Between contested elections and global crises, seemingly every political issue today is seen as a “threat to our democracy.” But despite the general consensus on the desirability of democracy in the West, this system of the people and by the people has not been without its detractors. A century ago, the Russian-born anarchist, Emma Goldman (1869-1940), was the embodiment of a threat to American democracy. Her motto was “Death to Tyranny! Vive l’Anarchie!” As an anarchist, Goldman was against all forms of political authority, and for this she drew the ire not only of the American government, but of her native Russia as well.
In his annual report for 1906, A. C. Nelson, Utah’s state superintendent of public instruction, proclaimed that the Beehive State’s schools must teach patriotism. “It is in our public schools that our national unity is to be conserved,” Nelson explained. Although Utah had achieved statehood a decade earlier, many outsiders viewed it with suspicion due to the outsized social and political influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which, to the horror of many Protestant moralists, had sanctioned plural marriage until 1890. To assuage these concerns, educators in Utah made a point to emphasize what Nelson described as “American ideas” in the classroom.