June 2, 1919: Anarchist Bombings



Americans who think that terrorism is a new feature of American history are sadly mistaken.  On  the evening of June 2, 1919 followers of Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, who advocated the violent overthrow of capitalist society, set off bombs simultaneously in eight American cities.  The bombs consisted of sticks of dynamite surrounded by lead slugs to act as shrapnel.  The bombs did a lot of property damage but remarkably only two people were killed:  Carlo Valdinochi, the former editor of an anarchist paper who blew himself up as he blew up the house of Attorney General Palmer in Washington DC, and New York City night watchman William Boehner.

Targets consisted of the homes of politicians and judges with the odd exception of Our Lady of Victory Church in Philadelphia.

Each of the bombs was accompanied by notes which carried a declaration of war:

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

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer responded with the Palmer Raids, an extensive nationwide manhunt with 10,000 arrested and 3500 detained.  Among those detained, 556 aliens were deported.  All the sturm und drang was for naught as the people behind the bombings were never uncovered. Civil libertarians long have decried the Palmer Raids, but the incident fixed in the minds of most Americans a strong antipathy for the use of violence to bring about a domestic revolution.  The anarchists succeeded only in blowing up their own cause with their bombs.


Published in: on June 2, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 2, 1919: Anarchist Bombings  
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