THE YEAR BETWEEN
A few days after the arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti their typesetter friend Aldino Felicani organized a defense committee among the East Boston anarchists. The seventeen members were skilled workers --one was a building contractor--but they were men detached from American life, distrustful of outsiders. The freeing of their comrades from the ominous charge hanging over them was, they felt, their affair. Their first pamphlet, published in Italian, appealed to "Men of Good Will."
Two of our active good friends and comrades have become involved in one of those tragic, dark legal plots in which innocence has all the semblance of guilt, and honesty has the hypocritical mask put on by the subtlest of rogues. . . . In a country where subversive ideas are persecuted with Inquisitorial fury, anarchists are beyond the pale. . . . We are convinced that an attempt is being made, through the persons of Sacco and Vanzetti, to strike at all subversive elements and their libertarian ideas. A sentence . . . would serve, in the hands of our enemies, to show that lovers of liberty are common criminals and that their ideas are not entitled to any of the civil freedoms. . . . We face a severe, a terrible test.
Energetically the committee raised a defense fund from the nickels and dimes and quarters of their countrymen in the crowded streets of the North End and East Boston. It was the committee that hired Graham as counsel, counting on his American skill to mediate between the two Italians and the complexities of Massachusetts justice. For the committee, the result of the Plymouth trial was a disaster.
In New York, Carlo Tresca and his fellow anarchists were appalled