Alexander Mitchell was an American politician and the 50th U.S. Attorney General under the 28th President of the United States of America Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Under Mitchell’s leadership Palmer Raids were conducted. A. Mitchell Palmer and his raids were a response to the Red Scares.


The revolution in Russia had a huge impact on the whole world and the United States was no exception. The communist anarchist in the US started to act aggressively by planting bombs in key locations. Among those targeted by the bombs, was US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. The first assassination attempt was almost imperceptible for him, but during the second bomb, he seriously damaged the facade of the house of the Attorney General, injured his wife and children.

The terrorist attacks made a strong impression on Mitchell Palmer, and he begins to prepare retaliatory measures, in addition, these terrorist acts contribute to further inflate the “red threat” in the media.

Palmer selects the Bureau of Investigation as the main body for the fight against radicals. This organization appeared in 1908 on the orders of Attorney General Charles Bonaparte and, according to its creator, was to become a powerful federal police force, which would allow the Ministry of Justice to get its own investigative body of a supra-regional level.

Using Congressional support and public opinion, Palmer launched an attack on dissenters and radical unions. Palmer and his 24-year-old assistant, Edgar Hoover, launched a series of raids against prominent radicals and leftists using the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Rebellion Act. Victor Berger was sentenced to 20 years in prison for inciting rebellion.

The radical anarchist Luigi Galleani and eight of his associates were deported in June 1919, three weeks after a series of bombings. The authorities did not have serious evidence against Galleani, but he was familiar with one of the anarchists who died in the explosion, and also was the author of a self-instruction manual on the assembly of improvised explosive devices.

Edgar Hoover created a new unit in the Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice – the General Intelligence Division.

By October 1919, the Hoover department had collected files on almost 150 thousand people. Using this data, on November 7, 1919, Palmer carried out a series of surprise attacks on the offices of trade unions and communist and socialist organizations, for the conduct of which warrants for searches and arrests were not received.

During these actions, special attention was paid to persons of foreign origin, for whom there was information about their sympathy with the revolutionary or anarchist moods. In December 1919, A. Mitchell Palmer’s agents arrested 249 people, including prominent radical anarchist activists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, put them on a ship and sent to Soviet Russia. In January 1920, nearly 6 thousand people were arrested, mostly members of the Industrial Workers of the World Alliance.

In another raid, more than 4,000 people were arrested in just one night. All foreigners from among the detainees were deported in accordance with the Law on Anarchism. By January 1920, Palmer and Hoover had organized the largest mass arrests in US history, with at least 10,000 victims.

However, public opinion favored Palmer’s actions because he was too intimidated by the threat of communism. In 1920, Palmer predicted that a communist revolution would begin in the country on May 1, but he was mistaken.