Thanks to the age of instant information, constant media bombardment, and countless commemorative bumper stickers, the world will never forget the 9/11 terrorist attacks against America. And why would they? Prior to the attacks, we could scarcely believe such a thing was even possible.
But, here's the thing: We only believed that because we have a really short memory for this shit. We bet most of you have never even heard about the time ...
5 Anarchists Blew Up Wall Street
All we need you to do is sit back and imagine just how many metric tons of shit would hit the fan if the following string of events happened tomorrow:
In April of 1919, a New York-based faction of Anarcho-Communists sent 36 mail bombs to various important politicians and captains of industry, including J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Six of them exploded, though only a former senator's wife and her maid were wounded, which meant the perpetrators clearly needed more practice -- and they would get it.
"OK, I think we're ready for Book 2, now."
In June of the same year, a series of Fight Club-esque coordinated bombs went off in seven major American cities. New York; Boston; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Paterson, New Jersey; Washington D.C.; and Philadelphia were all rocked by powerful explosions that took out houses, businesses, and churches. Although the operation was expertly coordinated (all of the explosions went off in the span of 90 minutes), only two people died in the attacks: William Boehner, a New York nightwatchman, and the bomber who was tasked with delivering another exploding hello to Attorney General Palmer but tripped on the steps outside Palmer's office and wound up blowing himself the fuck up instead. It's safe to assume that neither of these two dudes were the intended targets.
The subsequent slip and fall lawsuit filed against Palmer was also unsuccessful.
And, yet, all of this was still just a precursor to the real attack.
Palmer (already a notorious commie-hater) was understandably pissed off after having two bombs mailed to him within mere months. His fury resulted in the infamous "Palmer Raids," wherein thousands of suspected radicals were either illegally deported or detained without trial, which is apparently the only way America knows how to deal with the threat of terrorism. Despite Palmer's efforts (or maybe even because of them), by the time September 1920 rolled around, the Anarchists were still strong enough to muster one more attack: They decided to jump-start the market with a communist stimulus package, by which we mean they blew up Wall Street.
James Maeder-Daily News via NY Cop
"Did you know dynamite doesn't explode explosively enough to flip a car?" - Wall Street Truthers
An anarchist took a wagon full of explosives and 500 pounds of iron weights, parked it outside the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co., and detonated the giant shrapnel mine at one minute past noon. The street was turned into a bombed-out crater filled with pure carnage. All told, 38 people were killed, more than 300 were injured, and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) temporarily shut down. The massive blast was the deadliest act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil at the time. To this day, you can go there and see the original shrapnel marks from that bomb blast -- which occurred about 95 years ago.
Obviously, this was a huge freaking deal, but we're willing to bet that you've never heard of it, and the reason for that is simple: It was vital to open the NYSE as quickly as possible. In the process of cleaning everything up rapidly so that the country's money could continue moving, a whole bunch of evidence was either overlooked or destroyed. The case wasn't officially solved until the FBI revisited it in 1944, but, by that point, America was super busy with other stuff.
4 A Harvard Professor Became a Real-Life Supervillain
Eric Muenter was a mild-mannered Harvard professor with the secret hobby of slowly poisoning his wife with arsenic, which was apparently in vogue at the time. Once she finally died, Muenter went on the run, changing his name to Frank Holt and getting a job as a German professor at Cornell, where he worked until WWI broke out. In the beginning of the war, America was happily arming the British and French, which infuriated both Muenter's proud German ancestry as well as the swarm of barking cockroaches burrowing through his mind. So, he decided to initiate a massive one-man terror spree to force America to cut all supplies to the Allies, and thus single-handedly end a world war in favor of Germany because there was simply too much crazy inside of Muenter for him to keep it all to himself.
Muenter's rampage began when he sneaked into the U.S. Capitol building on the Fourth of July weekend in 1915, with a pile of dynamite, and rigged a big bomb in a conference room next to the senate chamber. He then retreated to a train station, where he watched part of the U.S. Capitol building explode just before midnight. To his chagrin, the building was empty, and the only casualty was the dignity of a single guard, who was knocked off his chair by the blast.
Muenter then traveled to New York, planning to take the family of pro-British financier J.P. Morgan, Jr. into hostage. Wielding duel pistols, Muenter broke into Morgan's house and wounded the famous robber baron, but was also beaten into submission by Morgan's servants and taken to jail.
"Thank you for saving my life, Jeeves. Please polish the blood off that tea tray before you turn in."
"Very good, sir."
This is where you might expect Muenter's story to end, and, normally, you would be correct if it weren't for the fact that Muenter was apparently the goddamned Joker. While in custody, he revealed that he had planted incendiary bombs with multiday timers in the cargo holds of several munition ships in the New York Harbor, so they would explode while at sea and take all of their Germany-destroying artillery to the bottom of the ocean. Muenter wasn't bluffing, either -- a bomb of his soon went off onboard the SS Minnehaha, exactly when he said the ship would explode.
However, Muenter was more of an ideas man than a skilled agent of chaos and had mistakenly planted the bomb in the "general cargo" area, rather than among the piles of combustible munitions. Even so, the crew had to battle a huge, inextinguishable fire for two full days as the ship frantically raced to the nearest port.
via Titanic Inquiry
"I told you we shouldn't have taken those shipments of dry kindling and lamp oil!"
So, to recap, a crazy German professor managed to bomb the Capitol, attack one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the country, and plant a bomb onboard a ship carrying American munitions to a foreign war zone within the span of a few days. The only reason he failed was because he wasn't a particularly skilled terrorist, and Craigslist and YouTube hadn't been invented yet to help him anonymously recruit like-minded sociopaths to his cause.