed out: "Written for the ordinary worker, it possesses a lucidity of style not often found in books on social themes." Emile Zola said that it was so well-written that it was a "true poem".
Kropotkin argued that the wage system, which presumes to measure the work of each individual in capitalism, must be abolished in favour of a system of equal rewards for all. Kropotkin suggested a system of "anarchist communism" by which private property and inequality of income would give place to the free distribution of goods and services. The author of Anarchist Portraits (1995) argued: "It was impossible to assess each person's contribution to the production of social wealth because millions of human beings had toiled to create the present riches of the world. Every acre of soil had been watered with the sweat of generations, every mile of railroad had received its share of human blood. Indeed, there was not a thought or an invention that was not the common inheritance of all mankind... Starting from this premise, Kropotkin argues that the wage system, which presumes to measure the work of each individual, must be abolished in favor of a system of equal rewards for all. This was a major step in the evolution of anarchist economic thought."
In Conquest of Bread Kropotkin argued that in an anarchist society no one would be compelled to work. He insisted that work is "a psychological necessity, a necessity of spending accumulated body energy, a necessity which is health and life itself. If so many) branches of useful work are reluctantly done now, it is merely because they mean overwork or they are improperly organized."
Peter Kropotkin was also highly critical of the education system which he described as a "university of laziness". He argued that it was: "Superficiality, parrot-like repetition, slavishness and inertia of mind are the results of our method of education. We do not teach our children to learn." Kropotkin was one of the first to argue for "an active outdoor education and learn by doing and observing at first hand".
Kropotkin insisted that the education system would have to be completely reformed in order to create an anarchist society. "We are so perverted by an education which from infancy seeks to kill in us the spirit of revolt, and to develop that of submission to authority; we are so perverted by this existence under the ferrule of a law, which regulates every event in life - our birth, our education, our development, our love, our friendship - that, if this state of things continues, we shall lose all initiative, all habit of thinking for ourselves. Our society seems no longer able to understand that it is possible to exist otherwise than under the reign of law, elaborated by a representative government and administered by a handful of rulers.... The education we all receive from the State, at school and after, has so warped our minds that the very notion of freedom ends up by being lost, and disguised in servitude."
Kropotkin rejected the idea of a secret revolutionary party that had been suggested by Mikhail Bakunin. He also criticized the views of Sergi Nechayev. He insisted that social emancipation must be attained by libertarian rather than dictatorial means. Kropotkin rejected the idea of revolution put forward by Bakunin and Nechayev in Catechism of a Revolutionist (1869): "The Revolutionist is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion - the revolution. Heart and soul, not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social order and with the entire civilized world; with the laws, good manners, conventions, and morality of that world. He is its merciless enemy and continues to inhabit it with only one purpose - to destroy it." For Kropotkin the ends and the means were inseparable.
In 1897 his old friend, James Mavor, professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, invited him to speak at a conference in Canada. He was impressed by the agricultural abundance throughout the country and wrote to a friend: "How rich mankind could be if social obstacles did not stand everywhere in the way of utilising the gifts of nature."
In October 1897, Kropotkin crossed the border into the United States to meet fellow anarchist, Johann Most. Although they had disagreed in the past about politics, Kropotkin argued that "with a few more Mosts, our movement would be much stronger". Writing in the Freiheit Most described Kropotkin as the "celebrated philosopher of modern anarchism" and that it had been a pleasure "to look into his eyes and shake his hand".
At Jersey City he was asked by a group of journalists for a statement on his political beliefs: "I am an anarchist and am trying to work out the ideal society, which I believe will be communistic in economics, but will leave full and free scope for the development of the individual. As to its organization, I believe in the formation of federated groups for production and consumption.... The social democrats are endeavoring to attain the same end, but the difference is that they start from the centre - the State and work toward the circumference, while we endeavor to work out the ideal society from the simple elements to the complex."
The New York Herald reported: "Prince Kropotkin is anything but the typical anarchist. In appearance he is patriarchal, and while his dress is careless it is the carelessness of the man who is engrossed in science rather than that of the man who is in revolt against the usages of society. His manners are those of the polished gentleman, and he has none of the bitterness and dogmatism of the anarchist whom we are accustomed to see here."
In New York City Kropotkin spoke at a meeting chaired by John Swinton on the dangers of state socialism. One member of the audience later recorded that he "wore a patriarchal beard and beamed on his audience from behind a pair of spectacles like an old fashioned clergyman looking over a familiar congregation." Another remarked that "his evident sincerity and his kindness held the attention of his audience and gained its sympathy".
In 1899 Kropotkin visited Chicago and lived in the Hull House settlement, formed by Jane Addams, for a while. Alice Hamilton, one of the workers at the settlement, later recalled: "Prince Peter Kropotkin was one of the most lovable persons I have ever met. He was a typical revolutionist of the early Russian type, an aristocrat who threw himself into the movement for emancipation of the masses out of a passionate love for his fellow man, and a longing for justice. He stayed some time with us at Hull House, and we all came to love him, not only we who lived under the same roof but the crowds of Russian refugees who came to see him. No matter how down-and-out, how squalid even, a caller would be., Prince Kropotkin would give him a joyful welcome and kiss him on both cheeks."
Robert Lovett admitted that: "Hull House was emphatically the refuge of lost causes. The anarchist agitation had died out, but the fear of it was maintained by press and police to haunt the slumbers of the best people. Miss Addams was attacked for entertaining Peter Kropotkin in Hull House. The celebration of his birthday was an occasion for the visit to Chicago to the mild ghost of anarchism." Given this hostility Kropotkin decided to return to London.
In his final years Kropotkin concentrated on writing. His works during this period he produced an autobiography, Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899), Fields, Factories and Workshops (1901), Mutual Aid (1902) and The Great French Revolution (1909) turned him into a world known political figure. Emma Goldman argued: "We saw in him the father of modern anarchism, its revolutionary spokesman and brilliant exponent of its relation to science, philosophy and progressive thought." and was described by Emma Goldman as the "godfather of anarchism".
In 1912 Kropotkin moved to Brighton where he stayed for the next five years. After the overthrow of the Tsar Nicholas II in 1917, Kropotkin returned home to Russia expecting the development of "anarchist communism". When the Bolsheviks seized power he remarked to a friend that "this buries the revolution" and described government members as "state socialists".
In June 1918, Kropotkin had a meeting with Nestor Makhno, the leader of the anarchists in the Ukraine. He told him about a conversation he had with Lenin in the Kremlin. Lenin explained his opposition to anarchists. "The majority of anarchists think and write about the future without understanding the present. That is what divides us Communists from them... But I think that you, comrade, have a realistic attitude towards the burning evils of the time. If only one-third of the anarchist-communists were like you, we Communists would be ready, under certain well-known conditions, to join with them in working towards a free organization of producers."
Kropotkin disliked the developments that took place over the next few months and in March 1920 he sent a letter to Lenin that claimed Russia was a "Soviet Republic only in name" and "at present it is not the soviets which rule in Russia but party committees".
Peter Kropotkin died of pneumonia in the city of Dmitrov on 8th February, 1921, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. His friend, Victor Serge, attended the funeral. "These were heartbreaking days: the great frost in the midst of the great hunger. I was the only member of the party to be accepted as a comrade in anarchist circles. The shadow of the Cheka fell everywhere, but a packed and passionate multitude thronged around the bier, making this funeral ceremony into a demonstration of unmistakable significance." Kropotkin's final book, Ethics, Origin and Development (1922) was published posthumously.
On the day in 1895 Dolores Ibárruri, the eighth of eleven children, was born in Gallarta, Spain, on 9th December, 1895. Ibárruri was born into a family of miners, Ibárruri experienced poverty as a child. Although an intelligent student, her family could not afford to pay for her to be trained as a teacher and instead became a seamstress.
In 1916 she married a miner and had six children but only two survived to adulthood. She later wrote that they had died because of her inability to provide adequate medical care and nourishment for them.
The family's financial situation deteriorated when her husband, an active trade unionist, was imprisoned for leading a strike. After reading the works of Karl Marx, Ibárruri joined the Communist Party (PCE). Ibárruri wrote articles for the miners' newspaper, El Minero Vizcaino, using the pseudonym Pasionaria (passion flower).
In 1920 Ibárruri was elected to the Provincial Committee of the Basque Communist Party. She soon became an important local political figure and in 1930 was elected to the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party. The following year she became editor of the left-wing newspaper, Mundo Obrero. Over the next few years she used her position to campaign for an improvement in women's conditions in Spain.
In September 1931 Ibárruri was arrested and charged with hiding a Communist comrade on the run from the Civil Guard. After being held in prison in Bilbao she was released in January 1932. She was then re-arrested and held in prison until January 1933.
Ibárruri was a member of the Spanish delegation of the Communist International which met in the Soviet Union in 1933. She also attended meetings of the Comintern where she supported what became known as the Popular Front policy.
Concerned by the emergence of fascism in Italy and Germany, Ibárruri helped organize the World Committee of Women Against War and Fascism and was a delegate at its first conference in France in August 1934.
In 1936 Ibárruri, now known by everybody as (La Pasionaria), was elected to the Cortes. During the first few months as a deputy she campaigned for legislation to improve working, housing and health conditions. She also sought land reform and rights for trade unionists. Ibárruri also successfully negotiated the release of several political prisoners in Spain.
During the Spanish Civil War Ibárruri was the chief propagandist for the Republicans. On 18th July, 1936, she ended a radio speech with the words: "The fascists shall not pass! No Pasaran". This phrase eventually became the battle cry for the Republican Army. In another speech she declared at a meeting for women: "It is better to be the widows of heroes than the wives of cowards!"
In September 1936 Ibárruri was sent to France and Belgium to rally support for the Republic. At one meeting she used the phrase "the Spanish people would rather die on its feet than live on its knees." She became a member of the committee designated to administer funds sent to Spain by the Comintern. Ibárruri was also involved in the destruction of the Worker's Party (POUM) and the dismissal of Francisco Largo Caballero and Juan Peiro from the government and supported the appointment of Juan Negrin as prime minister.
Ibárruri became Secretary General of the Communist Party (PCE) in May 1944. After the war she remained in Moscow and in 1964 was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and the following year the Order of Lenin. However, in 1968 she strongly attacked the Red Army invasion of the Czechoslovakia. The Russian leadership responded by sponsoring a breakaway Spanish Communist Party led by Enrique Lister.
On this day in 1909 Charlotte Marsh left prison after been forced fed by tube 139 times. Charlotte Marsh, the daughter of Arthur Hardwick Marsh (1842-1909), an artist, was born in 1887. She was educated at St Margaret's School, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Roseneath, Wrexham, and then spent a year studying in Bordeaux.
Marsh joined the Women Social & Political Union in March 1907 but did not become an active member until she finished her training as a sanitary inspector a year later. According to her biographer, Michelle Myall: "She was one of the first women to train as a sanitary inspector but, appalled by the insight her work gave her into the lives of many women, gave up a promising career to join the women's suffrage movement in 1908, to give women a voice in public affairs." On 30th June 1908 she was arrested with Elsie Howey and charged with obstructing the police. She was found guilty and sentenced to a month's imprisonment in Holloway Prison.
A wealthy supporter of the WSPU donated money to buy Emmeline Pankhurst a motor car so that she could travel the country in comfort. According to Martin Pugh, the author of The Pankhursts (2001), Marsh applied for the job of driving the car. However, Vera Holme, got the post, but there were occasions when she worked as Pankhurst's chauffeur.
On 22nd September 1909 she was arrested along with Rona Robinson, Laura Ainsworth and Mary Leigh while disrupting a public meeting being held by Herbert Asquith. As Michelle Myall has pointed out: "The police attempted to move the two women by, among other methods, turning a hosepipe on them and throwing stones. However, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Leigh proved to be formidable opponents and were only brought down from the roof when three policeman dragged them down."
On 22nd September 1909 she was arrested along with Rona Robinson, Laura Ainsworth and Mary Leigh while disrupting a public meeting being held by Herbert Asquith. As Michelle Myall has pointed out: "The police attempted to move the two women by, among other methods, turning a hosepipe on them and throwing stones. However, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Leigh proved to be formidable opponents and were only brought down from the roof when three policeman dragged them down."
Marsh, Robinson, Ainsworth and Leigh were all sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment. They immediately decided to go on hunger-strike, a strategy developed by Marion Wallace-Dunlop a few weeks earlier. Wallace-Dunlop had been immediately released when she had tried this in Holloway Prison, but the governor of Winson Green Prison, was willing to feed the three women by force.
C.P. Scott wrote to Asquith complaining of the "substantial injustice of punishing a girl like Miss Marsh with two months hard labour plus forcible feeding." According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999): "The Prison Visiting Committee reported that at first she had to be fed by placing food in the mouth and holding the nostrils, but that she later took food from a feeding cup." Votes for Women, on her release, reported that she had been fed by tube 139 times. Although her father was seriously ill, the authorities refused to release Marsh early. Marsh left Winson Green Prison on 9th December, 1909. She immediately dashed to her family home in Newcastle upon Tyne but he was already unconscious and he died a few days later.
In February 1910 Charlotte Marsh was WSPU organiser in Oxford. She then moved onto Portsmouth and in September 1910 she ran a WSPU holiday campaign in Southsea. During this period a fellow suffragette described her as "a tall young woman, of quiet, resolute bearing." The Times reported that she was "strikingly beautiful with blue eyes and long corn-coloured hair." Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence described her as one of the "saints of the Church Militant".
Marsh visited Eagle House near Batheaston in April 1911 with Annie Kenney and Laura Ainsworth. Their host, was Mary Blathwayt, a fellow member of the WSPU. Her father Colonel Linley Blathwayt planted a tree, a Picea Polita, in her honour in his suffragette arboretum in a field adjacent to the house. Mary's mother, Emily Blathwayt, commented in her diary: "Miss Marsh planted her tree. She greatly dislikes her first name Charlotte and all her friends call her Charlie. Her label will be C. A. L. Marsh. (She also goes by the name of Calm). We liked very much what we saw of her. She is very fair with light hair and a pretty face. She is very tall ... She has a wonderful constitution and seems very well after all she has gone through. She has begun the late custom of not taking meat or chicken. She seems a very nice quiet girl."
In March 1912 Charlotte Marsh took part in a window-smashing campaign in London. It is claimed that she alone smashed nine windows in the Strand during this demonstration. Emily Blathwayt wrote in her diary: "Linley had a nice letter from C. A. L. Marsh in Holloway awaiting her trial as they all refused bail. His birthday letter to her begging her not to take part in violence followed her there. Like the rest, they all think it their duty to take a large share of suffering." As she had previous convictions she was sentenced to six months' in Aylesbury Prison. She took part in the hunger-strike and was forcibly fed.
On her release she was sent to Switzerland to recuperate. On her return she was WSPU organiser in Nottingham. She also spent time in London working alongside Grace Roe. In June 1913 she was the Standard Bearer at the funeral of Emily Wilding Davison.
On 4th August, 1914, England declared war on Germany. The leadership of the WSPU began negotiating with the British government. On the 10th August the government announced it was releasing all suffragettes from prison. In return, the WSPU agreed to end their militant activities and help the war effort.
Emmeline Pankhurst announced that all militants had to "fight for their country as they fought for the vote." Ethel Smyth pointed out in her autobiography, Female Pipings for Eden (1933): "Mrs Pankhurst declared that it was now a question of Votes for Women, but of having any country left to vote in. The Suffrage ship was put out of commission for the duration of the war, and the militants began to tackle the common task."
Charlotte Marsh initially accepted this policy and worked as a motor mechanic before becoming the chauffeur of David Lloyd George "accepting his suggestion that the relationship would promote the victory of the cause of women's enfranchisement". She also worked as a member of the Women's Land Army in Surrey.
Marsh became increasingly critical of the way that Emmeline Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst were running the WSPU during the First World War. Questions were also being asked about the funds of the WSPU. According to Martin Pugh, the author of The Pankhursts (2001): "The accounts had not been rendered since February 1914 when an annual income of £46,000 had been recorded. Moreover, the conviction that this money had been misappropriated for the Pankhursts' own purposes continued to rankle for many years." In March 1916, Charlotte Marsh set up the Independent WSPU.
After the war Marsh worked for Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. According to Elizabeth Crawford: "She then spent some time with the Department of Social Work in San Francisco and then with the Overseas Settlement League. By 1934 she was working with the Public Assistance Department of the London County Council." Marsh was also, along with Margaret Haig Thomas and Theresa Garnett, an executive member of the Six Point Group. She was also vice-president of the Suffragette Fellowship. Charlotte Marsh, who never married, died at her home, 31 Copse Hill, Wimbledon, on 21st April 1961.
On this day in 1917 was the last day of voting for the Russian Constituent Assembly. After Nicholas II abdicated, the new Provisional Government announced it would introduce a Constituent Assembly. Elections were due to take place in November. Some leading Bolsheviks believed that the election should be postponed as the Socialist Revolutionaries might well become the largest force in the assembly. When it seemed that the election was to be cancelled, five members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, Victor Nogin, Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Alexei Rykov and Vladimir Milyutin submitted their resignations.
Kamenev believed it was better to allow the election to go ahead and although the Bolsheviks would be beaten it would give them to chance to expose the deficiencies of the Socialist Revolutionaries. "We (the Bolsheviks) shall be such a strong opposition party that in a country of universal suffrage our opponents will be compelled to make concessions to us at every step, or we will form, together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, non-party peasants, etc., a ruling bloc which will fundamentally have to carry out our programme."
On 4th November, 1917, the five men issued a statement: "The leading group in the Central Committee... has firmly decided not to allow the formation of a government of the soviet parties but to fight for a purely Bolshevik government however it can and whatever the sacrifices this costs the workers and soldiers. We cannot assume responsibility for this ruinous policy of the Central Committee, carried out against the will of a large part of the proletariat and soldiers." Nogin, Rykov, Milyutin and Ivan Teodorovich resigned their commissariats. They issued another statement: "There is only one path: the preservation of a purely Bolshevik government by means of political terror. We cannot and will not accept this."
Eventually it was decided to go ahead with the elections for the Consistent Assembly. The party newspaper, Pravda, claimed: "As a democratic government we cannot disregard the decision of the people, even if we do not agree with it. If the peasants follow the Social Revolutionaries farther, even if they give that party a majority in the Constituent Assembly, we shall say: so be it."
Eugene Lyons, the author of Workers’ Paradise Lost: Fifty Years of Soviet Communism: A Balance Sheet (1967), pointed out: "The hopes of self-government unleashed by the fall of tsarism were centered on the Constituent Assembly, a democratic parliament to draw up a democratic constitution. Lenin and his followers, of course, jumped on that bandwagon, too, posing not merely as advocates of the parliament but as its only true friends. What if the voting went against them? They piously pledged themselves to abide by the popular mandate."
The balloting began on 25th November and continued until 9th December. Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, reported: "The elections for the Constituent Assembly have just taken place here. The polling was very high. Every man and woman votes all over this vast territory, even the Lapp in Siberia and the Tartar of Central Asia. Russia is now the greatest and most democratic country in the world. There are several women candidates for the Constituent Assembly and some are said to have a good chance of election. The one thing that troubles us all and hangs like a cloud over our heads is the fear of famine."
Despite the prevailing disorders and confusion, thirty-six million cast their secret ballots in parts of the country normal enough to hold elections. In most of the large centers of population, the voting was conducted under Bolshevik auspices. Yet twenty-seven of the thirty-six million votes went to other parties. A total of 703 candidates were elected to the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917. This included Socialist Revolutionaries (299), Bolsheviks (168), Mensheviks (18) and Constitutional Democratic Party (17).
The elections disclosed the strongholds of each party: "The Socialist-Revolutionaries were dominant in the north, north-west, central black earth, south-eastern Volga, in the north Caucasus, Siberia, most of the Ukraine and amongst the soldiers of the south-western and Rumanian fronts, and the sailors of the Black Sea fleet. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, held sway in White Russia, in most of the central provinces, and in Petrograd and Moscow. They also dominated the armies on the northern and western fronts and the Baltic fleet. The Mensheviks were virtually limited to Transcaucasia, and the Kadets to the metropolitan centres of Moscow and Petrograd where, in any case, they took place to the Bolsheviks."
It seemed that the Socialist Revolutionaries would be in a position to form the next government. As David Shub pointed out, "The Russian people, in the freest election in modern history, voted for moderate socialism and against the bourgeoisie." Most members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, now favoured a coalition government. Lenin believed that the Bolsheviks should retain power and attacked his opponents for their "un-Marxist remarks" and their criminal vacillation". Lenin managed to pass a resolution through the Central Committee by a narrow margin.
Lenin demobilized the Russian Army and announced that he planned to seek an armistice with Germany. In December, 1917, Leon Trotsky led the Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk that was negotiating with representatives from Germany and Austria. Trotsky had the difficult task of trying to end Russian participation in the First World War without having to grant territory to the Central Powers. By employing delaying tactics Trotsky hoped that socialist revolutions would spread from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary before he had to sign the treaty.
The Constituent Assembly opened on 18th January, 1918. "The Bolsheviks and Left Socialist Revolutionaries occupied the extreme left of the house; next to them sat the crowded Socialist Revolutionary majority, then the Mensheviks. The benches on the right were empty. A number of Cadet deputies had already been arrested; the rest stayed away. The entire Assembly was Socialist - but the Bolsheviks were only a minority."
Harold Williams, of the Daily Chronicle reported: "When the Assembly was opened the galleries were crowded, mostly with Bolshevik supporters. Sailors and Red Guards, with their bayonets hanging at various angles, stood on the floor of the House. To right and left of the Speaker's tribune sat the People's Commissars and their assistants. Lenin was there, bald, red-bearded, short and rather stout. He was apparently in good spirits, and chattered merrily with Krylenko (Commander-in-Chief of the Army). There were Lunacharsky and Mme Kollontai, and a number of dark young men who now stand at the head of the various Government departments and devise schemes for the imposition of unalloyed Socialism on Russia."
Yakov Sverdlov was the first to mount the platform. He then read a statement that demanded that all state power be vested in the Soviets, therefore destroying the very meaning of the Constituent Assembly. He added: "all attempts on the part of any person or institution to assume any of the functions of government will be regarded as a counter-revolutionary act... every such attempt will be suppressed by all means at the command of the Soviet Government, included the use of armed force."
This statement was ignored and the members of the Constituent Assembly demanded the election of a President. Victor Chernov, leader of the Socialist Revolutionaries, was proposed for the post. The Bolsheviks decided not to nominate their own candidate and instead endorsed Maria Spiridonova, the candidate of the Left Social-Revolutionaries. Spiridonova, since returning to Petrograd from Sibera in June, had become an important figure in the revolution as she believed that fighting a war with Germany meant postponing key reforms.
Chernov won the vote of 244 against 151. In his opening address, Chernov expressed hope that the Constituent Assembly meant the start of stable and democratic government. He welcomed the Bolshevik land reforms and was pleased that the "soil would become the common property of all peasants who were willing and able to till it." However, he broke with the Bolsheviks over foreign policy when he stated that his government would strive for a general peace without victors or vanquished but would not sign a separate peace with Germany.
Irakli Tsereteli the leader of the Mensheviks, rose to speak but was confronted with soldiers and sailors pointing rifles and pistols at his head. "The chairman's appeals for order brought more hooting, catcalls, obscene oaths, and fierce howls. Tsereteli finally managed, nevertheless, to capture general attention with his eloquent plea for civil liberty and the warning of civil war... Lenin did not speak. He sat on the stairs leading to the platform, smiled derisively, jested, wrote something on a slip of paper, then stretched himself out on a bench and pretended to fall asleep."
When the Assembly refused to support the programme of the new Soviet Government, the Bolsheviks walked out in protest. The following day, Lenin announced that the Constituent Assembly had been dissolved. "In all Parliaments there are two elements: exploiters and exploited; the former always manage to maintain class privileges by manoeuvres and compromise. Therefore the Constituent Assembly represents a stage of class coalition.
In the next stage of political consciousness the exploited class realises that only a class institution and not general national institutions can break the power of the exploiters. The Soviet, therefore, represents a higher form of political development than the Constituent Assembly."
Soon afterwards all opposition political groups, including the Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and the Constitutional Democratic Party, were banned in Russia. Maxim Gorky, a world famous Russian writer and active revolutionary, pointed out: "For a hundred years the best people of Russia lived with the hope of a Constituent Assembly. In this struggle for this idea thousands of the intelligentsia perished and tens of thousands of workers and peasants... The unarmed revolutionary democracy of Petersburg - workers, officials - were peacefully demonstrating in favour of the Constituent Assembly. Pravda lies when it writes that the demonstration was organized by the bourgeoisie and by the bankers.... Pravda knows that the workers of the Obukhavo, Patronnyi and other factories were taking part in the demonstrations. And these workers were fired upon. And Pravda may lie as much as it wants, but it cannot hide the shameful facts."
On this day in 1917 James Jesus Angleton was born in Boise, Idaho. His father, Hugh Angleton, was a former cavalry officer who met his wife, a seventeen-year-old Mexican woman, Carmen Mercedes Moreno, while serving in Mexico, under General John J. Pershing.
Angleton entered Yale University in 1937: "Angleton had already developed a distinctive personal style. He spoke with a slight English accent (probably not an affection after three years in the country), and was tall, athletic, bright, and handsome... By conventional standards he was a poor student, frequently missing class, excelling only in those subjects that interested him, and occasionally failing those that didn't." A fellow student, Reed Whittemore, later commented: "All through Yale, Jim was backward at completing school papers... It may be that he was just lazy - or maybe he had a psychological problem. He had the class record for incompletes, but he could invariably whitewash over these missing grades because he had a favorable presence with the teachers, who for the most part liked him a lot."
In the autumn of 1941 Angleton moved on to Harvard Law School. Soon afterwards he met Cicely Harriet d’Autremont: "There was nothing in the room except a large reproduction of El Greco's View of Toledo. It showed a huge unearthly green sky. Jim was standing underneath the picture. If anything went together, it was him and the picture. I fell madly in love at first sight. I'd never met anyone like him in my life. He was so charismatic. It was as if the lightning in the picture had suddenly struck me. He had an El Greco face. It was extraordinary." They became engaged in April 1943, a few weeks after Angleton had been drafted into the United States Army. Hugh Angleton, disapproved of the relationship but the wedding took place quietly three months later on 17th July, in Battle Creek, Michigan.
James Hugh Angleton became a senior figure in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and was on the staff of Colonel William Donovan. It had been created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt soon after the outbreak of the Second World War. The OSS replaced the former American intelligence system, Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCI) that was considered to be ineffective. The OSS had responsibility for collecting and analyzing information about countries at war with the United States. It also helped to organize guerrilla fighting, sabotage and espionage.
During his training James Jesus Angleton met Richard Helms, the former national advertising manager of the Indianapolis Times, who had joined the OSS in August 1943. In his autobiography, A Look Over My Shoulder (2003) he commented: "As a young man, Jim was bone thin, gaunt, and aggressively intellectual in aspect. His not entirely coincidental resemblance to T. S. Eliot was intensified by a European wardrobe, studious manner, heavy glasses, and lifelong interest in poetry."
On 28th December, 1943, James Jesus Angleton, arrived in London to work for the Italian section of X-2 C.I. Soon after arriving in England he met Kim Philby, who was head of MI6's Iberian section. It was the start of a long friendship: "Once I met Philby, the world of intelligence that had once interested me consumed me. He had taken on the Nazis and Fascists head-on and penetrated their operations in Spain and Germany. His sophistication and experience appealed to us... Kim taught me a great deal." Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988), has pointed out: "Philby was one of Angleton's instructors, his prime tutor in counter-intelligence; Angleton came to look upon him as an elder-brother figure."
Angleton impressed his senior officers and within six months he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and was appointed as chief of the Italian Desk for the European Theater of Operations. A colleague, John Raymond Baine, later remembered him as a well-respected officer: "His voice and manner were always on the quiet side. He never laughed loudly or acted in a boisterous way. Both his talk and his laughter were always soft. He was captivating, and had the ability to dominate a conversation without ever lifting his voice."
In October 1944 Angleton was transferred to Rome as commanding officer of Special Counter-Intelligence Unit Z. In March 1945, he was promoted to first lieutenant and became head of X-2 for the whole of Italy. At the age of twenty-seven, he was the youngest X-2 Branch chief in all of OSS. According to Charles J.V. Murphy: "His (Angleton) unit uncovered some of the secret correspondence between Hitler and Mussolini that was later introduced into the Nuremberg trials as proof of their conspiracy."
In June 1948 Angleton started his career with the recently established Central Intelligence Agency. Angleton's first post was as a senior advisor to Frank Wisner, the director of the Office of Special Operations (OSO). The OSO had responsibility for espionage and counter-espionage. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world". Angleton's job was to oversee special studies involving all countries where the CIA was operating. He later explained that his experiences in Europe meant that he was "sharply aware of the Soviet long-term objectives in subversion."
In January 1949 James Jesus Angleton had to travel to Europe on CIA business. He obviously believed that the mission was dangerous as he made out a three-page "Last Will and Testament". His biographer, Tom Mangold, has argued that it provides "a rare insight into the private man". Angleton left most of his "real and personal property" to his wife. He bequeathed his precious fishing tackle to his young son, James Charles Angleton, "in order that he might have some small inclination to follow this sport - whether it will in fact be a satisfaction to him is material since no two humans need to seek the same retreat." Angleton also left small mementos to Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Raymond Rocca and Norman Holmes Pearson.
In 1949 Angleton's old friend, Kim Philby, became MI6's representative in Washington, as the top British Secret Service officer working in liaison with the CIA and FBI. He also handled secret communications between the British prime minister, Clement Attlee and President Harry S. Truman. According to Ray Cline, it had been left to the Americans to select their preferred candidate and it was James Jesus Angleton who was the main person advocating appointing Philby. Philby wrote in My Secret War (1968): "At one stroke, it would take me right back into the middle of intelligence policy making and it would give me a close-up view of the American intelligence organisations."
Philby's home in Nebraska Avenue became a gathering place for Washington's intelligence elite. This included James Jesus Angleton, Walter Bedell Smith (Director of the CIA), Allen Dulles (Deputy Director of the CIA), Frank Wisner (head of the Office of Policy Coordination), William K. Harvey (CIA counter-intelligence) and Robert Lamphere (FBI Soviet Section). Philby made a point of dropping in on the offices of American intelligence officers in the late afternoon, knowing that his hosts would sooner or later "suggest drifting out to a friendly bar for a further round of shop talk." As one CIA officer pointed out: "Intelligence officers talk trade among themselves all the time... Philby was privy to a hell of a lot beyond what he should have known."
Philby was especially close to Angleton. Philby later explained they had lunch at Harvey's Restaurant every week: "We formed the habit of lunching once a week at Harvey's where he demonstrated regularly that overwork was not his only vice. He was one of the thinnest men I have ever met, and one of the biggest eaters. Lucky Jim! After a year of keeping up with Angleton, I took the advice of an elderly lady friend and went on a diet, dropping from thirteen stone to about eleven in three months. Our close association was, I am sure, inspired by genuine friendliness on both sides. But we both had ulterior motives. Angleton wanted to place the burden of exchanges between CIA and SIS on the CIA office in London - which was about ten times as big as mine. By doing so, he could exert the maximum pressure on SIS's headquarters while minimizing SIS intrusions into his own. As an exercise in nationalism, that was fair enough. By cultivating me to the full, he could better keep me under wraps. For my part, I was more than content to string him along. The greater the trust between us overtly, the less he would suspect covert action. Who gained most from this complex game I cannot say. But I had one big advantage. I knew what he was doing for CIA and he knew what I was doing for SIS. But the real nature of my interest was something he did not know.
In 1950 Guy Burgess was appointed the first secretary at the British embassy in Washington. Kim Philby suggested to Aileen Philby that Burgess should live in the basement of their house. Nicholas Elliott explained that Aileen was completely opposed to the idea. "Knowing the trouble that would inevitably ensue - and remembering Burgess's drunken and homosexual orgies when he had stayed with them in Instanbul - Aileen resisted this move, but bowed in the end (and as usual) to Philby's wishes... The inevitable drunken scenes and disorder ensued and tested the marriage to its limits."
Meredith Gardner and his code-breaking team at Arlington Hall discovered that a Soviet spy with the codename of Homer was found on a number of messages from the KGB station at the Soviet consulate-general in New York City to Moscow Centre. The cryptanalysts discovered that the spy had been in Washington since 1944. The FBI concluded that it could be one of 6,000 people. At first they concentrated their efforts on non-diplomatic employees of the embassy. In April 1951, the Venona decoders found the vital clue in one of the messages. Homer had had regular contacts with his Soviet control in New York, using his pregnant wife as an excuse. This information enabled them to identify the spy as Donald Maclean, the first secretary at the Washington embassy during the Second World War.
Kim Philby was told of the breakthrough. Philby took the news calmly as there was no real evidence, as yet, to connect him directly with Maclean, and the two men had not met for several years. MI5 decided not to arrest Maclean straight away. The Venona material was too secret to be used in court and so it was decided to keep Maclean under surveillance in the hope of gathering further evidence, for example, catching him in direct contact with his Soviet controller. Philby relayed the news to Moscow and demanded that Maclean be extracted from the UK before he was interrogated and compromised the entire British spy network.
Philby made the decision to use Guy Burgess to warn Maclean that he must flee to Moscow. The two men dined in a Chinese restaurant in downtown Washington, selected because it had individual booths with piped music, to prevent any eavesdroppers. Burgess said he would return to London in order to receive details of the escape plan. Before he left Philby made Burgess promise he would not flee with Maclean to Moscow: "Don't go with him when he goes. If you do, that'll be the end of me. Swear that you won't." Philby was aware that if Burgess went with Maclean, he would be suspected as a member of the network.
Burgess arrived back in England on 7th May 1951, and immediately contacted Anthony Blunt, who got a message to Yuri Modin, the Soviet controller of the Philby network. Blunt told Modin: "There's serious trouble, Guy Burgess has just arrived back in London. Homer's about to be arrested... It's only a question of days now, maybe hours... Donald's now in such a state that I'm convinced he'll break down the moment they arrest him."
After receiving instructions from his superiors, Modin arranged for Maclean to escape to the Soviet Union. Modin was informed that Maclean would be arrested on 28th May. The plan was for Maclean to be interviewed by the Foreign Secretary, Herbert Morrison. "It has been assumed that Morrison held a meeting and that someone present at that meeting tipped off Burgess." Another possibility is that a senior figure in MI5 was a Soviet spy, and he told Modin of the plan to arrest Maclean. This is the view of Peter Wright who suspects it was Roger Hollis who provided Modin with the information.
On 25th May 1951, Burgess appeared at the Maclean's home in Tatsfield with a rented car, packed bags and two round-trip tickets booked in false names for the Falaise, a pleasure boat leaving that night for St Malo in France. Modin had insisted that Burgess must accompany Maclean. He later explained: "The Centre had concluded that we had not one, but two burnt-out agents on our hands on our hands. Burgess had lost most of his former value to us... Even if he retained his job, he could never again feed intelligence to the KGB as he had done before. He was finished."
Maclean and Burgess took a train to Paris, and then another train to Berne in Switzerland. They then picked up fake passports in false names from the Soviet embassy. They then took another train to Zurich, where they boarded a plan bound for Stockholm, with a stop-over in Prague. They left the airport and now safely behind the Iron Curtain, they were taken by car to Moscow. On his arrival in the Soviet Union Maclean issued a statement: "I am haunted and burdened by what I know of official secrets, especially by the content of high-level Anglo-American conversations. The British Government, whom I have served, have betrayed the realm to Americans ... I wish to enable my beloved country to escape from the snare which faithless politicians have set ... I have decided that I can discharge my duty to my country only through prompt disclosure of this material to Stalin."
When Donald Maclean defected in 1951 Philby became the chief suspect as the man who had tipped him off that he was being investigated. The main evidence against him was his friendship with Guy Burgess, who had gone with Maclean to Moscow. Philby was recalled to London. CIA chief, Walter Bedell Smith ordered any officers with knowledge of Philby and Burgess to submit reports on the men. William K. Harvey replied that after studying all the evidence he was convinced that "Philby was a Soviet spy".
James Jesus Angleton reacted in a completely different way. In Angleton's estimation, Philby was no traitor, but an honest and brilliant man who had been cruelly duped by Burgess. According to Tom Mangold, "Angleton... remained convinced that his British friend would be cleared of suspicion" and warned Bedell Smith that if the CIA started making unsubstantiated charges of treachery against a senior MI6 officer this would seriously damage Anglo-American relations, since Philby was "held in high esteem" in London.
In early 1951 James Jesus Angleton was appointed head of the CIA's newly created Special Operations Group. In this post Angleton served as the CIA's exclusive liaison with Israeli intelligence. "One might have expected his unit to be part of the agency's Middle East Division. But it stayed under Angleton's tight, zealous command for the next twenty years - to the utter fury of the division's separate Arab desks. Angleton's ties with the Israelis gave him considerable prestige within the CIA and later added significantly to his expanding counter-intelligence empire."
Allen Dulles, the new director of the CIA, commissioned Lieutenant General James Doolittle to report on the organization's CIA 's covert intelligence-collecting capabilities. Doolittle concluded that the CIA was losing the spy wars with the KGB. Doolittle advised "the intensification of the CIA's counter-intelligence efforts to prevent or detect and eliminate penetrations of CIA". (50) In December, 1954, Dulles' response to the report was to appoint Angleton to become first chief of the CIA's newly created Counter-Intelligence Staff.
Another CIA senior officer, Tom Braden, recalls that Angleton often reported privately to Dulles: "Jim came in and out of Dulles's office a lot. He always came alone and had this aura of secrecy about him, something that made him stand out-even among other secretive CIA officers. In those days, there was a general CIA camaraderie, but Jim made himself exempt from this. He was a loner who worked alone." Braden claims that Dulles gave Angleton permission to secretly bug important Washington dinner parties. "One time, Jim secretly bugged the house of the wife of a very senior Treasury Department official, who entertained important foreign guests and diplomatic corps people. Dulles got a big kick from reading Jim's report. Dulles was told about the bugging, but had no objection."
In December 1961, Anatoli Golitsyn, a member of staff at the Soviet embassy in Helsinki, Finland, walked into the American embassy and asked for political asylum. (55) Golitsyn was immediately flown to the United States and lodged in a safe house called Ashford Farm near Washington. CIA officers found him as being "unpleasant and egotistical". They also commented that as a major in the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, he was "almost too fortunate and too high up to have a reason to defect". Golitsyn demanded that he be interviewed by James Jesus Angleton. He insisted that no one else in the CIA was smart enough or knew enough to question him. Attorney General Robert Kennedy went to see Golitsyn and was told that the CIA was deliberately keeping him away from Angleton. He promised to take up the case with President John F. Kennedy.
As a result of President Kennedy's intervention, Golitsyn was interviewed by Angleton. A fellow officer, Edward Perry, later recalled: "With the single exception of Golitsyn, Angleton was inclined to assume that any defector or operational asset in place was controlled by the KGB." Angleton and his staff began debriefing Golitsyn. He told Angleton: "Your CIA has been the subject of continuous penetration... A contact agent who served in Germany was the major recruiter. His code name was SASHA. He served in Berlin... He was responsible for many agents being taken by the KGB." In these interviews Golitsyn argued that as the KGB would be so concerned about his defection, they would attempt to convince the CIA that the information he was giving them would be completely unreliable. He predicted that the KGB would send false defectors with information that contradicted what he was saying.
James Jesus Angleton later told a Senate Committee: "Golitsyn possesses an unusual gift for the analytical. His mind without question is one of the finest of an analytical bent... and he is a trained historian by background. It is most difficult to dispute with him an historical date or event, whether it pertains to the Mamelukes or Byzantine or whatever it may be. He is a true scholar. Therefore, he is very precise in terms of what he states to be fact, and he separates the fact from speculation although he indulges in many avenues and so on."
Peter Wright, the author of Spycatcher (1987) has argued that Angleton believed Golitsyn: "A string of senior CIA officers, most notably Dave Murphy, the head of the Soviet Division, unfairly fell under suspicion, their careers ruined. In the end, the situation became so bad, with so many different officers under suspicion as a result of Golitsyn's leads, that the CIA decided the only way of purging the doubt was to disband the Soviet Division, and start again with a completely new complement of officers. It was obviously a way out of the maze, but it could never justify the damage to the morale in the Agency as a whole."
On 23rd January, 1963, Kim Philby fled to Moscow. Nicholas Elliott later claimed that he and MI6 were surprised by the defection. "It just didn't dawn on us." Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) argues: "This defies belief. Burgess and Maclean had both defected... Philby knew he now faced sustained interrogation, over a long period, at the hands of Peter Lunn, a man he found unsympathetic. Elliott had made it quite clear that if he failed to cooperate fully, the immunity deal was off and the confession he had already signed would be used against him... There is another, very different way to read Elliott's actions. The prospect of prosecuting Philby in Britain was anathema to the intelligence services; another trial, so soon after the Blake fiasco, would be politically damaging and profoundly embarrassing."
Desmond Bristow, MI6's head of station in Spain, agreed with this analysis: "Philby was allowed to escape. Perhaps he was even encouraged. To have him brought back to England and convicted as a traitor would have been even more embarrassing; and when they convicted him, could they really have hanged him?" Yuri Modin, who was the man the KGB selected to talk to Philby before he defected, also believes this was the case: "To my mind the whole business was politically engineered. The British government had nothing to gain by prosecuting Philby. A major trial, to the inevitable accompaniment of spectacular revelation and scandal, would have shaken the British establishment to its foundations."
James Jesus Angleton, who had been loyal defender for many years was extremely embarrassed. Philby and Angleton had thirty-six meetings at CIA headquarters between 1949 and 1951. Every one of the discussions that they had were typed up by Angleton's secretary Gloria Loomis. This was also true of the weekly meeting they had at Harvey's Restaurant in Washington. Angleton was so ashamed about all the CIA secrets he had given to Philby he destroyed all these documents. Angleton told Peter Wright: "I had them burned. It was all very embarrassing." He added that if he were a chap who murdered people he would kill Philby.
Leonard McCoy, a senior officer in the CIA, later told Tom Mangold: "My guess is that he must have inadvertently leaked a lot to Philby. During those long boozy lunches and dinners. Philby must have picked him clean on CIA gossip, internal power struggles, and more importantly, personality assessments... At that time, the CIA had active operations going in Albania, the Baltic, the Ukraine, and from Turkey into southern Russia. We had agents parachuting in, floating in, walking in, boating in. Virtually all of these operations were complete failures. After the war, we had also planted a whole stay-behind network of agents in eastern Europe. They were all rolled up. It's difficult to draw conclusions why they all failed, but Philby must have played his part."
CIA agent, Miles Copeland, was aware of these regular meetings. He later commented: "What Philby provided was feedback about the CIA's reactions. They (the KGB) could accurately determine whether or not reports fed to the CIA were believed or not... what it comes to, is that when you look at the whole period from 1944 to 1951, the entire Western intelligence effort, which was pretty big, was what you might call minus advantage. We'd have been better off doing nothing."
It is believed that the defection of Kim Philby was partly responsible for his paranoia. Dr. Jerrold Post, a psychologist who knew Angleton later commented: "There's little doubt it would have contributed to his paranoia. He must have wondered if he could ever trust anyone again. Psychologically, it would have been a major event. If you give or invest your friendship to a person and he betrays that investment as cynically as Philby betrayed Angleton's, then future trust has gone." Another top CIA psychologist, Dr. John Gittinger, claimed: "It absolutely shattered Angleton's life in terms of his ability to be objective about other people. It's like being devoted to your wife and finding her in bed with another man. There's nothing worse than a disillusioned idealist."
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963, Richard Helms was given the responsibility of investigating Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. Helms initially appointed John M. Whitten to undertake the agency's in-house investigation. After talking to Winston Scott, the CIA station chief in Mexico City, Whitten discovered that Oswald had been photographed at the Cuban consulate in early October, 1963. Scott had not reported this matter to Whitten, his boss, at the time. Nor had Scott told Whitten that Oswald had also visited the Soviet Embassy in Mexico. In fact, Whitten had not been informed of the existence of Oswald, even though there was a 201 pre-assassination file on him that had been maintained by the Counterintelligence/Special Investigative Group.
Whitten and his staff of 30 officers, were sent a large amount of information from the FBI. According to Gerald D. McKnight "the FBI deluged his branch with thousands of reports containing bits and fragments of witness testimony that required laborious and time-consuming name checks." Whitten later described most of this FBI material as "weirdo stuff". As a result of this initial investigation, Whitten told Helms that he believed that Oswald had acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
On 6th December, Nicholas Katzenbach invited Whitten and Birch O'Neal, Angleton's trusted deputy and senior Special Investigative Group (SIG) officer to read Commission Document 1 (CD1), the report that the FBI had written on Lee Harvey Oswald. Whitten now realized that the FBI had been withholding important information on Oswald from him. He also discovered that Richard Helms had not been providing him all of the agency's available files on Oswald. This included Oswald's political activities in the months preceding the assassination.
John M. Whitten had a meeting where he argued that Oswald's pro-Castro political activities needed closer examination, especially his attempt to shoot the right-wing General Edwin Walker, his relationship with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, and his public support for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. "None of this had been passed to us." Whitten added that has he had been denied this information, his initial conclusions on the assassination were "completely irrelevant."
Helms responded by taking Whitten off the case. James Jesus Angleton was now put in charge of the investigation. According to Gerald McKnight, the author of Breach of Trust (2005), Angleton "wrested the CIA's in-house investigation away from John Whitten because he either was convinced or pretended to believe that the purpose of Oswald's trip to Mexico City had been to meet with his KGB handlers to finalize plans to assassinate Kennedy." As McKnight explains: "Angleton, like his professional counterpart, Hoover, dropped the Cuban angle in the assassination and turned the investigation over to Counterintelligence's Soviet Division to determine whether the KGB had influenced Oswald in any way."
Over the next few months James Jesus Angleton worked with William Sullivan of the FBI in providing information to the Warren Commission. During this period Angleton continued to interview Anatoli Golitsyn. Golitsyn argued that the KGB sought a virtual takeover of Western intelligence services and had turned several CIA agents. Angleton was convinced by this story and as Tom Mangold, the author of Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's Master Spy Hunter (1991) has pointed out: "With these revelations, a minor and undistinguished KGB officer, working in tandem with the CIA's chief of Counterintelligence was now able to throw the CIA and much of Western intelligence into a decade of deep confusion and doubt. The acceptance of Golitsyn's logic led to the betrayal and dismissal of some of the CIA's finest officers and agents."
In January 1964 Yuri Nosenko, deputy chief of the Seventh Department of the KGB, who had been providing information since 1961, contacted the CIA and said he wanted to defect to the United States. He claimed that he had been recalled to Moscow to be interrogated. Nosenko feared that the KGB had discovered he was a double-agent and once back in the Soviet Union would be executed. He claimed that he had been put in charge of the KGB investigation into Lee Harvey Oswald. He denied the Oswald had any connection with KGB. After interviewing Oswald it was decided that he was not intelligent enough to work as a KGB agent. They were also concerned that he was "too mentally unstable" to be of any use to them. Nosenko added that the KGB had never questioned Oswald about information he had acquired while a member of the U.S. Marines. This surprised the CIA as Oswald had worked as a Aviation Electronics Operator at the Atsugi Air Base in Japan.
J. Edgar Hoover welcomed the information from Nosenko: "Nosenko's assurances that Yekaterina Furtseva herself had stopped the KGB from recruiting Oswald gave Hoover the evidence he needed to clear the Soviets of complicity in the Kennedy murder - and, even more from Hoover's point of view, clear the FBI of gross negligence. Hoover took this raw, unverified, and untested intelligence and leaked it to members of the Warren Commission and to President Johnson." Hoover leaked this information to the Warren Commission. This pleased its members as it helped to confirm the idea that Oswald had acted alone and was not part of a Soviet conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy.
Despite the fact that the Warren Commission received information from Hoover about Yuri Nosenko his name is not mentioned in the final report. Although the commission favoured Hoover’s interpretation that he was a genuine defector, it was decided that it was better not to include the information. This was decided after Nosenko’s CIA case-officer, Tennant Bagley, spoke to commission members on 24th July, 1964: “Nosenko is a KGB plant and may be publicly exposed as such some time after the appearance of the Commission’s report. Once Nosenko is exposed as a KGB plant, there will arise the danger that his information will be mirror-read by the press and public, leading to conclusions that the USSR did direct the assassination.”
According to Mark Riebling: “That was enough to settle the question. The commission had been founded for no other reason to avert rumors which might cost ‘forty million lives’, and later that afternoon decided it would be ‘undesirable to include any Nosenko information’ information’ in its report. The defector’s FBI debriefings would remain classified in commission files.” Richard Helms points out that Hoover was not happy with this decision: “When the Warren people sided with us, it cut across Mr. Hoover’s assertion that the Russians had had nothing to do with the assassination.”
Some researchers have claimed that Angleton was involved in covering up CIA's involvement in the assassination of Kennedy. H. R. Haldeman, President Nixon's chief of staff, claimed in his book, The Ends of Power: "After Kennedy was killed, the CIA launched a fantastic cover-up. The CIA literally erased any connection between Kennedy's assassination and the CIA... in fact, Counter intelligence Chief James Angleton of the CIA called Bill Sullivan of the FBI and rehearsed the questions and answers they would give to the Warren Commission investigators."
Timothy Leary has claimed that a few days after John F. Kennedy had been killed he received a disturbing phone call from Mary Pinchot Meyer. He wrote in his autobiography, Flashbacks (1983): Ever since the Kennedy assassination I had been expecting a call from Mary. It came around December 1. I could hardly understand her. She was either drunk or drugged or overwhelmed with grief. Or all three." Meyer told Leary: "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. They've covered everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm afraid."
On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the towpath. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman."
Mary appeared to be killed by a professional hitman. The first bullet was fired at the back of the head. She did not die straight away. A second shot was fired into the heart. The evidence suggests that in both cases, the gun was virtually touching Mary’s body when it was fired. As the FBI expert testified, the “dark haloes on the skin around both entry wounds suggested they had been fired at close-range, possibly point-blank”.
Ben Bradlee points out that the first he heard of the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer was when he received a phone-call from Wistar Janney, his friend who worked for the CIA: "My friend Wistar Janney called to ask if I had been listening to the radio. It was just after lunch, and of course I had not. Next he asked if I knew where Mary was, and of course I didn't. Someone had been murdered on the towpath, he said, and from the radio description it sounded like Mary. I raced home. Tony was coping by worrying about children, hers and Mary's, and about her mother, who was seventy-one years old, living alone in New York. We asked Anne Chamberlin, Mary's college roommate, to go to New York and bring Ruth to us. When Ann was well on her way, I was delegated to break the news to Ruth on the telephone. I can't remember that conversation. I was so scared for her, for my family, and for what was happening to our world. Next, the police told us, someone would have to identify Mary's body in the morgue, and since Mary and her husband, Cord Meyer, were separated, I drew that straw too."
Peter Janney, the author of Mary's Mosaic (2012) has questioned this account of events provided by Bradlee. "How could Bradlee's CIA friend have known 'just after lunch' that the murdered woman was Mary Meyer when the victim's identity was still unknown to police? Did the caller wonder if the woman was Mary, or did he know it, and if so, how? This distinction is critical, and it goes to the heart of the mystery surrounding Mary Meyer's murder."
That night Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee received a telephone call from Mary's best friend, Anne Truitt, an artist living in Tokyo. She told her that it "was a matter of some urgency that she found Mary's diary before the police got to it and her private life became a matter of public record". Mary had apparently told Anne that "if anything ever happened to me" you must take possession of my "private diary". Ben Bradlee explains in The Good Life (1995): "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."
James Jesus Angleton later claimed that he had also received a telephone call from Anne Truitt. His wife, Cicely Angleton, confirmed this in an interview given to Nina Burleigh. However, an article by Ron Rosenbaum and Phillip Nobile, in the New Times on 9th July, 1976, gives a different version of events with the Angleton's arriving at Mary's house that evening to attend a poetry reading and that at this stage they did not know she was dead.
Joseph Trento, the author of Secret History of the CIA (2001), has pointed out: "Cicely Angleton called her husband at work to ask him to check on a radio report she had heard that a woman had been shot to death along the old Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Walking along that towpath, which ran near her home, was Mary Meyer's favorite exercise, and Cicely, knowing her routine, was worried. James Angleton dismissed his wife's worry, pointing out that there was no reason to suppose the dead woman was Mary - many people walked along the towpath. When the Angletons arrived at Mary Meyer's house that evening, she was not home. A phone call to her answering service proved that Cicely's anxiety had not been misplaced: Their friend had been murdered that afternoon."
James Jesus Angleton became convinced that Anatoli Golitsyn was the most important Soviet defector. Angleton's colleague, E. Henry Knoche, claimed: "Angleton had a special view of the world. You almost have to be 100 per cent paranoid to do the job. You always have to fear the worst. You always have to assume, without necessarily having the proof in your hands, that your own organization has been penetrated and there's a mole around somewhere. And it creates this terrible distrustful attitude."
He believed the story that Hugh Gaitskell had been murdered in January 1963 to allow Harold Wilson, a KGB agent, to become leader of the Labour Party. Angleton believed Golitsyn but few senior members of the CIA agreed with him. They pointed out that Gaitskell had died after Golitsyn had left the Soviet Union and would have had to know in advance what was about to take place.
However, James Jesus Angleton remained convinced and according to David Leigh, the author of The Wilson Plot (1988) argues that Angleton developed a "fanatical belief that Wilson was under Soviet control". (103) Angleton passed this information onto Peter Wright and Arthur Martin of MI5. Wright admitted in his biography that he had been suspicious of Gaitskell's death at the time: "I knew him personally and admired him greatly... After he died his doctor got in touch with MI5 and asked to see somebody from the Service. Arthur Martin, as the head of Russian Counter-espionage, went to see him. The doctor explained that he was disturbed by the manner of Gaitskell's death. He said that Gaitskell had died of a disease called lupus disseminata, which attacks the body's organs. He said that it was rare in temperate climates and that there was no evidence that Gaitskell had been anywhere recently where he could have contracted the disease."
In 1968 Wright joined forces with Cecil King, the newspaper publisher, in a plot to bring down the government of Harold Wilson and replace it with a coalition led by Lord Mountbatten. According to Ken Livingstone: "Matters began to hot up when the press baron Cecil King, a long-standing MI5 agent, began to discuss the need for a coup against the Wilson Government. King informed Peter Wright that the Daily Mirror would publish any damaging anti-Wilson leaks that MI5 wanted aired, and at a meeting with Lord Mountbatten and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Solly Zuckerman, he urged Mountbatten to become the leader of a Government of national salvation." (105) Solly Zuckerman got up and before he left said: "This is rank treachery. All this talk of machine guns at street corners is appalling." Zuckerman told Mountbatten not to have anything to do with the conspiracy and as a result it ended in failure.
On the day in 1941 Winston Churchill decides on women and war work. On 9th September, 1938, the government decided to establish the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. During the Second World War women served as office, mess and telephone orderlies, drivers, postal workers, butchers, bakers, and ammunition inspectors.
The British government also introduced conscription in 1938. All men aged between 18 and 41 had to register with the government. Government officials then decided whether they should go into the army or do other war work. Most young men were recruited into the armed forces. This created a severe labour shortage and on 18th December 1941, the National Service Act was passed by Parliament. This legislation called up unmarried women aged between twenty and thirty. Later this was extended to married women, although pregnant women and mothers with young children were exempt from this work.
One vital need was for women to work in munitions factories. Other women were conscripted to work in tank and aircraft factories, civil defence, nursing, transport and other key occupations. This involved jobs such as driving trains and operating anti-aircraft guns, that had been traditionally seen as 'men's work'.
Women could choose to join one of the auxiliary services - Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) or the Women's Transport Service (FANY). Women in the ATS served as volunteers with the British Army until given full military status in July 1941.
On 9th December, 1941 Winston Churchill wrote to his Secretary of State for War agreeing that women should be allowed to man anti-aircraft guns: "I fear there is a complex against women being connected with lethal work. We must get rid of this. Also there is an idea prevalent among the ladies managing the A.T.S. that nothing must conflict with loyalty to the A.T.S. And that battery esprit de corps is counter to their interest or theme."
Women also joined the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS) to help in supplying a wide variety of emergency services at home. Another option was to become a member of the Women's Land Army and help on British farms. By 1943 around 90 per cent of single women and 80 per cent of married women were involved in war work.
Provision was made for women to object to the National Service Act on moral grounds. Of the 6000 people to go on the conscientious objectors register, around 2000 were women. About 500 women were prosecuted for a range of offences, and more than 200 of them were imprisoned.
On the day in 1941 Winston Churchill makes decision about sweet rationing. "I gather that it was admitted in the Lord President's Committee that a sweets ration would lend itself to irregularities more easily than our other rations. Anything which diminishes respect for the rationing regulations is objectionable. If we create artificial illegalities that are neither enforceable nor condemned by public opinion the habit of evasion may spread to cases where it would be injurious."
Before the Second World War started Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from other countries. Understandably, the German government did what they could to disrupt this trade. One of the main methods used by the Germans was to get their battleships and submarines to hunt down and sink British merchant vessels. With imports of food declining, the British government decided to introduce a system of rationing. This involved every householder registering with their local shops. The shopkeeper was then provided with enough food for his or her registered customers.
In January, 1940, bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. This was followed by meat, fish, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. Rationing was popular with the people and a Gallup Poll showed over 60 per cent in favour of this system.
However, many small shopkeepers complained about the strategy used by food inspectors of employing people to encourage the breaking of the law. In December 1940, Isabella Tompsett was employed in Stepney to visit butchers' shops and attempt to buy meat without coupons. As a result three butchers in one road were heavily fined for this offence. These undercover officials acting as agents provacateurs, were severely criticised in the press.
Food inspectors in Hendon were also criticised for using a team of women who tried to trick shop assistants into selling goods without coupons. The scheme involved the customer handing over her ration book and asking for two ounces of tea. When the shop assistant had almost finished serving her, the customer changed her mind and asked for four ounces. If the shop assistant forgot to take out a second two ounce coupon, they would be charged with breaking rationing restrictions. In a short period 59 Hendon shopkeepers were successfully prosecuted for this offence.
It was announced that in March 1941, under the Food Control Order, the system of rationing, 2,141 prosecutions were brought and there were 1,994 convictions, a success rate of 93.1 per cent. The following month this had increased to 2,300 prosecutions and 2,199 convictions (95.6 per cent). The General Secretary of the National Association of Outfitters complained that small traders had become the "most persecuted class in the whole of the country".
In the summer of 1940 the government established a committee of nutritional experts to advise the War Cabinet on food policy. The committee issued a report claiming that each citizen could survive on twelve ounces of bread, a pound of potatoes, two ounces of oatmeal, an ounce of fat, six ounces of vegetables and six-tenths of a pint of milk per day, supplemented either by small amounts of cheese, pulses, meat, fish, sugar, eggs and dried fruit. Winston Churchill was concerned by the implications of this proposal and the advice was not published.
Some people considered food rationing to be very unfair. Eggs, butter and meat could be obtained fairly easily without coupons in rural areas. By the summer of 1941 greengrocers were taking their lorries into the country to buy vegetables direct from growers.
The open-air markets at Romford soon developed a reputation for being a good place to buy black market goods. Traders relied on tic-tac men to signal the approach of the police or known trading inspectors. Local newspapers published stories of market-traders doing a great trade in selling goods without coupons. Another strategy at Romford was for traders to sell new clothes labelled as "second-hand" or "shop-soiled". For example, a secondhand suit could be sold without coupons providing the price was not more than £2 12s.
By using undercover inspectors the government gradually got Romford market under control. However, the situation deteriorated when over 100,000 ration books were stolen from the Ministry of Food offices in Romford. Valued at being worth over £500,000, these were quickly sold to people wishing to buy goods legally from the market.
The Food Control Officer in Brighton discovered that 80,000 ration books had been stolen from the Royal Pavilion (Brighton Food Office). An undercover policeman eventually agreed to buy the missing ration books. When the gang was arrested it was discovered the ring-leader was the Woman Enforcement Officer at the Brighton office who had reported the theft. She was later sent to prison for three years.
In August 1940 the government passed legislation that made the waste of food a prisonable offence. One of the first to be prosecuted was J. Lyons Ltd who was fined for allowing mice to eat food in its kitchens.
It was also an offence for restaurants to serve fish and meat at a single sitting. When the Odean Theatre in Streatham was found guilty of this offence, the manageress and two of her waitresses were fined for "aiding and abetting the serving of both meat and fish to an assistant enforcement officer".
The government announced in September 1939, that petrol was rationed. Initially small allowance of petrol was allowed for private motorist but this was brought to an end in the summer of 1942 after the Japanese Army occupied Malaya and the success of the U-boat attacks on the Atlantic convoys.
Ivor Novello, the songwriter, was sent to prison for eight-weeks after he had fraudulently obtained petrol for his Rolls-Royce car. His friend, the actor and playwright, Noel Coward, was convicted for currency racketeering. Another high profile conviction concerned Major-General Sir Percy Laurie, the Provost Marshal of Great Britain. He was found guilty of illegally obtaining a second ration book.
Other goods such as cigarettes and alcohol were never officially rationed, but were often in short supply. Some shopkeepers kept their limited stocks for their favourite customers. This created a great deal of bad feeling and it was not uncommon for shopkeepers to be reported to the Ministry of Food.
Children were treated differently from adults and were entitled to extra foods considered essential for growth, such as milk and orange juice. The National Milk Scheme provided one pint of milk for every child under five. Expectant mothers and young children were entitled to free milk if the combined income of parents was less than 40 shillings a week.
The food rationing system gave people the opportunity to obtain a balanced diet and as a result the health of the nation improved during this period.
People were encouraged to provide their own food. The government's Dig for Victory campaign called for every man and woman to keep an allotment. Lawns and flower-beds were turned into vegetable gardens. Chickens, rabbits, goats and pigs were reared in town gardens.
Clothing was rationed from June, 1941. A points system allowed people to buy one completely new outfit a year. To save fabric, men's trousers were made without turnups, while women's skirts were short and straight. Frills on women's underwear were banned.
Women's magazines were packed with handy hints on how, for example, old curtains might be cut up to make a dress. Stockings were in short supply so girls coloured their legs with gravy browning. Sometimes a friend would draw a line down the back of their legs with an eyebrow pencil for a seam.
In May 1943, the annual clothing coupon allowance was cut from 48 to 36 per adult. Later this number of coupons was cut to 20. When one considers that a coat needed 18 coupons this reduction caused serious problems for people.