Immigration has been a very controversial topic since its

Immigration has been a very controversial topic since its inception within the United States of America. There were disagreements about immigrants coming through Ellis Island from 1892 until 1954, the immigrants arriving after the Civil War. There is great fear that comes with “outsiders”. As U.S. citizens fear that America itself will change and its economic order will change, and other basic fears. Concerns such as these implement fears in people that lead to paranoia. Paranoia is the irrational and persistent feeling that people are ‘out to get you’.

On the other hand, the paranoia led to Xenophobia, which is the dislike of, or prejudice against people from other countries. The Sacco-Vanzetti trial sparks intense anti-immigrant and anti-communist paranoia in the United States, known as Xenophobia and the origins of the Red Scare.

The trial of the Sacco-Vanzetti case is a case that will live on in infamy, but the two men and the world just did not know it yet. At about 3:00 on a sunny afternoon, Frederick A.

Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli were shot and killed on April 15, 1920. As they were carrying two metal boxes containing cash. Witnesses said that the murderers were Italian. Soon afterwards, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were accused of committing the crime. As they were walking down the road to catch a street car, they were arrested and never told why until they arrived at the jail. Neither man had a criminal record. The Sacco and Vanzetti trial would become the most politically changed murder case in the history of American law.

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The trial case was called Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The case recorded thousands of pages which resulted in six volumes and lasted from June 6, 1921 to July 14, 1921. Within the trial process Sacco and Vanzetti were both represented by two lawyers. Physical evidence and people making statements had been produced against both men. Two associates, Mary E. Splaine and Frances Devlin, who worked together heard the gunshots and looked out the window, and both made statements about the trial. Mary E. Splaine gave a lot of detail in her testimony, but never saw either of the men fully. Her details were the color of the man’s shirt, hair color, eyebrows, hand size, weight, and completion. Despite her details, she later explained that she could not identify Sacco and strictly based her identification of Sacco based on his large hands, but in reality, Sacco’s hands were not large and were smaller than the average man. Frances J. Devlin also testified against Sacco. At the preliminary hearing, Devlin never admitted that she saw Sacco. At the trial over a year later, she testified that Sacco was the man she saw on April 15. What was the reasoning for her change in testimony you may ask? “On account of the immensity of the crime and everything, I hated to say it out and out” Devin said. The outcome resulted in content for some and rage for others. By the end of the case, June 21, 1921, the money that was stolen was still missing. In the trial, 167 witnesses had testified and 12 jurors decided the fate of the two men. They decided that Sacco and Vanzetti were both guilty but they did not want to seem adamant about making them guilty, two jurors said not guilty. It took the 12 jurors all day to come to a verdict. Controversy sparked all over the world and death sentences for both men, via electric chair, would happen in 1927. Although the case presented many faults, the afterlives of Sacco and Vanzetti lived on in the best and the worst ways.

Just like the 300,000 Italian immigrants that came in 1880s and the 600,000 Italian immigrants in the 1890s who were trying the find work, the same applied for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in 1920. Sacco and Vanzetti were both Italian born, and they both came over to America looking for jobs to support their families back home. What they did not know is how their nationality would be the cause of their future fate. The infamous trial led to more Xenophobia than before. Xenophobia is the fear or dislike of people from other countries or foreigners. Fear accumulated in our minds about how all jobs would be taken from immigrants and how they would work harder for less pay. Americans wanted those jobs and the U.S. did not want the immigrant population to increase so high that they might be overthrown. People had the fear in them already, and then, if not for the government, it would have stayed relatively quiet. But then the government stepped in and “plumped” that fear With the governments intense wish to get foreigners out, after so many came in, they started using techniques such as propaganda to get Americans to side with their beliefs. Before you knew it, the people in the U.S. were rallying together to make sure Italian immigrants did not find jobs or housing. They came up with propaganda posters such as Uncle Sam being eaten by Immigrants. The propaganda characterized the Irish immigrants as aspes or Italian street fifth. Immigration started to decrease by the 1920s and in 1921, Congress passed a law to restrict immigration.

Following the Sacco and Vanzetti trial that lasted for seven weeks, evidence presented was not solid evidence. Throughout the trial, people giving evidence began to make up lies and stories about how they saw Sacco and Vanzetti kill two men. Evidence presented contradicted itself, but the judge and jurors still found them guilty. Evidence against Sacco was as follows. A cap was found at the crime scene two days after the murder had taken place, and was said to be Sacco’s. The police took the cap in for investigation and made a slight rip in it to see if Sacco could have been hiding anything. When the cap was presented in the trial, the prosecutor said that the tear came from him hanging it on a hook everyday at work. Although people were dead set that the cap was Sacco’s; Saccos employer, George Kelley, said the cap did no belong to him. Other evidence shows that when he put it on his head it was too small. Sacco was also carrying a gun at the time when he was arrested, and the gun was a Colt .32 Caliber automatic pistol and was suspected for murder. It might have not been suspected for much, but they had to test the bullets that came from Berardelli body. On further inspection they found out that two of the bullets found in Berardelli did not come from the model of Sacco’s gun. The most suspicious thing about Sacco’s evidence was that the third bullet could have come out of his gun, but it also could not. Evidence against Vanzetti was not any different. Many claims against Vanzetti contradicted, such as the time they saw him vs. how he looked during the trial. The gun that Vanzetti was caught with was a .38 caliber Harrington and Richardson revolver, and quite a coincidence it was that Berardelli carried the same gun as well. The state tried to prove that Vanzetti grabbed Berardelli gun and kept it. Lying about how he obtained the gun and how he got it, Vanzetti was tried more. Both men presented guilty behavior, they resisted arrest when it happened and were armed as well, the guns and bullets matched up, they both looked very suspicious when they were trying to catch a train car after they left the automobile repair shop and they lied about many things such as how they obtained the guns, and who they were visiting that day. Later on in the trial, people’s statements started to contradict such as a man named Pelzer who said he saw everything happen, but in reality his office windows were opaque and he was ducked down beside his desk according to his co worker. On top of all the shaky evidence, Sacco and Vanzetti both had alibis. Therefore, the reasoning behind the conviction of these two men was not based on hard evidence, it was truly based on fear. Although there were people that were out to get the two men because they were Italian, many people believed that Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongly accused because of their political beliefs instead of the case itself. They were incriminated based of off shaky evidence and used against them and not the hard evidence that would have pleaded them not guilty. A line from Vanzetti’s statement before he was sent to the electric chair states: “I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I am Italian, and indeed I am an Italian…” stated Vanzetti. Controversy all over the world sparked over the Sacco and Vanzetti trial.

People all over the world agreed with Vanzetti’s statement and began to point out the unfair trial, and that it was heavy on the fact that the outcome of the trial was strictly based on xenophobic morals. Many people worldwide protested Sacco and Vanzetti false convictions. Russia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Japan, Cuba, Chile, France, Italy, Portugal, Scandinavia, Belgium and Spain all held demonstrations for the trial. Protest grew violent at times where grenades and bombs exploded, and shootings occurred. Many people wrote Massachusetts with complaints through telegrams and letters to newspaper editors, voicing their opinions on the inaccurate convictions. Governor Fuller, the Governor of Massachusetts, said “I believe, with the jury, that these men, Sacco and Vanzetti, were guilty and that they had a fair trial” (Monroe 89). Succeeding Fuller’s announcement, riots broke out near American embassies worldwide. Unfortunately, all these acts did not help the men be released from the death sentence. Over the years, people have analyzed the case over and over. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued an announcement that Sacco and Vanzetti had not received a fair trial. Although the men were sent the the electric chair, the legacy that they left is not something to take lightly, and was a learning opportunity for the United States.

A major reason the trial was unfair was because of the underlying Red Scare. Post World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, many Americans were afraid of rapid changes happening around them. Politics began to changing rapidly along with the mindset of many Americans. Along with paranoia and Xenophobia mentioned before, propaganda and politics changed to fit into the anti-communism ideals. Increased exposure to propaganda led citizens to disregard the truth and turn away from any and all immigrants. Many United States citizens were fearful of the immigrants who welcomed communist, anarchist, or socialist ideology, who ultimately became known as “Reds”. The first Red Scare that came in the 1920s, welcoming extreme amounts of fear from American citizens, increased the fear and hysteria which welcomed even more xenophobia. Alongside previously worried citizens, government officials did not help smother the fear. U.S attorney general A Mitchell Palmer began to play on the unfounded fears of millions of Americans. He rounded up and deported thousands of of suspected communist sympathizers during the earlier years of the decade. Immigrants who were not even communist sympathizers could be deported too, all because the U.S. was afraid of the foreigners. Response to propaganda and fear resulted in riots and radical groups. The Sacco-Vanzetti Trial exposed the underlying fear people kept inside of them. The trial gave people the opportunity to finally speak about the fear of foreigners and communist ideals they had been afraid of speaking about, for fear they might be targeted as communists. Not only did the fear expose itself through the citizens, but through the higher ups, such as government officials, as well. In haste, citizens and officials made rash decisions to get rid of all foreigners, and not in a pleasant way either.

The intense anti-immigration and anti-communist paranoia that led to Xenophobia and the Red Scare was sparked by the Sacco Vanzetti trial. Although the trial and persistent questioning of Sacco and Vanzetti was mostly inaccurate and just a way to get the two men into jail, which ultimately led to their deaths on the electric chair, it paved the rode for their afterlives to live on. Today, Italian – Americans occupy positions in America’s economy. Since the trial happened, there has been more justice for immigrants across the United States and America. Immigrants are blamed sometimes for where they come from and what their background is, but the Sacco Vanzetti Trial has paved the way for the legal system to make appropriate calls where it is necessary.

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Immigration has been a very controversial topic since its. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Immigration has been a very controversial topic since its
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