|1919 United States anarchist bombings|
June 4, 1919, New-York Tribune coverage of the United States anarchist bombings
|Date||April through June 1919|
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The 1919 United States anarchist bombings were a series of bombings and attempted bombings carried out by the Italian anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani from April through June 1919.
Galleanists, followers of anarchist Luigi Galleani, were primary suspects in a campaign of bombings between 1914 and 1920 in the United States.
Luigi Galleani was an Italian anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of "propaganda of the deed", i.e. the use of violence to eliminate those he viewed as tyrants and oppressors and to act as a catalyst to the overthrow of existing government institutions. From 1914 to 1932, Galleani's followers in the United States, carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and persons they viewed as class enemies. After Galleani was deported from the United States to Italy in June 1919, his colleagues are alleged to have carried out the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people.
These bombings led to the Red Scare of 1919–1920.
In late April 1919, at least 36 booby trap dynamite-filled bombs were mailed to a cross-section of prominent politicians and appointees, including the Attorney General as well as justice officials, newspaper editors and businessmen, including John D. Rockefeller.Among all the bombs addressed to high-level officials, one bomb was addressed to the home of a Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation (BOI) field agent once tasked with investigating the Galleanists, Rayme Weston Finch, who in 1918 had arrested two prominent Galleanists while leading a police raid on the offices of their publication Cronaca Sovversiva.
The United States Attorney General (A.G.) is the chief lawyer of the Federal Government of the United States, head of the United States Department of Justice per 28 U.S.C. § 503, and oversees all governmental legal affairs.
John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American oil industry business magnate, industrialist, and philanthropist. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history.
The mail bombs were wrapped in brown paper with similar address and advertising labels.Inside, wrapped in bright green paper and stamped "Gimbel Brothers-Novelty Samples", was a cardboard box containing a six-inch by three-inch block of hollowed wood about one inch in thickness, packed with a stick of dynamite. A small vial of sulfuric acid was fastened to the wood block, along with three fulminate-of-mercury blasting caps. Opening one end of the box (the end marked "open") released a coil spring that caused the acid to drip from its vial onto the blasting caps; the acid ate through the caps, igniting them and detonating the dynamite.
Dynamite is an explosive made of nitroglycerin, sorbents and stabilizers. It was invented by the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in Geesthacht, and patented in 1867. It rapidly gained wide-scale use as a more powerful alternative to black powder.
Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid), also known as vitriol, is a mineral acid composed of the elements sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen, with molecular formula H2SO4. It is a colorless, odorless, and syrupy liquid that is soluble in water and is synthesized in reactions that are highly exothermic.
Mercury(II) fulminate, or Hg(CNO)2, is a primary explosive. It is highly sensitive to friction, heat and shock and is mainly used as a trigger for other explosives in percussion caps and blasting caps. Mercury(II) cyanate, though its empirical formula is identical, has a different atomic arrangement; the cyanate and fulminate anions are isomers.
The Galleanists intended their bombs to be delivered on May Day. Since 1890 and the Second International, May 1 had been celebrated as the international day of communist, anarchist and socialist revolutionary solidarity. Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson, who had recently attained national prominence for opposing a general strike in Seattle, received one of the mailed package bombs, but it was opened by William Langer, a member of his office staff. Langer opened the wrong end of the box and the bottle of acid dropped onto a table without detonation.He took the bomb to the local police, who notified the Post Office and other police agencies. On April 29, Georgia Senator Thomas W. Hardwick, who had co-sponsored the anti-radical Immigration Act of 1918, received a similarly disguised bomb. It blew off the hands of his housekeeper when she attempted to open the package. The senator's wife was also injured in the blast which severely burned her face and neck and a piece of shrapnel cut her lip and loosened several of her teeth.
International Workers' Day, also known as Workers' Day, Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement which occurs every year on May Day, an ancient European spring festival.
The Second International (1889–1916), was an organisation of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on 14 July 1889. At the Paris meeting, delegations from twenty countries participated. The International continued the work of the dissolved First International, though excluding the still-powerful anarcho-syndicalist movement and unions and by 1922 2 April at a major post-World War I conference it began to reorganise into the Labor and Socialist International.
The Mayor of Seattle is the head of the executive branch of the city government of Seattle, Washington. The mayor is authorized by the city charter to enforce laws enacted by the Seattle City Council, as well as direct subordinate officers in city departments. The mayor serves a four-year term, without term limits, and is chosen in citywide, two-round elections between nonpartisan candidates.
News reports of the Hardwick bomb described its distinctive packaging and an alert post office employee in New York connected this to 16 similar packages which he had set aside a few days earlier for insufficient postage. Another 12 bombs were eventually recovered before reaching their intended targets.The addressees were the following:
Theodore Gilmore Bilbo was an American politician who twice served as governor of Mississippi and later was elected a U.S. Senator (1935–47). A filibusterer whose name was synonymous with white supremacy, like many Southern Democrats of his era, Bilbo believed that black people were inferior; he defended segregation, and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County, along with Raymond, Mississippi. The city of Jackson also includes around 3,000 acres comprising Jackson-Medgar Evers International Airport in Rankin County and a small portion of Madison County. The city's population was estimated to be 165,072 in 2017, a decline from 173,514 in 2010. The city sits on the Pearl River and is located in the greater Jackson Prairie region of Mississippi.
Albert Sidney Burleson was a conservative Democrat and United States Postmaster General and Representative. He is known for gaining cabinet support for instituting racial segregation in the US Post Office, which President Woodrow Wilson applied to other federal agencies.
On the evening of June 2, 1919, 25 pounds (11 kg) of dynamite and all were wrapped or packaged with heavy metal slugs designed to act as shrapnel. Addressees included government officials who had endorsed anti-sedition laws and deportation of immigrants suspected of crimes or associated with illegal movements as well as judges who had sentenced anarchists to prison. The targets were:the Galleanists managed to detonate nine large bombs nearly simultaneously in eight cities. These bombs were much larger than those sent in April, using up to
Palmer was already the recipient of a mail bomb in April, were attacked in the new wave of violence.None of the targeted men were killed, but one bomb took the life of New York City night watchman William Boehner and the bomb intended for Attorney General Palmer's home prematurely exploded and killed Carlo Valdinoci, who was a former editor of the Galleanist publication Cronaca Sovversiva and close associate of Galleani. Though not seriously injured, Palmer and his family were shaken by the blast and the house itself was largely demolished. Two near-casualties of the same bomb were Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor, then living across the street from Palmer. They had passed the house just minutes before the explosion and their residence was close enough that one of the bomber's body parts landed on their doorstep.
Each of the bombs was delivered with several copies of a pink flyer, titled "Plain Words", that read as such:
War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge; there will have to be murder: we will kill, because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.
The flyer was later traced to a printing shop operated by two anarchists,namely typesetter Andrea Salsedo and compositor Roberto Elia, who were both Galleanists according to the later memoirs of other members. Salsedo committed suicide and Elia refused an offer to cancel deportation proceedings if he would testify about his role in the Galleanist organization. Unable to secure enough evidence for criminal trials, authorities continued to use the Anarchist Exclusion Act and related statutes to deport known Galleanists.
Fueled by labor unrest and the anarchist bombings and then spurred on by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's attempt to suppress radical and non-radical labor organizations, the response to the bombings was characterized by exaggerated rhetoric, illegal search and seizures, unwarranted arrests and detentions and the deportation of several hundred suspected radicals and anarchists. Palmer, twice targeted by anarchist bombs, organized the nationwide series of police actions known as the Palmer raids in November 1919 and January 1920. Under suspicion of violating the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act and/or the Immigration Act of 1918,approximately 10,000 people were arrested, of whom 3,500 were held in detention. Of those held in detention, 556 resident aliens were eventually deported.
The bombings were dramatized in the 2012 film No God, No Master.The bombing of the home of Palmer was also dramatized in the 2011 film J. Edgar .
The Palmer Raids were a series of raids conducted in November 1919 and January 1920 during the First Red Scare by the United States Department of Justice under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson to capture and arrest suspected radical leftists, mostly Italian and Eastern European immigrants and especially anarchists and communists, and deport them from the United States. The raids particularly targeted Italian immigrants and Eastern European Jewish immigrants with suspected radical leftist ties, with particular focus on Italian anarchists and immigrant leftist labor activists. The raids and arrests occurred under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer's efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, which had authority for deportations and objected to Palmer's methods.
A "Red Scare" is promotion of widespread fear by a society or state about a potential rise of communism or anarchism. The term is most often used to refer to two periods in the history of the United States with this name. The First Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War I, revolved around a perceived threat from the American labor movement, anarchist revolution and political radicalism. The Second Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War II, was preoccupied with the perception of national or foreign communists infiltrating or subverting U.S. society or the federal government.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian-born American anarchists who were controversially convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the April 15, 1920 armed robbery of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts, United States. Seven years later, they were electrocuted in the electric chair at Charlestown State Prison. Both men adhered to an anarchist movement.
Propaganda of the deed is specific political action meant to be exemplary to others and serve as a catalyst for revolution.
Alexander Berkman was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, famous for both his political activism and his writing.
The Wall Street bombing occurred at 12:01 pm on September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. The blast killed 30 people immediately, and another eight died later of wounds sustained in the blast. There were 143 seriously injured, and the total number of injured was in the hundreds.
The First Red Scare was a period during the early 20th-century history of the United States marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism, due to real and imagined events; real events included the Russian Revolution and anarchist bombings. At its height in 1919–1920, concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and the alleged spread of communism and anarchism in the American labor movement fueled a general sense of concern.
Thomas William Hardwick was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia.
The Preparedness Day Bombing was a bombing in San Francisco, California on July 22, 1916, when the city held a parade in honor of Preparedness Day, in anticipation of the United States' imminent entry into World War I. During the parade a suitcase bomb was detonated, killing ten and wounding 40 in the worst attack in San Francisco's history.
The Lexington Avenue explosion was the July 4, 1914, explosion of a terrorist bomb in an apartment at 1626 Lexington Avenue in New York City. The blast killed four people and injured dozens. A large quantity of dynamite, which was apparently being used to construct a bomb to blow up John D. Rockefeller's Tarrytown home, exploded prematurely at a new seven-story model tenement. The blast destroyed most of the top three floors of the building, killing three conspirators and another renter who was not part of the bomb plot.
Webster Thayer was a judge of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, USA, best known as the trial judge in the Sacco and Vanzetti case.
Mario Buda was an Italian anarchist, active in the United States from 1917 to 1920. He was a Galleanist, and a Propaganda of the deed anarchist. He is best known as the suspected perpetrator of the Wall Street Bombing, which killed 38 people, seriously injured 143, and injured hundreds more.
Louise Berger was a Russian Latvian anarchist, a member of the Anarchist Red Cross, and editor of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth Bulletin in New York. Berger became well known outside anarchist circles in 1914 after a premature bomb explosion at her New York City apartment, which killed four persons and destroyed part of the building.
The Immigration Act of 1903, also called the Anarchist Exclusion Act, was a law of the United States regulating immigration. It codified previous immigration law, and added four inadmissible classes: anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes. It had little impact and its provisions related to anarchists were expanded in the Immigration Act of 1918.
The United States Immigration Act of 1918 was enacted on October 16, 1918. It is also known as the Dillingham-Hardwick Act. It was intended to correct what President Woodrow Wilson's administration considered to be deficiencies in previous laws, in order to enable the government to deport undesirable aliens, specifically anarchists, communists, labor organizers, and similar activists.
The Milwaukee Police Department bombing was a November 24, 1917 bomb attack that killed ten people including nine members of local law enforcement. The perpetrators were never caught but are suspected to be an anarchist terrorist cell operating in the United States in the early 20th century. The target was initially an evangelical church in the third ward and only killed the police members when the bomb was brought to the police station by a concerned member of the public. The bombing remained the most fatal single event in national law enforcement history for over 80 years until the 9-11 attacks.
The Bresci Circle was a group of New York City anarchists remembered for a failed bombing attempt on St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1915, in which two of its members were arrested. The group was named after Gaetano Bresci, a New York anarchist who killed King Umberto I of Italy.
La Salute è in voi! was an early 1900s bomb-making handbook associated with the Galleanisti, followers of anarchist Luigi Galleani. Translated as "Health Is within You!" or "Salvation Is within You!", its anonymous authors believed that committed, amateur revolutionaries would be able to build explosives by following simple directions. It advocated for workers to lose their despair and partake in individual, revolutionary acts. Its contents included a glossary, basic chemistry training, and safety procedures.
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