The ongoing coverage of the Boston marathon bombs has reminded me of Luigi Galleani and the anarchists of the late 19th / early 20th century. We don’t know what was behind these bombs, and I’m not going to speculate; but it’s worth remembering that there was a period of time when these sorts of bombings were more of a common problem.
1919 was apparently a very bad year.
In late April 1919, at least 36 booby trap dynamite-filled bombs were mailed to a cross-section of prominent politicians and appointees, including the Attorney General of the United States, as well as justice officials, newspaper editors and businessmen, including John D. Rockefeller. Among all the bombs addressed to high-level officials, one bomb was notably addressed to the home of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (BOI) field agent once tasked with investigating the Galleanists, Rayme Weston Finch, who in 1918 had arrested two prominent Galleanists while leading a police raid on the offices of their publication Cronaca Sovversiva.
These bombings fed into the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare of 1919-1920, persecution of immigrants, and contributed mightily to the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and all of the civil rights abuses he stood for.