"Ferdinando Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927) were Italian-born anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts, United States in 1920.
As Italian immigrants and anarchists, both adhered to a movement that advocated relentless warfare against a violent and oppressive government
A controversial trial in 1921 resulted in the men's conviction, despite equivocal ballistics evidence and numerous witnesses who claimed Sacco had been in Boston's North End and Vanzetti in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the day of the robbery. To explain why they had been found armed when arrested, both defendants had to recount their anarchist beliefs in court, leading to suspicions that this may have prejudiced the jury.
After a few hours' deliberation, the jury found Sacco and Vanzetti guilty of first-degree murder on July 14, 1921. A series of appeals followed, funded largely by a private Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. The appeals were based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery. All appeals were denied by the original trial judge and eventually by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court. By 1925, the case had drawn worldwide attention. As details of the trial and the men's suspected innocence became known, Sacco and Vanzetti became the center of the largest cause celebre in modern history. In 1927, protests in their behalf were held in every major capital in the Western World, as well as Tokyo, Sydney, and Johannesburg. Celebrated writers, artists, and academics pleaded for their pardon or at least for a new trial. Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter argued for their innocence in a widely read Atlantic Monthly article that was later published in book form. Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in April 1927, accelerating the outcry. Responding to a massive influx of telegrams urging their pardon, Massachusetts governor Alvan Fuller appointed a three-man commission to investigate the case. But after weeks of secret deliberation, which included interviews with the judge, lawyers, and several witnesses, the commission upheld the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair on August 23, 1927. Subsequent riots destroyed property in Paris, London, and other cities.
Since their deaths, a consensus of critical opinion has concluded that the two men were convicted largely because of their anarchist political beliefs and unjustly executed. Investigations of the case continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The publication of the men's letters, containing eloquent professions of innocence, intensified belief in their wrongful execution. Additional ballistics tests and incriminating statements by the men's acquaintances have clouded the case. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." The case is still officially open."