Exactly a hundred years ago this morning—on January 3, 1920—Americans woke up to discover just how little their own government regarded the cherished Bill of Rights. During the night, some 4,000 of their fellow citizens were rounded up and jailed for what amounted, in most cases, to no good reason at all and no due process, either.
Welcome to the story of the Palmer Raids, named for their instigator, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Though largely forgotten today, they shouldn’t be. They constituted a horrific, shameful episode in American history,