Black Tom Explosion

 

Woodrow Wilson

Definition and Summary of the Black Tom Explosion
Summary and Definition: The Black Tom Explosion was an act of German sabotage in New York Harbor during World War One. The incident took place at on Black Tom Island, between New Jersey and Liberty Island on July 30, 1916, at 2:08 am. The area was targeted by WW1 saboteurs because it was the location of a major munitions depot, containing tons of ammunition awaiting shipment to Britain and France during WW1.

Black Tom Explosion
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th American President who served in office from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. One of the important events during his presidency was the Black Tom Explosion.

Black Tom Explosion Facts for kids: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Black Tom Explosion.
 

What was the Black Tom Explosion? The Black Tom Explosion was perpetrated by German saboteurs during WW1. Black Tom Island was the location of a major munitions depot, with several large "powder piers" that contained more than a thousand tons of ammunition awaiting shipment to Britain and France during WW1.

 

What date was the Black Tom Explosion? The date of the Black Tom Explosion was on Sunday morning, July 30, 1916, at 2:08 am

 

Where was the Black Tom Explosion? The Black Tom Explosion took place on Black Tom Island, between New Jersey and Liberty Island. The island is situated in New York Harbor, not far from the Statue of Liberty. The 'island' was in fact a mile-long pier on landfill that connected the one-time island with the Jersey City waterfront near Greenville, New York

 

1916 Black Tom Explosion

Aftermath of the 1916 Black Tom Explosion

Black Tom Explosion Facts for kids
The following fact sheet on Black Tom Explosion perpetrated by saboteurs in WW1.

Facts about the Black Tom Explosion for kids

 
Black Tom Explosion Fact 1:

Statue of Liberty Torch
The Black Tom Explosion rattled the Statue of Liberty so badly that the torch, which had been open to the public for 30 years, had to be closed.

The Black Tom Explosion explosion  was the equivalent of an earthquake measuring up to 5.5 on the Richter scale. The ladder to the Statue of Liberty torch is still is closed today, as it has been since 1916.

Statue of Liberty photo taken in 1917

  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 2:America adopted the policy of neutrality during the first two years of World War I but the United States was selling massive quantities of munitions to the British. Refer to American Entry into WW1
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 3:The Lehigh Valley Railroad expanded Black Tom Island with landfill and built a jetty from the mainland to Black Tom Island as a terminal for its rail line to docks which was utilized as a munitions shipping depot.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 4:Two million pounds of ammunition, including TNT and dynamite and shrapnel, was stored at the depot in freight cars and barges on the night of the explosion.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 5:On July 30, 1916 small fires were set on railroad cars that resulted in a series of massive explosions. The initial explosion began aboard the Johnson Barge 17, a ship carrying explosives and fuel that was docked near the pier
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 6:The security at the depot was totally inadequate. There were only 8 security guards and all of these fled from the scene when they spotted small fires which they knew could detonate the munitions and cause a colossal explosion
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 7:One of the security guards did however raise the fire alarm alerting the Jersey City Fire Department. The JCFD did their best to fight the fire but it soon became beyond their control
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 8:The initial blast of the explosion is estimated to have been such to register a 5.0 to 5.5 on the Richter Scale. Smaller blasts and explosions continued to occur for hours after the initial detonation
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 9:The Statue of Liberty was damaged, the Brooklyn Bridge shook, tombstones were toppled in graveyards, building walls cracked in Manhattan and windows, some as 25 miles away and many in Times Square, were shattered by the explosion.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 10:The damage to the Statue of Liberty was valued at $100,000 ($2 million dollars today) and included the skirt and the torch.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 11:Immigrants at Ellis Island immigration center in New York Harbor also had to be evacuated to lower Manhattan.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 10:Almost everyone in Manhattan was awoken by the strength of the blast. The fires set off the shrapnel and people, awoken by the loud bangs and fear of an earthquake, made their way to the waterfront to see the 'firework display'.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 11:A rumor soon started to circulate that a German warship was firing its guns at Sandy Hook at the southern entrance of Lower New York Bay south of New York
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 12:The noise of the explosion was heard as far away as Maryland and Connecticut.
 

Continued...

Facts about the 1916 Black Tom Explosion for kids

1916 Black Tom Explosion for kids
The info about the Black Tom Explosion provides interesting facts and important information about this important event that occured during the presidency of the 28th President of the United States of America.

 

Presidential Seal

 

Facts about the Black Tom Explosion for kids
The following fact sheet continues with facts about the Black Tom Explosion perpetrated by saboteurs in WW1.

Facts about the 1916 Black Tom Explosion for kids

 
Black Tom Explosion Fact 13:It is believed that the explosion resulted in the death of 8 people including a policeman, a security guard at Black Tom, and the barge captain of the Johnson Barge No.19 were killed. There were hundreds of minor injuries.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 14:A stained glass window at Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic church commemorates the victims of the Black Tom Explosion
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 15:The Black Tom depot with its piers, freight cars, barges, tugboats and warehouses was completely destroyed.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 16:The damage to property was estimated at over $20 million ($377 million today).
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 17:The Black Tom incident was only one of a number attacks on the of homeland on facilities had contracts for goods being sent to the Allies. On January 1, 1915 a fire was started at the Roebling Steel foundry in Trenton. And after the Black Tom incident, on January 11, 1917, the Kingsland Explosion took place at the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Kingsland (now Lyndhurst), Bergen County, New Jersey. On April 10, 1917, 4 days following the U. S. declaration of war on Germany, a fire at the Hercules Powder Company in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, killed over 100 employees.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 18:Spies, Agents and Saboteurs: In 1914 Imperial Germany sent Count Johann Von Bernstorff as the German ambassador in Washington DC. Von Bernstoff had been ordered to assist the German war effort by any means necessary. An army of undercover spies, agents and saboteurs were recruited to aid the German war effort by sabotage and illicit destruction in the United States.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 19:The Black Tom Explosion was the most devastating of the sabotage operations organized by the undercover spies, agents and saboteurs employed by Count Johann Von Bernstorff
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 20:A suspect in the Black Tom incident was Michael Kristoff, a 23-year old immigrant living in nearby Bayonne who is said to have started the fires with incendiary devices in exchange for $500. Although  Michael Kristoff was suspected of acting as an agent of the German Government there was not enough the evidence to establish the fact.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 21:After the end of WW1 Charges of German sabotage were brought before the Mixed Claims Commission, consisting of a German, an American, and a neutral representative, under the 1921 Treaty of Berlin.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 22:The Mixed Claims Commission decided that Germany was responsible for the sabotage. Germany was ordered to pay reparations of $50 million to all claimants, but the compensation was not paid due to the outbreak of World War II.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 23:After WW2, Germany agreed to settle outstanding war claims that included those related to the Black Tom explosion and the reparations were paid in 1979.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 24:The site of the Black Tom railroad yard is now a part of Liberty State Park where a plaque in the southeast corner of Liberty Park marks the spot.
  
Black Tom Explosion Fact 25:As a direct result of the Black Tom Explosion, the United States passed the Espionage Act of 1917
  

Facts about the 1916 Black Tom Explosion for kids

Facts about the Black Tom Explosion for kids: American entry and US role World War I
On April 6, 1917 the United States Senate declared war on Germany and fought with the allies in WW1. For additional facts and information refer to the following links: .

Facts about the Black Tom Explosion for kids: President Woodrow Wilson Video
The article on the Black Tom Explosion provides detailed facts and a summary of one of the important events during his presidential term in office. The following Woodrow Wilson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 28th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921.

 

 

 

Black Tom Explosion
 
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