Saturday, April 26, 2008

Unusual Precautions At Revere Street

The neighbors on Sumner Hill must have been nervous in January of 1912 when word got out that threats were made against the Governor. Eugene Foss had lived on Revere street when he managed the B.F. Sturtevant Company, and he continued to live there as Governor. Nothing came of the threat, but it is worth mentioning for the background. The Governor had sent the state militia to Lawrence during a strike at the mills, that strike going down in history as the Bread and Roses strike.

Addendum: In response to a question, the Black Hand was a name used by Italian extortionists in New York and other American cities. It was less a mafia-like organization than simply a name to frighten victims into submission. A threatening letter with a black handprint would be sent to a merchant or businessman. The media dramatized the term, associating the dramatic language and resulting crimes with the new flood of Italian immigrants. The active strikers in Lawrence were largely immigrants, so the accusation of a threat from the mysterious Italian group came naturally.

Lexington Herald January 18, 1912

Foss Guarded From Black Hand Attack.

Intimation, From Unknown Source, of Danger to the Governor Is Given.

Clash At Lawrence.

Parading Strikers and the Troops of Massachusetts Have Some Trouble

(By Associated Press)

BOSTON, Mass., Jan. 17 -- Intimation from an unknown source that Governor Foss was to be made the object of a black hand attack, presumably because of his activity in the Lawrence strike situation, caused unusual precaution to be taken to guard the Governor tonight. His home in Jamaica Plain was surrounded by armed guards while half a dozen Italian plain clothes men scoured the neighborhood for bomb throwers.

It was reported that black hand agents were coming from New York and the Boston police asked the authorities there to watch outgoing boats and trains and hold up any suspicious characters headed for Boston.

Governor Foss personally expressed no alarm and would not even admit that threats had been made against him.

1 comment:

  1. What does "black hand" refer to? Does it refer to a specific type of organization or is it a euphemism for a threat of unknown origin?