Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Archibald MacLeish; E. F. Prichard Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

This article, which is reprinted verbatim from the Atlantic Monthly for March, 1927, brought the cause célèbre of Sacco and Vanzetti into national prominence. Shortly afterwards Mr. Frankfurter expanded the article into a book of the same name, The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti ( 1927).

FOR MORE than six years the Sacco-Vanzetti case has been before the courts of Massachusetts. In a state where ordinary murder trials are promptly dispatched such extraordinary delay in itself challenges attention. The fact is that a long succession of disclosures has aroused interest far beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts and even of the United States, until the case has become one of those rare causes célèbres which are of international concern. The aim of this paper is to give in the briefest compass an accurate résumé of the facts of the case from its earliest stages to its present posture.


I

At about three o'clock in the afternoon of April 15, 1920, Parmenter, a paymaster, and Berardelli, his guard, were fired upon and killed by two men armed with pistols as they were carrying two boxes containing the pay roll of the shoe factory of Slater and Morrill, amounting to $15,776.51, from the company's office building to the factory through the main street of South Braintree, Massachusetts. As the murder was being committed, a car containing several other men drew up to the spot. The murderers threw the two boxes into the car, jumped in themselves, and were driven away at high speed across some near-by rail-

-140-

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