Sacco and Vanzetti

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Bartolomeo Vanzetti (left) and Nicola Sacco in handcuffs

Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927) were Italian-born anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts, United States in 1920.

Both adhered to a strain of anarchism that advocated relentless warfare against a violent and oppressive government. [1][2]

A controversial trial in 1921 resulted in the men's conviction, despite equivocal ballistics evidence and numerous witnesses who claimed Sacco had been in Boston's North End and Vanzetti in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the day of the robbery. Both defendants had to recount their anarchist beliefs in court to explain why they had been found armed when arrested, leading to suspicions that this may have prejudiced the jury.

After a few hours' deliberation, the jury found Sacco and Vanzetti guilty of first-degree murder on July 14, 1921. A series of appeals followed, funded largely by a private Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. The appeals were based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery. All appeals were denied by the original trial judge and eventually by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court. By 1925, the case had drawn worldwide attention. As details of the trial and the men's suspected innocence became known, Sacco and Vanzetti became the center of one of the largest causes célèbres in modern history. In 1927, protests on their behalf were held in every major city in North America and Europe, as well as Tokyo, Sydney, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Johannesburg.[3]

Celebrated writers, artists, and academics pleaded for their pardon or for a new trial. Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter argued for their innocence in a widely read Atlantic Monthly article that was later published in book form. Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in April 1927, accelerating the outcry. Responding to a massive influx of telegrams urging their pardon, Massachusetts governor Alvan Fuller appointed a three-man commission to investigate the case. After weeks of secret deliberation, which included interviews with the judge, lawyers, and several witnesses, the commission upheld the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed via electric chair on August 23, 1927.[4] Subsequent riots destroyed property in Paris, London, and other cities.

Since their deaths, a consensus of critical opinion has concluded that the two men were convicted largely because of anti-Italian prejudice and their anarchist political beliefs and were therefore unjustly executed.[5][6] Investigations of the case continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The publication of the men's letters, containing eloquent professions of innocence, intensified belief in their wrongful execution. Additional ballistics tests and incriminating statements by the men's acquaintances have clouded the case. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names".

Background[edit]

Sacco (left) and Vanzetti (right)

Sacco was a shoe-maker born in Torremaggiore, Foggia province, Puglia region, Italy, who emigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen.[7] Vanzetti was a fishmonger born in Villafalletto, Cuneo province, Piemonte region, who arrived in the United States at age twenty. Both men left Italy for the U.S. in 1908,[8] although they did not meet until a 1917 strike.[9]

The men were believed to be followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination. Galleani published Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), a periodical that advocated violent revolution, and an explicit bomb-making manual called La Salute è in voi! (Health is in you!). At the time, Italian anarchists – in particular the Galleanist group – ranked at the top of the United States government's list of dangerous enemies.[10] Since 1914, the Gallenaists had been identified as suspects in several violent bombings and assassination attempts, including an attempted mass poisoning.[11][12][13] Publication of Cronaca Sovversiva was suppressed in July 1918, and the government deported Galleani and eight of his closest associates on June 24, 1919.[14]

Remaining Galleanists remained active. For three years, perhaps 60 Galleanists waged an intermittent campaign of violence against U.S. politicians, judges, and other federal and local officials, especially those who had supported deportation of alien radicals. Among the dozen of more violent acts was the bombing of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's home on June 2, 1919. In that incident, Carlo Valdonoci, a former editor of Cronaca Sovversiva and an associate of Sacco and Vanzetti, was killed when the bomb intended for Palmer exploded in Valdonoci's hands. Radical pamphlets entitled "Plain Words" signed "The Anarchist Fighters" were found at the scene of this and several other midnight bombings that night.[14]

Several Galleanist associates were suspected or interrogated about their roles in the bombing incidents. Two days before Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested, a Galleanist named Andrea Salsedo fell to his death from the US Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation (BOI) offices on 15 Park Row in New York City.[15] Salsedo had worked in the Canzani Printshop in Brooklyn, to where federal agents traced the "Plain Words" leaflet. [15]

Roberto Elia, a fellow New York printer and admitted anarchist,[16] was later deposed in the inquiry, and testified that Salsedo had committed suicide for fear of betraying the others. He portrayed himself as the 'strong' one who had resisted the police.[17] According to anarchist writer Carlo Tresca, Elia changed his story later, stating that Federal agents had thrown Salsedo out the window.[18] Salsedo's death was a disaster for the Bureau, which had lost a potential court witness and source of information.

The Galleanists knew that Salsedo had been held by the Bureau and might have talked to authorities. Rumors swirled in the anarchist community that Salsedo had made important disclosures concerning the bomb plot of June 2. The Galleanist plotters realized that they would have to go underground and dispose of any incriminating evidence. After their arrest, Sacco and Vanzetti were found to have correspondence with several Galleanists; one letter warned Sacco to destroy all mail after reading.

Robbery[edit]

Harrington and Richardson top break revolver-similar to pistol carried by Berardelli

At the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company factory, on Pearl Street, in Braintree, Massachusetts, during the afternoon of April 15, 1920, robbers approached two men as they were transporting the company payroll into two large steel boxes to the main factory. Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard, was shot as he reached for his hip-holstered .38-caliber, Harrington & Richardson revolver, not recovered from the scene. Frederick Parmenter, a paymaster who was unarmed, was shot twice: once in the chest and a second time, fatally, in the back as he attempted to flee.[19] The robbers seized the payroll boxes and escaped by climbing into a waiting getaway car, a stolen dark blue Buick. It sped away while the robbers fired wildly at company workers nearby.[19]

Savage Model 1907 semi-automatic pistol.
Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless.

A coroner's report and subsequent ballistic investigation revealed that six bullets removed from the murdered men's bodies were of .32 automatic (ACP) caliber. Five of these .32-caliber bullets were all fired from a single automatic pistol, a .32-caliber Savage Model 1907, which used a particularly narrow-grooved barrel rifling with a right-hand twist.[19][20] Two of the bullets were recovered from Berardelli's body.[21][22] Four .32 automatic brass shell casings were found at the murder scene, each manufactured by one of three firms: Peters, Winchester, and Remington. The Winchester cartridge case was of a relatively obsolescent cartridge loading, which had been discontinued from production some years earlier.[19] Two days after the robbery, police located the robbers' stolen getaway Buick; several 12-gauge shotgun shells were found on the ground nearby.[19]

Arrests and indictment[edit]

Police suspicions regarding the Braintree robbery-murder and an earlier attempted robbery of another shoe factory on December 24, 1919 in Bridgewater, centered on local Italian anarchists.[23] While neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had a criminal record, the authorities knew them as radical militants and adherents of Galleani. Police speculated that the anarchists perpetrated the robberies to finance additional bombings like the Wall Street bombing of September 1920.

On April 16, one day after the robbery-murders, the Federal Immigration Service called local police chief Michael E. Stewart to discuss Galleanist and anarchist Ferruccio Coacci, whom he had arrested on their behalf two years earlier. Coacci had succeeded in postponing his deportation until April 15, 1920, the day of the Braintree holdup. The FIS asked Stewart to investigate Coacci's excuse that he had failed to report for deportation on April 15 because his wife had fallen ill. Stewart sent two policemen to Coacci's house on April 11.

When asked if Coacci owned a gun, housemate Mike Boda stated that Coacci owned a .32 Savage automatic pistol, which he kept in the kitchen.[24] A search of the kitchen revealed no gun, but Chief Stewart found a manufacturer's technical diagram for a Model 1907 .32 Savage automatic pistol – the exact pistol type and caliber used to shoot Parmenter and Berardelli – in a kitchen drawer.[24][25] Stewart asked Boda if he owned a gun, and the man produced a .32-caliber Spanish-made automatic pistol.[26] Boda told police that he owned a 1914 Overland automobile, which was being repaired.[24] From tracks found near the abandoned Buick getaway car, Chief Stewart surmised that two cars had been used in the getaway, and that Boda's car might have been the second car.[24]

When Stewart discovered that Coacci had worked for both the plants that had been robbed, he returned with the Bridgewater police. But 'Mike' Boda (aka Mario Buda) had since disappeared, along with his possessions and furniture.[24]

The police had instructed the Johnson garage, where the impounded cars were held, to notify them when the owners came to collect the 1914 Overland. On May 5, 1920 Mario Buda arrived at the garage with three other men, later identified as Sacco, Vanzetti, and Riccardo Orciani. The four men knew each other well; Buda would later call Sacco and Vanzetti "the best friends I had in America."[27] Police were alerted, but the men sensed a trap and fled. Buda escaped on a motorcycle with Orciani and did not resurface until 1928 in Italy.

Sacco and Vanzetti jumped onto a streetcar, but were tracked down and soon arrested. When searched by police, both denied owning any guns, but were found to be holding loaded pistols. Sacco was found to have an Italian passport, anarchist literature, a loaded .32 Colt Model 1903 automatic pistol, and twenty-three .32 Automatic cartridges in his possession; several of these cases were of the same obsolescent type as the empty Winchester .32 casing found at the crime scene, and others were manufactured by the firms of Peters and Remington, much like other casings found at the scene.[19] Vanzetti had four 12-gauge shotgun shells[26] and a five-shot nickel-plated .38-caliber Harrington & Richardson revolver identical to that carried by Berardelli, the slain Braintree guard, which had gone missing after the robbery.[19] Under questioning, the pair denied any connection to anarchists.

Following Sacco and Vanzetti's indictment for murder for the Braintree robbery, Galleanists and anarchists in the United States and abroad began a campaign of violent retaliation. On September 16, 1920, two days later, Mario Buda allegedly orchestrated the Wall Street bombing, where a time-delay dynamite bomb packed with heavy iron sash-weights in a horse-drawn cart exploded, killing 38 people and wounding 134.[23][28] In 1921, a booby trap bomb mailed to the American ambassador in Paris exploded, wounding his valet.[29] For the next six years, bombs exploded at other American embassies the world over.[30]

Trials[edit]

Bridgewater trial[edit]

Only Vanzetti was tried for the attempted robbery and attempted murder in Bridgewater, which occurred on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1919. Others arrested supported their alibis with documentation, like Sacco's time-card which suggests he was on the clock when the abortive Bridgewater robbery was committed.[31] In 1927, advocates for Sacco and Vanzetti charged that this case was brought first as a conviction for the Bridgewater crimes would help convict him for the Braintree crimes, where evidence against him was weak. The prosecution countered that the timing was driven by the schedules of different courts that handled the cases.[32]

On the recommendation of supporters, Vanzetti chose to be represented by John P. Vahey, an experienced defense attorney, rather than accept counsel appointed by the court.[31][33] Frederick Katzmann, Norfolk and Plymouth County District Attorney, prosecuted the case.[34] The presiding judge was Webster Thayer, who was already assigned to the court before this case was scheduled. A few weeks earlier he had given a speech to new American citizens decrying Bolshevism and anarchism's threat to American institutions. He supported the suppression of functionally violent radical speech, and incitement to commit violent acts.[31][35][36][37]

The trial began on June 22, 1920. The prosecution presented several witnesses who put Vanzetti at the scene of the attempted robbery. Their descriptions varied, especially with respect to the shape and length of Vanzetti’s mustache.[38] Physical evidence included a shotgun shell retrieved at the scene of the crime and several shells found on Vanzetti when he was arrested.[39]

The defense produced sixteen witnesses – all Italians from Plymouth, who testified that at the time of the attempted robbery they had bought eels for the Christmas holiday from Vanzetti, in accordance with their Christmas traditions. Such details reinforced the difference between the Italians and the jurors. Some testified in imperfect English, others through an interpreter, whose failure to speak the same dialect of Italian as the witnesses hampered his effectiveness. On cross examination, the prosecution found it easy to make the witnesses appear confused about dates. A boy who testified admitted to rehearsing his testimony. "You learned it just like a piece at school?," the prosecutor asked. "Sure," he replied.[40] The defense tried to rebut the eyewitnesses with testimony that Vanzetti always wore his mustache in a distinctive long style, but the prosecution rebutted their testimony.[41]

Though the defense case went badly, Vanzetti did not testify in his own defense.[42] Vanzetti, in 1927, said his lawyers opposed putting him on the stand.[31] That same year, Vahey told the governor that Vanzetti had refused his advice to testify.[43] Decades later, a lawyer who assisted Vahey in the defense, said that the defense attorneys left the choice to Vanzetti, but warned him that it would be difficult to prevent the prosecution from using cross examination to impeach his character based on his political beliefs. He said that Vanzetti chose not to testify after consulting with Sacco.[31] Herbert Ehrmann, who later joined the defense team, wrote many years later that the dangers of putting Vanzetti on the stand were very real.[44] Another legal analysis of the case concluded that the defense would have little to lose from Vanzetti's testimony, since his conviction looked certain given how poorly his alibi witnesses had performed under cross-examination. That analysis deemed the defense overall "unconvincing" and "not closely argued or vigorously fought."[45]

Vanzetti complained during his sentencing on April 9, 1927, for the Braintree crimes that Vahey "sold me for thirty golden money like Judas sold Jesus Christ."[31] He accused Vahey of having conspired with the prosecutor "to agitate still more the passion of the juror, the prejudice of the juror" towards "people of our principles, against the foreigner, against slackers."[31][46]

On July 1, 1920, the jury deliberated for five hours and returned guilty verdicts on both counts, attempted robbery and attempted murder.[31] Before sentencing, Thayer learned that during deliberations, the jury had tampered with the shells found on Vanzetti at the time of his arrest to determine if the shot they contained was of sufficient size to kill a man.[31][47] Since that prejudiced the jury's verdict on the attempted murder charge, Thayer ignored that conviction. On August 16, 1920, he sentenced Vanzetti for attempted robbery to a term of 12 to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed.[31][44][47] An assessment of Thayer's conduct of the trial said "his stupid rulings as to the admissibility of conversations are about equally divided" between the two sides and thus provided no evidence of partiality.[48]

The defense raised only minor objections in an appeal that was not accepted.[49] A few years later, Vahey joined Katzmann’s law firm.[50]

Dedham trial[edit]

Norfolk County Courthouse, Dedham, MA
site of the second trial

Sacco and Vanzetti both stood trial in Dedham, Massachusetts, for the South Braintree robbery and murders, with Webster Thayer again presiding; he had asked to be assigned the trial. Anticipating a possible bomb attack, authorities had the Dedham courtroom outfitted with cast-iron shutters, painted to appear wooden, and heavy, sliding steel doors.[51][52] Each day during the trial, the courthouse was placed under heavy police security, and Sacco and Vanzetti were escorted in and out of the courtroom by armed guards.[51][52]

The Commonwealth relied on evidence that Sacco was absent from his work, in a shoe factory, on the day of the murder; that the defendants were in the neighborhood of the scene of the Braintree robber-murder scene on the morning when it occurred, being identified as having been there seen separately and also together; that the Buick getaway car was also in the neighborhood and that Vanzetti was near and in it; that Sacco was seen near the scene of the murder before it occurred and also was seen to shoot Berardelli after he fell and that that shot caused his death; that used shell casings were left at the scene of the murder, some of which could have been found to have been discharged from a .32 pistol afterwards found on Sacco; that a cap was found at the scene of the murder, which witnesses identified as a cap that resembled one formerly worn by Sacco; and, that both men were members of anarchist cells that espoused violence, including assassination.[53] Among the more important witnesses called by the prosecution was salesman Carlos E. Goodridge, who stated that as the getaway car raced within twenty-five feet of him, one of the car's occupants pointed a gun in his direction, whom he identified as being Sacco.[54]

Both men offered alibis backed by several witnesses. Vanzetti testified that he had been selling fish at the time of the Braintree robbery. Sacco testified that he had been in Boston applying for a passport at the Italian consulate. He stated he had lunched in Boston's North end with several friends, each of whom testified on his behalf. Prior to the trial, Sacco's lawyer, Fred Moore, went to great lengths to contact the consulate employee whom Sacco said he had talked with on the afternoon of the crime. Once contacted in Italy, the clerk said he remembered Sacco because of the unusually large passport photo he presented. The clerk also remembered the date, April 15, 1920, but he refused to return to the United States to testify (a trip requiring two ship voyages), citing his ill health. Instead he executed a sworn deposition that was read aloud in court and questioned by the prosecution, which argued Sacco's visit to the consulate could not be established with certainty. The prosecution presented witnesses who said that Sacco's lunch companions were fellow anarchists.

Much of the trial focused on material evidence, notably bullets, guns, and a cap. Prosecution witnesses testified that Bullet III, the .32-caliber bullet that had fatally wounded Berardelli, was from a discontinued Winchester .32 Auto cartridge loading so obsolete that the only bullets similar to it that anyone could locate to make comparisons were those found in the cartridges in Sacco's pockets.[55] Prosecutor Frederick Katzmann decided to participate in a forensic bullet examination using bullets test-fired from Sacco's .32 Colt Automatic after the defense arranged for such tests. Sacco, saying he had nothing to hide, had allowed his gun to be test-fired, with experts for both sides present, during the trial's second week. The prosecution matched bullets fired through the gun to those taken from one of the slain guards.

In court, District Attorney Katzmann called two forensic gun expert witnesses, Capt. Charles Van Amburgh of Springfield Armory and Capt. William Proctor of the Massachusetts State Police, who testified that they believed that of the four bullets recovered from Berardelli's body, Bullet III - the fatal bullet - exhibited rifling marks consistent with those found on bullets fired from Sacco's .32 Colt Automatic pistol.[21] Capt. Proctor would later sign an affidavit stating that he could not positively identify Sacco's .32 Colt as the only pistol that could have fired Bullet III. This meant that Bullet III could have been fired from any of the 300,000 .32 Colt Automatic pistols then in circulation.[56][57] In rebuttal, two defense forensic gun experts would later testify that Bullet III did not match any of the test bullets from Sacco's Colt.[58] Noting all the witnesses to the shooting testified that they saw one gunman shoot Berardelli four times, the defense questioned how only one of four bullets found in the deceased guard was identified as being fired from Sacco's Colt.[21]

Vanzetti was being tried under Massachusetts' felony-murder rule, and the prosecution sought to implicate him in the South Braintree robbery by the testimony of several witnesses: one testified that he was in the getaway car, and others who stated they saw Vanzetti in the vicinity of the South Braintree factory around the time of the robbery.[19] No direct evidence tied Vanzetti's .38 nickel-plated Harrington & Richardson five-shot revolver to the crime scene, except for the fact that it was identical in type and appearance to the slain guard Berardelli's, which had been missing since after the shooting.[53] It was undisputed that all six of the bullets recovered from both the murder victims were of .32 Automatic caliber and had been fired from at least two different automatic pistols. But, Vanzetti carried a .38-caliber revolver.[19][59]

The prosecution claimed Vanzetti's .38 revolver had originally belonged to the slain Berardelli, and that it had been stolen during the robbery. No one testified to seeing anyone take the gun, but Berardelli had an empty holster and no gun on him when he was found.[19] Additionally, witnesses to the payroll shooting had described Berardelli as reaching for his gun on his hip when he was cut down by pistol fire by the robbers.[19]

District Attorney Katzmann pointed out that Vanzetti had lied at the time of his arrest, when making statements about the .38 revolver found in his possession. He claimed that the revolver was his own, and that he carried it for self-protection, yet he incorrectly described it to police as a six-shot revolver instead of a five-shot.[19] Vanzetti also told police that he had purchased only one box of cartridges for the gun, all of the same make, yet his revolver was loaded with five .38 cartridges of varying brands.[19] At the time of his arrest, Vanzetti also claimed that he had bought the gun at a store (but could not remember which one), and that it cost $18 or $19 (three times its actual market value).[60] He lied about where he had obtained the .38 cartridges found in the revolver.[19]

In an attempt to show that Vanzetti's revolver was taken from the slain Berardelli, the prosecution traced the history of Berardelli's .38 Harrington & Richardson (H&R) revolver. Berardelli's wife testified that she and her husband dropped off the gun for repair at the Iver Johnson Co. of Boston a few weeks before the murder.[53] According to the foreman of the Iver Johnson repair shop, Berardelli's revolver was given a repair tag with the number of 94765, and this number was recorded in the repair logbook with the statement "H. & R. revolver, .38-calibre, new hammer, repairing, half an hour".[53] However, the shop books did not record the gun's serial number, and the caliber was apparently incorrectly labeled as .32 instead of .38-caliber.[53][61] The shop foreman testified that a new spring and hammer were put into Berardelli's Harrington & Richardson revolver. It was claimed and the half-hour repair paid for, though the date and identity of the claimant was not recorded.[53] After examining Vanzetti's .38 revolver, the foreman testified that Vanzetti's gun had a new replacement hammer in keeping with the repair performed on Berardelli's revolver.[62] The foreman explained that the shop was always kept busy repairing 20 to 30 revolvers per day, which made it very hard to remember individual guns or keep reliable records of when they were picked up by their owners.[19] But, he said that unclaimed guns were sold by Iver Johnson at the end of each year, and the shop had no record of an unclaimed gun sale of Berardelli's revolver.[62] To reinforce the conclusion that Berardelli had reclaimed his revolver from the repair shop, the prosecution called a witness who testified that he had seen Berardelli in possession of a .38 nickel-plated revolver of the same type found on Vanzetti the Saturday night before the Braintree robbery.[53]

The defense, noting that the repair shop had no record of the gun ever being picked up by Berardelli, put on testimony by Vanzetti that - in contradiction to what he had told police upon his arrest - he had bought the .38 revolver secondhand from a friend for five dollars.[53][60] This was corroborated by Luigi Falzini (Falsini), a friend of Vanzetti's and a fellow Galleanist, who stated that, after buying the .38 revolver from one Riccardo Orciani,[63] he sold it to Vanzetti.[53][60][64] The defense also called two expert witnesses, a Mr. Burns and a Mr. Fitzgerald, who each testified that no new spring and hammer had ever been installed in the revolver found in Vanzetti's possession.[53]

The District Attorney's final piece of material evidence was a flop-eared cap claimed to have been Sacco's. Sacco tried the cap on in court and, according to two newspaper sketch artists who ran cartoons the next day, it was too small, sitting high on his head. But Katzmann insisted the cap fitted Sacco and continued to refer to it as his.

Protest for Sacco and Vanzetti in London, 1921

Controversy clouded the prosecution witnesses who identified Sacco at the scene of the crime. One, a bookkeeper named Mary Splaine, precisely described Sacco as the man she saw firing from the getaway car. Yet cross examination revealed that Splaine had refused to identify Sacco at the inquest and had seen the getaway car for only a second and from nearly a half-block away. While a few others singled out Sacco or Vanzetti as the men they had seen at the scene of the crime, far more witnesses, both prosecution and defense, refused to identify them.

The defendants' radical politics may have played a role in the verdict. Thayer, though a sworn enemy of anarchists, warned the defense against bringing anarchism into the trial. Yet defense attorney Fred Moore felt he had to call both Sacco and Vanzetti as witnesses to let them explain why they were fully armed when arrested. Both men testified that they had been rounding up radical literature when apprehended, and that they had feared another government deportation raid. Yet both hurt their case with rambling discourses on radical politics that the prosecution mocked. The prosecution also brought out that both men had fled the draft by going to Mexico in 1917.

After deliberating for three hours, then breaking for dinner, the jury returned guilty verdicts. Supporters later insisted Sacco and Vanzetti had been convicted for their anarchist views, yet every juror insisted anarchism had played no part in their decision. First-degree murder in Massachusetts was a capital crime. Sacco and Vanzetti were bound for the electric chair unless the defense could find new evidence.

The verdicts and the likelihood of death sentences immediately roused international opinion. There were demonstrations in 60 Italian cities and a flood of mail to the American embassy in Paris. Demonstrations followed in a number of Latin American cities.[65] Anatole France, veteran of the campaign for Alfred Dreyfus and recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote an "Appeal to the American People": "The death of Sacco and Vanzetti will make martyrs of them and cover you with shame. You are a great people. You ought to be a just people."[66]

Defense Committee[edit]

The Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee was formed on May 9, 1920, immediately following the arrests, by a group of fellow anarchists, headed by Vanzetti's 23-year-old friend Aldino Felicani. Over the next seven years, it raised $300,000.[67] Fred Moore drew on its funds for his investigations.[68] Differences arose when Moore tried to determine who had committed the South Braintree crimes over objections from anarchists that he was doing the government's work. After the Committee hired William G. Thomson to manage the legal defense, he objected to its propaganda efforts.[69]

A Defense Committee publicist wrote an article about the first trial that was published in The New Republic. In the winter of 1920-21, the Defense Committee sent stories to labor union publications every week. It produced pamphlets with titles like Fangs at Labor's Throat, sometimes printing thousands of copies. It sent speakers to Italian communities in factory towns and mining camps.[70] The Committee eventually added staff from outside the anarchist movement, notably Mary Donovan, a 40-year-old who had experience as a labor leader and Sinn Féin organizer.[71] In 1927, she and Felicani together recruited Gardner Jackson, a Boston Globe reporter from a wealthy family, to manage publicity and serve as a mediator between the Committee's anarchists and the growing number of supporters with more liberal political views, who included socialites, lawyers, and intellectuals.[72]

Jackson bridged the gap between the radicals and the social elite so well that Sacco thanked him a few weeks before his execution:

"We are one heart, but unfortunately we represent two different class....But, whenever the heart of one of the upper class join with the exploited workers for the struggle of the right in the human feeling is the feel of an spontaneous attraction and brotherly love to one another."[73]

The noted American author John Dos Passos joined the committee and wrote its 127-page official review of the case: Facing the Chair: Story of Americanization of Two Foreignborn Workmen.[74] After the executions, the Committee continued its work, helping to gather material that eventually appeared as The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti.[75]

Motions for a new trial[edit]

Judge Thayer held hearings on five separate motions for a new trial for Sacco and Vanzetti in October and November 1923. Defense attorney Fred Moore presented affidavits and testimony by three prosecution witnesses, to the effect that they had been coerced into identifying Sacco at the scene of the crime. However, when confronted by District Attorney Katzmann, the three witnesses denied being subjected to any prosecution coercion. Lola Andrews told authorities that she was forced to sign an affidavit stating she had wrongfully identified Sacco and Vanzetti, but signed a counter-affidavit the following day. Another, Lewis Pelser, described how he had submitted to alleged prosecutorial coercion while drunk and signed a counter-affidavit shortly thereafter.[citation needed]

One motion, the so-called Hamilton-Proctor motion, involved the forensic ballistic evidence presented by the expert witnesses for the prosecution and defense. The prosecution's firearms expert, Charles Van Amburgh, had re-examined the evidence in preparation for the motion. By 1923, bullet comparison technology had improved somewhat, and Van Amburgh submitted photos of the bullets fired from Sacco's .32 Colt in support of the argument that they matched the bullet that killed Berardelli. In response, the controversial[76][77] self-proclaimed "firearms expert" for the defense, Albert H. Hamilton,[76] conducted an in-court demonstration involving two brand new Colt .32-caliber automatic pistols belonging to Hamilton, along with Sacco's .32 Colt of the same make and caliber. In front of Judge Thayer and the lawyers for both sides, Hamilton disassembled all three pistols and placed the major component parts - barrel, barrel bushing, recoil spring, frame, slide, and magazine - into three piles on the table before him.[78][79][80] He explained the functions of each part and began to demonstrate how each was interchangeable, in the process intermingling the parts of all three pistols.[79] Judge Thayer stopped Hamilton and demanded that he reassemble Sacco's pistol with its proper parts.[79]

Other motions focused on the jury foreman and a prosecution ballistics expert. In 1923, the defense filed an affidavit from a friend of the jury foreman, who swore that prior to the trial, the jury foreman had allegedly said of Sacco and Vanzetti, "Damn them, they ought to hang them anyway!" That same year, the defense read to the court an affidavit by Captain William Proctor (who had died shortly after conclusion of the trial) in which Proctor stated that he could not say that Bullet III was fired by Sacco's .32 Colt pistol.[57] At the conclusion of the appeal hearings, Thayer denied all motions for a new trial on October 1, 1924.[81]

Several months later, in February 1924, Judge Thayer asked one of the firearms experts for the prosecution, Capt. Charles Van Amburgh, to reinspect Sacco's Colt and determine its condition. With District Attorney Katzmann present, Van Amburgh took the gun from the clerk and started to take it apart.[79] Van Amburgh quickly noticed that the barrel to Sacco's gun was brand new, being still covered in the manufacturer's protective rust preventative.[79] Judge Thayer began private hearings to determine who had tampered with the evidence by switching the barrel on Sacco's gun. During three weeks of hearings, Albert Hamilton and Captain Van Amburgh squared off, challenging each other's authority. Testimony suggested that Sacco's gun had been treated with little care, and frequently disassembled for inspection. New defense attorney William Thompson insisted that no one on his side could have switched the barrels "unless they wanted to run their necks into a noose." [82] Albert Hamilton swore he had only taken the gun apart while being watched by Judge Thayer. Judge Thayer made no finding as to who had switched the .32 Colt barrels, but ordered the rusty barrel returned to Sacco's Colt.[79] After the hearing concluded, unannounced to Judge Thayer, Captain Van Amburgh took both Sacco's and Vanzetti's guns, along with the bullets and shells involved in the crime to his home where he kept them until a Boston Globe expose revealed the misappropriation in 1960. Meanwhile, Van Amburgh bolstered his own credentials by writing an article on the case for True Detective Mysteries. The 1935 article charged that prior to the discovery of the gun barrel switch, Albert Hamilton had tried to walk out of the courtroom with Sacco's gun but was stopped by Judge Thayer. Although several historians of the case, including Francis Russell, have reported this story as factual, nowhere in transcripts of the private hearing on the gun barrel switch was this incident ever mentioned. The same year the True Detective article was published, a study of ballistics in the case concluded, "what might have been almost indubitable evidence was in fact rendered more than useless by the bungling of the experts."[83]

Appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court[edit]

The defense appealed Thayer's denial of their motions to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest level of the state's judicial system. Both sides presented arguments to its five judges on January 11–13, 1926.[81] The SJC returned a unanimous verdict on May 12, 1926 upholding Judge Thayer's decisions.[81][84] The Court did not have the authority to review the trial record as a whole or to judge the fairness of the case. Instead, the judges considered only whether Thayer had abused his discretion in the course of the trial. Thayer later claimed that the SJC had "approved" the verdicts, which advocates for the defendants protested as a misinterpretation of the Court's ruling, which only found "no error" in his individual rulings.[85]

Madeiros confession[edit]

In November 1925, Celestino Madeiros, an ex-convict awaiting trial for murder, confessed to committing the Braintree crimes. He absolved Sacco and Vanzetti of participation.[86] In May, once the SJC had denied their appeal and Madeiros was convicted, the defense investigated the details of Madeiros’ story. Police interviews led them to the Morelli gang based in Providence, Rhode Island. They developed an alternative theory of the crime based on the gang’s history of shoe-factory robberies, connections to a car like that used in Braintree, and other details. Gang leader Joe Morelli bore a striking resemblance to Sacco.[87][88][89]

The defense filed a motion for a new trial based on the Madeiros confession on May 26, 1926.[81] In support of their motion they included 64 affidavits. The prosecution countered with 26 affidavits.[90] When Thayer heard arguments from September 13 to 17, 1926,[81] the defense, along with their Madeiros-Morelli theory of the crime, charged that the U.S. Justice Department was aiding the prosecution by withholding information obtained in its own investigation of the case. Attorney William Thompson made an explicitly political attack: "A government which has come to value its own secrets more than it does the lives of its citizens has become a tyranny, whether you call it a republic, a monarchy, or anything else!"[91] Judge Thayer denied this motion for a new trial on October 23, 1926. After arguing against the credibility of Madeiros, he addressed the defense claims against the federal government, saying the defense was suffering from "a new type of disease,...a belief in the existence of something which in fact and truth has no such existence."[81][92]

Three days later, the Boston Herald responded to Thayer's decision by reversing its longstanding position and calling for a new trial. Its editorial, "We Submit", earned its author a Pulitzer Prize.[93][94] No other newspapers followed suit.[95]

Second appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court[edit]

The defense promptly appealed again to the Supreme Judicial Court and presented their arguments on January 27 and 28, 1927.[81] While the appeal was under consideration, Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter published an article in the Atlantic Monthly arguing for a retrial. He noted that the SJC had already taken a very narrow view of its authority when considering the first appeal, and called upon the court to review the entire record of the case. He called their attention to Thayer's lengthy statement that accompanied his denial of the Madeiros appeal, describing it as "a farrago of misquotations, misrepresentations, suppressions, and mutilations," "honeycombed with demonstrable errors."[96]

At the same time, Major Calvin Goddard, a ballistics expert who had helped pioneer the use of the comparison microscope in forensic ballistic research, offered to conduct an independent examination of the forensic gun and bullet evidence using techniques he had developed for use with the comparison microscope.[97] Goddard first offered to conduct a new forensic examination for the defense, which rejected it, and then to the prosecution, which accepted his offer.[97] Using the comparison microscope, Goddard compared Bullet III and a .32 Auto shell casing found at the South Braintree shooting with that of several .32 Auto test cartridges fired from Sacco's .32 Colt automatic pistol.[56][97] Goddard concluded that not only did Bullet III match the rifling marks found on the barrel of Sacco's .32 Colt pistol, but that scratches made by the firing pin of Sacco's .32 Colt on the primers of spent shell casings test-fired from Sacco's Colt matched those found on the primer of a spent shell casing recovered at the South Braintree murder scene.[56][97] More sophisticated comparative examinations in 1935, 1961, and 1983 each reconfirmed the opinion that the bullet the prosecution said killed Berardelli, and one of the cartridge cases introduced into evidence, were fired in Sacco's .32 Colt automatic.[56] (Defenders of Sacco and Vanzetti have long claimed that "Bullet III" and the associated cartridge case were planted by the police, in order to frame the two defendants. William Young and David Kaiser, in their book "Postmortem: New Evidence in the Sacco-Vanzetti Case," note that the scratches at the base of Bullet III are made in a handwriting that is dramatically different than those at the base of the other bullets.)

The Supreme Judicial Court denied the Madeiros appeal on April 5, 1927.[81] Summarizing the decision, the New York Times said that the SJC had determined that "the judge had a right to rule as he did" but that the SJC "did not deny the validity of the new evidence."[98] The SJC also said: "It is not imperative that a new trial be granted even though evidence is newly discovered and, if presented to a jury, would justify a different verdict."[99]

Protests and advocacy[edit]

Many famous socialists and intellectuals campaigned for a retrial without success. John Dos Passos came to Boston to cover the case as a journalist, stayed to author a pamphlet called Facing the Chair,[100] and was arrested in a demonstration on August 10, 1927, along with Dorothy Parker.[101] After being arrested while picketing the State House, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay pleaded her case to the governor in person and then wrote an appeal: "I cry to you with a million voices: answer our doubt...There is need in Massachusetts of a great man tonight."[102]

Others who wrote to Fuller or signed petitions included Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells.[103] The president of the American Federation of Labor cited "the long period of time intervening between the commission of the crime and the final decision of the Court" as well as "the mental and physical anguish which Sacco and Vanzetti must have undergone during the past seven years" in a telegram to the governor.[104]

Benito Mussolini, the target of two anarchist assassination attempts, quietly made inquiries through diplomatic channels and was prepared to ask Governor Fuller to commute the sentences if it appeared his request would be granted.[105][106]

In 1926, a bomb presumed to be the work of anarchists destroyed the house of Samuel Johnson, the brother of the Simon Johnson who had called police the night of Sacco and Vanzetti's arrest.[107]

In August 1927, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) called for a three-day nationwide walkout to protest the pending executions.[108] The most notable response came in the Walsenburg coal district of Colorado, where 1,132 out of 1,167 miners participated in the walkout. It led to the Colorado coal strike of 1927.[109]

Defendants in prison[edit]

Charlestown State Prison, 1900

For their part, Sacco and Vanzetti seemed to alternate between moods of defiance, vengeance, resignation, and despair. The June 1926 issue of Protesta Umana, published by their Defense Committee, carried an article signed by Sacco and Vanzetti that appealed for retaliation by their colleagues. In the article, Vanzetti wrote, "I will try to see Thayer death [sic] before his pronunciation of our sentence," and asked fellow anarchists for "revenge, revenge in our names and the names of our living and dead."[110] The article concluded by urging readers to recall La Salute è in voi!, Galleani's bomb-making manual.

Both wrote dozens of letters asserting their innocence, insisting they had been framed because they were anarchists. Their conduct in prison consistently impressed guards and wardens. In 1927, the Dedham jail chaplain wrote to the head of an investigatory commission that he had seen no evidence of guilt or remorse on Sacco's part. Vanzetti impressed fellow prisoners at Charlestown State Prison as a bookish intellectual, incapable of committing any violent crime. Novelist John Dos Passos, who visited both men in jail, observed of Vanzetti, "nobody in his right mind who was planning such a crime would take a man like that along."[111] Vanzetti developed his command of English to such a degree that journalist Murray Kempton later described him as "the greatest writer of English in our century to learn his craft, do his work, and die all in the space of seven years."[112]

Sentencing[edit]

On April 9, 1927, Judge Thayer heard final statements from Sacco and Vanzetti. In a lengthy speech Vanzetti said:[113][114]

I would not wish to a dog or to a snake, to the most low and misfortunate creature of the earth, I would not wish to any of them what I have had to suffer for things that I am not guilty of. But my conviction is that I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I am an Italian and indeed I am an Italian...if you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already.[115]

Thayer declared that the responsibility for the conviction rested solely with the jury's determination of guilt. "The Court has absolutely nothing to do with that question." He sentenced each of them to "suffer the punishment of death by the passage of a current of electricity through your body" during the week beginning July 10.[113] He twice postponed the execution date while the governor considered requests for clemency.[116]

On May 10, a package bomb addressed to Governor Fuller was intercepted in the Boston post office.[117]

Clemency appeal and the Governor’s Advisory Committee[edit]

Massachusetts Governor
Alvan T. Fuller

In response to public protests that greeted the sentencing, Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller faced last-minute appeals to grant clemency to Sacco and Vanzetti. On June 1, 1927, he appointed an Advisory Committee of three: President Abbott Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, President Samuel Wesley Stratton of MIT, and Probate Judge Robert Grant. They were tasked with reviewing the trial to determine whether it had been fair. Lowell's appointment was generally well received, for though he had controversy in his past, he had also at times demonstrated an independent streak. The defense attorneys considered resigning when they determined that the Committee was biased against the defendants, but some of the defendants' most prominent supporters, including Harvard Law Professor Felix Frankfurter and Judge Julian W. Mack of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, persuaded them to stay because Lowell "was not entirely hopeless."[118]

One of the defense attorneys, though ultimately very critical of the Committee's work, thought the Committee members were not really capable of the task the Governor set for them:

"No member of the Committee had the essential sophistication that comes with experience in the trial of criminal cases....The high positions in the community held by the members of the Committee obscured the fact that they were not really qualified to perform the difficult task assigned to them."[119]

He also thought that the Committee, particularly Lowell, imagined it could use its fresh and more powerful analytical abilities to outperform the efforts of those who had worked on the case for years, even finding evidence of guilt that professional prosecutors had discarded.[119]

Grant was another establishment figure, a probate court judge from 1893 to 1923 and an Overseer of Harvard University from 1896 to 1921, and the author of a dozen popular novels.[120] Some criticized Grant's appointment to the Committee, with one defense lawyer saying he "had a black-tie class concept of life around him," but Harold Laski in a conversation at the time found him "moderate." Others cited evidence of xenophobia in some of his novels, references to "riff-raff" and a variety of racial slurs. His biographer allows that he was "not a good choice," not a legal scholar, and handicapped by age. Stratton, the one member who was not a "Boston Brahmin," maintained the lowest public profile of the three and hardly spoke during its hearings.[121]

In their earlier appeals, the defense was limited to the trial record. The Governor's Committee, however, was not a judicial proceeding, so Judge Thayer's comments outside the courtroom could be used to demonstrate his bias. Once Thayer told reporters that "No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!"[122] According to the affidavits of eyewitnesses, Thayer also lectured members of his clubs, calling Sacco and Vanzetti "Bolsheviki!" and saying he would "get them good and proper". During the Dedham trial's first week, Thayer said to reporters: "Did you ever see a case in which so many leaflets and circulars have been spread...saying people couldn't get a fair trial in Massachusetts? You wait till I give my charge to the jury, I'll show them!"[123] In 1924, Thayer confronted a Massachusetts lawyer at Dartmouth, his alma mater, and said: "Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day. I guess that will hold them for a while.... Let them go to the Supreme Court now and see what they can get out of them."[124] The Committee knew that, following the verdict, Boston Globe reporter Frank Sibley, who had covered the trial, wrote a protest to the Massachusetts attorney general condemning Thayer's blatant bias. Thayer's behavior both inside the courtroom and outside of it had become a public issue, with the New York World attacking Thayer as "an agitated little man looking for publicity and utterly impervious to the ethical standards one has the right to expect of a man presiding in a capital case."[125]

On July 12–13, 1927, following testimony by the defense firearms expert Albert H. Hamilton before the Committee, the Assistant District Attorney for Massachusetts, Dudley P. Ranney, took the opportunity to cross-examine Hamilton. He submitted affidavits questioning Hamilton's credentials as well as his performance during the New York trial of Charles Stielow, in which Hamilton's testimony linking rifling marks to a bullet used to kill the victim nearly sent an innocent man to the electric chair.[76][126] The Committee also heard from Braintree's police chief who told them he had found the cap on Pearl Street, allegedly dropped by Sacco during the crime, a full 24-hours after the getaway car had fled the scene. The chief doubted the cap belonged to Sacco and called the whole trial a contest "to see who could tell the biggest lies."[127]

After two weeks of hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence, the Committee determined that the trial had been fair and a new trial was not warranted. They assessed the charges against Thayer as well. Their criticism, using words provided by Judge Grant,[128] was direct: "He ought not to have talked about the case off the bench, and doing so was a grave breach of judicial decorum." But they also found some of the charges about his statements unbelievable or exaggerated, and they determined that anything he might have said had no impact on the trial. The panel's reading of the trial transcript convinced them that Thayer "tried to be scrupulously fair." The Committee also reported that the trial jurors were almost unanimous in praising Thayer's conduct of the trial.[129]

A defense attorney later noted ruefully that the release of the Committee's report "abruptly stilled the burgeoning doubts among the leaders of opinion in New England."[130] Supporters of the convicted men denounced the Committee. Harold Laski told Holmes that the Committee's work showed that Lowell's "loyalty to his class ... transcended his ideas of logic and justice."[131]

Execution and funeral[edit]

On August 15, 1927, with the executions scheduled for midnight on August 22, a bomb exploded at the home of one of the Dedham jurors.[132] On Sunday August 21, more than 20,000 protesters assembled on Boston Common.[133]

In their cells at Charlestown State Prison, both Sacco and Vanzetti refused a priest several times on their last day.[134] Their attorney William Thompson asked Vanzetti to make a statement opposing violent retaliation for his death and they discussed forgiving one's enemies.[135] Thompson also asked him to swear to his and Sacco's innocence one last time, and Vanzetti did. Celestino Madeiros, whose execution had been delayed in case his testimony was required at another trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, was executed first. Sacco was next and walked quietly to the electric chair, then shouted "Farewell, mother."[4][136] Vanzetti, in his final moments, shook hands with guards and thanked them for their kind treatment, read a statement proclaiming his innocence, and finally said, "I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me."[4][137] All three executions were carried out by Robert G. Elliott, the state electrician.[138] Following the executions, death masks were made of the men.[139]

Violent demonstrations swept through many cities the next day, including Geneva, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. In South America wildcat strikes closed factories. Three died in Germany, and protesters in Johannesburg burned an American flag outside the American embassy.[140] It has been alleged that some of these activities were organized by the Communist Party.[141]

At Langone Funeral Home in Boston North End, more than 10,000 mourners viewed Sacco and Vanzetti in open caskets over two days. At the funeral parlor, a wreath over the caskets announced Aspettando l'ora della vendetta (Awaiting the hour of vengeance). On Sunday, August 28, a two-hour funeral procession bearing huge floral tributes moved through the city. Police blocked the route, which passed the State House, and at one point mourners and the police clashed. The hearses reached Forest Hills Cemetery where, after a brief eulogy, the bodies were cremated.[142] The Boston Globe called it "one of the most tremendous funerals of modern times."[143] Will H. Hays, head of the motion picture industry's umbrella organization, ordered all film of the funeral procession destroyed.[144]

Sacco's ashes were sent to Torremaggiore, the town of his birth, where they are interred at the base of a monument erected in 1998. Vanzetti's ashes were buried with his mother in Villafalletto.[145][146]

Continuing protests and analyses[edit]

Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, one of the most vocal supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti in Argentina, bombed the American embassy in Buenos Aires a few hours after the two men were sentenced to death.[147] A few days after the executions, Sacco's widow thanked Di Giovanni by letter for his support and added that the director of the tobacco firm Combinados had offered to produce a cigarette brand named "Sacco & Vanzetti".[147] On November 26, 1927, Di Giovanni and others bombed a Combinados tobacco shop.[147] On December 24, 1927, Di Giovanni blew up the headquarters of The National City Bank of New York and of the Bank of Boston in Buenos Aires in apparent protest of the execution.[147] In December 1928, Di Giovanni and others failed in an attempt to bomb the train in which President-elect Herbert Hoover was traveling during his visit to Argentina.[147]

Three months later, bombs exploded in the New York subway, in a Philadelphia church, and at the home of the mayor of Baltimore. One of the jurors in the Dedham trial had his house bombed, throwing him and his family from their beds. Less than a year after the executions, a bomb destroyed the front porch of the home of executioner Robert Elliott. As late as 1932, Judge Thayer's home was wrecked and his wife and housekeeper were injured in a bomb blast.[148] Afterward, Thayer lived permanently at his club in Boston, guarded 24 hours a day until his death.

In October 1927, H.G. Wells wrote an essay that discussed the case at length. He called it "a case like the Dreyfus case, by which the soul of a people is tested and displayed." He felt that Americans failed to understand what about the case roused European opinion:[149]

The guilt or innocence of these two Italians is not the issue that has excited the opinion of the world. Possibly they were actual murderers, and still more possibly they knew more than they would admit about the crime.... Europe is not "retrying" Sacco and Vanzetti or anything of the sort. It is saying what it thinks of Judge Thayer. Executing political opponents as political opponents after the fashion of Mussolini and Moscow we can understand, or bandits as bandits; but this business of trying and executing murderers as Reds, or Reds as murderers, seems to be a new and very frightening line for the courts of a State in the most powerful and civilized Union on earth to pursue.

He used the case to complain that Americans were too sensitive to foreign criticism: "One can scarcely let a sentence that is not highly flattering glance across the Atlantic without some American blowing up."[149]

In 1928, Upton Sinclair published his novel Boston, an indictment of the American judicial system. He explored Vanzetti's life and writings, as its focus, and mixed fictional characters with historical participants in the trials. Though his portrait of Vanzetti was entirely sympathetic, Sinclair disappointed advocates for the defense by failing to absolve Sacco and Vanzetti of the crimes, however much he argued that their trial had been unjust.[150] Years later, he explained: "Some of the things I told displeased the fanatical believers; but having portrayed the aristocrats as they were, I had to do the same thing for the anarchists."[151][152] While doing research for the book, Sinclair found evidence that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty; he referred to this as an "ethical problem" but did not include the information in his book.[153]

When the letters Sacco and Vanzetti wrote appeared in print in 1928, journalist Walter Lippmann commented: "If Sacco and Vanzetti were professional bandits, then historians and biographers who attempt to deduce character from personal documents might as well shut up shop. By every test that I know of for judging character, these are the letters of innocent men."[154] On January 3, 1929, as Gov. Fuller left the inauguration of his successor, he found a copy of the Letters thrust at him by someone in the crowd. He knocked it to the ground "with an exclamation of contempt."[155]

Intellectual and literary supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti continued to speak out. In 1936, on the day when Harvard celebrated its 300th anniversary, 28 Harvard alumni issued a statement attacking the University's retired President Lowell for his role on the Governor's Advisory Committee in 1927. They included Heywood Broun, Malcolm Cowley, Granville Hicks, and John Dos Passos.[156]

Massachusetts judicial reform[edit]

Following the SJC's assertion that it could not order a new trial even if there was new evidence that "would justify a different verdict," a movement for "drastic reform" quickly took shape in Boston's legal community.[98] In December 1927, four months after the executions, the Massachusetts Judicial Council cited the Sacco and Vanzetti case as evidence of "serious defects in our methods of administering justice." It proposed a series of changes designed to appeal to both sides of the political divide, including restrictions on the number and timing of appeals. Its principal proposal addressed the SJC's right to review. It argued that a judge would benefit from a full review of a trial, and that no one man should bear the burden in a capital case. A review could defend a judge whose decisions were challenged and make it less likely that a governor would be drawn into a case. It asked for the SJC to have right to order a new trial "upon any ground if the interests of justice appear to inquire it."[157] Governor Fuller endorsed the proposal in his January 1928 annual message.[158]

The Judicial Council repeated its recommendations in 1937 and 1938. Finally, in 1939 the language it had proposed was adopted. Since that time, the SJC has been required to review all death penalty cases, to consider the entire case record, and to affirm or overturn the verdict on the law and on the evidence or "for any other reason that justice may require." (Mass laws, 1939 c 341)[159][160][161]

Historical viewpoints[edit]

Many historians,[who?] especially legal historians, have concluded the Sacco and Vanzetti prosecution, trial, and aftermath constituted a blatant disregard for political civil liberties, and especially criticize Thayer's decision to deny a retrial.

John W. Johnson has said that the authorities and jurors were influenced by strong anti-Italian prejudice and the prejudice against immigrants widely held at the time, especially in New England.[162] Against charges of racism and racial prejudice, Paul Avrich and Brenda and James Lutz point out that both men were known anarchist members of a militant organization, members of which had been conducting a violent campaign of bombing and attempted assassinations, acts condemned by most Americans of all backgrounds.[163][164] Though in general anarchist groups did not finance their militant activities through bank robberies, a fact noted by the investigators of the Bureau of Investigation, this was not true of the Galleanist group. Mario Buda readily told an interviewer: "Andavamo a prenderli dove c'erano" ("We used to go and get it [money] where it was") – meaning factories and banks.[23] The guard Berardelli was also Italian.

Johnson and Avrich suggest that the government prosecuted Sacco and Vanzetti for the robbery-murders as a convenient means to put a stop to their militant activities as Galleanists, whose bombing campaign at the time posed a lethal threat, both to the government and to many Americans.[162][165] Faced with a secretive underground group whose members resisted interrogation and believed in their cause, Federal and local officials using conventional law enforcement tactics had been repeatedly stymied in their efforts to identify all members of the group or to collect enough evidence for a prosecution.[164]

Most historians believe that Sacco and Vanzetti were involved at some level in the Galleanist bombing campaign, although their precise roles have not been determined.[23][166] In 1955 Charles Poggi, a longtime anarchist and American citizen, traveled to Savignano in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy to visit old comrades, including the Galleanists' principal bombmaker, Mario "Mike" Buda.[23] While discussing the South Braintree robbery, Buda told Poggi, "Sacco c'era" (Sacco was there).[23] Poggi added that he "had a strong feeling that Buda himself was one of the robbers, though I didn't ask him and he didn't say."[167] Whether Buda and Ferruccio Coacci, whose shared rental house contained the manufacturer's diagram of a .32 Savage automatic pistol (matching the .32 Savage pistol believed to have been used to shoot both Berardelli and Parmenter), had also participated in the South Braintree robbery and murders would remain a matter of speculation.[168]

Later evidence and investigations[edit]

In 1941, anarchist leader Carlo Tresca, a member of the Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee, told Max Eastman, "Sacco was guilty but Vanzetti was innocent",[169] although it is clear from his statement that Tresca equated guilt only with the act of pulling the trigger, i.e., Vanzetti was not the principal triggerman in Tresca's view, but was an accomplice to Sacco. This conception of innocence is in sharp contrast to the legal one.[original research?] Both The Nation and The New Republic refused to publish Tresca's revelation, which Eastman said occurred after he pressed Tresca for the truth about the two men's involvement in the shooting.[169] The story finally appeared in National Review in October 1961.[170] Others who had known Tresca confirmed that he had made similar statements to them,[170] but Tresca's daughter insisted her father never hinted at Sacco's guilt. Others attributed Tresca's revelations to his disagreements with the Galleanists.[171]

Labor organizer Anthony Ramuglia, an anarchist in the 1920s, said in 1952 that a Boston anarchist group had asked him to be a false alibi witness for Sacco. After agreeing, he had remembered that he had been in jail on the day in question, so he could not testify.[172]

Both men had previously fled to Mexico, changing their names in order to evade draft registration, a fact the prosecutor in their murder trial used to demonstrate their lack of patriotism and which they were not allowed to rebut. Sacco and Vanzetti's supporters would later argue that the men fled the country to avoid persecution and conscription; their critics said they left to escape detection and arrest for militant and seditious activities in the United States. However, a 1953 Italian history of anarchism written by anonymous colleagues revealed a different motivation:

"Several dozen Italian anarchists left the United States for Mexico. Some have suggested they did so because of cowardice. Nothing could be more false. The idea to go to Mexico arose in the minds of several comrades who were alarmed by the idea that, remaining in the United States, they would be forcibly restrained from leaving for Europe, where the revolution that had burst out in Russia that February promised to spread all over the continent."[173]

In October 1961, ballistic tests were run with improved technology on Sacco's Colt automatic. The results confirmed that the bullet that killed Berardelli in 1920 was fired from Sacco's pistol.[174] The Thayer court's habit of mistakenly referring to Sacco's .32 Colt pistol as well as any other automatic pistol as a 'revolver' (a popular custom of the day) has sometimes mystified later-generation researchers attempting to follow the forensic evidence trail.[53]

In 1987, Charlie Whipple, a former Boston Globe editorial page editor, revealed a conversation that he had with Sergeant Edward J. Seibolt in 1937. According to Whipple, Seibolt said that "we switched the murder weapon in that case", but indicated that he would deny this if Whipple ever printed it.[175][176] However, at the time of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, Seibolt was only a patrolman, and did not work in the Boston Police ballistics department; Seibolt died in 1961 without corroborating Whipple's story.[175] In 1935, Captain Charles Van Amburgh, a key ballistics witness for the prosecution, wrote a six-part article on the case for a pulp detective magazine. Van Amburgh described a scene in which Thayer caught defense ballistics expert Hamilton trying to leave the courtroom with Sacco's gun. However, Thayer said nothing about such a move during the hearing on the gun barrel switch and refused to blame either side. Following the private hearing on the gun barrel switch, Van Amburgh kept Sacco's gun in his house, where it remained until the Boston Globe did an expose in 1960.[177]

Sacco's .32 Colt pistol is claimed to have passed in and out of police custody and to have been dismantled several times between 1925 and 1961 for the conduct of various examinations, most notably in the demonstration performed by defense firearms expert Albert H. Hamilton in which he removed the original barrel from Sacco's .32 Colt. It has been alleged that this dismantling and the exchange of barrels between Hamilton's two .32 Colt Automatic pistols and Sacco's gun effectively interrupted the chain of custody of the evidence. If so, it is an example of gross misconduct on the part of the defense, and rebuts the claim that the men were framed by the prosecution. The central problem with these charges is that the evidence tying Sacco's gun to the South Braintree murders was based not only on the .32-caliber Colt pistol barrel and the .32-caliber Bullet III, the fatal bullet that killed Berardelli, but also the spent .32 Auto cartridge cases (shell casings) found at the scene.[97][original research?] Hamilton acknowledged that the new .32 barrel in Sacco's Colt pistol must have come from one of Hamilton's own brand-new two .32 Colt automatics that he had used for his demonstration.[97]

As Bullet III and one of the South Braintree .32-caliber empty shell casings were both independently linked to Sacco's Colt, a conspirator determined to fabricate evidence linking Sacco's gun to Berardelli's murder would have to access police evidence lockers and switch the barrel that fired Bullet III into Sacco's gun. In addition, he would have to substitute a spent .32 Auto shell casing fired from Sacco's Colt of the same type as the obsolete loading retrieved by police at the murder scene, or else obtain the actual murder weapon, then transfer that weapon's barrel and firing pin into the .32 Colt pistol taken from Sacco, all before Calvin Goddard's first microscopic examination in 1927 when the first scientific comparative match was made to Sacco's gun.[97][original research?]

Critics of the prosecution's evidence emphasize that while four bullets were recovered from Berardelli, the slain guard, only one bullet was linked to Sacco's pistol. The other three bullets were found to have been fired from a .32 Savage automatic pistol that was never recovered. Several witnesses insisted that one gunman fired four bullets into Berardelli, which might have been the man wielding the .32 Savage. "I seen this fellow shoot this fellow," one witness told the court. "It was the last shot. He put four bullets into him."[178] In 1927, the defense suggested that the bullet had been planted, noting the scratches on the base of the one bullet unlike those found on the others. The Lowell Commission dismissed this claim as desperate. One theory is that another gunman, perhaps Mario Buda, must have been involved along with Sacco, and that this unknown gunman used a .32 Savage pistol to shoot Parmenter twice and Berardelli three times. He left Sacco to fatally shoot Berardelli with the sixth .32 bullet traced to the latter's .32 Colt pistol.

In 1973 a former mobster published a confession by Frank "Butsy" Morelli, Joe's brother. "We whacked them out, we killed those guys in the robbery," Butsy Morelli told Vincent Teresa. "These two greaseballs Sacco and Vanzetti took it on the chin."[179]

Before his death in June 1982, Giovanni Gambera, a member of the four-person team of anarchist leaders who met shortly after the arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti to plan their defense, told his son that "everyone [in the anarchist inner circle] knew that Sacco was guilty and that Vanzetti was innocent as far as the actual participation in killing."[180]

Russell had originally written about the case, arguing that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, but further research led him to write a 1962 book, asserting that Sacco was guilty. Russell used the Gambera revelation as the basis of a new book in 1986, in which he claims that the case is "solved." He presented his view that Sacco was one of the shooters, while Vanzetti was an accessory after the fact. While Russell's 1962 book was praised, even by those who disagreed with his conclusion, for being balanced and well-reasoned, his 1986 book was much more negatively received. In the latter, the "accessory after the fact" legal theory is incorrect: Massachusetts law, now and at the time of the crime, allowed both men to be charged as joint principals in a robbery-homicide, for which they were convicted. From a legal standpoint, it does not matter how many shots, or even if, Vanzetti fired, to establish his legal culpability for the robbery and murders. This distinction is a source of much confusion to laymen, and of most claims that Vanzetti was "innocent" or had no "actual participation in killing."[original research?]

Months before he died, the distinguished jurist Charles E. Wyzanski, Jr., who had presided for 45 years on the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, wrote to Russell stating, "I myself am persuaded by your writings that Sacco was guilty." The judge's assessment was significant, because he was one of Felix Frankfurter's "Hot Dogs," and Justice Frankfurter had advocated his appointment to the federal bench.[181]

Dukakis proclamation[edit]

In 1977, as the 50th anniversary of the executions approached, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis asked the Office of the Governor's Legal Counsel to report on "whether there are substantial grounds for believing–at least in the light of the legal standards of today–that Sacco and Vanzetti were unfairly convicted and executed" and to recommend appropriate action.[182] The resulting "Report to the Governor in the Matter of Sacco and Vanzetti" detailed grounds for doubting that the trial was conducted fairly in the first instance, and argued as well that such doubts were only reinforced by "later-discovered or later-disclosed evidence."[183] The Report questioned prejudicial cross-examination that the trial judge allowed, the judge's hostility, the fragmentary nature of the evidence, and eyewitness testimony that came to light after the trial. It found the judge's charge to the jury troubling for the way it emphasized the defendants' behavior at the time of their arrest and highlighted certain physical evidence that was later called into question.[184] The Report also dismissed the argument that the trial had been subject to judicial review, noting that "the system for reviewing murder cases at the time...failed to provide the safeguards now present."[185]

Based on recommendations of the Office of Legal Counsel, Dukakis declared August 23, 1977, the 50th anniversary of their execution, as Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti Memorial Day.[186] His proclamation, issued in English and Italian, stated that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." He did not pardon them, because that would imply they were guilty. Neither did he assert their innocence.[187][188][189] A resolution to censure Governor Dukakis failed in the Massachusetts Senate by a vote of 23 to 12.[190] Dukakis later expressed regret only for not reaching out to the families of the victims of the crime.[191]

Later tributes[edit]

A memorial committee tried to present a plaster cast executed in 1937 by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, to Massachusetts governors and Boston mayors in 1937, 1947, and 1957 without success. On August 23, 1997, on the 70th anniversary of the Sacco and Vanzetti executions, Boston's first Italian-American Mayor, Thomas Menino, and the Italian-American Governor of Massachusetts, Paul Cellucci, unveiled the work at the Boston Public Library, where it remains on display.

Memorial poster located on the corner of French Avenue and Pearl Street in Braintree, Mass

"The city's acceptance of this piece of artwork is not intended to reopen debate about the guilt or innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti," Menino said. "It is intended to remind us of the dangers of miscarried justice, and the right we all have to a fair trial."[192]

The event occasioned a renewed debate about the fairness of the trial in the editorial pages of the Boston Herald.[193]

A mosaic mural portraying the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti is installed on the main campus of Syracuse University. In Braintree, Massachusetts on the Corner of French Ave and Pearl Street, a memorial marks the site of the murders. The memorial has two exhibits. The first is a weatherproof poster that discusses the crime and the subsequent trial. The second exhibit is a metal plaque that memorializes the victims of the crime.

Memorial poster for the victims, also located on the corner of French Avenue and Pearl Street in Braintree, Mass

The "Sacco and Vanzetti Centuria" was an American anarchist military unit in the Durruti Column that fought in the Spanish Civil War.[194]

Many sites in the former USSR are named after "Sacco and Vanzetti", for example, a beer production facility in Moscow,[195] a kolkhoz in Donetsk region, Ukraine; and an apartment complex in Yekaterinburg.;[196] 'Sacco and Vanzetti' was also a popular brand of Russian pencil from 1930-2007. Numerous towns in Italy have streets named after Sacco and Vanzetti, including Via Sacco-Vanzetti in Torremaggiore, Sacco's home town; and Villafalletto, Vanzetti's.[197]

1940s Russian pencil showing the 'Sacco & Vanzetti' name in Cyrillic lettering

References in creative works[edit]

Television[edit]

  • In an episode of TV show The Practice a reference is made to the case.
  • In the Boardwalk Empire episode "Georgia Peaches" (Season 2, Episode 10), Nucky Thompson says "Call those two Guinea anarchists from Massachusetts. Tell them to relax, I've found them a new lawyer."

Plays[edit]

Films[edit]

Music[edit]

Written works, paintings[edit]

Sacco and Vanzetti mosaic by Ben Shahn at Syracuse University
Detail of mosaic
  • In 1927, editorial cartoonist Fred Ellis published a compendium called The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti in Cartoons from the "Daily Worker".
  • Upton Sinclair's 1928 book, Boston: A Novel, is a fictional interpretation of the affair.[212]
  • H. G. Wells's 1928 book, Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island, refers to the case and the main character's reaction to it.[213]
  • In the early 1930s, Ben Shahn produced a series of works related to the case, notably The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.[214] A similar sixty-by-twelve-foot mural by Shahn, executed in marble and enamel, is installed on the east wall of Huntington Beard Crouse Hall at Syracuse University.[215]
  • The chapter 'Holding the Fort: The Night Sacco and Vanzetti Died' of Frank Moorhouse's 1993 novel, Grand Days, depicts the violent demonstrations in Geneva following the execution.[216]
  • In 1935, Maxwell Anderson's award-winning drama Winterset presented the story of a man who attempts to clear the name of his Italian immigrant father who has been executed for robbery and murder.[217] It was adapted as a feature film a year later.[218]
  • In 1936, the third novel in John Dos Passos' U.S.A. trilogy, The Big Money, Mary French works on the Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee and is arrested protesting their imminent executions.[219]
  • James T. Farrell's 1946 novel Bernard Clare uses the anti-Italian sentiment provoked by coverage of the case and the crowd scene in New York City's Union Square awaiting news of the executions as critical plot elements.[220]
  • Kurt Vonnegut's 1979 novel, Jailbird, mentions the Sacco and Vanzetti case several times before devoting two chapters to a consideration of the trial, Advisory Committee, statements made by Webster Thayer, execution, and the crucifixion parallel of executing three condemned in a single event.
  • Mark Binelli presented the two as a Laurel-and-Hardy-like comedy team in the 2006 novel Sacco And Vanzetti Must Die![221]
  • In one of John Sayles short stories, in the collection "At the Anarchist's Convention", characters discuss Dukakis pardoning Sacco and Vanzetti.

Poetry[edit]

  • John Dos Passos wrote the poem "They Are Dead Now," about the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti.[222]
  • In his poem "America", Allen Ginsberg presents a catalog of slogans that includes the line: "Sacco and Vanzetti must not die".[223]
  • Carl Sandburg described the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in his poem "Legal Midnight Hour".[224]
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote a poem after the executions titled "Justice Denied In Massachusetts".[225]
  • William Carlos Williams wrote a poem entitled "Impromptu: The Suckers" in response to the trial.[226]
  • Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet's poem "Sacco ile Vanzetti" (Sacco and Vanzetti) hails the two as revolutionaries.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eighteenth-Century American Newspapers in the Library of Congress: Massachusetts". USA: Library of Congress. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Anarchy in the U.S. - Sacco and Vanzetti Subject of LC Lecture, September 18, 1995". USA: Library of Congress Information Bulletin. 
  3. ^ Jornal Folha da Manhã, segunda-feira, 22 de agosto de 1927
  4. ^ a b c "Sacco and Vanzetti Put to Death Early This Morning". New York Times. 23 August 1927. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Montgomery 1960 p. v.
  6. ^ Young & Kaiser 1985 preface.
  7. ^ The New York Times, March 5, 1922
  8. ^ Avrich, Paul (1996). Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background. Princeton University Press. pp. 13, 31. ISBN 9780691026046. 
  9. ^ Aiuto, Russell. "The Legacy of Sacco & Vanzetti". truTV. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02604-1, ISBN 978-0-691-02604-6 (1996), p. 134
  11. ^ New York Times: "Chicago Anarchists Held in Poison Plot," February 14, 1916, accessed July 12, 2010
  12. ^ Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02604-1, ISBN 978-0-691-02604-6 (1996), p. 98
  13. ^ Anonimi Compagni (Anonymous Fellow Anarchists), Un Trentennio di Attività Anarchica, 1914- 1945, Edizioni L'Antistato, Cesena (1953) (reprinted 2002), pp. 195-197
  14. ^ a b University of Pennsylvania
  15. ^ a b McCormick, Charles H., Hopeless Cases, The Hunt For The Red Scare Terrorist Bombers, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, pp. 60-61. Quote: "Elia claims to have been soundly asleep when Salsedo allegedly climbed out the window a few feet away from him, then silently jumped into eternity. Nor did he hear the agents running into his room to find out what had happened; he was snoring loudly when they entered."
  16. ^ Tejada, Susan, In Search of Sacco and Vanzetti: Double Lives, Troubled Times, and the Massachusetts Murder Case that Shook the World, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-1-55553-730-2, 978-1-55553-778-4(ebook), p. 117
  17. ^ David Felix, Protest: Sacco-Vanzetti and the Intellectuals, Bloomington: Indiana University Press (1965), 75-76, 80
  18. ^ McCormick, Hopeless Cases, p. 60
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Reed, Barry C., "The Sacco-Vanzetti Case: The Trial of the Century", ABA Journal, August 1960, pp. 867-869
  20. ^ Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, p. 127
  21. ^ a b c Anderson, Terence, Schum, David A., and Twining, William L., Analysis of Evidence, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-67316-X, 9780521673167 (2005), p. 22
  22. ^ Watson, Bruce, p. 127
  23. ^ a b c d e f Avrich, Paul, Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, AK Press, ISBN 1-904859-27-5, ISBN 978-1-904859-27-7 (2005), Interview of Charles Poggi, pp. 132-133
  24. ^ a b c d e Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, ISBN 0-691-02604-1, ISBN 978-0-691-02604-6 (1991), pp. 201-202
  25. ^ Young, William, and Kaiser, David E., Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, University of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 0-87023-478-1 (1985), p. 23
  26. ^ a b Avrich (1991), Sacco and Vanzetti, p. 202
  27. ^ Avrich (1991), Sacco and Vanzetti, p. 205
  28. ^ Avrich (1991), Sacco and Vanzetti pp. 205, 213, 227
  29. ^ "Bomb For Herrick Wounds His Valet In His Paris Home," New York Times,19 October 1921. Note: Years later, the sender of the bomb was revealed to be May Picqueray (1893-1983), a militant anarchist and editor of Le Réfractaire.
  30. ^ Temkin, Moshik, The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial, New Haven: Yale University Press (2009), ISBN 978-0-300-12484-2, p. 63
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, New York: Viking Press, 2007, ISBN 0-670-06353-3, pp. 65-66, 74-76, 116-118
  32. ^ Joughin, 9
  33. ^ Ehrmann, 73-4
  34. ^ Watson, 59-60; Sacco and Vanzetti, Letters, 225n
  35. ^ Ehrmann, 460
  36. ^ Young and Kaiser, 21-3
  37. ^ Russell, Resolved, 111
  38. ^ Joughin, 34-8
  39. ^ Joughin, 39
  40. ^ Joughin, 42-3, 45-6; Ehrmann, 115ff.
  41. ^ Joughin, 43, 46
  42. ^ Joughin, 46
  43. ^ Joughin, 300, 304
  44. ^ a b Ehrmann, 114-5
  45. ^ Joughin, 10, 47
  46. ^ Amerika-Institut: Last Statements (1927), Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accessed June 22, 2010: "Slacker" was the contemporary term for "draft dodger."
  47. ^ a b Joughin, 56
  48. ^ Joughin, 47
  49. ^ Joughin, 47-8
  50. ^ Ehrmann, 151; Sacco and Vanzetti, Letters, 225n
  51. ^ a b Linder, Doug Linder (2001), The Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, Kansas City MO: University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law (2001)
  52. ^ a b Watson, Bruce (2007), Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the M and the Judgment of Mankind, New York: Viking Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-06353-6, pp. 103-104
  53. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Commonwealth v. Nicola Sacco & Another: Background for Opinion, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 255 Mass. 369; 151 N.E. 839, January 11–13, 1926, Argued; May 12, 1926, Decided
  54. ^ Reed, Barry C., The Sacco-Vanzetti Case: The Trial of the Century, ABA Journal, August 1960, p. 869
  55. ^ Ramsland, Katherine. "Ballistics: The Science of Guns". truTV. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  56. ^ a b c d Grant, Robert, and Katz, Joseph, The Great Trials of the Twenties: The Watershed Decade in America's Courtrooms, New York: Da Capo Press, ISBN 1-885119-52-6, ISBN 978-1-885119-52-0 (1998), p. 43
  57. ^ a b Neville, John F., Twentieth-century Cause Cèlébre: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the Press, 1920-1927, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-97783-8, ISBN 978-0-275-97783-2 (2004), p. 52 (Note: Accents are incorrect in the original title.)
  58. ^ Russell, 1962, pp.158-160
  59. ^ Russell, Francis (June 1962). "Sacco Guilty, Vanzetti Innocent?". American Heritage 13 (4): 111. "About the gun found on Vanzetti there is too much uncertainty to come to any conclusion. Being of .38 caliber, it was obviously not used at South Braintree, where all the bullets fired were .32's" 
  60. ^ a b c Bortman, Eli, Sacco and Vanzetti (New England Remembers), Applewood Books, ISBN 1-889833-76-2, ISBN 978-1-889833-76-7 (2005), p. 40
  61. ^ Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, p. 126: Upon questioning by the prosecution, witnesses testified that the shop's incorrect labeling of Berardelli's revolver as a .32 instead of a .38 was a common mistake, as there were few outward visible differences between the .32 and 38-caliber Harrington & Richardson five-shot revolvers.
  62. ^ a b Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, p. 126
  63. ^ Avrich (1991), Sacco and Vanzetti: p. 199: Note: Orciani, who did not testify at trial, was the same person who had helped Mario Buda escape the police trap on May 5, 1920 at the Johnson garage via motorcycle.
  64. ^ Avrich (1991), Sacco and Vanzetti, pp. 158, 189, 202: Both Orciani and Falzini (Falsini), like Sacco and Vanzetti, were Galleanists.
  65. ^ Watson, 178, 183-4
  66. ^ Watson, 184
  67. ^ Watson, pp. 64.; See also: Financial Report of the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee (Century Press, 1925)
  68. ^ The Committee also supported Moore's request for grant money. See Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926), revised edition (Masses & Mainstream, 1973), 326
  69. ^ Flynn, 330-1
  70. ^ Watson, pp. 194.
  71. ^ Watson, pp. 265.
  72. ^ Kempton, 42-44
  73. ^ Kempton, 42-4. For a brief biography of Jackson, see Brandeis University: "Jackson, Gardner", accessed February 15, 2011
  74. ^ Virginia Spencer Carr, Dos Passos: A Life (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1984), 222; John Dos Passos, Facing the Chair: Story of Americanization of Two Foreignborn Workmen (Boston: Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, 1927)
  75. ^ Sacco and Vanzetti, Letters, pp. ?
  76. ^ a b c Evans, Colin, Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science Solved 100 of the World's Most Baffling Crimes, New York: Penguin Publishers Ltd., ISBN 0-425-21559-8, ISBN 978-0-425-21559-3 (2007), pp. 12-23: "Doctor" Hamilton was not actually a doctor, but a former patent medicine salesman. He acquired a self-taught reputation as an expert firearms witness, though his testimony had been called into question as early as 1918, three years after Hamilton had testified in a New York murder case, People v. Stielow, that scratches on the barrel rifling of a revolver claimed to be Stielow's exactly matched marks on the bullet that killed the murder victim. Stielow was convicted and sentenced to death, and was only saved from execution after another man confessed to the murder. Subsequent new forensic examinations of both pistol and bullet demonstrated conclusively that no 'scratches' existed and that Stielow's revolver could not have been the murder weapon, and Stielow received a full pardon from the governor of New York.
  77. ^ People v. Stielow, 160 N.Y.S. 555 (1916)
  78. ^ Joughin, Louis and Morgan, Edmund M., An Unpublished Chapter in the Record: The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co. (1948)
  79. ^ a b c d e f Fisher, Jim, Firearms Identification in the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, retrieved 11 October 2011
  80. ^ Russell, Francis, Sacco & Vanzetti: The Case Resolved, New York: Harper & Row Publishers Inc., ISBN 0-06-015524-8, ISBN 978-0-06-015524-7 (1986), p. 150
  81. ^ a b c d e f g h Ehrmann, xvii
  82. ^ Watson, p. 238
  83. ^ Watson, p. 235
  84. ^ Watson, 260-1
  85. ^ Frankfurter, 165
  86. ^ Watson, 257-60; Tropp reproduces the original note Medeiros passed to Sacco in prison, Tropp, 34; on Medeiros's early life, see Russell, Case Resolved, 127-8
  87. ^ Watson, 265-73; Young and Kaiser, 141ff.
  88. ^ Ehrmann develops the theory at length. He consistently spells the name Medeiros without explanation. Ehrmann, 404-31, and passim
  89. ^ In 1925 Joe Morelli denied any involvement in the Braintree robbery-murders (Watson, 270-1). A 1973 Mafia informant’s autobiography quotes his brother Frank Morelli saying of Sacco and Vanzetti: "Those two suckers took it on the chin for us. That shows you how much justice there really is." Young and Kaiser, 151-2 (their dating of the autobiography to 1975 is mistaken); Vincent Teresa, My Life in the Mafia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973)
  90. ^ Watson, 266-73, 279
  91. ^ Watson, 273-5, 280
  92. ^ Watson, 280-1
  93. ^ Pulitzer Prizes: "Winners and Finalists: 1927", accessed July 7, 2010
  94. ^ William David Sloan and Laird B. Anderson, eds., Pulitzer Prize Editorials: America's Best Writing, 1917-2003 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), 3rd edition, 33-6. Reprinted in Topp, Sacco and Vanzetti Case, 158-60; Frankfurter, Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, 115-8. Available online: Google Books.
  95. ^ Watson, 282
  96. ^ Frankfurter, Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, 103. The article later was published, slightly expanded, in book form. Chief Justice of the United States William Howard Taft and some others who believed the pair guilty considered Frankfurter’s article to be the foundation of most intellectuals' criticism of the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Robert Grant, Fourscore: An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934), 366-74
  97. ^ a b c d e f g Goddard, Calvin H., Who Did The Shooting?, Popular Science, Vol. 111 No. 5, ISSN 01617370 (November 1927), pp. 21-22, 171
  98. ^ a b New York Times: Louis Stark, "What Seven Years of Legal Struggle Have Developed," April 17, 1927, accessed June 22, 2010
  99. ^ Watson, 289
  100. ^ Watson, 277, 294
  101. ^ Watson, 331
  102. ^ Watson, 345
  103. ^ Watson, 294
  104. ^ New York Times: "Green Begs Fuller to Extend Clemency to Sacco," August 9, 1927, accessed July 24, 2010
  105. ^ Philip Cannistraro, "Mussolini, Sacco-Vanzetti, and the Anarchists: The Transatlantic Context," in Journal of Modern History, vol. 68, No. 1 (March 1996), 31-62. Italy had deported one of his attackers, Violet Gibson, to Great Britain.
  106. ^ Tropp, 171, Mussolini's telegram to the Italian consul in Boston, July 23, 1927.
  107. ^ Watson, 271
  108. ^ Donald J. McClurg, "The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927 – Tactical Leadership of the IWW," Labor History, vol. 4, no. 1, Winter 1963, 71
  109. ^ Donald J. McClurg, "The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927 -- Tactical Leadership of the IWW," Labor History, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter, 1963, page 72. See also Charles J. Bayard, "The 1927-1928 Colorado Coal Strike," Pacific Historical Review, vol. 32, no. 3, August 1963, 237-8
  110. ^ Watson, Bruce. Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking Press, 2007, ISBN 0-670-06353-3, ISBN 978-0-670-06353-6, p. 264
  111. ^ Watson, 277
  112. ^ Kempton, 46
  113. ^ a b Ehrmann, 458
  114. ^ Ehrmann provides the full record on the court's one-hour sentencing session, 450-8
  115. ^ For Vanzetti's complete statement to the court, from which this quotation is excerpted, see "Last Statement of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 1929". Retrieved Aug 24, 2013. 
  116. ^ Watson, 308, 333
  117. ^ Watson, 303-4
  118. ^ Herbert B. Ehrmann, The Case That Will Not Die: Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969), 485
  119. ^ a b Ehrmann, 255-6, 375, 512, 525ff.
  120. ^ New York Times: "Ex-Judge Grant, Boston Novelist," May 20, 1940, accessed Dec. 20, 2009
  121. ^ Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking, 2007), 311-3
  122. ^ Watson, 115
  123. ^ Watson, 116.
  124. ^ Watson, 252
  125. ^ New York Times: "Judge Thayer Dies in Boston at 75," April 19, 1933, accessed Dec 20, 2009
  126. ^ Newby, Richard, Kill Now, Talk Forever: Debating Sacco and Vanzetti, AuthorHouse Publishers, ISBN 1-4208-4393-1, ISBN 978-1-4208-4393-4 (2006), p. 594
  127. ^ Watson, 317.
  128. ^ Robert Grant, Fourscore: An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934), 372
  129. ^ New York Times: "Advisers Hold Guilt Shown," Aug. 7, 1927, accessed Dec. 20, 2009; Later Grant allowed that he was "amazed and incensed" at the biased comments Judge Thayer made outside the courtroom.
  130. ^ Ehrmann, 539;
  131. ^ Steel, Ronald (1980). Walter Lippmann and the American Century. Boston: Little, Brown. p. 229. 
  132. ^ Watson, 334
  133. ^ Watson, 339
  134. ^ Watson, 341-2, 344
  135. ^ Watson, 343
  136. ^ Watson, 345-6
  137. ^ Watson, 346
  138. ^ TIME: Books: Executioner," January 15, 1940, accessed November 16, 2010
  139. ^ Brandeis University: "Sacco and Vanzetti collections: Mrs. Walter Frank Collection, 1927-1963", accessed February 15, 2011
  140. ^ Watson, 347
  141. ^ Bortman, 60: "An East German scholar researching in the Soviet Union archives in 1958 discovered that the Communist Party had instigated these 'spontaneous demonstrations.'"
  142. ^ Watson, 348-50
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Further reading[edit]

  • Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-691-02604-1
  • Avrich, Paul (1996). Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-03412-6. 
  • Eli Bortman, Sacco & Vanzetti (New England Remembers), Commonwealth Editions, 2005 ISBN 1-889833-76-2
  • Robert D'Attilio, "La Salute è in Voi: the Anarchist Dimension" in Sacco-Vanzetti: Developments and Reconsiderations - 1979, Conference Proceedings (Boston: Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston, 1982)
  • Herbert B. Ehrmann, The Case That Will Not Die: Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969
  • Howard Fast, The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, A New England Legend ISBN 0-8371-5584-3
  • David Felix, Protest: Sacco-Vanzetti and the Intellectuals, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965
  • Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht, Justice Crucified, The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977
  • Frankfurter, Felix (March 1927). "The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti". Atlantic Monthly. ; reprinted in book form as The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti: A Critical Analysisfor Lawyers and Laymen (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1927)
  • James Grossman, "The Sacco-Vanzetti Case Reconsidered," in Commentary, January 1962
  • Brian Jackson, The Black Flag: A Look Back at the Strange Case of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981
  • G. Louis Joughin and Edmund M. Morgan, The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948)
  • Joseph B. Kadane and David A. Schum, A Probabilistic Analysis of the Sacco and Vanzetti Evidence, Wiley Series in Probability & Mathematical Statistics, 1996
  • Murray Kempton, Part of our Time: Some Monuments and Ruins of the Thirties (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1955)
  • Lyons, Eugene The Life and Death of Sacco and Vanzetti (1927), and chapter "I Defend Sacco and Vanzetti" in Assignment in Utopia (1937)
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling denying new trial at Case citation 255 Mass. 369, decided May 12, 1926
  • Montgomery, Robert (1960). Sacco-Vanzetti: The Murder and the Myth. NY: Devin-Adair. 
  • Michael Musmanno, The Sacco-Vanzetti Case, [Lawrence, KS], 1963
  • Michael Musmanno, Was Sacco Guilty?, [New York], 1963
  • John Neville, Twentieth-Century Cause Cèlébre [sic]: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the Press, 1920-1927 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), ISBN 0-275-97783-8. Accents are incorrect in the original.
  • Richard Newby, Kill Now, Talk Forever: Debating Sacco and Vanzetti, 2002, ISBN 0-7596-0792-3
  • Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, Boston: Little, Brown, 1977
  • Report to the Governor in the matter of Sacco and Vanzetti, Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1977
  • Francis Russell, Tragedy in Dedham: The Story of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962
  • Francis Russell, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Case Resolved, New York: Harper & Row, 1986
  • Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, New York: Octagon Books, 1928
  • Nicola Sacco, The Sacco-Vanzetti Case, New York: Russell & Russell, 1931
  • Sacco-Vanzetti: Developments and Reconsiderations - 1979, Conference Proceedings, Boston: Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston, 1979, ISBN 0-89073-067-9
  • The Sacco-Vanzetti Case: Transcript of the Record of the Trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in the Courts of Massachusetts, 6 vols., NY: Henry Holt & Co., 1928-9
  • Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Documentary Novel of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, Cambridge: R. Bentley, 1978
  • James E. Starrs, "Once More Unto the Breech: The Firearms Evidence in the Sacco and Vanzetti Case Revisited," in Journal of Forensic Sciences, 1986, 630–54, 1050–78
  • Susan Tejada, In Search of Sacco & Vanzetti: Double Lives, Troubled Times, & the Massachusetts Murder Case that Shook the World, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-1-55553-730-2, 978-1-55553-778-4(ebook)
  • Moshik Temkin, The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009
  • Lorenzo Tibaldo, Sotto un cielo stellato. Vita e morte di Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Turin: Claudiana, 2008
  • Michael M. Topp, The Sacco and Vanzetti Case: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005), ISBN 0-312-40088-8
  • Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking Press, 2007), ISBN 0-670-06353-3
  • Robert P. Weeks, Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1958
  • William Young and David E. Kaiser, Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985, ISBN 0-87023-479-X

External links[edit]