Luigi Galleani (Italian: [luˈidʒi ɡalleˈani]; August 12, 1861 – November 4, 1931) was an Italian anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919, viewed by historians as an insurrectionary anarchist. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of "propaganda of the deed", i.e. the use of violence to eliminate tyrants and oppressors and to act as a catalyst to the overthrow of existing government institutions. From 1914 to 1932, Galleani's followers in the United States (known as i Galleanisti), carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and persons they viewed as class enemies. After Galleani was deported from the United States to Italy in June 1919, his colleagues are alleged to have carried out the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people.
Early life and career
Luigi Galleani was born in the city of Vercelli, Italy, to a family of modest means. Galleani became an anarchist as an adolescent, while studying law at the University of Turin in northern Italy. Leaving the university before completing his degree, he had already begun a strong advocacy of anarchism and anarchist ideals. Wanted by police in Turin, he fled to France in 1880.
Galleani remained in France for nearly 20 years. He spent some time in Switzerland, where he was allied with the noted geographer and fellow anarchist Élisée Reclus. In addition to assisting him with his masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, Galleani worked with Reclus to organize a demonstration of students at the University of Geneva in 1887. The event was held in honor of the Haymarket martyrs of Chicago, who were killed in labor unrest. For this, he was arrested and later deported from Switzerland. Moving to France, Galleani was deported from that country a few years later.
He returned to Italy, where within a few years he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy, and sentenced to five years in prison. Beginning in 1894, when he was 33 years old, he spent more than five years in prison and internal exile (domicilio coatto), mostly on the island of Pantelleria off the coast of Sicily. On Pantelleria, he met and married Maria, who already had a young son, Salvatore. Luigi and Maria Galleani eventually had four children of their own.
Escaping from Pantelleria in 1900, Galleani fled to Egypt. It had a large Italian expatriate community, and he stayed with fellow anarchists for several months. Notified by the Egyptian authorities that they would soon begin proceedings to extradite him to Italy, Galleani abruptly left Egypt and went to London via ship. He then immigrated to the United States, arriving in 1901.
Life in the United States
Soon after arriving in the United States at the age of 40, Galleani attracted attention in radical anarchist circles as a charismatic orator; he called for violence as necessary to overthrow the capitalists who oppressed the working man. Settling in Paterson, New Jersey, Galleani became the editor of La Questione Sociale, the leading Italian anarchist periodical in the United States at the time. He took undisguised pride in describing himself as a subversive, a revolutionary propagandist dedicated to subverting established government and institutions by disseminating a political philosophy based on direct action, specifically violence. By all accounts, Galleani was an extremely effective speaker and advocate of his policy of revolutionary violence. Carlo Buda, the brother of Galleanist bombmaker Mario Buda, said of him, "You heard Galleani speak, and you were ready to shoot the first policeman you saw".
In 1902, silk workers at a factory in Paterson went on strike and Galleani spoke on their behalf, urging workers to declare a general strike and overthrow U.S. capitalist society. When police opened fire on the strikers, Galleani was wounded in the face. He was later indicted for inciting a riot. He fled to Canada and was apprehended by authorities there, who expelled him by escorting him just across the U.S. border.
Galleani was attracted to the Italian community in Barre, Vermont, where immigrants had found work as stonemasons in the area quarries. These laborers formed the bulk of Barre's socialist and anarchist community. Galleani held forth at local anarchist meetings, assailed "timid" socialists, gave fire-breathing speeches, and continued to write essays and polemical treatises. The foremost proponent of "propaganda by the deed" in the United States, Galleani was the founder and editor of the anarchist newsletter Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), which he published and mailed from offices in Barre. Galleani published the anarchist newsletter for fifteen years until the United States government closed it down under the Sedition Act of 1918. Each issue of Cronaca Sovversiva usually had no more than eight pages. At one point the newsletter claimed 5,000 subscribers. It offered perspectives on a variety of radical topics, including arguments against the existence of God, for free love, and against historical and contemporary state tyranny, as well as overly passive Socialists. It frequently published a list of addresses and personal details of businessmen and others identified as "capitalist spies", strikebreakers, and assorted "enemies of the people". Several books that bear Galleani's name, such as La Fine dell'anarchismo? (The End of Anarchism?) (1907) are derived from or are excerpts from essays that appeared first in Cronaca Sovversiva.
In Cronaca Sovversiva, Galleani expounded upon his theory of direct action and armed resistance against the state. He applauded the actions of fellow Paterson, NJ anarchist, Gaetano Bresci, another disciple of direct action who left the United States for Italy to assassinate King Umberto. Galleani's posthumously-published work, Aneliti e Singulti: Medaglioni ("Sighs and Sobs: Portraits"), was collected from his essays in the Cronaca Sovversiva. It celebrated the lives of several bombers and assassins as heroes of anarchism.
In later issues, Cronaca Sovversiva included a small advertisement for a booklet entitled La Salute è in voi! (Health is in You!), sold for 25 cents and described as a must-have for any proletarian family. The foreword to the booklet, first published in 1905, said it was to remedy the "error" of advocating violence without giving subversives the physical means of destruction. Health Is In You! was an explicit bomb-making manual, in which Galleani supplied to his readers the chemical formula for making nitroglycerine, compiled by a friend and explosives expert, Professor Ettore Molinari. Galleani's handbook was characterized as accurate and practical by the New York City Bomb Squad, though an error Galleani made in transcribing Molinari's explosive formula for nitroglycerine resulted in one or more premature explosions when the bomb-makers failed to notice the mistake. Galleani provided a warning and corrected text to his readers in a 1908 issue of Cronaca Sovversiva.
In 1914, Galleani published his book Faccia a Faccia col Nemico ("Face to Face with the Enemy"), in which he extolled anarchist assassins as martyrs and revolutionary heroes. In 1917 Galleani urged his followers to go to Mexico where they could escape draft registration and await the coming Revolution.
The United States deported Luigi Galleani and eight of his adherents to Italy in June 1919, three weeks after the June 2 wave of bombings initiated by the Galleanisti, but not because of any connection to those bombings. Authorities identified him as a resident alien who had advocated the violent overthrow of the government and authored a bomb-making manual. After landing in Italy, Galleani returned to publishing Cronaca Sovversiva.
After Mussolini came to power in 1922, the anarchist was charged with sedition and sentenced to 14 months in prison. He was re-arrested in 1926, and sent again to the island of Pantelleria, then the island of Lipari, and finally to Messina. Later he was allowed to return to the Italian mainland, where he lived in the village of Caprigliola (Lunigiana) but the police surveillance continued. Galleani died of a heart attack at age 70 on November 4, 1931.
Galleani attracted numerous radical friends and followers known as "Galleanisti", including Frank Abarno, Gabriella Segata Antolini, Pietro Angelo, Luigi Bacchetti, Mario Buda also known as "Mike Boda", Carmine Carbone, Andrea Ciofalo, Ferrucio Coacci, Emilio Coda, Alfredo Conti, Nestor Dondoglio also known as "Jean Crones", Roberto Elia, Luigi Falzini, Frank Mandese, Riccardo Orciani, Nicola Recchi, Giuseppe Sberna, Andrea Salsedo, Raffaele Schiavina, Carlo Valdinoci, and, most notably, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
Galleani and his group promoted radical anarchism by speeches, newsletters, labor agitation, political protests, secret meetings, and, above all, direct action. Many used bombs and other violent means to promote their political position, practices that Galleani actively encouraged but in which he apparently did not participate, except for writing the bomb-making manual La Salute è in voi!.
Historians believe that Galleani's followers began their bombing attacks in 1914. Galleanists were involved in at least two bombings in New York after police forcibly dispersed a protest at John D. Rockefeller's home in Tarrytown. Over the next several months, bombings took place at several New York City sites, including police stations, churches, and courthouses. On November 14, 1914, a bomb was placed in the Tombs police court, under the chair of Magistrate Campbell, who had sentenced an anarchist for inciting to riot. In January 1915, police uncovered a plot to blow up St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, and a copy of La Salute è in voi! was found at a suspect's house.
One Chicago-based Galleanist, chef Nestor Dondoglio, known by the alias Jean Crones, laced soup with arsenic in an attempt to poison some 100 guests, all figures in industry, business, finance, or law, at a banquet in 1916 to honor Archbishop Mundelein. J.B. Murphy, a doctor among the guests, furnished a hastily prepared emetic that induced vomiting. None of the guests died, though many suffered greatly. Police discovered many vials of poison when they searched Dondoglio's rooms, but never apprehended him. Dondoglio left a series of taunts for the police, then fled to the East Coast. He survived in abject poverty, hidden in the homes of other Galleanists, until his death in 1932.
On December 6, 1916, the Galleanist Alfonso Fagotti was arrested for stabbing a policeman during a riot in Boston's North Square. The next day Galleanists exploded a bomb at the Salutation Street station of the Boston harbor police. Fagotti was convicted, imprisoned, and later deported to Italy.
Some historians have also suspected the Galleanists of perpetrating the Preparedness Day bombing in San Francisco on July 22, 1916. No known Galleanists were among those indicted for the attack, but the time bomb's design and construction – a cast steel pipe packed with explosives, a timing mechanism, and metal slugs designed to act as shrapnel and increase casualties – was typical of later Galleanist bombing campaigns, the work of Mario Buda in particular. Additionally, in an ominous apparent reference to the earlier mass poisoning by the Galleanist Nestor Dondoglio, San Francisco police recovered two unsigned letters urging the headwaiter at the St. Francis Hotel to poison soup served to Police Commissioner James Woods, one of the organizers of the Preparedness Day march.
It is notable that bombings attributable to anarchists largely ceased in the United States in the first part of 1917, when many Galleanists heeded Galleani's advice to avoid draft registration by relocating to Mexico. Most members returned to the U.S. late that year.
Mario Buda is thought to have constructed the large black powder bomb with an acid "delay" detonator that exploded on November 24, 1917 at a Milwaukee police station. Patrolmen had taken it there after its discovery in a church basement. The blast killed nine policemen and a female civilian, one of the worst incidents of terrorist violence in the United States up to that time. The bomb appeared to have been directed at Reverend August Giuliana, who had recently led a street revival meeting opposed by local anarchists.
In late 1917 and early 1918, bombings occurred in New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Milwaukee that were later attributed to Galleanists, but no criminal prosecutions followed. In February 1918, U.S. authorities raided the offices of Cronaca Sovversiva, suppressed publication, and arrested its editors. Although a staff member hid the subscription list, officials gained more than 3,000 names and addresses of subscribers from an issue already prepared for mailing.
On January 17, 1918, a 19-year-old Galleanist, Gabriella Segata Antolini, was arrested for transporting a satchel filled with dynamite, which she had received from Carlo Valdinoci. When questioned, Antolini gave a false name and refused to cooperate with the police; she was imprisoned for fourteen months before being released. While in prison, Antolini met the noted anarchist Emma Goldman, with whom she became friends.
On December 30, 1918, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania homes of the President of the Chamber of Commerce, the Acting Superintendent of Police, William B. Mills, and Judge Robert von Moschzisker were heavily damaged by explosive bombs filled with metal slugs, an act later attributed to the Galleanist group. A woman standing across the street from Superintendent Mills' home was struck above the eye by a metal slug. At each site leaflets were scattered denouncing "the priests, the exploiters, the judges and police, and the soldiers" whose time was coming to an end.
On February 27, 1919, Galleani spoke to an anarchist gathering in Taunton, Massachusetts. The next night four Galleanists who had attended the rally attempted to place a bomb at the American Woolen Co. mill in nearby Franklin, whose workers were on strike. The bomb exploded prematurely, killing all four of the men.
In response to the violence and social unrest, in October 1918, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1918, a law that expanded the list of activities that defined someone as an anarchist and justified deportation. In turn, Galleani and his followers distributed a flyer in February 1919 that said: "Deportation will not stop the storm from reaching these shores. The storm is within and very soon will leap and crash and annihilate you in blood and fire... We will dynamite you!" A series of bombings of prominent businessmen and officials followed, including a bomb at the home of Judge von Moschzisker, who in 1908 had sentenced four Italian anarchists to long prison terms.
In late April 1919, approximately 36 dynamite package bombs, all with identical packaging and addressed to a cross-section of politicians, justice officials, and businessmen, including John D. Rockefeller, were sent through the mail. An early lead to the identity of the bombers was revealed when one package bomb was found addressed to a Bureau of Investigation (BOI) field agent, Rayme Weston Finch. Finch had been tracking several Galleanists, including Carlo Valdinoci, and the agent's successes, such as leading the raid on Cronacca Sovversiva and his arrest of Raffaele Schiavina and Andrea Ciafolo, were well known to Galleanist militants. The Galleanists intended their bombs to be delivered on May Day, the international day of communist, anarchist, and socialist revolutionary solidarity. Only a few of the packages were delivered. Because the plotters had neglected to add sufficient postage, one of the packages was discovered, and its distinctive markings enabled the interception of most of them. No one was killed by the mail bombs that were delivered, but a black housekeeper, Ethel Williams, had her hands blown off when she opened a package sent to the home of Senator Thomas W. Hardwick, a sponsor of the Immigration Act of 1918.
In June 1919, the Galleanists managed to explode eight large bombs nearly simultaneously in several different U.S. cities. Targets included the homes of judges, businessmen, a mayor, an immigration inspector, and a church. The new bombs used up to twenty-five pounds of dynamite packed with metal slugs to act as shrapnel, all contained in a cast steel pipe. Among the intended victims were politicians who had endorsed anti-sedition laws and deportation, or judges such as Charles C. Nott, who had sentenced anarchists to long prison terms. The homes of Mayor Harry L. Davis of Cleveland, Judge W.H.S. Thompson, Massachusetts State Representative Leland Powers, and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, already a previous target of a Galleanist mail bomb, were attacked. None of the officials was killed, but the explosions killed William Boehner, a 70-year-old night watchman, who had stopped to investigate the package left on Judge Nott's doorstep, as well as one of the most wanted Galleanists - Carlo Valdinoci, a former editor of Cronaca Sovversiva, and a close associate of Galleani, who blew himself up as he laid a package bomb at the door of Attorney General Palmer's home.
Though not injured, Palmer and his family were shaken by the blast and their house was largely destroyed. The blast hurled several neighbors from their beds. Valdinoci either tripped over his bomb, or it went off prematurely as he was placing it on Palmer's porch. The police collected his remains over a two-block area. All of the bombs were accompanied by a flyer 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.
Police eventually traced a flyer accompanying the bombs to the print shop where Andrea Salsedo, a typesetter, and Roberto Elia, a compositor, were arrested. Salsedo was questioned intensively (some say tortured) by federal agents. After providing some information, he was said to become increasingly distraught. He died after jumping or being pushed by his compatriot Elia out of the window in the 14-story room where he was being held. Although Salsedo had admitted he was an anarchist and had printed the flyer, no other arrests for the bombings followed. The police lacked evidence and other Galleanists refused to talk. Elia was deported; according to his lawyer, he turned down an offer to remain in the United States if he would deny his connection to the Galleanists, asserting that his refusal to talk "is my only title of honor".
After Valdinoci's death, Coacci and Recchi appeared to have taken more prominent roles in the group; both were bombmakers. Recchi lost his left hand to a premature explosion, but he kept making bombs.
With the public and the press clamoring for action, US Attorney General Palmer and other government officials began a series of investigations. They used warrantless wiretaps, reviews of subscription records to radical publications, and other measures to investigate thousands of anarchists, communists, and other radicals. With evidence in hand and after agreement with the Immigration Department, the Justice Department arrested thousands in a series of coordinated police actions known as the "Palmer Raids" and deported several hundred of them under the Anarchist Exclusion Act.
Following Galleani's deportation and the indictment of Sacco and Vanzetti for murder, more bombings occurred in the U.S. Followers of Galleani, especially Buda, were suspected in the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which killed 38 people and severely wounded 143. In 1927 more bombings were attributed to Galleanists, especially as several court and prison officials were targeted, including Webster Thayer, the trial judge in the Sacco-Vanzetti case. and their executioner, Robert Elliott In 1932 Thayer was a target again; the front of his house was destroyed by a package bomb, and his wife and housekeeper were injured, but he was unscathed. Thayer lived in the Boston University Club until his death, guarded by a private bodyguard and police.
After being deported to Italy, Coacci and Recchi quickly departed for Argentina. There Coacci joined forces with the Argentine anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, another advocate of violence. Di Giovanni was executed for his crimes and Coacci was deported from Argentina. After World War II, he returned and lived there for the rest of his life. Buda returned to Italy shortly after the Wall Street bombing, and lived there until his death in 1963.