Archive for February 9th, 2011

The case of Sacco and Vanzetti

UMKC’s law school has a wonderful presentation on the Sacco and Vanzetti case here.

Here’s their summary of the Red Scare: (

And a really cool chart about the evidence presented in the case. ( the prosecution prove its contention?

Here is what Bartolomeo Vanzetti stated before his sentencing:

What I say is that I am innocent, not only of the Braintree crime, but also of the Bridgewater crime. That I am not only innocent of these two crimes, but in all my life I have never stolen and I have never killed and I have never spilled blood. That is what I want to say. And it is not all. Not only am I innocent of these two crimes, not only in all my life I have never stolen, never killed, never spilled blood, but I have struggled all my life, since I began to reason, to eliminate crime from the earth.”
Everybody that knows these two arms knows very well that I did not need to go into the streets and kill a man or try to take money. I can live by my two hands and live well. But besides that, I can live even without work with my hands for other people. I have had plenty of chance to live independently and to live what the world conceives to be a higher life than to gain our bread with the sweat of our brow.”
My father in Italy is in a good condition. I could have come back in Italy and he would have welcomed me every time with open arms. Even if I come back there with not a cent in my pocket, my father could have give me a position, not to work but to make busi-ness, or to oversee upon the land that he owns. He has wrote me many letters in that sense, and as another well-to-do relative has wrote me letters in that sense that I can produce.
Well, it may be said to be a boast. My father and my aunt can boast themselves and say things that people may not be compelled to believe. People may say they may be poor when I say that they are in good condition to give me a position any time that I want to settle down and form a family and start a settled life. Well, but there are people maybe in this same court that could testify to what I have said and that what my father and my aunt have said to me is not a lie, that really they have the means to give me a position any time that I want.”
Well, I want to reach a little point farther, and it is this that not only have I not been trying to steal in Bridgewater, not only have I not been in Braintree to steal and kill and have never stolen or killed or spilt blood in all my life, not only have I struggled hard against crimes, but I have refused myself of what are considered the commodity and glories of life, the prides of a life of a good position, because in my consideration it is not right to exploit man. I have refused to go in business because I understand that business is a speculation on profit upon certain people that must depend upon the business man, and I do not consider that that is right and therefore I refuse to do that.”
Now, I should say that I am not only innocent of all these things, not only have I never committed a real crime in my life–though some sins but not crimes–not only have I struggled all my life to eliminate crimes, the crimes that the official law and the moral law condemns, but also the crime that the moral law and the official law sanction and sanctify,–the exploitation and the oppression of the man by the man, and if there is a reason why I am here as a guilty man, if there is a reason why you in a few minutes can doom me, it is this reason and none else….”

Now, this, it seems, has nothing to do with us di-rectly. It seems to be a thing said by incident on the stand between the other things; why, whereas, that is the essence here. Because the jury were hating us because we were against the war, and the jury don’t know that it makes any difference between a man that is against the war because he believes that the war is unjust, because he hate no country, because he is a cosmopolitan, and a man that is against the war because he is in favor of the other country that fights against the country in which he is, and therefore a spy, an enemy, and he commits any crime in the country in which he is in behalf of the other country in order to serve the other country. We are not men of that kind. Nobody can say that we are German spies or spies of any kind. Katzmann knows very well that. Katzmann knows that we were against the war because we did not believe in the purpose for which they say that the war was fought. We believed that the war is wrong, and we believe this more now after ten years that we studied and observed and understood it day by day,–the consequences and the result of the after war. We believe more now than ever that the war was wrong, and we are against war more now than ever, and I am glad to be on the doomed scaffold if I can say to mankind, “Look out; you are in a catacomb of the flower of mankind. For what? All that they say to you, all that they have promised to you–it was a lie, it was an illusion, it was a cheat, it was a fraud, it was a crime. They promised you liberty. Where is liberty? They promised you prosperity. Where is prosperity? They have promised you elevation. Where is the elevation?”
From the day that I went in Charlestown, the misfortunate, the population of Charlestown, has doubled in number. Where is the moral good that the war has given to the world? Where is the spiritual progress that we have achieved from the war? Where are the security of life, the security of the things that we possess for our necessity? Where are the respect for human life? Where are the respect and the admiration for the good characteristics and the good of the human nature? Never before the war as now have there been so many crimes, so much corruption, so much degeneration as there is now.”
In the best of my recollection and of my good faith, during the trial Katzmann has told to the jury that a certain Coacci has brought in Italy the money that, according to the State theory, I and Sacco have stolen in Braintree. We never stole that money. But Katzmann, when he told that to the jury, he knew already that that was not true. He knew already that that man was deported in Italy by the federal police soon after our arrest. I remember well that I was told that the federal policeman had him in their possession–that the federal policeman had taken away the trunks from the very ship where he was, and brought the trunks back over here and look them over and found not a single money.”
Now, I call that murder, to tell to the jury that a friend or comrade or a relative or acquaintance of the charged man, of the indicted man, has carried the money to Italy, when he knows it was not true. I can call that nothing else but murder, a plain murder.”