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Sacco and Vanzetti

Is it a crime to be "Un-American"?

James McKenna

on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti Mr. McKenna
U.S. History Is it a crime to be "Un-American"? UN-AMERICAN:
not American;
not characteristic of or consistent with American customs, principles, or traditions Background of the Case First Russia, then U.S.? Waves of strikes make people afraid that communism will take hold in America
The Red Scare: hysteria rising from fear of Bolshevik uprising in America
Bombings of homes and offices of government officials and business leaders fuels the fear Anarchists in America A bomb damages the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer
Palmer strikes back against suspected communists
Palmer Raids: series of raids in 1919 and 1920 when federal officials arrested thousands of radicals in 33 cities nation-wide
Most suspects were immigrants
Very little evidence supported the charges against people
Hundreds were deported "If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words--our lives--our pains--nothing! The taking of our lives--lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler--all! That last moment belongs to us--that agony is our triumph." "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.
Judge Webster Thayer Sacco and Vanzetti Nicollo Sacco Immigrant from Italy
Lives in a middle-class neighborhood
Not personally "victimized" by industrialists
Anarchist sympathizer Immigrant from Italy
Fish Peddler
Lives in a predominantly Italian neighborhood
Anarchist sympathizer
Fond of poetry and philosophy Bartolomeo Vanzetti The Two Crimes Attempted Robbery A payroll truck was confronted by a man wielding a shotgun
The man fired one shot into the air in an attempt to scare the driver into stopping
The payroll truck avoided the man and the robbery was foiled
Witnesses claimed the would-be robber was olive-skinned and had a mustache The Double Murder A payroll delivery by factory foreman Albert parmenter and a hired guard was ambushed by several men in dark coats.
The guard and the foreman were murdered, shot from behind
Witnesses claimed one man did all the shooting
Bullets and casings were recovered from the scene The Man Hunt After the double murder, the police rounded up many suspected anarchists and immigrants.
Police gathered information on all anarchists who owned automobiles
Police discovered that one suspected anarchist had a car being serviced in a mechanic's shop
Police observed 4 men pick up the car; all 4 are later arrested
Two of the men are arrested together; 1 has a .32 pistol and the other has several shotgun shells The Trials The Attempted Robbery Judge Webster Thayer assigned to case
Known to have strong feelings against anarchists and immigrants
More than 10 people testify that they saw Vanzetti selling fish on the day of the crime
It was too far for him to go do the robbery and get back to be seen by these witnesses
All witnesses' testimonies were thrown out because the witnesses were Italian and, therefore, unreliable.
Suspect had a shotgun; Vanzzetti was caught with shells on him by police
Vanzetti is convicted The Double Murder Judge Webster Thayer has himself assigned to this case as well
Jury members suspected of bias
Ballistics evidence is controversial
Prosecution witnesses later recant testimony; one was a convicted perjurer, another said Vanzetti was driving - Vanzetti never drove in his life The Verdict Sacco and Vanzetti are convicted and sentenced to death
A man in jail confesses to the crime and other evidence arises to challenge the verdict
All appeals are denied; Judge Thayer was in charge of the appeals
Full transcript