This week in 1927

September 2nd, 2013 by admin

“I wish to say to you that I am innocent. I have never done a crime, some sins, but never any crime. I thank you for everything you have done for me. I am innocent of all crime, not only this one, but of all, all. I am an innocent man.”

Just before execution:
“I wish to forgive some people for what they are doing to me.”

— Bartolomeo Vanzetti, convicted of murder, electric chair, Massachusetts.
Executed August 23, 1927

Vanzetti immigrated to the United States when he was twenty years old. He sold fish and washed dishes before becoming involved in leftwing politics and protesting World War I. He had been in America for a decade before meeting Nicola Sacco at an anarchists’ meeting. In 1977, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis stopped short of exonerating the pair but declared: “Any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. We are not here to say whether these men are guilty or innocent. We are here to say that the high standards of justice, which we in Massachusetts take such pride in, failed Sacco and Vanzetti.”

An interesting postscript: A letter from famed novelist and muckraker Upton Sinclair (“The Jungle”) surfaced in 2005. While doing research for Boston, his two-volume “documentary novel” of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, he consulted with Fred Moore, one of their attorneys. “Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth,” Lewis wrote. “He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them.”

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