1927 August 21

Hundreds of Writers, Civic Leaders Petition for Stay of Sacco-Vanzetti Execution


A petition signed by hundreds of prominent writers and civic activists was sent on this day to Massachusetts Governor Fuller asking for a stay of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, two immigrant anarchists convicted of a 1920 murder in Braintree, Massachusetts. The petitioners and many legal experts believed that the conviction of the two men was based on prejudice against immigrants and public fear of anarchism, and also that the case was marred by serious legal flaws.

The Sacco and Vanzetti case was one of the great civil liberties cause celebre in the 1920s, with protest meetings across the U.S. and around the world. In many instanced, pro-Sacco and Vanzetti meetings were banned or broken up by the police (see,for example, August 14, 1927). The two were executed on August 23, 1927, two days after the petition was submitted.

Signers of the petition included Professor John R. Commons, of the University of Wisconsin and the leading expert on labor union; the noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., of Harvard University; Arthur Garfield Hays (born December 12, 1881), General Counsel of the ACLU; and Mary Woolley, President of Mt. Holyoke College.

Read about the famous case: Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (2007)

Watch a 14-part documentary on the case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdstXviXwYA&list=PL0D69BC52D7A81B19

Learn more about the trial: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/SaccoV/SaccoV.htm

Hear Joan Baez sing The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5vvPrVw_kM

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