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Sacco-Vanzetli Trial: 1921

Lowell Committee Reviews Case

In June 1927, on Thompson's urging, Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller, who was considering an appeal for clemency, appointed an Advisory Committee headed by Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell to review the entire case. After two months, and after himself interviewing 102 witnesses in addition to those from the trial, he agreed with the Lowell Committee's conclusion: Sacco and Vanzetti had a fair trial and were guilty.

Worldwide protests grew more violent. A London demonstration injured 40 people. Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Buenos Aires, and countless other cities saw riots. Now picketers before the State House in Boston, including novelists John Dos Passos and Katherine Anne Porter, humorist Dorothy Parker, and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, were arrested. All Boston public buildings were garrisoned by the police, who for the first time in memory permitted no meetings on Boston Common. Columnist Heywood Broun found his column suspended by the New York World for his violent comments on Lowell.

By now, Judge Thayer had denied a half-dozen motions for a new trial, the state superior court had denied another, and the state supreme judicial court had turned down four appeals. Several petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, for extensions of time, and for stay of execution were denied by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit of the United States and by U.S. Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Harlan F. Stone.

Sacco and Vanzetti were executed August 23, 1927. In 1977, their names were "cleared" when Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis signed a special proclamation.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Ehrmann, Herbert B. The Case That Will Not Die. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1969.

Frankfurter, Felix. The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1927.

Montgomery, Robert H. Sacco-Vanzetti: The Murder and the Myth. New York: Devin-Adair, 1960.

Porter, Katherine Anne. The Never-Ending Wrong. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1977.

Russell, Francis. Sacco & Vanzetti: The Case Resolved. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts On File, 1972.

Sinclair, Upton. Boston: A Documentary Novel. Cambridge, Mass.: Robert Bentley, 1978.

Tragedy in Dedham. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.

"Why I Changed My Mind about the Sacco-Vanzetti Case," American Heritage (June-July 1986): 106.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Sacco-Vanzetli Trial: 1921 - A Car To Move Red Literature, Defense Committee Organized, Outdated Bullets And A Cap, Trial For Murder, Nothing Else