Palmer, Alexander Mitchell (päˈmər) [key], 1872–1936, American politician, b. Moosehead, Pa. Admitted (1893) to the bar, he built up a large law practice, became a leader in the state Democratic party, and served (1909–15) in Congress. In 1912, Palmer helped swing the Democratic convention to nominate Woodrow Wilson for President. He was appointed (1913) judge of the U.S. Court of Claims and then (1917) alien-property custodian. As U.S. Attorney General (1919–21), he initiated the notorious "Palmer Raids," in which some 3,000 allegedly subversive aliens were rounded up for deportation. Ultimately only a few hundred were deported; the vast majority were released.
See R. K. Murray, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919–1920 (1955); S. Coben, A. Mitchell Palmer: Politician (1963, repr. 1972).
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