Sacco e Vanzetti
|June 11, 1888||Bartolomeo Vanzetti is born in Villafalletto in northern Italy.|
|April 22, 1891||Nicola (nee Ferdinando) Sacco is born in Torremaggiore in southern Italy.|
|April 1908||Sacco and his brother Sabino emigrate to the United States.|
|June 1908||Bartolomeo Vanzetti emigrates to the United States.|
|May 1917||Vanzetti and Sacco meet in Boston at a meeting of Galleanist Anarchists. One week later they depart for Mexico with other Italian anarchists to avoid conscription.|
|September 1917||Sacco and Vanzetti return to the United States.|
|Feb. 22, 1918||At the height of the Red Scare, the office of the Cronaca Sovversiva, an anarchist newspaper both Sacco and Vanzetti had written for and donated money to, is raided. The names Sacco and Vanzetti are for the first time linked by officials to anarchist activities.|
|February 1919||“Go-Head!” --a circular attributed to “The American Anarchists”-- appears throughout New England. In it, the American Anarchists, presumably the Italian-American Anarchists, threaten to “dynamite” officials in retaliation for the ongoing deportations and repression the anarchists are enduring.|
|April 28, 1919||A bomb plot is discovered. The plot involved sending over 30 dynamite bombs to persons on the anarchists' enemies list, including A. Mitchell Palmer, the U.S. Attorney General, J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (who one year later would become the first commissioner of baseball).|
|June 2, 1919||In another round of bombings Carlo Valdinoci (who had been in Mexico with Sacco and Vanzetti two years earlier) blew himself up outside the home of Attorney General Palmer. Sacco and Vanzetti are rumored to have taken part in the bombing.|
|November 1919||The Justice Department begins rounding up anarchists.|
|Dec. 24, 1919||Four
men attempt to rob the payroll of the L.Q. White Shoe Company in Bridgewater,
Massachusetts. One, later known as the “shotgun bandit,” fires at the moving payroll truck. They are unsuccessful and no one is hurt. The would-be bandits escaped.
|Early 1920||Sacco and Vanzetti consider returning to Italy.|
|March 8, 1920||Roberto
Elia and Andrea Salsedo, anarchists who worked for the Cronaca Sovversiva,
taken into custody by the Department of Justice without a warrant or being arrested. They are beaten until they agree to inform on their fellow anarchists.
|April 15, 1920||In South Braintree, Massachusetts, two men armed with handguns shoot and kill Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli, employees of the Slater & Morrill Shoe Company. The thieves rob the men of the $15,776.51 payroll they were carrying. The thieves are picked up by a car carrying other men.|
|April 16, 1920||Ferruccio Coacci, an Italian anarchist who was to be in East Boston to be deported the day before, tells Bureau of Immigration Inspector O. L. Root that he did not report as scheduled because his wife was sick and he needed a few days to take care of her. Suspicious, Root asks Michael E. Stewart, Bridgewater chief of police, to look into Coacci’s story. Stewart had patrolman Frank LeBaron accompany Root to talk to Coacci. When they arrive at Coacci’s, they find Coacci’s wife in fine health and Coacci packing a suitcase and insisting on leaving immediately. He was taken to the immigration station and left for Italy two days later....Stewart will later conclude that both of the South Braintree hold-ups done by the same group of Italians, Coacci being one of them.|
|April 17, 1920||The car
used by the South Braintree bandits, a stolen Buick, is discovered two
Coacci and Buda’s home.
|April 20, 1920||Stewart
goes to Coacci’s former home and talks to Mario Buda. Buda claims
he is a
salesman and that his car is being repaired at the Elm Square Garage.
|April 22, 1920||Stewart talks to Simon Johnson, owner of the Elm Square Garage, and sets a trap for Buda by instructing Johnson to call him when anyone comes for the car.|
|May 3, 1920||Andrea Salsedo--perhaps acting out of guilt--commits suicide by jumping out of the fourteenth-floor room.|
|May 3, 1920||Vanzetti takes a train to Sacco’s house.|
|May 4, 1920||Sacco
and Vanzetti learn of their comrade Salsedo’s suicide and become scared
they will be found and implicated in a bomb plot. They agree, with
Mario Buda and Riccardo Orciani (another anarchist), to meet the following
day at the Elm Square Garage in West
Bridgewater (where Buda’s car was being repaired) and dispose of incriminating evidence.
Sacco goes to Boston to obtain a passport.
|May 5, 1920||Sacco
and Vanzetti take the streetcar to West Bridgewater and meet Buda
and Orciani at the garage. Finding the garage locked, the four go to the
house of the owner, Simon Johnson, who advises Buda not to take
the car because the license plates had expired. Meanwhile, his wife
telephones the police. Buda and Orciani ride off on Orciani’s motorcycle
while Sacco and Vanzetti walk to the streetcar to return home. At 10:00
P.M. as the streetcar pulls into Brockton, a policeman boards and arrests
Vanzetti as “[s]uspicious characters.” Both men are armed. Vanzetti is found to have shotgun shells, leading to the authorities’ belief that he was the “shotgun” bandit at Bridgewater. Sacco and Vanzetti lie to police about their politics, their guns, why they were in Bridgewater, and deny knowing Coacci and Buda. They repeat these lies to the District Attorney.
|June 11, 1920||Vanzetti--despite having no previous criminal record--is indicted for the Bridgewater hold-up. He is quickly brought to trial, convicted, and sentenced to the maximum sentence of 12 to 15 years by Judge Thayer.|
|Sept. 11, 1920||Sacco and Vanzetti are indicted for the South Braintree murders.|
|Sept. 16, 1920||Mario
Buda detonates a horse-and-buggy bomb at the corner of Wall and Broad
streets in Manhattan causing thirty deaths, over 200 injuries, and $2 million in property damage. The bomb is revenge for the prosecution of Sacco and Vanzetti.
|May 31, 1921||Trial begins at Dedham, Massachusetts.|
|June 3, 1921||After several days of voir dire, only seven jurors have been selected and the entire panel of 500 people exhausted. The Court directs the Sheriff to bring in 200 more potential jurors.|
|June 4, 1921||The defense challenges the way in which the additional potential jurors were arbitrarily rounded up. Judge Thayer denies the challenge.|
|June 7, 1921||Assistant Prosecutor, Mr. Williams, delivers the opening statement for the State.|
|June 9, 1921||Eyewitnesses
Carrigan, Bostock, and Wade testify that were unable to identify any of
bandits they had seen at the crime. Miss Splaine, a bookkeeper, testifies thatshe saw Sacco leanout of the automobile as it crossed railroad tracks. On cross-examination, Splaine denies saying at the preliminary hearing that she had doubts as to whether she could identify Sacco, though her statement is in the record.
|June 10, 1921||Mr. Pelser
testified that Sacco was the “dead image” of the man in the car.
admits in cross-examination that he earlier told the police that he had not witnessed the robbery and had run away because he was scared.
|June 11, 1921||Mrs.
Lola Andrews testifies that she had spoken to a man working under a car
in front of
the shoe factory the day of the robbery and identified Sacco as the man. She denies stating during an interview that a picture of Sacco did not resemble the man she had seen.
|June 13, 1921||Vanzetti is identified by Michael LeVangie, the gate-keeper at a railroad crossing, as being the driver of the bandit car.|
|June 14, 1921||Harry Dolbeare testifies that Vanzetti is the man who was in the back of the get-away car. Two other witnesses, Heron and Tracy, identify Sacco as the man they had seen around East Braintree the day of the robbery.|
|June 15, 1921||The final
identification witness, Goodridge, testifies he had seen Sacco shooting
car. The defense tries to impeach his testimony by implying a larceny charge had gone unpunished in return for his testimony. Judge Thayer refuses to allow the defense to introduce its impeaching evidence.
|June 16, 1921||Testimony is given concerning the finding of a Buick touring car near West Bridgewater. The car is identified as being the car used in the Bridgewater and South Braintree hold-ups.|
|June 17, 1921||Connolly, the officer who arrested Sacco and Vanzetti on the train, testifies that Sacco and Vanzetti reached for their guns when they were arrested.|
|June 20, 1921||Employees
of the Iver Johnson Company testify that the gun taken from Vanzetti when
was arrested was “of the same kind” as the one left at their store by the victim Berardelli.
Sacco’s boss testifies that a cap found at the scene was similar to one Sacco wore.
|June 21, 1921||Proctor, a ballistics expert, testifies that shells found at the scene and taken from the bodies of the decedents were “consistent with” having been fired by Sacco’s pistol; it was later challenged that the word “consistent” was used purposely to lead the jury to believe that Sacco’s pistol was the murder weapon without explicitly saying so.|
|June 22, 1921||The defense begins to present its case.|
|June 28, 1921||Mr. Kurlansky
testifies that Mrs. Andrews had once told him she could not identify the
defendants but a government agent was forcing her to do so. Defense expert witnesses testify that Sacco’s gun did not fire the bullet that killed Berardelli.
|July 5, 1921||Vanzetti
takes the stand. He is questioned at length about his political
views during cross-
|July 6, 1921||Sacco takes the stand. He tries on the cap found at the crime scene, and it did not fit (yet they did not acquit).|
|July 7, 1921||During cross-examination, Sacco, too, is questioned at length concerning his political views.|
|July 14, 1921||The case goes to the jury. At 7:30 in the evening the jury returns its verdict: Sacco and Vanzetti are both found guilty of murder in the first degree.|
|Nov. 8, 1921||The Ripley motion for a new trial is made. The defendants argued that it was reversible error for the the jury foreman, Ripley, to have had brought into the juryroom 38 caliber cartridges, presumably to show the other jurors what they looked like. The defense also produces an affidavit stating that Ripley had responded to a comment that the defendants might not be guilty by saying “They ought to hang anyway.”|
|May 4, 1922||The Gould
and Pelser motions are made. The Gould motion is based on affidavit
Gould, an eyewitness, stating that during the shootout a man who did not look like Sacco or Vanzetti fired at him from the car. The Pelser motion is based on the retraction of Pelser, the witness who said Sacco was the “dead image” of the person who shot Berardelli. Pelser now alleges that Assistant District Attorney Williams persuaded him to make the identification.
|July 22, 1922||The Goodridge motion for a new trial is made. It is based on the lack of credibility of prosecution witness Goodridge, a known felon who testified under a false name.|
|Sept. 11, 1922||The Andrews
motion for a new trial is made. It is based upon Mrs. Lola
|April 30, 1923||The Hamilton
motion for a new trial is filed. It is based upon criminologist
case expert Hamilton who signed an affidavit stating that said the bullets at the scene and in Berardelli did not come from Sacco’s gun.
|Nov. 5, 1923||The Proctor
motion for a new trial is made. Prosecution expert witness Proctor
admitted that the use of the ambiguous phrase “consistent with” was prearranged by the District Attorny to allow the jury to believe he was testifying that Sacco’s gun was the gun that killed Berardelli.
|Oct. 1, 1924||Judge Thayer denies all motions for a new trial.|
|November 1925||Celestino Medeiros, a Portugese convict doing time for murder, allegedly confesses to Sacco that he had been involved in the South Braintree hold-up.|
|May 12, 1926||The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upholds Sacco and Vanzetti’s convictions and denies their motion for a new trial.|
|May 26, 1926||A motion
is filed for a new trial based upon Medeiros’ confession and information
the Morelli gang, an Italian gang that robbed freight cars in Providence, R.I. and New Bedford, Mass.
|Late May, 1926||Anarchists issue a new call for bombings as a result of the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court decision.|
|June 1, 1926||A bomb
explodes at Samuel Johnson’s home, presumably mistaking him for his brother
Simon (the man whose call led to the arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti).
|Sept. 13-17, 1926||The Medeiros motion is argued before Judge Thayer.|
|Oct. 23, 1926||Judge Thayer denies the Medeiros motion.|
|Jan. 27-28, 1927||Appeal
from the denial of Medeiros motion argued before the Supreme Judicial
|April 7, 1927||The denial of the Medeiros motion is affirmed.|
|July 28, 1927||After being interviewed for several hours by Governor Fuller, Vanzetti writes a letter to the Governor providing more complete answers to the Governor's questions and pleading for the Governor to stop the scheduled executions.|
|Aug. 3, 1927||Gov. Fuller announces that he will not intervene to stop the scheduled executions.|
|Aug. 23, 1927||Sacco and Vanzetti are electrocuted.|
|Sept. 27, 1932||Judge
Thayer’s house was bombed (presumably for his role in the Sacco and Vanzetti
|Aug. 23, 1977||Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis proclaims "Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti Day" on the fiftieth anniversary of their death.|