Roads to Moscow
To A growing number of American Left-Wingers events in Russia seemed closer than anything happening at home. Yet Russia was almost impossibly far away. The war and then the blockade made travel difficult and dangerous. Communications were cut down to a trickle. Anyone who could get to Russia and back in the first months of the Bolshevik revolution was assured of a sympathetic audience hungry for news from Russia--tales of suffering and heroism, glimpses of the new social order, an interview with Lenin himself.
The trek to Russia began very early in the course of the Russian Revolution, but it was mainly made by those who never expected to come back. In the middle of 1917, the State Secretary of the Socialist party of Massachusetts called attention to a novel problem. He complained about the loss of at least 500 members by the summer of that year. The reason he gave was unprecedented: they were returning to Russia. 1 In a hundred years, close to three and a half million Russian immigrants had poured into the United States, sometimes as many as a quarter of a million in a single year. Comparatively few chose to go back after 1917, but even a few thousand such cases signified a new Russian force in the world.
The Russian magnet also attracted a small group of Americans who had a professional reason for making the trip. They were forerunners of a new type in American journalism--foreign correspond