Chapter 24 Section 1 Time of Turmoil



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Chapter 24 – Section 1

Time of Turmoil



NARRATOR: THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF NICOLA SACCO AND BARTOLOMEO VANZETTI, TWO ITALIAN-BORN, SELF-ADMITTED ANARCHISTS, HAS INSPIRED MORE CONTROVERSY THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER 20TH CENTURY CRIMINAL CONVICTION.

BOTH MEN WERE ARRESTED FOR THE ROBBERY AND MURDER OF TWO EMPLOYEES OF A MASSACHUSETTS SHOE FACTORY IN APRIL 1920.

THEIR ARRESTS AND TRIAL TOOK PLACE DURING THE SO-CALLED “RED SCARES.” A TIME WHEN FOREIGN-BORN ANARCHISTS WERE AT THE TOP OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S MOST WANTED LIST FOR BOMBINGS AND ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS AGAINST FEDERAL AND LOCAL OFFICIALS.

BEYOND THE ANTI-IMMIGRANT MOOD OF THE TIMES, THE CONTROVERSY OF THE CASE STEMS FROM IRREGULARITIES IN THE TRIAL ON ALL SIDES. INCLUDING QUESTIONABLE USE OF EVIDENCE. THE DEFENDANTS’ LAWYER DECIDED TO POLITICIZE THE TRIAL BY ATTEMPTING TO DEMONSTRATE THAT SACCO AND VANZETTI WERE BEING FRAMED FOR THEIR POLITICAL BELIEFS.

AFTER A HARD-FOUGHT, SIX WEEK TRAIL, THE JURY FOUND SACCO AND VANZETTI GUILTY OF ROBBERY AND MURDER. THE POLITICIZING OF THE TRIAL MAY NOT HAVE HELPED THE ACCUSED, BUT IT DID MAKE HEADLINES FOR THEIR CAUSE. MANY FAMOUS AUTHORS AND INTELLECTUALS, FROM GEORGE BERNARD SHAW TO UPTON SINCLAIR, WROTE AND CAMPAIGNED ON BEHALF OF THE ACCUSED.

IN SPITE OF MANY PROTESTS AROUND THE WORLD, SACCO AND VANZETTI WERE EXECUTED IN THE ELECTRIC CHAIR ON AUGUST 23, 1927. THE EXECUTION SPARKED RIOTS IN LONDON AND GERMANY.


THE CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE GUILT OF SACCO AND VANZETTI HAS NOT BEEN RESOLVED IN THE YEARS SINCE THEIR EXECUTION. SCHOLARS STILL DEBATE THE EVIDENCE AND NEW DOCUMENTS. IT’S UNLIKELY THE CASE WILL EVER BE RESOLVED BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

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