Sacco and Vanzetti

Author: Ed Reavey
Nicola Sacco

Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti were both born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1908. Both men were followers of Luigi Galleani, an anarchist who advocated for violence, including bombing and assassinations in the name of anarchist revolution. At this time, followers of Galleani and other Italian anarchists were under great suspicion by the United States government due to their involvement in numerous violent acts in the United States. Also, both Sacco and Vanzetti also avoided the First World War by going to an anarchist training camp in Mexico. (Yuhl, 11-13)
            Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted of the murders of Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli at the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company factory in Braintree, Massachusetts. After the two men were murdered, the pay role money was stolen. At the time there was a huge outcry of support for the two men, and a few notable people wrote letters asking for their pardon, including George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein and H.G. Wells (Watson, 294). The trial took place in Dedham, Massachusetts, and in preparation for the trial, the shudders of the courthouse were painted to look heavy and bomb-proof. (Watson, 103-104). Before their deaths by the electric chair in 1927, Celestino Medieros, an ex convict claimed that he was responsible for the murders and robbery, but the court overturned this bit of evidence in the appeal for a second trial, calling into question the credibility of Medieros. (Watson, 280-281)
            The Sacco and Vanzetti trial was skewed unfavorably against the men because of their political views and because of the fact that they were immigrants. Stephanie Yuhl demonstrates that one of the more lasting implications of the trial is that it shows how radicals are suppressed and glossed over in the American consciousness. If you go to where the trials were held, Dedham Massachusetts, one will not be able to find any sort of hint or clue as to the famous trial that occurred in the 1920s. Sacco and Vanzetti were most likely given an unfair trial, and subsequent execution due to their involvement with radical politics, namely, anarchists.

Scholarly Essay:
Yuhl, Stephanie E. "Sculpted Radicals: The Problem of Sacco and Vanzetti in Boston's Public Memory ." Public Historian. 32.2 (2010): 9-20. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.


Archival Elements: 

These two pictures show the Dedham courthouse, where the shutters were painted to look more sturdy, in order to discourage anarchist terrorists. 

For each day of the trial, Sacco and Vanzetti were escorted from the Dedham jail to the courthouse. 
At this time, defendants were held behind steel cages during trials. 

Bibliography for Further Research

Avrich, Paul. Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Backround. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Frankfurter, Felix. The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti: A Critical Analysis for Lawyers and Laymen. 1st. Boston : Wm. S. Hein Publishing, 2003.

Russell, Francis. Sacco & Vanzetti: The Case Resolved. 1st. st. Harper & Row, 1986.

Watson, Bruce. Sacco and Vanzetti:The Men, The murders and the Judgment of Mankind. 1st. New York : Penguin, 2007. 

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