And a madness fell upon the king
Watching the white and red grape drip.
The death in January 1919 of Salomon de la Selva's old antagonist, Theodore Roosevelt, cast a long shadow across New York, suggesting the end of an era. Other titans of New York life died this year: Woolworth, Carnegie, Frick. Although the fighting in Europe was over, the USA itself seemed in more turmoil than ever. Wall Street boomed while the cost of living soared and there were many strikes for higher pay. In February, 14 Spanish anarchists were arrested in New York on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Woodrow Wilson. In June, bombs exploded in eight US cities. The Attorney-General, A. Mitchell Palmer, created the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, which immediately moved to deport foreign radicals: 249 left for Russia in November, including Emma Goldman. The Red Scare permeated the city. In May, almost unnoticed, an earlier US bogeyman, Jose Santos Zelaya, died in Washington Heights.
There was action in many other fields. In March, the First Feminist Congress opened in New York; in June, the US Senate adopted a joint resolution submitting to the States the Women's Suffrage Amendment. That same month the Irish leader, Eamon de Valera, was smuggled off a ship in New York harbour, soon to make a dramatic public appearance—and to forge an important friendship with the Puerto Rican independentista, Pedro Albizu Campos. Marcus Garvey's Black Star Line steamship, the SS Frederick Douglass, launched in September, the same month in which the founding of the African Blood Brotherhood was announced in The Crusader, edited by the Crucian, Cyril Briggs, one of Garvey's main critics.
The largest international context in the first half of 1919 was the Paris peace conference: Woodrow Wilson's articulation of the importance of self-determination to his view of a lasting post-war settlement had attracted much interest and support in Hispanic America, particularly since that articulation tended to draw on examples from the American continent. It therefore proved a major disappointment when Wilson refused to contemplate American issues at the conference.