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Sacco & Vanzetti's Death

Sacco & Vanzetti

The lives and deaths of Sacco & Vanzetti:

They were a notorious pair in the 1920's, two Italian immigrants who were avowed anarchists and atheists, pledging constant battle against war, violence and government oppression. But they were accused of a distinctly violent act, a double murder during a Massachusetts robbery.

Sacco & Vanzetti

Nicola Sacco was a shoemaker's son born in the Apulia region of Italy. Bartolomeo Vanzetti was born in Italy's Piedmont region before moving to Massachusetts to sell fish.

Once in the United States, they became followers of the Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani. At the time, Italian anarchists were at or near the top of the list of enemies of the U.S. government.

Sacco & Vanzetti's political beliefs, and their Italian backgrounds, were cited by critics of their convictions as the reason they were found guilty.

The crime itself happened on April 15, 1920…

map of Sacco & Vanzetti murder/robbery

…at the Slater- Morrill Shore company factory in Braintree, Massachusetts. A security guard (an Italian himself) and the paymaster were shot and killed during a robbery.

Sacco & Vanzetti guns and bullet

The bullets pulled from the victims carried the markings of being fired by one gun in particular.

The police investigation led to Sacco and Vanzetti. And despite their protests of innocence, they were convicted and eventually sentenced to death.

Sacco & Vanzetti demonstrations

But it took years for the case to reach that conclusion and the two men became the focus of demonstrations in such far flung locations as Tokyo, Sydney, Rio de Janiero, Johannesburg and Buenos Aires.

newspaper report of Sacco & Vanzetti demonstrations

Celebrated writers called for a new trial, including future Supreme court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

Sacco and Vanzetti's long fight against the charges saw appeals, demonstrations around the world and even some violent protestations.

But when Massachusetts Governor Alvan Fuller appointed a three man commission to investigate the case, they upheld the conviction and Sacco and Vanzetti were sent to the electric chair on August 23, 1927.

electric chair Sacco & Vanzetti died in

…and people rioted in protest in places like Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam, Tokyo and London/

After their executions, death masks were made of the men

Sacco & Vanzetti death masks

Decades later, Massachusetts Governor Michal Dukakis proclaimed Sacco and Vanzetti were unfairly tried and convicted and that any disgrace should be removed from their names. But the governor's proclamation fell short of declaring them innocent.

Some still feel they were railroaded

Sacco & Vanzetti memorial

And there's a memorial to the two victims at the shoe company in Braintree.

Sacco & Vanzetti victimes memorial