Coming to PBS’s American Experience and to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, February 13:

Susan Bellows

American Experience (February 2018)

An exploration of a still unsolved terrorist plot that targeted Wall Street in 1920.

At lunchtime on September 16, 1920, in front of Wall Street’s JP Morgan bank headquarters, a horse-drawn carriage laden with explosives claimed the lives of 38 and injured more than a hundred others in the area. While the act of terror remained unsolved, authorities believed it to be the work of anti-capitalist forces, including anarchists and communists, and renewed efforts to target those viewed as radicals, notably immigrant workers and labor organizers. Leading the charge against this early war on terror and nascent red scare was the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation, whose Radical Division (later known as the General Intelligence Division) was under the command of ambitious young attorney J Edgar Hoover. Bellows works backwards from the bombing to trace its origins in an America that had begun to be defined by great economic and political divisions and unrest, resulting in government crackdowns and abuses of power, and further radicalization of those who would question the status quo. Like the better entries of the venerable PBS series, this project simultaneously offers insight into history while underscoring all-too-timely similarities to the present day.

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