Today, July 22, 1916: Act of Terrorism In San Francisco Kills 10, Wounds 60

By early July, 1916, many Americans believed that the United States was ready to join in World War I. Officials in San Francisco, along with strong support and urging of labor union leaders, decided to hold a parade to rally the citizens around the idea of preparing for war. Labor leaders knew that war often creates more jobs which in turn helps the economy and lines the pocket of the union leaders with more cash.

On this day, July 22, 1916, exactly 100 years ago today, the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade was held. The parade, which had around 50,000 people marching in it, started at 2:00pm.

Not long after the parade began, a pipe bomb, filled with steel slugs and explosives, went off. When the smoke cleared, dozens of parade spectators lay on the ground. The pipe bomb which had been hidden inside a suitcase, went off at the intersection of Market and Steuart Streets. It ended up killing 10 and wounded at least 60 people.

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The Hearst-Pathe News filmed the parade and in the video below, you can see the parade and then the aftermath of <iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>allowfullscreen>

San Francisco labor leader Tom Mooney was instantly accused of being responsible for the bombing. Mooney, his wife Rena, assistant Warren Billings and a couple of others were charged with murder. At their trial, no real evidence linking any of them to the bombing was presented by District Attorney Charles Fickert. Even though it was pretty much known at the time that some of the key prosecution witnesses had perjured themselves on the stand, Mooney and Billings were both convicted of First Degree Murder. Mooney was sentenced to death by hanging and Billings received a life sentence. All of the others charged in the bombing were acquitted.

In 1918, Mooney’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.

By 1939, sufficient evidence had been found that proved that the witnesses in the 1917 trial had lied on the stand and that there was not one piece of evidence to prove that Mooney or Billings had anything to do with the bombing. Governor Culbert Olson issued a full pardon for Mooney, but not for Billings. Instead, Olson commuted Billings’ sentence to time served and he was released from prison.

In 1961, 46 years after being wrongfully convicted of first degree murder in the Preparedness Day Parade Bombing, Billings finally received a pardon.

To this day, no one knows who was responsible for the Preparedness Day Parade bombing but many still believe that it was an act of terrorism, possibly domestic or foreign.

If you listen to Barack Obama, the liberal media and liberal Democrats, they try to portray mass killings and acts of foreign and domestic terrorism as symptoms of modern society. Yet, the first mass murder in America took place 236 years ago and a terrorist bombing took place 100 years ago today. These things are not new, but they are happening more frequently. One thing history teaches us that if someone is intent on killing others, they will find a way, whether it’s beating them to death, shooting them, stabbing them to death, poisoning or bombing, they will kill. It’s not the guns, clubs, knives or bombs that are to blame, it’s the sinful heart of mankind that’s to blame.


Sources for the above includes: Preparedness Day Bombing Tore Through Cultural Fabric of SF; San Francisco’s Future, The Worst Act of Terrorism in San Francisco History; Preparedness Day Bombing in San Francisco; The Bomb That Shook San Francisco A Century Ago; San Francisco Preparedness Day Bombing – 1916; First Mass Murder in America 236 Years Ago Today


Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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