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Sacco and Vanzetti case

Tom Collins


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Nicola Sacco (1891–1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1888–1927) were Italian immigrant laborers and anarchists whose conviction in a murder case in the United States in 1921 aroused international controversy. The pair were accused of the armed robbery and murder of a company paymaster and his security guard outside a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts in 1920. Although their trial featured muddled eyewitness testimony and inconclusive ballistics evidence, the men were found unanimously guilty by a jury and sentenced to death by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Webster Thayer. The verdict galvanized leftists, who denounced the trial as a miscarriage of justice tinged by anti-immigrant and anti-radical prejudice. Organizations such as the grassroots Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee and the Communist Party-backed International Labor Defense undertook mass publicity campaigns arguing for a new trial. The Sacco and Vanzetti case became a cause cèlébre among intellectuals and artists, including Albert Einstein, Anatole France, and Upton Sinclair . Harvard law professor (and future US Supreme Court justice) Felix Frankfurter led an effort by university faculty members, law students, and noted attorneys to overturn the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were household names in Latin America, where workers held solidarity rallies; American embassies and consulates in Europe received ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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