Palmer Raids: House of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer

Category: Labor Struggles/History

Used in the following map:

DC Labor Map

In 1919, 2123 R Street NW was home to the Attorney General of the United States Alexander Mitchell Palmer and his family. On June 2, the house was bombed by Italian anarchist Carlo Valdonoci, who was influenced by the writ-ings of Luigi Galleani. Sacco and Vanzetti were also known to be ‘Galleanists’ and were influenced by this same school of thought. The bomb exploded prem-aturely and Attorney General Palmer and his family were uninjured in the blast. The explosion shattered the front of the house and blew out windows in the surrounding neighborhood, including those in the home of then Asst. Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived across the street. Valdonoci was killed in the premature explosion.
On the same day, bombs went off in several other American cities, in what would comprise and become collectively known as the 1919 United States an-archist bombings, that fed the red scare of 1919–1920. In April of the same year, a mail bomb had been intercepted and defused before it reached Mr. Palmer. Later in 1919 Palmer would go on to lead the Palmer Raids against radical leftists in the country which resulted in the arrest of 10,000 people, 3,500 of whom were held by authorities in detention; in total 556 immigrants were eventually deported under the Immigration Act of 1918, including famous an-archists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.
There were 7 other bombs delivered on the same day as this one. They all were delivered with several copies of a pink flyer, titled “Plain Words,” that 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.”
- Fhar Miess