This week on From the Vault we gain historical perspective on the uneasy relationship between politicians and organized labor in America, turning back the clock almost a hundred years to the 1920’s. At a time when the forty-hour work week was only a dream, the immigrant workforce was feared, and the Courts generally sided with corporate barons, two Italian immigrants named Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed for their alleged murder of two men in a robbery of a shoe company in Massachusetts. Many believed that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, and overwhelming evidence suggested the same. The fact that these men held radical political beliefs (they were anarchists) was cited as a reason they were so easily tried, convicted, and put to death.
The case of Sacco and Vanzetti garnered international attention, including an essay by H.G. Wells, the 1928 Upton Sinclair book Boston, as well as personal appeals from Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw. A massive petition in support of a retrial to introduce new evidence (Celestino Madeiros’s murder confession) found no mercy from presiding judge Webster Thayer, known for his extremely conservative views on free speech (and dislike of anarchists). He quickly refused the retrial, and Sacco and Vanzetti’s fate was sealed.
Today, we present the compelling recording Sacco and Vanzetti: The Case and a Drama, produced by Ed Markman for Pacifica Radio in September of 1990.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners.
PURCHASE a copy of this program or learn more about and purchase copies of the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.
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