#WCW Rosika Schwimmer
Rosika fought for workers rights, equality, and peace but wound up as a woman without a country. Born in Hungary in 1877, at 19 years old she started working as a bookkeeper. By 20, she had organized the National Association of Women Office Workers and served as president until 1912. Also during this time, she was involved with both feminist and pacifist causes which lead her to being stranded in London when WWI broke out. She went to America in 1914 and joined up with American suffrage leaders like Carrie Chapman Catt and Jane Addams. Over the next few years she organized a failed international peace conference backed by Henry Ford and had her Hungarian citizenship stripped from her by the conquering communist government. She fled to America to avoid persecution for both her political beliefs and her Jewish heritage, but was attacked in the U.S.A. by anti-feminist groups who labeled her as German sympathizer, communist spy, and part of a “Jewish conspiracy”.
When she applied for citizenship to American in 1926, her refusal to swear to take up arms to defend America caused her application to be rejected. It’s not that America was banking on a 50-year-old woman taking up weapons, but it was the notion that her pacifist views were in conflict with the oath. She was an outspoken public figure so this was a case used to set an example. She appealed her case all the way to the Supreme Court and still lost thus leaving her living in America with no recognized citizenship from anywhere. However, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holms Jr. made the minority dissenting opinion of the case where he laid the cornerstone for all first amendment cases to follow--that true freedom of speech must include allowing for political dissent.