Homeland Security Network Blog
The information source for first responders.
Early Terrorism Investigation - The Bomb ‘Outrages’ of 1919
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Early Terrorism Investigation
Terror Comes to U.S. Soil - The Bomb ‘Outrages’ of 1919
Late one evening, a series of mysterious figures placed powerful bombs outside nine deliberately chosen residences stretching from Boston to Cleveland.
A carefully coordinated campaign of terror had begun.
The targets included three judges, a state representative, a silk manufacturer, an immigration official, a mayor, Catholic priests, and the U.S. attorney general.
The first two bombs exploded at around 11:15 p.m. on June 2, 1919—a century ago this month. By 1:00 a.m. the next morning, all of the devices had detonated.
The force of the explosions, each fueled by around 20 pounds of dynamite, was massive. Entire neighborhoods were shaken by the blasts. Homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Many windows were completely blown out. Flying glass and debris wounded several people, including a young girl. One night watchman was killed.
In the nation’s capital, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his wife Roberta were lucky to escape. They were upstairs when a huge explosion rocked their home. The bomber was not so fortunate. His device went off too early as he approached the front door, killing him instantly.
The June 2 bombings were hardly the first of their kind.
In late April, bombs had been mailed to around three dozen government and business leaders nationwide, including a Bureau agent. Alert postal workers intercepted many of the packages, but a housekeeper in Georgia had her hands blown off after opening one of the parcels. Similar bombings had also taken place across the country in previous months; one killed 10 police detectives. Although it was thought the various attacks might be related, a widespread conspiracy could not be proven.