The Slow Burning Fuse

an atheisitic anarchistic scorcher

today in anarchist history


5 May 1920: The arrest of anarchists Ferdinando Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti were born in Italy and immigrated to  the USA at the turn of the 20th Century.  Sacco was a shoemaker, Vanzettia fishmonger, but both were radicals and well known public speakers involved in local strikes and anarchist activities.

In 1920 a pay master and his guard carrying a $15,000 payroll were killed and robbed in Braintree, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the two murders. In 1921, a jury found them guilty and they were sentenced to die.
Their trial was held in a time of a highly volatile political climate in the USA.  The radical movement had reached a peak immediately following World War I. There were large organisations of Socialists, Wobblies, Communists and Anarchists. In 1918 the Bolshevik Revolution caused many in the US to believe that  revolution was just around the corner.  This political upheaval struck fear into the hearts of the establishment. The media became gripped in an hysteria of anti-radicalism. Congress passed the Sedition Act, which provided for the deportation of aliens who held objectionable economic or political views. In 1920, the federal government conducted a nationwide round-up of radicals.  Over 10,000 people were arrested across the US for no other crime than membership of a radical organisation.  700 people, including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were deported.
The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was a farce.  They were convicted on unreliable evidence and a evidence  of alibis provided by numerous witness was ruled inadmissible.   After their conviction the judge said to a friend, “Did you see what I did with those anarchist bastards?”

The Sacco and Vanzetti case attracted a tremendous amount of support from  across the USA, with thousands of dollars being raised  to fund the defense committee, but  despite the millions of people who believed in their innocence Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on August 23, 1927 in the Massachusetts State Prison. On the day before their execution, millions demonstrated, demanding that they be freed. Over 250,000 people came out for their funeral in Boston.


Since their deaths, critical opinion has largely found that the two men were convicted mostly because of their anarchist beliefs.   In 1977, it was officially declared that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”



One comment on “today in anarchist history

  1. Teesside Solidarity Movement
    May 5, 2013

    Reblogged this on Teesside Solidarity Movement.

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