Case Summary: The Historic and Controversial Sacco and Vanzetti Trial of 1920

Topics: Sacco and Vanzetti, Webster Thayer, Luigi Galleani Pages: 8 (3148 words) Published: April 28, 2014
The murder case of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti is one of the most discriminatory and controversial trials to prevail throughout the history of Massachusetts’ courts. On July 14th, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongfully found guilty of first degree murder; not because there was ample evidence suggesting they were guilty, but because of their political beliefs. When Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested in 1920 (“The Sacco & Vanzetti Trial: A Chronology” p.2) many nations were undergoing major political changes and how the government and the people reacted to these changes affected Sacco and Vanzetti’s case. Americans feared people with extreme political views in their country, and believed that all radicals were plotting to overthrow the United States government. To most Americans during this time, if a person did not believe in democracy, then they were a 'radical', and if they were a radical, they were a threat to the country (Monroe p.13). “Anarchy had been a word of fear in many countries for a long time…nothing in that time, not even the word “Communism,” struck such terror, anger, and hatred into the popular mind…” (Porter p.6). Many people also feared immigrants who brought with them radical opinions, and laws were passed to stop the flow of immigrants into America. Even after the laws had passed, large cities such as Boston, and suburbs around it, became heavily populated with these immigrants (The Professional Education group p.2). Many Americans saw these people as a threat, and because Sacco and Vanzetti were both anarchists and immigrants, many Americans saw them a double threat. On December 24th, 1919, four men attempted to rob a payroll truck of the L.Q. White Shoe Company in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The bandits were unsuccessful and escaped, but one of them shot at the truck and later became known to the media as the “Shotgun Bandit”(“The Sacco & Vanzetti Trial: A Chronology” p.1). Later on April 15th, in South Braintree, two workers for the Slater & Morrill Shoe Company were shot. The two men shot, Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Beradelli, were carrying a payroll of $15,776.51, which the thieves stole. The robbers were picked up by a stolen Buick and managed a quick getaway. (“The Sacco & Vanzetti Trial: A Chronology” p.1). The crime itself had taken less than one minute, and the Bridgewater chief of police, Michael E. Stewart and his men, began investigating immediately. They questioned people near the crime and several witnesses said the bandits were Italian. Later a fur-lined cap was found near the scene of the crime, which was rumored to belong to Nicola Sacco (Monroe p.8). The next day, Ferruccio Coacci, an Italian anarchist who was to be deported on the day of the crime, told the Bureau of Immigration Inspector O.L. Root that he did not report as he was supposed to because his wife was ill and he needed a couple of days to take care of her. Root was dubious of Coacci’s story and requested that Michael E. Stewart, help him investigate to learn if Coacci was indeed being truthful. Stewart sent patrolman Frank LeBaron to go with Root to talk to Ferruccio Coacci. When the two men arrived, they found Coacci’s wife in good health and Coacci packing a suitcase insisting that they leave immediately. Coacci was immediately taken to the immigration station and left for Italy two days later. The day after, the Buick used by the South Braintree bandits was discovered abandoned two miles from Coacci’s home. Michael Stewart went back to Coacci’s old home, where his friend Mario Boda still lived, to talk to him. Boda told Stewart that he was a salesman and that his car was being repaired (“The Sacco & Vanzetti Trial: A Chronology” p.2). Michael Stewart suspected that Ferruccio Coacci and Mario Boda were involved with both the attempted Bridgewater crime and devised a trap catch any affiliates of Boda who could also be associated with the crimes. The police sent out a notice to local...
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