In the spring of 1918, Marcus Garvey, a 28-year-old aspiring journalist and self-appointed "race leader," came to the attention of federal authorities as he preached black advancement on a Harlem street corner. That northern section of Manhattan was rapidly becoming black America's cultural center, with inauguration of the "Harlem Renaissance." A Jamaican immigrant who had arrived in New York two years earlier, Garvey preached vigorously to rapt curbside audiences about pride in the black race, economic justice and racial equality. On several occasions, a uniformed New York City police sergeant edged closer to hear Garvey. On spotting him, Garvey immediately would flee. The sergeant reported the activity to an agent of the American Protective League, a private group that tracked suspected radicals and in turn sent a report to the federal government's Bureau of Investigation, forerunner of the FBI. Eventually, reports on Garvey would come to the attention of an eager, young official named J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover later was to become head of the FBI and pursue a notorious career of harrassing civil rights leaders but not until he cut his teeth on the charismatic Jamaican activist. Spurred by Hoover, government agencies pursued Garvey for years, zealously seeking a way to suppress or to deport him. The police sergeant's account that June described "a man by the name of Garvey (colored) who preaches every night against the white people." The report further suggested that "it might be a good idea to run down these Negro speakers ...." Garvey continued his Harlem speeches and toured the country with his message of justice for blacks. Later that year, he started the Negro World, a newspaper that was one of several publications he had launched, the previous ones in Central America and in Jamaica. The Negro World was an organ of Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and hence a tool of his cause. It circulated through much of the Western Hemisphere and eventually to Africa and Europe. The seemingly trivial hide-and-seek bouts with the police were the beginning of the U.S. government's surveillance and investigation of Garvey's movement. Eventually, the government would try to label the paper as seditious, or provoking rebellion against the government, but it never found enough evidence to ban publication. In some Caribbean and Latin American countries, however, the newspaper was banned. Thus did Marcus Garvey, one of the most colorful and controversial leaders of the African American community in the early 20th century, become caught in a web of suspicion spun by the federal government's zeal to eliminate radical elements and spies. He would come to be recognized as leader of the first organized mass movement among American blacks and as a champion of the back-to-Africa movement, urging American blacks to return to their "homeland." Garvey, a businessman and community leader, even started a steamship company, the Black Star Line, not just to ferry blacks across the Atlantic but also to show that they could create big businesses. Black Star would fail, and Garvey would be convicted of mail fraud in connection with it, imprisoned and later deported. But for years, the Negro World survived as the voice of the UNIA despite years of government infiltrators, informants and investigation. And history would record Garvey as one of the great early leaders of the modern movement among black people everywhere for freedom, justice and socioeconomic advancement. What follows is based on numerous scholarly studies of Garvey, particularly an eight-volume series, The Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, by Robert A. Hill, a historian and editor-in-chief of the papers at the University of California at Los Angeles. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in 1887 to a poor family in St. Ann's Bay, a coastal town in Jamaica. At 14, when his parents no longer could afford his schooling, he became a printer's apprentice. A quick learner, Garvey became a master printer at 18. In 1907, he was hired as a foreman at a printing company in Kingston, the capital, and he continued his education by reading extensively, taking advantage of the company's library. But his success as a printer was brief. In 1909, company workers went on strike. Despite his position as a manager, Garvey joined the job action and helped to organize the strikers. In the end, the workers won better wages and conditions, but Garvey was fired. He next found a job in the Jamaican government printing office and, while there, he took his first steps as a journalist, starting a newspaper called Garvey's Watchman. It failed after three issues. He then helped to establish a periodical called Our Own for a Kingston-based political organization. In 1910, he became a timekeeper on a banana plantation in Costa Rica. But he soon became disgusted by the owner's mistreatment of workers and launched yet another newspaper, La Nacionale. This, too, did not last, failing to stir the workers. But Garvey's reputation as a radical journalist grew among landlords, who chafed at his reformist views. Garvey's uncle, eager to get the young activist out of Costa Rica, financed a move to Panama where Garvey started yet another newspaper. Restless and perplexed by the injustice he saw, Garvey left Panama. But further travels in Central and South America only revealed similar prejudices and other adversities for blacks. In 1912, he sailed to England, where his sister, Indiana, was a governess. There, he began orating at the free-for-all Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park. He regularly visited the House of Commons and attended lectures at Birksbeck College. Throughout his stay in London, he was on the brink of poverty because his only income was from work at the Africa Times and Orient Review, a Pan-African journal whose editor Garvey had befriended. While in London, Garvey read Booker T. Washington's autobiography and other works by the American activist and educator. "I read of conditions in America," he wrote. "I read Up From Slavery, and then my doom -- if I may so call it -- of being a race leader dawned upon me." Four decades had passed since slavery was abolished in the United States, yet some whites still considered blacks an inferior race. A bewildered Garvey began to ask unanswerable questions: "Where is the black man's government?" he wrote in an essay. "Where is his king and kingdom? Where is his president, his country and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs?" Not finding answers, he declared, "I will help to make them." Back in Jamaica in 1915, Garvey formalized his cause for advancement of black people. Shortly after his arrival, he established the UNIA and its business arm, the African Communities League. But, disappointed that few people joined UNIA and ridiculed by black Jamaicans, Garvey left for America, where he thought blacks would be more eager to improve their status. He arrived in Harlem in 1916 and found blacks on the brink of major social change. Southern blacks had flocked to northern cities, drawn by the demand for industrial labor and a belief that northerners were more racially tolerant. By 1917, however, northern cities were flooded with blacks whose euphoria and hope were wearing thin. Discontent grew as the migrants realized that, even in the North, Negroes were considered second-class citizens. That summer, 39 blacks and nine whites were killed in a St. Louis riot, and two black soldiers and 17 white men died in disturbances in Houston. From 1917 to 1919, lynchings increased as race riots deluged East St. Louis, Ill.; Houston; Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Under a cloud of discontent, a growing protest movement emerged. It represented a more insistent ideology than that of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, a historian and educator who advocated more patience and tolerance. The time was ripe for Garvey. His street-corner speeches became popular almost instantly, and his following grew. In 1918, he began an American version of the UNIA. Its purpose, Garvey wrote, was "to work for the general uplift of the Negro Peoples of the world." Although Garvey thought of himself as a journalist, each of his attempts at newspaper editing had failed. But the UNIA grew so much, spawning hundreds of chapters worldwide, that he needed a publication in which to expound his views. The Negro World was the result, and it was successful. As the movement spread, the newspaper gained circulation and helped to recruit more followers. The weekly became one of Harlem's most popular black-owned publications. Garvey once explained its purpose: "I started the Negro World to preserve the term Negro' to the race as against the desperate desire of other {black} newspapermen to substitute the term colored for the race... . Nearly all the newspapers of the race had entered into a conspiracy to taboo the term Negro' and popularize the term colored' as the proper race term." According to historian E. David Cronon in Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, one of the most important reasons for Garvey's rapid organization of black people was his creation of the newspaper. Claude McKay, a contemporary and critic of Garvey, called the publication "the best-edited colored weekly in New York." By some estimates, circulation reached 65,000 worldwide. Parts of the 10- to 16-page paper were published in French and Spanish for Central American and West Indian readers, and each edition carried Garvey's front-page editorial. As the newspaper's popularity grew, so did government surveillance. The hide-and-seek episode with the New York police sergeant had marked the beginning of a five-year effort, starting in 1918, to quell Garvey's activities. His flamboyant regalia, which sometimes included military-style uniforms with ostrich-plumed hats, and his charismatic style created excitement in Harlem, from the cigar stores that sold Marcus Garvey cigars to ostentatious parades that moved through Harlem as thousands watched the short, stocky black man sitting in the back seat of a convertible limousine in his regal attire. Some blacks said they saw this spectacle as an affirmation of the race while some whites said they regarded Garvey as a joke. As early as September 1918, Garvey's name appeared on a report to the Bureau of Investigation describing the police department's use of a "confidential employee" to listen to Garvey's speeches. In 1918, the U.S. Postal Censorship Committee office in New Orleans intercepted a parcel containing UNIA material and a letter by Garvey to someone in British Honduras (now Belize). It reported the interception to the War Department's Military Intelligence Division, noting that Garvey made: " ... an appeal to the racial instinct of the Negroes, calculated to incite hatred for the white race by urging them to do like the Irish, the Jews, the East Indians and all other oppressed peoples who are getting together to demand from their oppressors liberty, justice, equality." Meanwhile in New York, the bureau began to concentrate more on Garvey and his nightly meetings with blacks in Harlem. Emmett J. Scott, a black bureau agent posing as a reporter, attended the convention and later interviewed Garvey. As surveillance continued, agents warned Garvey that his writings were stirring unrest, considered a threat to the United States as long as World War I continued and as the communist revolution swept Russia. During and after the war, federal authorities pursued people suspected of sedition, using new laws such as the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. Under the Espionage Act, "every letter, writing, circular, postal card, picture, print, engraving, photograph, newspaper, pamphlet, book containing any matter advocating or urging treason, insurrection or forcible resistance to any laws of the United States is hereby declared nonmailable." Among federal laws at that time were those enforcing segregation. The Sedition Act was even harsher. It forbade a person to "utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the form of government of the United States or Constitution." Maj. Walter H. Loving, a retired Army officer and a member of the Military Intelligence Division, had dispatched black informants to UNIA meetings. Loving concluded that Garvey's speeches could be considered seditious only during the war, which was ending. Like Scott, Loving was a black official assisting U.S. Military Intelligence in extensive surveillance of the black press. World War I had brought considerable discussion and legislation about sedition and espionage. Because of a widespread feeling that Negroes were being "agitated by Bolshevism," as Americans referred to early communism in Russia, sedition laws were used to subdue suspected radical elements in black communities. While the government linked Garvey's radicalism to Bolshevism, his language never was clearly linked to that movement. Some of his associates, however, were supporters of socialist causes. According to a bureau report in 1919, Garvey and the UNIA had supported socialist candidates in elections. The same report, however, noted that Garvey recently had espoused a platform of "pro-Negroism, disclaiming affiliation with any political party." Though many Garveyites were sympathetic to the socialist viewpoint, few were active advocates. One outspoken exception was W.A. Domingo, editor of the Negro World, who was given wide responsibility. Increasingly, he wrote and published articles leaning toward the socialist view. Garvey had declared that he favored no party except the black people of the world. But the socialist ideals published in the Negro World did not go unnoticed. After bitter disagreements with Garvey and criticism from the UNIA executive committee, Domingo resigned from the Negro World in July 1919. He then joined other black socialists in attacking Garvey. As American blacks became emboldened, the black press became increasingly militant. Editors demanded an end to discrimination and regularly spoke out against lynchings and other atrocities. Garvey's movement, the Negro World and other black journalists continued to be a target of the sedition laws. The black press was especially pursued during the so-called "Red Scare" because of belief that Bolshevists were promoting racial unrest among blacks. Government pressure on the black press was to continue beyond World War II. In November 1919, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, the chief federal official behind the "Red Scare," told a Senate committee that "practically all of the radical organizations in this country have looked upon the Negroes as particularly fertile ground for the spreading of their doctrines ... in many respects they have been successful." In Palmer's report, the Negro World was first to be cited. One article that he quoted seemed to advocate violence: "Negroes should prepare. Black men all over the world should prepare to protect themselves. Negroes should match fire with hell fire .... The Negro must now organize all over the world, 400,000,000 strong, to administer our oppressors' Waterloo." As it focused on the Negro World, the bureau became ever more diligent in its quest to suppress Garvey. On Aug. 15, 1919, bureau headquarters in Washington instructed its New York office to forward a summary of the Garvey file and prepare "at the earliest moment, a case for deportation." With increased attention came more bureau undercover agents. One, former Army captain James Wormley Jones, infiltrated the UNIA and rose rapidly through its ranks. Jones's attempts to discredit Garvey included a suggestion to the bureau that he be charged with violating the Mann Act, which outlawed transportation of people across state lines for sexual purposes. Garvey's first marriage had ended in separation, and Jones considered indiscreet his relationship with Amy Jacques, his secretary and traveling companion. In 1922, they were married. In August 1919, the attorney general urged immigration officials to deport Garvey although no government agency had found enough evidence for such an action. A year later, a new bureau informant began providing damaging information. Herbert Simeon Boulin, a Jamaican businessman in Harlem, became friendly with Garvey and made numerous reports referring to alleged anti-white sentiments uttered by Garvey and his men. Once J. Edgar Hoover took up the matter, however, the anti-Garvey drive went into high gear. As soon as Hoover became assistant to the attorney general, at age 24 in 1919, he focused on supposed radicals such as Garvey. During World War I, Hoover was fresh out of George Washington University Law School and had worked zealously as an attorney in the Justice Department's naturalization division, hunting enemy aliens. The Bureau of Investigation, formed in 1908 under the Justice Department, had the lead by early 1917 in "crushing dissent at home." Hoover was appointed the first director of the Justice Department's new General Intelligence Division, created in August 1919. The division became the nerve center for "Red Scare" investigations and started the Bureau of Investigation on its way to becoming the present Federal Bureau of Investigation, which Hoover would lead until his death in 1972. Hoover's duties included monitoring "Negro activities." Two years later, he would be named second in command of the bureau. By then, Attorney General Palmer had become the driving force behind the federal government's quest to direct federal police powers against radicalism. From 1919 to 1921, "government hysteria" or "Palmer's Reign of Terror," as it was sometimes called, reflected the determination of a man deeply opposed to Bolshevik ideals being championed in Russia. In his new position, Hoover focused on Garvey ever more tightly, describing him as "particularly active among the radical elements in New York in agitating the Negro movement. Unfortunately, however, he has not yet violated any federal law." Hoover ended his letter by claiming that Garvey's newspaper "upheld the Soviet Russian rule." Hoover's plan to remove Garvey began to take shape. His investigation switched to searching for possible criminal action rather than seditious behavior. One possibility was mail fraud. Army Col. Chester Harding, governor of the Canal Zone, had sent Hoover a clipping from a Panamanian newspaper raising concern that Garvey's movement would cause unrest among workers building the Panama Canal. The news report announced that the first ship of Garvey's Black Star Line was about to sail. When Garvey started the company in 1919, he financed it by selling stock to blacks around the country. He advertised in the Negro World and in leaflets that read, "Let us guide our own destiny" and "Have you bought your shares in the Black Star Line? If not, please do so today. The SS Frederick Douglass is afloat and has made a successful trip to Central America and the West Indies." Garvey had waged an all-out campaign to raise money for the line, using the Negro World for advertisements and articles about a new ship, the Phillis Wheatley, which he hoped would sail by the end of 1920. But the Black Star Line never was financially healthy. The venture began with only $750,000, and the ships were old and in poor repair. The major problem, however, was Garvey's lack of business experience. The company had bought the vessels at inflated prices, and money raised through stocks in Black Star was diverted to other enterprises, such as a restaurant owned by the UNIA and to the Negro World. Col. Harding told Hoover that Garvey had started Black Star not as a legitimate business but as a money-raising scheme, perhaps a fraudulent one. This was the first suggestion that fraud charges could be used against a man viewed as an agitator. Hoover warmed to the idea and spurred the federal government to action with letters and memos. The Post Office was ordered to examine suspicious articles and editorials in the Negro World for violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 and the Espionage Act of 1917. In July 1919, for example, one government report said Garvey and the Negro World were "working the racket {the Black Star Line} for all it was worth." In January 1921, Garvey went on a stock-selling tour in Central America and the West Indies. The steamship company was in critical financial shape, and Garvey hoped that a promotional tour among Latin American blacks would find new investors. Hoover, seeing a different way to get rid of Garvey, pressured government agencies to prevent his return to the United States, even ordering the American consul in Kingston to "refuse him a {return} visa." Garvey obtained a visa anyway. On arrival in New Orleans, immigration agents took him into custody and then, lacking a legal basis to detain him, released him. Meanwhile, Black Star was encountering infighting and irregularities with funds and was near ruin. Hoover, irritated at Garvey's return, was more intent than ever about deporting him, and his campaign finally gained a legal advantage. A memorandum in October 1921 from George R. Ruch to Hoover outlined information from the undercover agent James Wormley Jones. It said that Garvey's movement was in "financial straits" but that the UNIA was continuing to promote stock in the Black Star Line. A second memo indicated that the Negro World was about to publish a false advertisement "to be used for the purpose of securing further purchases for the Black Star Line stock." Garvey had come under increasing pressure to begin steamship service, but his deteriorating ships were not seaworthy. He negotiated with the UNIA to buy a new ship but lacked funds. Desperately trying to raise money, Garvey's officials continued to sell stock, soliciting by mail. Because Black Star was in financial collapse, Hoover and the bureau deemed the sales fraudulent and moved to indict Garvey. On Jan. 12, 1922, federal agents arrested Garvey, and charged him with mail fraud. He was indicted in February, and trial began in 1923, more than a year after his arrest. The prosecution relied heavily on a mailed envelope in which Benny Dancy, a Harlem resident, allegedly had received a stock leaflet. But no one produced any certificate or document that might have been in the envelope, and Dancy was a poor witness, expressing uncertainty about the envelope's contents and inconsistent in his testimony. Nevertheless, Garvey was convicted, sentenced to five years in prison and fined $1,000. He appealed and remained free, continuing his programs until March 1925, when all legal recourse expired. The Supreme Court had refused to review his case. He was sent to the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. After repeated legal maneuvers and petitions from Garvey's followers, President Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence on Nov. 18, 1927. He was released and, two weeks later, deported to Jamaica. Despite major efforts to revive the UNIA in his homeland, Garvey's movement never regained its former momentum. In 1935, he moved to London, where he died in 1940. Despite his later troubles, Marcus Garvey had achieved much. Through his publications, organizations and entrepreneurial ventures, he captured the imagination of black America. "His success in briefly harnessing the hopes and aspirations of large numbers of American Negroes," Cronon wrote in his biography, led to "a wildly nationalistic program of African redemption .... Largely more than any other single leader he helped to give Negroes everywhere a reborn feeling of collective pride and new awareness." According to Tony Martin, writing in his book Race First, "No one could have organized and built up the largest black mass movement in Afro-American history, in the face of onslaughts from ... the most powerful government in the world. It was, perhaps, only his deportation and conviction that slowed the movement." Garvey is remembered worldwide as the "Black Moses" who tried to lead his people to freedom, who dared to dream about and preach black redemption and black pride. Admirers and scholars of the Garvey phenomenon have tried unsuccessfully to clear his name. In 1987, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat who represents Harlem in Congress, tried to persuade members of Congress to agree "that the mail fraud charges brought against Marcus Garvey were unjust and unwarranted." The resolution died without a vote. TO LEARN MORE: * Read the brief biography, Marcus Garvey, by Mary Lawler, part of the Black Americans of Achievement series. Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. * Read the longer biography, Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association by E. David Cronon. University of Wisconsin Press, 1969. * Read Garvey's writings collected in Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, edited by Amy Jacques Garvey. Atheneum, 1986. * Visit the largest collection of Garvey information on the World Wide Web at UCLA's Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project. It contains hundreds of pages of documentation and commentary. CAPTION: Marcus Garvey and his newspaper, featuring the regular front-page editorial. CAPTION: Garvey, in robe, flanked by UNIA officials and delegates from Liberia and Sierra Leone, review a parade at the UNIA's 1922 world convention. CAPTION: A Black Star Line stock certificate and, below left, the line's office. CAPTION: Amy Jacques Garvey, who married Marcus Garvey in 1922. CAPTION: J. Edgar Hoover in the 1920s. CAPTION: A bewildered Garvey began to ask unanswerable questions. Where is the black man's government?' he wrote in an essay. Where is his king and kingdom? Where is his president, his country and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs?' CAPTION: Garvey wore elaborate regalia in 1920 when hosting an international convention of black organizations. It included a parade with uniformed "African Legions" and "Black Cross" nurses meant to inspire racial pride. CAPTION: The Jamaican 50-cent coin bears Marcus Garvey's likeness. After his death in 1940, Jamaica proclaimed him the country's "First National Hero." To this day, the crusading journalist is much revered in his homeland.