Trial 1920s Anarchist In A Celebrated WORK
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The 1920's trial and executions of Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti trouble and intrigue us decades later. Experts continue to debate whether one or both men committed armed robbery and murder. On one subject, however, there should be no debate. Sacco and Vanzetti did not receive a fair trial. Sacco and Vanzetti were charged with committing robbery and murder at the Slater and Morrill shoe factory in South Braintree. On the afternoon of April 15, 1920, payroll clerk Frederick Parmenter and security guard Alessandro Berardelli were shot to death and robbed of over $15,000 in cash. Eyewitnesses reported that two men committed the crimes and then escaped in a car containing two or three other men. Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested several weeks later on a trolley car. Both were armed, and Sacco possessed a flyer announcing that Vanzetti would speak at an upcoming anarchist rally. No other arrests were ever made; none of the stolen money was ever linked to them or recovered.
Although Sacco and Vanzetti were never implicated in acts of violence, they were Italian immigrants and avowed anarchists. Their trials for armed robbery and murder occurred in this atmosphere of social tension and turmoil. The trial judge permitted the prosecution to present extensive evidence about their anarchist ideology, immigrant background, and refusal to register for the military draft during World War I. On July 14, 1921, the jury convicted both men.
After a few hours' deliberation on July 14, 1921, the jury convicted Sacco and Vanzetti of first-degree murder and they were sentenced to death by the trial judge. Anti-Italianism, anti-immigrant, and anti-anarchist bias were suspected as having heavily influenced the verdict. A series of appeals followed, funded largely by the private Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. The appeals were based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pretrial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery. All appeals were denied by trial judge Webster Thayer and also later denied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. By 1926, 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 in Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Montevideo, Johannesburg, and Auckland.
Sacco and Vanzetti went on trial for their lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, May 21, 1921, at Dedham, Norfolk County, for the Braintree robbery and murders. Webster Thayer again presided; he had asked to be assigned to the trial. Katzmann again prosecuted for the State. Vanzetti was represented by brothers Jeremiah and Thomas McAnraney. Sacco was represented by Fred H. Moore and William J. Callahan. The choice of Moore, a former attorney for the Industrial Workers of the World, proved a key mistake for the defense. A notorious radical from California, Moore quickly enraged Judge Thayer with his courtroom demeanor, often doffing his jacket and once, his shoes. Reporters covering the case were amazed to hear Judge Thayer, during a lunch recess, proclaim, \"I'll show them that no long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!\" and later, \"You wait till I give my charge to the jury. I'll show them.\" Throughout the trial, Moore and Thayer clashed repeatedly over procedure and decorum.
The defendants' radical politics may have played a role in the verdict. Judge 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.
In 1921, most of the nation had not yet heard of Sacco and Vanzetti. Brief mention of the conviction appeared on page three of the New York Times. Defense attorney Moore radicalized and politicized the process by discussing Sacco and Vanzetti's anarchist beliefs, attempting to suggest that they were prosecuted primarily for their political beliefs and the trial was part of a government plan to stop the anarchist movement in the United States. His efforts helped stir up support but were so costly that he was eventually dismissed from the defense team.
In 1924, referring to his denial of motions for a new trial, Judge Thayer confronted a Massachusetts lawyer: \"Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day\" the judge said. \"I guess that will hold them for a while! Let them go and see now what they can get out of the Supreme Court!\" The outburst remained a secret until 1927 when its release fueled the arguments of Sacco and Vanzetti's defenders. The New York World attacked 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.\"
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!\" 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!\" 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.\" 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.\"
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. 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.\" While doing research for the book, Sinclair was told confidentially by Sacco and Vanzetti's former lawyer Fred H. Moore that the two were guilty and that he (Moore) had supplied them with fake alibis; Sinclair was inclined to believe that that was, indeed, the case, and later referred to this as an \"ethical problem\", but he did not include the information about the conversation with Moore in his book.
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.
On April 29, 1920, several days before the arrests of Sacco and Vanzetti, Attorney General Palmer warned the nation that the Department of Justice had uncovered plots against the lives of over twenty federal and state officials as part of planned May Day (May 1st) celebrations. May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, was celebrated by many socialists, communists, anarchists, and unionists.
In the 1920s, a backlash against immigrants and modernism led to the original culture wars. Many Americans celebrated the emergence of modern technologies and less restrictive social norms, while others strongly objected to the social changes.
The Roaring Twenties was known for its booming economy, prosperity, and elaborate party scenes, but it was also a time filled with organized crime and murder. The ratification of the 18th Amendment brought the Prohibition Era which led to mobsters jumping at the opportunity to start bootlegging and speakeasy businesses. The decade was also known for some of the most famous trials and murders of the 20th century. Here is a list of some of the most famous crimes in the 1920s.
Sacco, Nicola (22 Apr. 1891-23 Aug. 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (11 June 1888-23 Aug.1927), Italian anarchists convicted of murder in the celebrated Sacco-Vanzetti trial, wereborn, respectively, in Torremaggiore, Italy, and Villafalletto, Italy. Sacco was the sonof Michele Sacco, a peasant landowner and merchant, and Angela Mosmacotelli. (Sacco'sgiven name was Ferdinando; he adopted the name Nicola in 1917 to honor an older brotherwho had died.) Vanzetti was the son of