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This Day In History: The First Palmer Raids Were Conducted

November 07, 2016

This day in history, November 7, 1919, the first Palmer Raids were conducted by the United States Department of Justice in an effort to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States.

The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer.

Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer’s efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor who had responsibility for deportations and who objected to Palmer’s methods.

The Palmer Raids occurred in the larger context of the Red Scare, the term given to fear of and reaction against political radicals in the U.S. in the years immediately following World War I.

In all, over 10,000 suspected communists and and anarchists were arrested in 23 different cities.