Essay on Sacco and vanzetti

This essay has a total of 5263 words and 19 pages.

Sacco and vanzetti

Were Sacco and Vanzetti convicted and eventually executed because of popular beliefs about
anarchy? The majority of the evidence on Sacco and Vanzetti points to the fact that they
did not receive a fair trial, but why is that? Many people of the time feel that can be
attributed to the fact that both of the men were Italian immigrants. While this may have
aided the feeling of hated that was already preeminent at the trial. It was not however
the main reason that the two men were not given their fair trial that every one is alleged
to have the right to. The main reason that Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted, and
eventually executed with out the proper process of appeals, is the fact that they were
members of a militant group of anarchists. Both Sacco and Vanzetti were members of a
movement that was considered by many of the people of the day to be the evil advisory of
the free world. This was the felling in the wake of world war one and the red scare.

The movement of anarchism has never been led by a single man, but many people have been
influential in its cause over the years. One such man was Luigi Galleani. During the first
two decades of the twentieth century, was one of the leading Italian anarchists in
America. Sacco and Vanzetti adapted many of the major policies of Luigi during their time
in America. This occurrence was a direct result of the many editorials that Lugi wrote in
the anarchist newsletter Cronaca Sovversiva . This newsletter was terribly influential in
both Sacco and Vanzetti’s lives. Vanzetti himself eventually wrote for the Cronaca
Sovversiva. Both Sacco and Vanzetti had been know to distribute the pamphlet, Sacco did so
while he was on a break at the shoe factory.

One of the most under-debated topics of this unfortunate situation is the reason that
Sacco and Vanzetti turned to anarchism in the first place. Many of the sources choose to
ignore this question. Both Sacco and Vanzetti came from small Italian farming villages.
Sacco was from an upper-middle class farming family. He was the third of seventeen
children. His father owned land and had hired hands that would work with Sacco in the
fields. Sacco was never really one for formal education. He was just a hard worker with
good family values . So why did he turn to anarchism?

Much of the same could be said for Vanzetti. He came a slightly smaller family that had
just decent socio-economic status it his hometown. He was formally educated and excelled
quickly. But his father removed him from his studies to learn a trade when he had heard
that several layers were applying for the same job with less pay than a tradesman would be
earning. Forty-two men competing for one position that paid thirty-five lire. Eventually
Vanzetti was placed in an apprentice –ship for a bakers trade. He was away from his home
for several years at the age of thirteen, working late and lonely hours. The only way he
found to entertain himself was with random readings and religion. Vanzetti was a devout
Catholic. He loved his mother more than anything else, and to be away from her made his
heath slowly deteriorated. He was returned home to help his health return. Shortly after
Vanzetti recovered his mother fell ill with cancer. She was in constant pain for three
months. In the last few weeks of her life her suffering was so intense that her husband
could no longer bear to witness her pain. This left Vanzetti to care for his mother alone.
She would eventually die in his arms. He later stated that he buried part of himself when
he buried his mother. He was so distressed that he would go days with out speaking.
Following these events he never had a relationship with any woman besides his mother .
Her death scared him to the point were he was not able to speak of his mother even during
his time in jail, more than 10 years after his mother had died. When he boarded with a
co-worker’s family they stated that he never had a guest of the female persuasion, nor did
he ever have a date. He was also very exclusive with his time to the young boys of the
family. This may have either represented the fact that he was afraid to get attached to
women, or it may have represented that he was attracted to little boys. Either way his
mother’s death seemed to rattle his faith in God. This event shocked him to the point were
he had left for America, because in his own words ”There was nothing left for me to but
come away. I had to put the seas between me and my grief.” Vanzetti’s feelings towards
the developments in his life may have been a reason for his sudden turn into anarchism.

While Vanzetti came to America to escape grief, his intentions were to start a new life
filled with happiness and prosperity. He like most other immigrants felt that America was
the ”land of freedom-freedom not merely to gain wealth, for which we cared little, but
freedom of the mind and of ideas. We always think that a natural right, and in that is our
happiness.” So what led a man in search of freedom in America to pick up arms against this

To most of the immigrants who came to this country, around the turn of the century to the
First World War, America was the fairy tale that they were looking for. Upon arriving in
America many immigrants were disappointed at what they saw. Extreme prejudice hampered
their ability to mingle in with the rest of society. The lack of quality jobs also hurt
immigrants. Poverty and language barriers ruined their dreams of property ownership and
comfortable living that had been promised them in their homelands. Much of the myth of
streets paved with gold and boundless opportunities were concocted by people looking to
make money in their homeland. Shippers and merchants did their best to swindle whole
families out of their savings. Often they promised many things that they knew America did
not have, just in order to make money. These shippers and merchants often had men out on
the town singing the praises of going to America. Stories of boundless opportunities and
limitless freedom. Overcharging and overbooking was prevalent, by those who would look to
make a great deal of money. The desire to fight back against the people that had taken
advantage of them may have been a primary motivation for immigrants to pledge themselves
to something with such a reputation for being a radical movement. This could have been one
of the main reasons for the raise in popularity of anarchism amongst immigrants.

Sacco and Vanzetti both coming from middle class families, were never really used to such
exploitation. They also knew what it was like to have a stable income. This may have
inspired them to take up the cause of helping to better the lives of their fellow
immigrants. Rather than looking at the problem on small scale as did many immigrants both
Sacco and Vanzetti decided that they needed to assault the source. Instead of looking to
form unions to prevent corrupt business, or attempting to take their grievances to the
government, they elected to shoot over the head of the government and protest government

Anarchy as a movement attempts to annihilate all government. Capitalism is too well
renown for its ability to keep the lower classes suppressed while keeping them alive and
working for the upper classes. Sacco knew what it was like for lower classes due to the
fact that he had several men working under him to help his family farm in Italy. Sacco
felt that the lower classes were mistreated in America. He had worked side by side with
the lower class while not exploiting them. He felt that the way his father had treated the
migrant farm workers was the proper way to treat a human being of lower class status.
Being in a stable family with decent economic status he could have returned to Italy if
his situation ever got to grim. However he may have felt that he needed to stay and help
champion the cause of the worker. By working hard and getting ahead Sacco could help out
the less fortunate people who did not have the means to return to their native countries.
Some people had the means to return home but their conditions back home were no better
than that of the ones plaguing them in America. To them a newer more open form of
oppression and a fresh start was worth fighting for. Sacco held on to his ideals and
worked his way up the ladder. During his struggles he was able to gain access to anarchist
writings. Sacco felt he was becoming a good soldier in the revolution that anarchism was
to inevitably bring about. He wanted to help, what he felt were the wheels of justice
rolling. He handed out the writings to entry level workers to help give them something to
dream about, sort of an excuse to continue on fighting to stay alive. This theory is
supported by the dream that Sacco had while he was in jail.

Sacco expressed a dream that he endured in jail to help sum up his feelings in his later
days. He described the scene as unions strike in a Pennsylvania mining camp. Government
soldiers, who represented capitalism, barged in armed with riffles and bayonets in order
to break up the strike. Sacco jumped to his feet and tried to urge the workers to hold
their ground, while trying to appeal to the human side of the soldiers. ”Remember that
everyone of us we have a mother and a child,” Sacco stated, “and you know that we fight
for freedom which is your fight.” During his attempt to appeal to the hearts of the
soldiers he was shot in the heart. He woke up with what Sacco refereed to as a “sweet
dream” fresh in his memory. He tried to link the fact that government as well as their
soldiers have no heart, or feelings, while he was willing to die for his fellow workers
and their ideals. This dream came from the mind of a simple man who was trying to
establish symbolism and irony along with his desire to be a martyr. He was not trying to
save himself at this point but trying to set the wheels rolling, and if this were to occur
Sacco felt he would be remembered for all time as one of the first men to die for the
glorious cause of what his narrow mind believed to be freedom.

Following the assassination of President McKinley, anarchism was perceived as a terrible
cultish enemy of the United States of America. It was to be established as a hated ideal
once powerful members of American Government were receiving bombs. In the wake of this
scare and the begging of America’s entry into World War One, both Sacco and Vanzetti fled
their lives in America to go to Mexico. This was done in order to escape the draft. Much
of the foreign immigrants were not ordered to fight, but they feared that if for some
reason the Government wanted to round them up the government would have knowledge to were
they were. They were not sure if they would bet put interment camps or even jailed as
spies. Sacco left his wife for more than a year and a half rather than starting a new life
under an assumed name, as most of his anarchist friends did. He met Vanzetti there in
Mexico. They also met with other leading militant Anarchists. In Mexico they all suffered
great hardships. This tested their ideals, and hardened their beliefs. They all went back
to America after being exhausted and defeated. Most of the men never returned to their
original lives. Sacco lived under an assumed name till he could return to his wife and
family. Sacco was a man who was as detected to his family as he was his job. He was a
tireless worker, and a great family man spending almost all of free time with his wife and
kids. Yet Sacco’s desire to free his fellow man from the shackles of oppression made him
give this all up for more than a year and a half. Sacco was either wonderfully naïve man
with the best of intentions or he was a terribly phony man striving for the to achieve
greatness. He was more likely too naive to know that his undying faith in anarchism would
eventually rob him of the life he had worked so hard to achieve.

Those are the reasons that Sacco and Vanzetti turned to anarchy. But the main point of
this essay to point out the reasons why they were convicted. For starters Fred H. Moore
was the chief council. Mr. Moore was himself a radical and made his living as a defender
of radicals. He was not a member of the Massachusetts bar assassination thus he was,
unfamiliar with the pollicies and traditions of Massachusetts bench. This often led to the
judge being offended by his inability to recognize and follow the proper etiquette of the
courtroom. In addition to this it helped to fuel Judge Thayer’s severe hatred of radicals
or as he refereed to them “reds”.

Judge Thayer is an enigma. There was a great deal of horrible precedents set in this case
due to his intolerance of anarchists. He was unique in his prejudice, most people involved
were prejudice against the two men because they were Italians not because they were
“reds”. Popular feelings about anarchy going into the trial were far from positive. Judge
Thayer was responsible for helping the shift the negative focus off anarchism and helped
develop some of the first modern cynical feelings towards the government. If not for
Communist Russia and the second red scare anarchism may have developed into a popular
movement. Judge Thayer was rather inconsistent with his decisions. His ignorant comments
to the press dammed him in the eyes of the public. His prejudices carried over into the
jury. Think about it for a minute. The judge in a case you are on the jury for constantly
attempts to make the guilt of the defendants obvious. It may sway your opinion towards
guilty. A judge appears to be a respected and educated member of society. Mr. Thayer took
advantage of his position in the courtroom to sway the opinions of the jury every chance
he got. He allowed several bizarre testimonies. For example he allowed the prosecution to
establish the validity of a witness who’s testimony was less than reliable. The witness
who was known as Splaine had seen Sacco leaving the scene of the crime.

Viewing the scene from a distance of from sixty to eighty feet, she saw a man previously
unknown to her in a car traveling at fifteen to eighteen miles per hour. She only saw
Sacco for from one and a half to three seconds. Yet after more than a year she testified
and said this” The man that appeared between the back of the front seat and the back seat
was a man slightly taller than the witness was. He weighed possibly from 140 to 145
pounds. He was muscular, an active-looking man. His left hand was a good-sized hand, a
hand that denoted strength." Sacco had small hands. Also when she was asked to identify
Sacco in a lineup Sacco was the only man in the line up. Not terribly difficult to
identify a man when he’s the only one there.

This may have been done due to the police’s prejudges against “reds” or even to cover
their own backsides. If the police did not convict Sacco or Vanzetti, then it looks as if
they botched the case. None of the sources blame the police for allowing the other two men
to escape and eventually be deported before they could be charged with any crime. This
would have made the police out to be incompetent. How would the press react to what now
was anarchism against our justice system? If none of the perpetrators were brought to
justice then capitalism and the police look bad. It would look as if the police and the
immigration officers were not on the same page. That would send a message to other
anarchists that they could get away with almost anything, and that may have started the
revolution that Sacco and Vanzetti were striving for. That would have been a dangerous
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