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Erich Muenter's "Reign of Terror": Topics in Chronicling America

Circa WWI, Erich Muenter killed his wife, bombed the Capitol, shot a banker, and plotted bombs. This guide provides access to materials related to "Erich Muenter's 'Reign of Terror'” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Fugitive from justice and man who shot J.P Morgan declared to be the same person by Chicago professor." July 7, 1915. Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

A bomb rips through the reception room of the Capitol building blowing out windows and doors and damaging the Senate chamber. A day later, Frank Holt armed with two pistols and a few sticks of dynamite shoots banking mogul, JP Morgan, before being subdued and severely beaten by Morgan’s servants. An Ivy League professor of many names, Erich Muenter is known “one of the most dangerous criminals of the age.” Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


April 16, 1906 Leona Muenter dies of arsenic poison.
April 27, 1906 Cambridge police issue a warrant for the arrest of Erich Muenter in connection with his wife’s murder.
June 5, 1906 Muenter mails a pamphlet entitled “Protest” to his wife’s family. It was mailed from New Orleans and was the last lead in the man hunt for Muenter.
July 2, 1915 Frank Holt sets off a bomb in the reception room of the Capitol and then fled immediately to New York. The Washington Times received a note shortly before the explosion that called it “the exclamation point to my plea for peace.” The note was signed R. Pearce.
July 3, 1915 Holt shoots J.P. Morgan twice before being subdued by Morgan’s servants and arrested.
July 4, 1915 A bomb goes off at New York Police headquarters and arouses suspicions that Holt had accomplices who were responsible for the bombing.
July 5, 1915 The New-York Tribune publishes a jailhouse letter from Muenter that lays out his intention to hold J.P. Morgan’s family hostage to prevent the shipment of explosives and arms to allies and create “real neutrality.”
July 6, 1915 Muenter commits suicide in his jail cell.
July 7, 1915 An explosion occurs in the cargo hold of the Minnehaha, a ship carrying arms and supplies for the British military. Holt is suspected, as he had warned that the Saxonia or Philadelphia would be attacked on July 7th.