“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, July 14, 1921, Norfolk County Courthouse, Dedham, Massachusetts

The jury takes only three hours and a dinner break to convict the defendants, Nicola Sacco, 30, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 33, of first degree murder in the robbery and shooting of two men at the Slater & Morrill Shoe Co. in Braintree, Massachusetts, last year.

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Or were they really convicted for being Italian immigrant draft-dodging anarchists?

Throughout the more than seven-week trial, Judge Webster Thayer, 64, fought with Sacco’s California attorney, Fred H. Moore, 51. During one lunch recess, reporters heard the judge say,

No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!…You wait till I give my charge to the jury. I’ll show them.”

The men’s alibis—on the day of the robbery and murders Sacco was having his passport renewed at the Italian consulate and Vanzetti was selling fish—were backed up by credible witnesses.

Of all the evidence, Judge Thayer kept coming back to a cap that was found at the scene and was supposed to be Sacco’s. But, when Sacco tried it on in court, the cap didn’t fit.

The prosecution did catch a few lies in the men’s testimony, but neither Sacco nor Vanzetti ever denied being an anarchist.

Judge Thayer pronounces his sentence. Death by electric chair.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book format on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I am talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh. This fall I will be talking about Writers Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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