June 2, 1919
Anarchists send and detonate 8 mail bombs to government officials on 8 US cities
The victims targeted by the mail bombs either supported the deportation of immigrants accused of crimes, or endorsed anti-sedition laws (laws which punished those who used “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States, its flag, or its military). Anarchists disapproved of the latter as it was a breech of the First Amendment right to free speech.
One bomb, which exploded before it could injure or kill its intended target Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, killed the man delivering the bomb. It also almost killed Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. The Roosevelts had been walking past the site of the explosion minutes before, and their house was so close one of the bomber’s body parts landed on their door step.
Each bomb included pink fliers entitled “Plain Words” which read “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 bombings lead to the Red Scare of 1919-1920 in which the US government feared a communist take over. In an attempt to suppress communists and anarchists, the government would perform illegal search and seizures, unwarranted arrests, and deportations of immigrant anarchists.