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Sacco and Vanzetti

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian anarchists who were arrested, tried, and executed in the United States in the 1920s on charges of murder and robbery, although there was much doubt regarding their guilt even at the time of their trial. It is thought that the police, prosecutors, and jury were prejudiced by the fact that Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrants with a poor grasp of the English language and by their radical politics.

It was a period of intense fear of communism in American history, the Red Scare of 1919 – 1920. Neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had any previous criminal record, nor did they consider themselves communists, but they were known to the authorities as radical militants who had been widely involved in labor strikes, political agitation, and anti-war propaganda.

Many famous intellectuals, including Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertrand Russell, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, campaigned for a retrial but were unsuccessful. On August 23, 1927 the two men were sent to the electric chair.

On the August 23, 1977, exactly fifty years later, Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation, absolving the two men of the crime.

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