|Wall Street bombing|
The aftermath of the explosion
(Federal Hall National Memorial is at the right)
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Date||September 16, 1920 |
12:02 pm (local time)
| Horse-drawn wagon bomb |
Animal-borne bomb attack
|Injured||143 serious, several hundred total|
|Motive||Possible revenge for the arrests of Sacco and Vanzetti and/or the deportation of Luigi Galleani|
The Wall Street bombing occurred at 12:01 pm on Thursday, September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. The blast killed thirty people immediately, and another ten died later of wounds sustained in the blast. There were 143 seriously injured, and the total number of injured was in the hundreds. :160–61
The bombing was never solved, although investigators and historians believe it was carried out by Galleanists (Italian anarchists), a group responsible for a series of bombings the previous year. The attack was related to postwar social unrest, labor struggles, and anti-capitalist agitation in the United States.
The Wall Street bomb killed more people than the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times, which was the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil up to that point.The death toll was exceeded in the Tulsa race massacre in 1921.
At noon, a horse-drawn wagon passed by lunchtime crowds on Wall Street and stopped across the street from the headquarters of the J.P. Morgan bank at 23 Wall Street, on the Financial District's busiest corner. Inside the wagon, 100 pounds (45 kg) of dynamite with 500 pounds (230 kg) of heavy, cast-iron sash weights exploded in a timer-set detonation, :77 sending the weights tearing through the air. The horse and wagon were blasted into small fragments, but the driver was believed to have left the vehicle and escaped.[ citation needed ]
The 40 fatalities were mostly young people who worked as messengers, stenographers, clerks, and brokers. Many of the wounded suffered severe injuries. 329–30 The bomb caused more than US$2 million ($25.5 million today) in property damage and destroyed most of the interior spaces of the Morgan building.:
Within one minute of the explosion, William H. Remick, president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), suspended trading in order to prevent a panic.Outside, rescuers worked feverishly to transport the wounded to the hospital. James Saul, a 17-year-old messenger, commandeered a parked car and transported 30 injured people to an area hospital. Police officers rushed to the scene, performed first aid, and appropriated all nearby automobiles as emergency transport vehicles.
The Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation (BOI, the forerunner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI) did not immediately conclude that the bomb was an act of terrorism. Investigators were puzzled by the number of innocent people killed and the lack of a specific target, other than buildings that suffered relatively superficial, non-structural damage. Exploring the possibility of an accident, police contacted businesses that sold and transported explosives. pm, the board of governors of the NYSE had met and decided to open for business the next day. Crews cleaned up the area overnight to allow for normal business operations, but in doing so they destroyed physical evidence that might have helped police investigators solve the crime. :160–61 The Sons of the American Revolution had previously scheduled a patriotic rally for the day after (September 17) to celebrate Constitution Day at exactly the same intersection. On September 17, thousands of people attended the rally in defiance of the previous day's attack. :166–68By 3:30
The New York assistant district attorney noted that the timing, location, and method of delivery all pointed to Wall Street and J.P. Morgan as the targets of the bomb, suggesting in turn that it was planted by radical opponents of capitalism, such as Bolsheviks, anarchists, communists, or militant socialists. 150–51 Investigators soon focused on radical groups opposed to U.S. financial and governmental institutions and known to use bombs as a means of violent reprisal. Often throughout the Gilded Age was radical ideology and violence used as a form of protest by groups to initiate change. When simple protests were not enough, these extremists would resort to ruthless measures to be heard. Although the violence proved to be detrimental to their overall cause, many historians saw that this was a clear point of radical behavior aimed at facilitating transformation throughout the classes. They observed that the Wall Street bomb was packed with heavy sash weights designed to act as shrapnel, then detonated on the street in order to increase casualties among financial workers and institutions during the busy lunch hour.:
Officials eventually blamed anarchists and communists for the Wall Street bombing. The Washington Post called the attack an "act of war". 272–82 The New York City Police Department (NYPD) also pushed to form a "special, or secret, police" to monitor "radical elements" in the city.The bombing stimulated renewed efforts by police and federal investigators to track the activities and movements of foreign radicals. Public demands to track down the perpetrators led to an expanded role for the BOI, including the bureau's General Intelligence Division headed by J. Edgar Hoover. :
On September 17, the BOI released the contents of flyers found in a post office box in the Wall Street area just before the explosion. Printed in red ink on white paper, they said: "Remember, we will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners, or it will be sure death for all of you." At the bottom was: "American Anarchist Fighters". 171–75 The BOI quickly decided that the flyer eliminated the possibility of an accidental explosion. William J. Flynn, director of the BOI, suggested the flyers were similar to those found at the June 1919 anarchist bombings. :171–75:
The BOI investigation stalled when none of the victims turned out to be the driver of the wagon. Though the horse was newly shod, investigators could not locate the stable responsible for the work. 171–75 When the blacksmith was located in October, he could offer the police little information. :225–26 Investigators questioned tennis champion Edwin Fischer, who had sent warning postcards to friends, telling them to leave the area before September 16. He told police he had received the information "through the air". They found Fischer made a regular habit of issuing such warnings, and had him committed to Amityville Asylum, where he was diagnosed as insane but harmless. Meanwhile, Robert W. Wood helped to reconstruct the bomb mechanism. [ page needed ]:
The BOI and local police investigated the case for over three years without success. Occasional arrests garnered headlines but each time they failed to support indictments. 217–19, 249–53 Most of the initial investigation focused on anarchists and communists, such as the Galleanist group, whom authorities believed were involved in the 1919 bombings. :207–08 During President Warren G. Harding's administration, officials evaluated the Soviets and the Communist Party USA as possible masterminds of the bombing. :261–90, 295–308 In 1944, the FBI, successor to the BOI, investigated again. It concluded that its agents had explored many radical groups, "such as the Union of Russian Workers, the I.W.W., Communist, etc. ... and from the result of the investigations to date it would appear that none of the aforementioned organizations had any hand in the matter and that the explosion was the work of either Italian anarchists or Italian terrorists." :325:
One Galleanist in particular, Italian anarchist Mario Buda (1884–1963), an associate of Sacco and Vanzetti and the owner of a car which led to the arrest of the latter for a separate robbery and murder, is alleged by some historians, including Paul Avrich, to be the man most likely to have planted the bomb. Avrich and other historians theorize that Buda acted in revenge for the arrest and indictment of Sacco and Vanzetti. 15 These included the Milwaukee Police Department bombing, which was a large black powder bomb that killed nine policemen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the time of the bombing, but he was neither arrested nor questioned by police.Buda's involvement as the Wall Street bombmaker was confirmed by statements made by his nephew Frank Maffi and fellow anarchist Charles Poggi, who interviewed Buda in Savignano, Italy, in 1955. Buda (at that time known by the alias of Mike Boda) had eluded authorities at the time of the Sacco and Vanzetti arrests, was experienced in the use of dynamite and other explosives, was known to use sash weights as shrapnel in his time bombs, and is believed to have constructed several of the largest package bombs for the Galleanists. :
After leaving New York, Buda resumed the use of his real name in order to secure a passport from the Italian vice-consul, then promptly sailed for Naples.By November, he was back in his native Italy, never to return to the United States. Galleanists still in the U.S. continued the bombing and assassination campaign for another 12 years, culminating in a 1932 bomb attack targeting Webster Thayer, the presiding judge in the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. Thayer, who survived the ensuing blast that destroyed his house and injured his wife and housekeeper, moved his residence to his club for the last year and a half of his life, where he was guarded 24 hours a day.
The bombing has inspired several books, notably The Day Wall Street Exploded, by Beverly Gage, The Death Instinct, by Jed Rubenfeld, [ citation needed ]and Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (2007) by Mike Davis.
The bombing is the subject of the PBS series American Experience episode "The Bombing of Wall Street", broadcast in February 2018.
The bombing was in the closing scene of the 2012 film No God, No Master .[ citation needed ]
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 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 alleged 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, with 3,000 arrested. Though 556 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.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian immigrant anarchists who were erroneously 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.
Paul Avrich (1931–2006) was a historian of the 19th and early 20th century anarchist movement in Russia and the United States. He taught at Queens College, City University of New York, for his entire career, from 1961 to his retirement as distinguished professor of history in 1999. He wrote ten books, mostly about anarchism, including topics such as the 1886 Haymarket Riot, 1921 Sacco and Vanzetti case, 1921 Kronstadt naval base rebellion, and an oral history of the movement. As an ally of the movement's major figures, he sought to challenge the portrayal of anarchists as amoral and violent, and collected papers from these figures that he donated as a 20,000-item collection to the Library of Congress.
The First Red Scare was a period during the early 20th-century history of the United States marked by a widespread fear of far-left extremism, including but not limited to Bolshevism and anarchism, due to real and imagined events; real events included the October 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.
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 40 people.
The Preparedness Day Bombing was a bombing in San Francisco, California on July 22, 1916, of a parade organised by local supporters of the Preparedness Movement which advocated American 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, New York, United States. Members of the Lettish section of the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) were constructing a bomb in a seven-story tenement when the group's large supply of dynamite exploded prematurely. 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, as well as injuring dozens more.
Webster Thayer was a judge of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, USA, best known as the trial judge in the Sacco and Vanzetti case.
The 1919 United States anarchist bombings were a series of bombings and attempted bombings carried out by followers of the Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani from April through June 1919.
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 1920 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.
Andrea Salsedo was an Italian anarchist whose death caused controversy as it was caused by a fall from the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation (BOI) offices on 15 Park Row in New York City. Depending on the source, his death was either a suicide or a homicide; nevertheless, the case was widely debated both for its unclear nature and for its consequences on the Bureau and was one of the premises of the Sacco and Vanzetti case.
Anarchist Portraits is a 1988 history book by Paul Avrich about the lives and personalities of multiple prominent and inconspicuous anarchists.
Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background is a 1991 history book by Paul Avrich about Sacco and Vanzetti with a special emphasis on anarchist sources.
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 taken 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.
Galleanists, followers of anarchist Luigi Galleani, were primary suspects in a campaign of bombings between 1914 and 1920 in the United States.
In September 1917, an incident between police and anarchists in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, precipitated a larger campaign of Galleanist attacks across the United States. In response to a rally held by a reverend near their clubhouse, the Galleanist anarchists of the Ferrer Circle rushed the stage and tore down the American flag. The police fired on them, killing two, and two detectives were injured in the crossfire. A retaliatory bomb intended for the reverend was relocated to the police headquarters, where its explosion killed nine detectives and a bystander. No one was convicted for this bombing. The November trial of Bay View anarchists for the earlier shooting incident was influenced by sentiment related to the bombing. The jury returned a quick guilty verdict despite what historian Paul Avrich described as insubstantial evidence. The verdict was overturned on appeal and most of the anarchists were released and deported. Until the September 11 attacks, according to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, the police station explosion was the worst recorded American police tragedy.