Worcestory Lesson: A ‘diabolical outrage’ in 1850

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Just after midnight on May 3, 1850, a bomb exploded at Mayor Henry Chapin’s office on Main and Sudbury streets. The explosion destroyed the contents of his office and severely damaged other businesses in the building.

Three nights later, a second bomb was set off at the home of Constable Charles Warren. While the explosion at the mayor’s office caused significant property damage, the one at Warren’s could have incurred a deadlier result. Warren later testified that his family was home and asleep at the time of the explosion, and fragments of the shell tore through his house.

Worcester’s second mayor, Henry Chapin (first one bombed).

Courtesy Worcester Historical Museum

Worcester’s second mayor, Henry Chapin (first one bombed).

These two almost forgotten events in Worcester’s history drew in the politics of two of the 19th century’s most fiercely debated issues, temperance and slavery.

The explosions foreshadowed the violence that would one day accompany the national prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933.


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