Tragedy in Dedham: The Story of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case

By Francis Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO

HISTORY, WRITTEN AND OTHERWISE

Walking up State Street a third of a century after the executions, on another August afternoon, I wondered again about the enigma of the case. The whole drama had been played out within twenty miles of here: in South Braintree, in Bridgewater, in sedate Dedham, in the gilt-domed State House beyond the Common, and finally just across Prison Point Bridge in the granite fortress of the now-demolished state prison. Would it ever become as clear-cut as the Dreyfus affair, where everyone was at last satisfied of the grossness of the injustice done? That still seemed unlikely. In 1950 the seven surviving jury members were interviewed as to their later opinions. The decades had only confirmed their belief in the rightness of their verdict. In 1959 a judiciary committee of the Massachusetts legislature had refused to consider granting Sacco and Vanzetti a posthumous pardon.

Where the past is reduced to shelves of documents in a library it becomes manageable enough for the scholar or historian to make his evaluation. But where it is still an actual present in the contradictory minds of living men, what yardstick can one use except that of preconceptions? Was the chief of police who arrested Sacco and Vanzetti a forger of evidence? Did their first lawyers betray them? Was the district attorney a barrator with his hand out under the table? Was the judge mad? Was President Lowell of Harvard a Yankee bigot? Many upright men had maintained these things. Were Sacco and Vanzetti quietistic anarchists, or did they believe in the politics of the deed?

Boston seemed downcast, heatstruck. The Old State House at the

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Tragedy in Dedham: The Story of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology vii
  • Chapter One The Tragedy in Dedham 1
  • Chapter Two 10
  • Chapter Three April 15, 1920 28
  • Chapter Four Bridgewater And West Bridgewater 49
  • Chapter Five The Night of May 5 60
  • Chapter Six The Men and the Times 71
  • Chapter Seven 93
  • Chapter Eight The Year Between 107
  • Chapter Nine The Trial: I 129
  • Chapter Ten The Trial: II 158
  • Chapter Eleven The Trial: III 176
  • Chapter Twelve Post - Trial: I 216
  • Chapter Thirteen Post-Trial: II 237
  • Chapter Fourteen The Confessions 270
  • Chapter Fifteen More History, Written And Otherwise 302
  • Chapter Sixteen 1926 326
  • Chapter Seventeen 1927 349
  • Chapter Eighteen 380
  • Chapter Nineteen August 1927 404
  • Chapter Twenty Aftermath 451
  • Index 471
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