“The supreme court of Massachusetts has spoken at last and Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, two of the bravest and best scouts that ever served the labor movement, must go to the electric chair. The decision of this capitalist judicial tribunal is not surprising. It accords perfectly with the tragical farce and the farcical tragedy of the entire trial of these two absolutely innocent and shamefully persecuted working men.” Eugene V. Debs, October 1926
“I am forced to conclude that they were condemned on account of their political opinions and that men who ought to have known better allowed themselves to express misleading views as to the evidence because they held that men with such opinions have no right to live. A view of this sort is one which is very dangerous, since it transfers from the theological to the political sphere a form of persecution which it was thought that civilized countries had outgrown.” Bertrand Russell, 1926
“When at last Judge Thayer in a tiny voice passed sentence upon Sacco and Vanzetti, a woman in the courtroom said with terror: “It is death condemning life!”
The men in Charlestown Prison are shining spirits, and Vanzetti has spoken with an eloquence not known elsewhere within our time. They are too bright, we shield our eyes and kill them. We are the dead, and in us there is not feeling nor imagination nor the terrible torment of lust for justice. And in the city where we sleep, smug gardeners walk to keep the grass above our little houses sleek and cut whatever blade thrusts up a head above its fellows.” Heywood Hale Broun, 1926
“One by one the jurors were selected; Arthur W. Burgess, of the town of Hanson, Henry S. Burgess, caretaker of the town of Wareham, Joseph Frawley, shoe-finisher of the town of Brockton, Charles A. Gale, clerk, of the town of Norwell–so it went, all Anglo-Saxon names…such little people of the old stock, having failed for one reason or another to become rich, looked with bitter contempt upon the immigrants who came pouring into the country, to beat down wages and make life harder for the “white men” of New England. Far from having any sense of class solidarity, they clung to the American idea that their children would rise and join the leisure class; their attitude to the Italian was that of the poor whites of the south to the Negroes. “All these wops stand together,” said one juryman to another, discussing the case at lunch in a restaurant.” Upton Sinclair, Boston, 1927
“I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I was an Italian, and indeed I am an Italian; I have suffered more for my family and for my beloved than for myself; but I am so convinced to be right that if you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already.” Bartolomeo Vanzetti, April 1927
“If it had not been for this thing, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life can we hope to do such work for tolerance, justice, for man’s understanding of man, as now we do by accident. Our words – our lives – our pains – nothing! The taking of our lives – lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish peddler – all! That last moment belong to us – that agony is our triumph” Bartolomeo Vanzetti, before his execution, 1927
JUSTICE DENIED IN MASSACHUSETTS
Let us abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting room.
Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under this cloud?
Sour to the fruitful seed
Is the cold earth under this cloud,
Fostering quack and weed, we have marched upon but cannot conquer;
We have bent the blades of our hoes against the stalks of them.
Let us go home, and sit in the sitting room.
Not in our day
Shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
Beneficent upon us
Out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea
Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and withered the weed uprooted
We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.
What from the splendid dead have we inherited —
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued —
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.
Let us sit here, sit still,
Here is the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children`s children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Always in our hearts