Pilate on the Boston Train
The big fellows here want death and nothing else. It’s a point of pride
—Gardner Jackson to New York World columnist
Heywood Broun, August 1927
Mary Donovan was boiling with a fury stoked by overwork, a depleted supply of adrenaline, and the realization that her life’s ultimate mission would likely end in failure. For some time, the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee leader had been the undisputed director of the American wing of the movement, but she had also worked hard to earn the respect of the Italian anarchists on the committee. It all seemed to go for naught: In a matter of months, the communists had outmaneuvered the original committee in a way that was especially humiliating.2 The party had sent Isaac Don Levine to Boston to establish yet another front group: the Citizens’ National Committee for Sacco-Vanzetti. Levine set up headquarters in Parlor D of the Hotel Bellevue, located adjacent to the state house, where many Sacco-Vanzetti demonstrations and protests had taken place in August 1927. Its proximity to planned events gave to the radical left an enormous advantage over the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee with its cramped office space in the more distant North End. Some last-minute volunteers simply saved themselves the walk to Hanover Street and headed straight for Parlor D. Aldino Felicani and Gardner Jackson could only gasp at their inability to counter-punch James Cannon and a hardworking cadre of single-minded organizers and agitators.