Sacco and Vanzetti Case: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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In 1920 Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants and devout anarchists, were accused of robbery and murder. Their subsequent trial and execution captivated the world and exposed many of the cultural and political tensions of 1920s America. Sacco and Vanzetti’s supporters claimed the two anarchists had been persecuted for their beliefs and not their actions, while their detractors saw proof of the country’s ability to protect itself from dangerous foreign elements. Michael Topp’s unique collection of documents examines both sides and provides a clear presentation of the trial while emphasizing the broad historical context in which it was conducted. An interpretive introductory essay, document headnotes, a chronology, and questions for consideration provide further pedagogical support. A bibliographic essay and a brief discussion of artistic productions based on the trial are also included.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312400880
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

MICHAEL M. TOPP is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas, El Paso, where he has taught since 1993. A specialist in immigrant and working-class history, he is the author of Those Without a Country: The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists (2001). He has written numerous essays on such subjects as the Italian American Left, masculinity and nationalism, immigrant historiography andits relevance to the study of the border, and racial and ethnic identity in the United States. He is currently working on a history of cultural identity and mental illness in the United States.

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Table of Contents


Italian America
The Anarchist World of Sacco and Vanzetti
Radical Possibility and the Red Scare
The Arrest and the Trial
The Arrest and "Consciousness of Guilt"
Bridgewater and the Plymouth Trial
Central Issues of the Sacco and Vanzetti Trial
On Trial for What?
The Appeals
Contemporary Responses: Supporters and Detractors
The Lowell Committee, World Wide Outrage, and the Executions
The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti
Instant Martyrdom

1. Gino Speranza, How It Feels to Be a Problem, May 1904
2. Edward Ross, The Old World in the New, 1914
3. Luigi Galleani, Anarchy Will Be!, 1907
4. Luigi Galleani, La Salute É in Voi!, c. 1905
5. Luigi Galleani, Against the War, Against Peace, For Social Revolution, March 18, 1916
6. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Unbelievable Stuff, July 8, 1915
7. Nicola Sacco's Letters, 1924-1927
To Fred Moore, August 18, 1924
To Dear Friend Mrs. Henderson, February 9, 1927
To My Dear Friends and Comrades, August 12, 1927
To My Dear Ines, July 19, 1927
To My Dear Son and Companion, August 18, 1927
8. Bartolomeo Vanzetti's Letters, 1925-1927
To Dear Comrade Blackwell, November 13, 1925
To My Dear Dante, August 21, 1927
9. Louis Post, The Deportations Delirium of Nineteen-Twenty, 1923
The Arrest and "Consciousness of Guilt"
10. District Attorney Frederick Katzmann, Closing Argument to the Dedham Jury (Transcript), July 13, 1921
11. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Background of the Plymouth Trial, c. 1926
Bridgewater and the Plymouth Trial
12. Assistant District Attorney William Kane, Examination
of Maynard Freeman Shaw, Preliminary Hearings, Plymouth (Transcript) June 25, 1920
13. District Attorney Frederick Katzmann, Cross-examination of Beltrando Brini, Preliminary Hearings, Plymouth (Transcript), June 27, 1920
14. Francis Russell, Interview with Beltrando Brini, 1962
Central Issues of the Sacco and Vanzetti Trial
15. Assistant District Attorney Harold P. Williams, Examination of Mary Splaine, June 9, 1921
16. Pinkerton Agent Henry Hellyer, Reports, April 19, 1920; May 11, 1920.
17. Affidavit of Captain William Proctor, October 20, 1923
18. Affidavit of District Attorney Frederick Katzmann, October 31, 1923
On Trial for What?
19. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, On Reasons for Prosecution, c. 1926
20. District Attorney Frederick Katzmann, Cross-examination of Nicola Sacco and Judge Webster Thayer's Intervention, (Transcript), July 7, 1921
21. Nicola Sacco, Statement on Anarchism (delivered during cross-examination by District Attorney Katzmann) (Transcript), July 7, 1921
22. Affidavits of FBI Agents Fred J. Weyand and Lawrence Letherman, July 1926
The Appeals
23. George Crocker, Testimony before the Lowell Committee (Transcript), July 11, 1927
24. James Richardson, Testimony before the Lowell Committee (Transcript), July 12, 1927
25. Celestino Madeiros' Statement, April 8, 1926.
26. Judge Webster Thayer, Ruling on Madeiros Appeal (Transcript), October 22, 1926
Contemporary Responses: Supporters and Detractors
27. Carlo Tresca, Vanzetti's Articles Reprinted in Il Martello with Editor's Comments, September 15, 1921
28. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Rebel Girl, 1955
29. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Letter to Mrs. Evans, August 4, 1927
30. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Letter to Mrs. Jack, October 3, 1923
31. John Dos Passos, Facing the Chair, 1927
32. Frank Goodwin, "Sacco-Vanzetti and the Red Peril": Speech before the Lawrence Kiwanis Club, June 30, 1927
33. Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, June 1977
The Lowell Committee, World Wide Outrage, and the Executions
34. F. Lauriston Bullard, We Submit, October 26, 1926
35. Advisory [Lowell] Committee Decision, July 27, 1927
36. Countee Cullen, Not Sacco and Vanzetti, 1927
37. Edna St. Vincent Millay, Justice Denied in Massachusetts, 1927, 1928
38. Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Letter to Little Comrade [Li Pei Kan], July 23, 1927
39. Benito Mussolini, Letter to Governor Fuller, July 23, 1927
Instant Martyrdom
40. Oswald Garrison Villard, Justice Underfoot, August 17, 1927
41. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, Sacco and Vanzetti, August 1929
42. Vera B. Weisbord, Remember Sacco and Vanzetti, July 1977
43. State Senator Alexander J. Cella, Recommending a Posthumous Pardon for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, April 2, 1959
44. Governor Michael Dukakis, Proclamation on the Sacco and Vanzetti Trial, July 19, 1977

A Chronology of Events Related to the Sacco and Vanzetti Case
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography
Cultural and Artistic Productions on the Sacco and Vanzetti Case

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