German Bombs US Senate, Shoots J.P. Morgan Jr.

(Top) The Senate Reception Room after the bombing; (Bottom) Eric Muenter after his arrest.

July 3 1915, Glen Cove–Eric Muenter, a German immigrant and former teacher of German at Harvard, had been living under the assumed name of “Frank Holt” since murdering his pregnant wife by arsenic poisoning nine years earlier. He was able to keep largely the same career however, teaching German at Cornell instead. America’s implicit and explicit support for the Allies, especially through its munitions exports, outraged Muenter, and he decided to resort to violence in a misguided attempt to change it. On the night of July 2, he entered the US Capitol, intending to set a bomb in the Senate. Finding it locked, he set it instead in a reception room. The bomb exploded at 11:40 PM, injuring nobody but apparently sending a guard on the other side of the building flying off of his chair. He also sent an anonymous note to The Washington Star, hoping that the explosion would “make enough noise to be heard above the voices that clamor for war. This explosion is an exclamation point in my appeal for peace." 

That night, Muenter went to New York, arriving very early in the morning. He placed another bomb in the hold of SS Minnehaha, which was shortly to depart for Europe with a cargo of munitions. He then went to the Glen Cove home of J.P. "Jack” Morgan Jr., head of J.P. Morgan & Co. since his father’s death two years prior. Morgan’s bank handled the vast majority of British and French financial dealings in America, purchasing munitions and floating loans. Morgan, his wife, and the British Ambassador Cecil Spring-Rice were having breakfast when his butler shouted that they should go upstairs at once. They complied, and when they looked back down, they saw the butler backing slowly up the stairs as Muenter leveled two revolvers at him. Muenter saw the financier and shouted “So you are Mr. Morgan!” Mrs. Morgan attempted to charge at Muenter, but was held back by her husband, who went after him himself. In the ensuing struggle, Morgan was shot twice, in the thigh and stomach, but Muenter was subdued. Morgan’s wounds were slight and he was able to recover from his injuries swiftly. 

Muenter would commit suicide in jail a few days later, after his true identity was uncovered by the police. The bomb he planted on the Minnehaha would cause a small fire, but did not severely damage the ship or the munitions. 

Today in 1914:  Funeral of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek

Sources include: Diana Preston, Lusitania; Hew Strachan, The First World War (Volume I).

July 3rd, 1915 - Assassination Attempt of JP Morgan Jr.

Muenter following his arrest. The would-be assassin was a professor of German at Cornell.  

Escaping from Washington DC after setting off a bomb in the Capitol Building, German-American terrorist Eric Muenter fled to New York City to complete the second part of his plan to punish the United States for supporting Britain and France against Germany.  He planned to assassinate JP Morgan Jr., the Wall Street financier.  Morgan had lent a considerable amount of cash to the British war effort, and continued to do so throughout the war to the point that the government had to aid him to prevent the failure of the British economy.  This made him Muenter’s target.

While in New York Muenter sneaked aboard the ship SS Minnehaha, a liner bound for England carrying munitions. On-board the ex-professor of German hid another time bomb.  Then he made his way to Morgan’s house at Glen Cove.  He aimed to break in and hold Morgan’s wife and children hostage, but when he forced his way into the home Morgan was already there.  The banking tycoon charged at the intruder, who fired twice, hitting Morgan both times in the groin.  Morgan’s servants subdued him at this point.

Despite Muenter’s best efforts, Morgan would survive his wounds and continue to buttress the British economy.  Muenter was imprisoned, while outside newspapers had a field day with the scandalous story of the homicidal professor.  On the fifth Eric Muenter killed himself - after failing to cut an artery with a metal strip ripped from an eraser cap, he clambered up his prison bars and dove headlong off, dashing his skull to pieces on the concrete floor. His time bomb went off two days later, causing a small fire but no other significant damage.