The immigration raids were unexpected, unnerving, unjust. In one devastating American-dream-shattering, day, federal agents arrested more than 4,000 aspiring Americans for supposedly threatening America.
This overreaction, the Big Red Scare of 1919, triggered a Red, White, and Blue Repair. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer became a laughingstock for initiating these immigrant-rousting “Palmer Raids.” And his nemesis, a lowly Assistant Secretary of Labor, Louis F. Post, became a hero.
Before this immigration crackdown Palmer was known as a progressive Democrat, a Woodrow Wilson man and a man of conscience—while Post was considered a kook. Born in Moosehead, Pennsylvania, in 1872, a Quaker and Swarthmore graduate, trained as a lawyer, Palmer served in Congress from 1909 to 1915. He opposed child labor and endorsed lower tariffs, defying many constituents who feared free trade.