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Originally produced in: Italy
Also available in: en

6. From bias to legal charge: death sentence against Sacco and Vanzetti

A.On January 12, 1911

My Dear Sister,

[...] now I’m going to tell you a little about America. Telling you about my adventures would certainly take too long: there were so many of them I could write a book about them. Therefore, I am only going to give you a short summary of all I have been through.

[...] in this country Public Justice is based on violence, brutality and physical strength, so shame on strangers, especially Italians, who would try to strongly hold on to common sense. All they are going to deal with are beatings, guards, prisons and penal codes. You should not think about America as a civil country. Although Americans are not definitely missing here and a great part of the population is cosmopolitan, without their money, smart clothes and manners, they are nothing but a handful of uncivilized, fanatic and rude crooks.

No other country in the world hosts so many credos and weird religious customs as the United States of America. You are good here as long as you make money, even by stealing or poisoning.

So many people have built and still build their fortunes, selling human dignity: they have ratted on their workmates and became their tormentors. [...]

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Source: B. VANZETTI, Non piangete la mia morte, a cura di C. Pillon e V. Vanzetti, e-book at http://www.liberliber.it/biblioteca/v/vanzetti/index.htm, p. 20 e p. 107.


Sacco and Vanzetti - two Italians who emigrated to the USA in 1908, where they were charged with murder and eventually electrocuted in Massachusetts in 1927; later they became an icon of all the cases – though not? as serious as this one – where injustice and bias struck emigrants. In fact, they were scapegoats in times of widespread intolerance and xenophobia. In 1977 the Massachusetts governor discovered that there had been a miscarriage of justice and ordered their names to be cleared and their memory discharged.

This case became very well known all over the world right from the start and then it became even more known thanks to the collection of original writings. On one hand, it gained such popularity thanks to a number of plays, movies and musical works based on this story, while on the other handit owes its publicity to the fact that it deals with such important issues as prejudice, dispensation of justice, anarchy and death penalty.


  1. Who were Sacco and Vanzetti and why were they sentenced to death?
  2. Where did they come from and what did they do?
  3. In what period and what cultural and social context of the USA did they live in?
  4. What were they formally accused of by the police and the court? What did Vanzetti believe to be the most serious and the sliest accusation?

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