Sacco & Vanzetti Trial by Bradley
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Topic that relates today 1

http://www.wgntv.com/news/wgntv-womens-wrongful-conviction-project-launched-20121129,0,4366836.story

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Vocabulary List

Subsequent: Coming after something in time; following.

 

Anarchists: a political theory favoring the abolition of governments.

 

Controversial: Giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement.

 

Persecuting: Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of their race or political or religious beliefs.

 

Consolation: Comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.

 

Condemned: Express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure.

 

Pedestrian: Lacking inspiration or excitement; dull.

 

Communist: relating to or marked by communism; "Communist Party"; "communist governments"

 

Compelling: Evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.

 

Acquitted: Free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty.

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Primary Document 2

Primary Document 2 | Sacco & Vanzetti Trial by Bradley | Scoop.it

Annotation: This document was on the newspaper. When people read this they thought it was wrong. The reason they put it on the newspaper was to tell people oposing the war is wrong and there are punishment for it. My opinion about this document is that accusing someone with no evidence is injustice. They were probably innocent. Oposing the war doesn't make you guilty, but for the government it does and they will put you in unfair trials for it.

 

Charlestown State Prison, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 23 -- Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti died in the electric chair early this morning, carrying out the sentence imposed on them for the South Braintree murders of April 15, 1920.

Sacco marched to the death chair at 12:11 and was pronounced lifeless at 12:19.

Vanzetti entered the execution room at 12:20 and was declared dead at 12:26.

To the last they protested their innocence, and the efforts of many who believed them guiltless proved futile, although they fought a legal and extra legal battle unprecedented in the history of American jurisprudence.

With them died Celestino f. Madeiros, the young Portuguese, who won seven respites when he "confessed" that he was present at the time of the South Braintree murder and that Sacco and Vanzetti were not with him. He died for the murder of a bank cashier.

Defense Works as They Die

The six years of legal battle on behalf of the condemned men was still on as they were walking to the chair and after the current had been applied, for a lawyer was on the way by airplane to ask Federal Judge George W. Anderson in Williamstown for a writ of habeas corpus.

The men walked to the chair without company of clergy, father Michael Murphy, prison chaplain, waited until a minute before twelve and then left the prison.

Sacco cried, "Long live anarchy," as the prison guards strapped him into the chair and applied the electrodes. He added a plea that his family be cared for.

Vanzetti at the last made a short address, declaring his innocence.

Madeiros walked to the chair in a semi-stupor caused by overeating. He shrugged his shoulders and made no farewell statement.

Warden William Hendry was almost overcome by the execution of the men, especially that of Vanzetti, who shook his hand warmly and thanked him for all his kindness.

The Warden was barely able to pronounce above a whisper the solemn formula required by law:

"Under the law I now pronounce you dead, the sentence of the court having been legally carried out."

The words were not heard by the official witnesses.

After Governor Fuller had informed counsel for the two condemned radicals that he could take no action, their attorney, Michael A. Musmanno, made a dash to the prison in an automobile and tried to make another call on Sacco and Vanzetti, but Warden Hendry refused, as the legal witnesses were just about to pass into the execution chamber.

The Witnesses Gather

The witnesses gathered in the Warden's office an hour before midnight. They were instructed as to the part they would take.

W. E. Playfair of the Associated Press was the only reporter permitted to attend the execution, as the State law designated one representative of the press as a witness. The assignment was handed to him six years ago after Sacco and Vanzetti had been convicted in Dedham for the murder of William Parmenter and Alexander Berardelli.

At 11:38 all but the official witnesses were asked to leave the Warden's office. Led by Warden Hendry the official witnesses walked toward the rotunda of the prison. He rapped three times on the inner door. A key grated in the lock. Just then Mr. Musmanno dashed in breathlessly.

"Please, Warden," he said, touching Mr. Hendry on the arm. "A last request."

His voice was faint and broken.

"No, no," the Warden said, sternly, slightly unnerved at the last-minute interruption. Mr. Musmanno turned away, weeping. He had refused to accept as a farewell gift a book from Vanzetti because he felt that the men would be saved.

"I only tried to see them the last time and he refused me," said Musmanno through tears.

The Executions

The witnesses walked through the prison and entered the death house with the Warden. They took their places and then Madeiros was escorted into the chamber. He walked without support, attended by two guards, one at each side. He was strapped in the chair at 12:03 and at 12:09 he was pronounced dead.

He was officially pronounced dead by Dr. George Burgess MacGrath, Medical Examiner of Norfolk County, and Dr. Howard A. Lothrop, Surgeon-in-Chief of the Boston City Hospital. Stethoscopes were also applied to Madeiros's chest by Dr. Joseph J. MacLaughlin, the prison physician, and Colonel Frank P. Williams, Surgeon-General of the Massachusetts National Guard. The same procedure was followed in the case of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Sacco, whose cell was next to that of Madeiros, was the next. A guard opened his door. Sacco was ready. His face was pale from his long confinement. Without a word he took his place between the guards. Walking slowly but steadily, he traversed the seventeen steps into the death chamber. He required no support and sat down in the chair. As the guards were finishing their work Sacco cried out in Italian:

"Long live anarchy."

In English he shouted: "Farewell, my wife and child, and all my friends!"

He has two children, Dante, 14, and Inez, 6, but his difficulty in speaking English and the excitement of the occasion were responsible for the slip.

"Good evening, gentlemen," he said, jerkily. Then came his last words: "Farewell, mother."

Warden Hendry waited until Sacco apparently was satisfied that there was no more to say. Then he gave the signal. Sacco was pronounced dead at 12:19:02.

Vanzetti's cell door was opened. He, too, was calm. He shook hands with the two guards and kept step with them. He had four more steps to the death chair than Sacco. On entering the chamber he spoke to the Warden, shaking his hand and saying:

"I want to thank you for everything you have done for me, Warden."

Vanzetti spoke in English. His voice was calm throughout. There was not the slightest tremor or quaver.

Then, addressing the witnesses, he said:

"I wish to tell you that I am innocent, and that I never committed any crime but sometimes some sin."

They were almost the same words he addressed to Judge Webster Thayer in the Dedham courtroom last April when he was sentenced to die during the week of April 10, the sentence having been deferred because the Governor's advisory committee was working in the case.

"I thank you for everything you have done for me," he went on calmly and slowly. "I am innocent of all crime, not only of this, but all. I am an innocent man."

Then he spoke his last words:

"I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me."

Vanzetti stepped into the chamber at 12:20:30. At 12:26:55 he was declared dead.

Warden Broke News to Them

Before midnight Warden Hendry told reporters how he broke the news to Sacco and Vanzetti.

"I simply told them that it was my painful duty to convey to them the information that they were to die shortly after midnight," he said. "I told them that their lawyers had informed me that they had done all they could and failed."

Father Michael J. Murphy, Prison Chaplain, again offered the men his services, but they refused his offer of the last rites. Earlier in the day, the Chaplain visited the men, and on coming from the death house said:

"I offered them consolation of religion, but all three preferred to die as they had lived, outside the pale. They can call on me at any time before the execution, and I will hear their confessions and give them communion."

Warden Hendry received two telegrams, one addressed to himself, which he did not make public, and another addressed to Sacco. After reading the Sacco telegram, the Warden refused to make known its contents to the prisoner, explaining that he did not know the writer.

The telegram read:

"Take heart, men. It is justice that dies. Sacco and Vanzetti will live in history." It was signed Epstein and sent from New York.

The police, despite their elaborate precautions, had a surprise about an hour before midnight, when it was discovered that some one had penetrated the lines thrown around the prison for blocks and made his way to the very entrance of the Warden's office, where he had passed an envelope to one of the regular guards and strolled off.

The envelope contained a two-page letter, the contents of which the Warden withheld. An investigation was begun at once to learn how the mysterious messenger had gained entrance to the guarded area.

The first of the legal witnesses to arrive at the prison were Dr. Joseph I. McLaughlin, the prison physician, and Dr. Edward A. Lathrop, a surgeon of the Boston City Hospital. They reached the prison at 9:40 P.M.

Electricians Test Chair

Warden Hendry at 9 P. M. made his second visit to the death house. He informed newspaper men on his return to his office that he had found the trio resigned to their fate. Sacco requested him to have his body sent to his home in Italy. The Warden declared that they showed no change regarding their religious viewpoint and entertained the belief that they would go to the chair without spiritual aid.

At 10 P.M. Granville Greenough, chief electrician, and John Mullaney, assistant electrician made a final test of the electric chair and found it to be in good working order.

Police Break Up Crowds

Superintendent Crowley's men broke up a meeting of nearly 500 Italians in Salem Street, in the North End, as midnight approached. They threatened to hold a demonstration in front of the Bunker Hill Monument, and also threatened to hold a protest meeting before the State House and on the Common.

Mounted policemen charged a crowd of several thousand that gathered just outside the roped-off area surrounding the jail at the hour of execution. Two hundred Sacco and Vanzetti sympathizers had congregated in Thompson Square to join a parade out to Bunker Hill. Police men afoot were unable to control the excited crowd. The charge of the mounted police drove men, women and children back in a wave. Several persons were crushed. Two women were arrested, charge with sauntering and loitering.

More than 1,000 cars were blocked in a traffic jam along Main Street, obstructing the passage of pedestrians and police. The street became a tangled mass of automobiles and other vehicles. There was a terrific din as policemen shouted orders, the iron-shod hoofs of their mounts clattered over pavements and hundreds of automobilists sounded their sirens continuously.

Charlestown prison was armed and garrisoned as if to withstand a siege. Machine guns, gas and tear bombs, not to mention pistols and riot guns, constituted the armament and to man it were 500 patrolmen, detectives and State constables besides the usual prison guard.

They took their posts at 7 o'clock, cutting off Rutheford Avenue and other streets approaching the long, gloomy brick walls of the prison. No one was allowed to pass either on foot or in vehicles unless on official business.

A truck filled with State police jangled and clanged along the cobblestones and into the glare of light, about the entrance to the prison. Forty mounted policemen clamped over the Prison Point Bridge. All reported to Captain Goff, then deployed down streets and alleys.

Barricade Prison Entrance

The south and west walls of the death house and cell blocks facing on the Boston & Maine Railroad yards were lined with machine guns and searchlights in clusters of three at twenty-yard intervals. The powerful lights flooded the railroad yards in a brilliant glare that accentuated the pitchy blackness of shadows. Across the tracks marine patrol boats could be seen moving slowly up and down the river in the region of the prison. Each of the police vessels was equipped with flares and searchlights that played along the gloomy prison walls.

From the comparative gloom of the cement walk along the siding came the click, click of horses hoofs as mounted patrolmen rode up and down. A prison entrance facing on the railroad yards was heavily barricaded with ladders, doors and other lumber. At 11 P. M. searchlights installed by the police on the roof of the State House were turned on. Their brilliant rays were kept sweeping up and down the adjacent streets. Twenty policemen armed with riot guns were stationed at intervals between the searchlights. It was the first time in Massachusetts's history that such a scene had been enacted.

Chapman Street, Austin Street, Miller Street, as well as Rutherford Avenue were completely cut off as far as automobile or pedestrian traffic was concerned, but those living in houses in the district, warned by the police not to leave them, leaned out of windows. On other houses occasional sweeps of searchlights revealed entire families, including babies in arms, perched on roof tops.

In Main Street, the street nearest the prison on which traffic was permitted, a throng circulated. At a late hour adherents of Sacco and Vanzetti were not in evidence. Most of the men and women chattered excitedly, but without attempting to make any sort of demonstration. Rather, they were merely curious and interested in the display of martial power. Passengers of elevated trains crowded to windows on the side near the prison. Some who tried to alight were urged not to by the police.

All Streets Are Cut Off

All streets leading toward the sprawling collection of steel barred brick and cement buildings were closed off at 8 P. M. and no one could get within blocks of the entrance. Police stood in little knots. Inside the area of restriction was an entire platoon of mounted policemen, their horses stamping restlessly in the yellow glare of street, lights. For the first time in the records of the police department, roll call was taken on post instead of in station houses.

Persons living within the restricted area were kept as closely to their houses as during an air raid. When they ventured to their doors they were told to stay inside unless their business was extremely urgent and were warned that they might have difficulty getting back. Gasoline filling stations and small shops were ordered to close and stay closed until tomorrow.

Captain N. J. Goff of the Charlsestown Station was in charge of police arrangements at the prison. All Boston police, State Constabulary and special detectives assigned to duty there reported to him for instructions. Despite the elaborate police precautions, windows of the officers room of the prison, which was given over to newspaper men, were nailed down and blinds drawn as a precaution in case some one should "try to throw something in," according to Captain Goss.

A weird and martial picture was presented when motion picture photographers held aloft flaming calcium torches, lighting up a passing detail of mounted State police with a ghastly flicker and silhouetting their silent figures against the grim gray of the prison walls.

Last Visit to the Men

Mrs. Rose Sacco and Miss Luigia Vanzetti called three times at the death house during the day. Their last visit was at 7 o'clock in the evening, when they remained five minutes and departed weeping. Gardiner Jackson and Aldini Felicani of the Defense Committee, who accompanied the women, arranged with Warden Hendry for the transfer of the bodies to the relatives.

Mrs. Consuelo Aruda of New Bedford, sister of Madeiros, was the first of the relations of the condemned men to go to the prison. Madeiros was worried because his mother did not visit him Sunday. His sister told him that his mother had had a breakdown and could not come to Boston. Madeiros was much affected by the news of his mother's condition. The two spoke for an hour in Portuguese and the young woman left in tears with a last message for her mother.

Mrs. Sacco and Miss Vanzetti arrived at the prison for the first time in the day at 11 A. M. Dr. Joseph I. McLaughlin, the prison physician was in the death house at the time and Vanzetti introduced his sister to him. The two women were downcast. They pressed their faces close to the heavily barred cell doors under the eyes of the guards.

An hour passed and the interview ended with tearful farewells. Farewell embraces were not permitted. There were handclasps and faces were pressed to the cell doors. The bars are an inch thick and an inch apart and heavily meshed.

Madeiros at noon seemed quite and smoked many cigarettes. Vanzetti worked on a letter to his father. Sacco paced up and down his cell. But when Michael A. Musmanno of defense counsel called on Sacco and Vanzetti at 2:30 P. M. he found them depressed and ready for death. They depressed and ready for death. They told him they were convinced that no power on earth would save them. Sacco begged to see his wife again. Vanzetti regretted that his sister had come from Italy to be with him in his last moments of agony. He was sorry that her last memories of him would be clouded with knowledge of the gray prison, the death cell and the electric chair.

At 3:10 P. M. the two women returned to the death house in an automobile driven by Miss Edith Jackson of New Haven. Mrs. Sacco, who has always presented a tearless and composed face to the public, wept for the first time as she approached the gate. Miss Vanzetti's arm supported her as the two passed into the death house for the second time in the day. They greeted the men again through the wire mesh and remained an hour. Sacco spoke of his children and Vanzetti of his old home in Italy. The women remained an hour and they were weeping when they stepped into the automobile.

Joseph F. Linharen, a lawyer, of Somerville, called at the prison on behalf of Madeiros and asked permission to see him. The warden refused, after calling up the State House on the telephone.

Thompson Calls on Men

William G. Thompson, former counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti, called on them late in the day. Mr. Thompson had returned from the Summer home at South Tamworth, N. H., at the request of Vanzetti and visited both men at the death house. He spent nearly an hour there. Then he left he said that Sacco and Vanzetti had reasserted that they were absolutely innocent of the South Braintree murders. He declared also that there was no truth in the report that he had been offered an opportunity to inspect the files of the Department of Justice and had refused.

The conversation with Vanzetti, said Mr. Thompson, was partly on the man's political and philosophical beliefs. He declined to discuss the report of Governor Fuller or that of the Advisory Committee other than to say that, having read both documents with care, he found nothing in them which altered his opinion "that these two men are innocent and that their trial was in a very real sense unfair."

Mr. Thompson left, and half and hour later Mrs. Sacco and Miss Vanzetti arrived for their third and final visit to the condemned men. They were in an automobile with Gardner Jackson and Felicani asked Warden Hendry for permission to have the women to see their unfortunate relatives for the last time. The request was granted. During the final visit, which lasted five minutes, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Felicani arranged for the bodies of the two men to be turned over to Mrs. Sacco and Miss Vanzetti.

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Primary Document 1

Annotation: This was written to inform the reader how the trial was. It shows they didn't have envidence to prove them guilty. But they were still guilty no matter how little envidence they had. People reading this probably think the trial was unfair. That if that happen to Sacco and Vanzetti it could happen to them. My opinion about this is no matter what the person opinion of the war is  they shouldn't kill them just for a thought.

 

In the late 1910's to the early 1920's the immigrant anarchists movement had become violently opposed to the conservative government. This was expressed by the numerous bombings. A pamphlet was found at each of the bombings, called the "Plain Words" document, calling for the proletariat to rise up and overthrow the government. This document was traced to a small print shop in Brooklyn. The print shop was owned by two anarchists, Andrea Salsedo and Robert Elia, who were affiliated with Luigi Galleani, one the largest anarchist leaders in America before he was deported in the raids to attack communist under M. A. Palmer. Both Salsedo and Elia were taken into custody for their apparent involvement in the bombings.

The anarchist circle created a defense to try to free their comrades. Among the defenders were Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Knowing that a full raid in order to investigate the document was about to be made on the Brooklyn anarchist organization, they went down with two friends, Ricardo Oriani and Mike Boda, and his car to the town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to remove anarchist literature from their organization to avoid arrest. However, in the area there was a chain of hold-ups done by Italian Americans, and Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested after returning on the train with no evidence. They were charged with murder and robbery of a clerk and security guard transporting money in South Braintree that happened on April 15. Initially, Vanzetti was not charged with the hold up in South Braintree, but an entirely separate one at Bridgewater early that year. This was less severe than what Sacco was being tried for, as the hold up at Bridgewater only consisted at an attempt of theft, not murder. His trial occurred in August, and due to incompetent lawyers, he was convicted soon after the trial began. Vanzetti had always maintained his innocence, although he could not complain that he had an unfair trial. The reason for his conviction was probably his incompetent lawyers, not the court itself. After his conviction, he was charged for the South Braintree hold-up.

This case would turn into one of the most controversial in history, as there are fallacies to both sides. In the initial questioning, Sacco proved to be armed, and both men lied about their political affiliation. Later on, many witnesses would place them at the crime scene of the crime. However, if this could prove their guilt, there were many more incidents that proved their innocence. Vanzetti had a fairly reliable alibi backed up by many people in town. Many witnesses had a hard time placing each of the men in a get away car, and there were discrepancies about where they sat as it left the scene. And why would men with access to a car be regulars on the bus and need access to a borrowed car to remove to literature? Today, it is widely accepted that Vanzetti was innocent. Sacco, however, did not have a solid alibi. In 1921, both men were convicted and in 1927, they were executed. After 1982, a letter sent to Francis Russell from the sons of one of the anarchist defending Sacco and Vanzetti admits that Sacco was. However, only one source of documents is known that support this claim. There are still fierce defenders that have remained loyal to the cause.

Regardless of the actual guilt of Sacco or Vanzetti, most scholars believe they did not have a fair trial because of the fact that they were anarchists with criminal connections. The period after the Palmer raids were still characterized by a belief that anarchists were criminals. Judge Thayer, who benched the trial, did not allow all defense evidence in, and the prosecution evidence was allowed regardless of any objection. As William Thompson, a lawyer representing Sacco and Vanzetti,

"Katzmann [prosecuting attorney] would say something and Moore [head defense attorney] would object to it.... I told John McAnarney, "your goose is cooked. You will never get these men acquitted. The judge is going to convict these two men and see that nothing gets in the record..."
This idea of justice persecuting the radicals is key to the Red Scare. In the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, it was not a national issue to avoid a revolution. However, it was a national issue to keep law and order. The reason for the discrimination against anarchist was not caused by genuine concern over the government, but concern for the American people's welfare. Although there was not proof that Vanzetti or Sacco was responsible for any crime, they were affiliated with the movement that was responsible for crimes. It was this criminal element that caused many Americans to applaud their execution.

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Primary Document 3

Annotation: In this document it explains why they were put into trial. Readers probably thought that how can you be put into trial with little envidence. Even with no envidence they were put guilty. Later on they were put to death. My opinion about this document is why would they kill people for a unfair trial they had. Even though they opose the war it still unfair to kill them off. 

 

The 1920s 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.

The arrest and subsequent trial of Sacco and Vanzetti occurred at a time of great tension and unrest in the United States. World War I (the United States entered the war in 1917) and the Bolshevik (Communist) Revolution in Russia (1917) both contributed to anti-immigrant sentiment. Prejudice was particularly strong against newcomers who espoused the radical ideas of anarchism, communism, or socialism. The period of 1919-20 came to be known as the "Red Scare" and was marked by numerous labor strikes, widespread fear of radicals, and a series of bomb attacks against government officials, among them United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. The United States government responded with a series of raids (known as the "Palmer Raids") during which thousands of suspected radicals were arrested in over twenty states, including Massachusetts.

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.

The rules that governed review of trial proceedings contributed to the unfairness of the proceedings. The trial judge had sole authority to decide the defendants' repeated and compelling motions for a new trial. He denied them all. Appellate rules in effect at the time denied the Supreme Judicial Court the authority to review the strength of the evidence presented at trial. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts executed Sacco and Vanzetti on August 23, 1927.

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