Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti: As a classic case of nativism, the Sacco and Vanzetti trials of the 1920s originated with the First Red Scare. Born in Italy in the late nineteenth century, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti immigrated to Massachusetts in 1908. They adamantly supported Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, who was a known proponent of anarcho-syndicalism. Fraught with ideas such as "wage slavery" and "trade unionism," anarcho-syndicalism essentially focused on building structural anarchy into the labor movements of the early twentieth century. When Sacco and Vanzetti eventually met in 1917, the political climate in the United States was very anti-radical. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia coupled with the general nervousness surrounding World War I pushed many American authorities to embark on political witch-hunts. Given the reactionary atmosphere in America at the time, immigrants, particularly those from Southern and Eastern Europe, were synonymous with radical beliefs. Sacco and Vanzetti experienced the consequences of anti-radicalism when they faced their impending executions (under the banner of sedition) in 1927 for two murders and a robbery that they may or may not have committed.

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