Year
1910
Month Day
October 01

A bomb explodes in the Los Angeles Times building

A massive explosion destroys the Los Angeles Times building in the city’s downtown area, killing 21 and injuring many more. Since Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Otis, a virulent opponent of unions, believed that the bomb was directed at him, he hired the nation’s premier private detective, William J. Burns, to crack the case. In addition to printing numerous editorials against unions, Otis was the leader of the Merchants and Manufacturing Association, a powerful group of business owners with extensive political connections.

Burns’ investigation led him to the Bridge and Structural Iron Workers Union and their treasurer, John J. McNamara. In April 1911, after Burns got a confession out of Ortie McManigal, who had allegedly been the intermediary between McNamara and two bomb experts, he personally arrested John McNamara and his brother in Indiana. Without any legal authority, Burns also managed to get the brothers to California, where they were to be prosecuted.

Union members and left-wing supporters rallied around the McNamara brothers. After a large defense fund was raised, union representatives pleaded with Clarence Darrow to take the case. Darrow, who was the best defense attorney America had to offer, had already gotten “Big Bill” Haywood, the union leader of the Industrial Workers of the World, off on murder charges in Idaho a few years earlier. Offered $50,000, he reluctantly took the case.

Even though public opinion supported the McNamaras, Darrow’s own investigation was turning up evidence to prove that the brothers were actually guilty. Even worse, members of the defense team were trying to bribe the jury just to keep up with the prosecution’s own bribery tactics. Darrow worked out a deal with Otis and the prosecutors that the brothers would plead guilty to escape the death penalty, which they did.

Nevertheless, this resolution was not satisfactory to either side, and Darrow got caught in the middle. Otis arranged for Darrow’s prosecution on bribery charges, and the union deserted the great defense lawyer. Not only did they refuse to pay his fee for the McNamara case, they refused to assist in his defense. Earl Rogers, a notorious drunk, but also a brash, formidable, and effective Los Angeles attorney, took Darrow’s case.

After a long trial, Rogers secured a mistrial for Darrow, who was later acquitted after a second trial. Darrow went on to try even more distinguished cases, including the Leopold and Loeb murder trial and the Scopes evolution trial.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Suicide bombers stage attacks in Bali

On October 1, 2005, suicide bombers strike three restaurants in two tourist areas on the Indonesian island of Bali, a popular resort area. The bombings killed 22 people, including the bombers, and injured more than 50 others. This was the second suicide-bombing incident to rock ...read more

Gunman opens fire on Las Vegas concert crowd, wounding hundreds and killing 58

On the night of October 1, 2017, a gunman opens fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Although the shooting only lasted 10 minutes, the death and injury tolls made this massacre the ...read more

Lawrence of Arabia captures Damascus

A combined Arab and British force captures Damascus from the Turks during World War I, completing the liberation of Arabia. An instrumental commander in the Allied campaign was T.E. Lawrence, a legendary British soldier known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence, an Oxford-educated ...read more

Nazi war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg

On October 1, 1946, 12 high-ranking Nazis are sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of ...read more

Yosemite National Park established

On October 1, 1890, an act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park, home of such natural wonders as Half Dome and the giant sequoia trees. Environmental trailblazer John Muir (1838-1914) and his colleagues campaigned for the congressional action, which was signed into law by ...read more

Roger Maris breaks home-run record

On October 1, 1961, New York Yankee Roger Maris becomes the first-ever major-league baseball player to hit more than 60 home runs in a single season. The great Babe Ruth set the record in 1927; Maris and his teammate Mickey Mantle spent 1961 trying to break it. After hitting 54 ...read more

Jimmy Carter is born

On October 1, 1924, future President James Earl Carter is born in Plains, Georgia. Carter, who preferred to be called “Jimmy,” was the son of a peanut farmer and was the first president to be born in a hospital. Carter was raised a devoted Southern Baptist and graduated from the ...read more

Scientific American reports that radio will soon be used to transmit music to the home

In an 1888 novel called Looking Backward: 2000-1887, author Edward Bellamy imagined a scene in which a time-traveler from 1887 reacts to a technological advance from the early 21st century that he describes as, "An arrangement for providing everybody with music in their homes, ...read more

Johnny Carson makes debut as "Tonight Show" host

On October 1, 1962, Johnny Carson takes over from Jack Paar as host of the late-night talk program The Tonight Show. Carson went on to host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for three decades, becoming one of the biggest figures in entertainment in the 20th century. John ...read more

Earthquake rocks Southern California

An earthquake in Whittier, California, kills 6 people and injures 100 more on October 1, 1987. The quake was the largest to hit Southern California since 1971, but not nearly as damaging as the Northridge quake that would devastate parts of Los Angeles seven years later. Whittier ...read more

A 12-year-old girl is kidnapped, leading to California’s “three strikes” law

Polly Klaas is abducted at knifepoint by an intruder in her Petaluma, California, home during a slumber party with two friends. Despite a massive manhunt and national attention, there was no sign of the missing 12-year-old or her abductor for two months. Eventually, investigators ...read more

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes head of Soviet Union

Having forced the resignation of Soviet leader Andrei Gromyko, Mikhail Gorbachev names himself head of the Supreme Soviet. Within two years, he was named “Man of the Decade” by Time magazine for his role in bringing the Cold War to a close. Beginning in 1985, when he became ...read more

Mao Zedong proclaims People’s Republic of China

Naming himself head of state, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong officially proclaims the existence of the People’s Republic of China; Zhou Enlai is named premier. The proclamation was the climax of years of battle between Mao’s communist forces and the regime of Nationalist ...read more

Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow dies

Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft runs her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England. At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O’Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her ...read more

Ford Motor Company unveils the Model T

On October 1, 1908, the first production Model T Ford is completed at the company’s Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford would build some 15 million Model T cars. It was the longest production run of any automobile model in history until the Volkswagen ...read more

Experiments begin on homosexuals at Buchenwald

On October 1, 1944, the first of two sets of medical experiments involving castration are performed on homosexuals at the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany. Buchenwald was one of the first concentration camps established by the Nazi regime. Constructed in 1937, ...read more