- Vanzetti was tried for the robbery - Sacco was able to prove through timecards he had been at work at the time of the robbery and, therefore, was not tried - 16 witnesses placed Vanzetti at a fishmarket, however he had no physical evidence - Vanzetti was convicted and Judge Webster Thayer sentenced him to 12-15 years
- Judge Thayer was again presiding - Sacco and Vanzetti maintained the same alibis - The prosecution presented one piece of hard evidence: when arrested, 5 months after the crime, Sacco had 5 shotgun shells in his pocket - The prosecution accused both men of being draft dodgers during WWI (which was impossible because they were not citizens) - The prosecution’s main argument, however, was that the two men were guilty by association: they were both Italian immigrants and friends with anarchists - After three hours of deliberation, the jury found both men guilty and Thayer sentenced them to death in the electric chair
I. Sacco & Vanzetti A. Italian immigrants who were arrested for 2 murders at a factory 1. Very little evidence to convict 2. Many believed they were convicted due to immigrant/anarchist label 3. Sentenced to death: “Trial of the century” B. Highlighted the paranoia around immigrants and political radicals
During WWI the U.S. experienced a number of internal terrorist acts
President Woodrow Wilson authorized the Bureau of Investigation to infiltrate these groups. They discovered that many, though certainly not all, were recent immigrants who supported anarchy or communism.
A. Mitchell Palmer: U.S. Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson We must find these “hyphenated Americans who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy must be crushed out!” Wilson and U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer decided to crack down.
- Over 5000 "suspected" communists were arrested - Around 600 were deported - There were no trials, they were simply assumed guilty - No Communist plot to overthrow the government has ever been uncovered
II. Palmer Raids & Red Scare A. Response to anti ‑ Communist frenzy after Russian Revolution B. Led by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer 1. Over 5000 “suspected” communists arrested 2. 600 deported 3. no trials, assumed guilty 4. No Communist plot to overthrow Govt. was uncovered C. Major violations to constitutional protections 1. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defended immigrants
Even Woodrow Wilson’s stance on the KKK was quoted in the film
III. Resurgence of Ku Klux Klan A. After WWI, alarmed by country’s diverse population B. “America for the Americans” 1. Sought to return to some idealized past 2. Anti ‑ Jewish, Catholic (including the Pope), immigrants, union, radical politicians, “wild women”, minority groups C. Used violence to intimidate
V. Prohibition – 18th Amendment (1919) and the Volstead Act A. American families being torn apart by excessive drinking B. 18 th Amendment prohibited production of “intoxicating liquors” but did not define “intoxicating liquors” (repealed by 21 st Amendment) C. Volstead Act defined the term and clarified that no one may “manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, or furnish” alcohol but it was never actually illegal to drink so prohibition enforcement was difficult D. Speakeasies (illegal drinking places), needed special membership card 1. Bootleggers distributed illegal alcohol 2. Individuals made moonshine E. Organized crime increased ‑‑ over 500 gangs in Chicago 1. Al Capone made at least $400 million 2. 75,000 arrests per year