Abbildungen der Seite

the courage of conviction. An American, Wallace Thompson has studied Mexico for twenty years as news correspondent, editor, investigator, and vice consul in Mexico, and as author of several books. F. W. Taussig is professor of economics at Harvard University.


During the six years the Sacco-Vanzetti case has been before the courts of Massachusetts it has become one of the most celebrated cases in the history of criminal procedure in the United States. Not only in this country, but in half a dozen countries abroad, it has aroused wide interest and deep differences of opinion.

Few people, however, know anything about the case beyond its merest outline. They know that Sacco and Vanzetti are Italians, that they are radicals, and that the crime for which they were convicted in 1921 was a typical pay-roll holdup in which the paymaster and his guard were killed. They know the courts have been considering the case for years and they wonder vaguely why the men have not been executed long since.

This paper by Felix Frankfurter is the first effort to give the public a complete and accurate résumé of the facts of the case. The account is based on the record of the successive court proceedings through which the case has gone, with such references to extrinsic facts as are necessary to understand what took place in court. The record itself covers thousands of pages of printed matter, accessible to anyone who wants to take the trouble to read it. The paper represents a necessary abridgment, compressed to make printing possible, but compressed accurately and fairly by a trained and responsible lawyer. Mr. Frankfurter was for four years Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York; he is now professor of administrative law at the Harvard Law School.

It should be added that a more detailed account, with all necessary references, has been arranged by Mr. Frankfurter, in a small volume which will be published on the first of March as an Atlantic Monthly Press publication.

Reader, if you want the whole truth, that article by a Progressive Militarist in the January Atlantic was irony - unadulterated, sulphuric irony. Innocently enough we had supposed that the suggestion of disemboweling elderly gentlemen in public in order to harden the 'civil population' would be taken, not literally, but as satire on the militaristic attitude. We were quite wrong. At least forty letters have assured us that a public shambles is as contrary to the Gospel as it is opposed to ordinary politeness. Dr. Holmes used to talk about the dangers of being as funny as one can. Irony is a lot worse. It is harmless for children, as Swift proved, but for grown

[blocks in formation]

Even a magazine of such widely recognized excellence as the Atlantic Monthly is to be congratulated upon the brilliant contribution in the January number, entitled, 'A Modest Proposal.' The author shows remarkable ingenuity in solving an important national problem as well as an admirable modesty in refusing to have his name associated with the plan. While his general plan cannot but make a strong appeal to intelligent Americans, there are one or two points of detail which, it seems to me, could be improved.

It will, doubtless, be conceded by the author that the results which he desires could be more satisfactorily attained by a greater appeal to the sense of hearing instead of depending almost entirely upon the sight. It is therefore desirable that cries of distress and terror be produced in as

great volume as possible during the exercises which he proposes.

As is characteristic of noble animals, the horse suffers in more or less silence. It is evident that for this part of the plan a lower order of animal should be chosen.

The selection of retired army officers for the second phase is favored by their well-known willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country, but there appears the same objection as above. As men of courage they suffer in silence and would, therefore, not be suitable for this purpose.

It appears logical to me that the choice for the leading rôle in both parts of this plan should fall upon one of the lower order of animals whose lack of courage would cause them to make a great outcry and whose extirpation would be a benefit to the country. There is one class whose characteristics fit them perfectly for this part - the professional pacifists.

[blocks in formation]

Your article in the January Atlantic Monthly prompts me to write you, not only because I strongly agree with the arguments advanced, but because it deals with a question that has become extremely important for anyone engaged in advertising or selling work.

As far as I am personally concerned, your article is timely. We are just now considering the cancellation of a part of our regular advertising appropriation, in order to use that money as a retainer fee for a professional publicity man, who could undoubtedly give us a great deal more space, and, from certain standpoints, more effective space, than could be secured for the same amount in actual advertisements. I don't believe that ours is an isolated case. At any rate it indicates that the magazines and newspapers stand to lose money through the activities of 'public relations' experts and the willingness of newspapers to carry their 'releases.'

As you say, it is hard to understand why the business policy of newspapers in deleting advertising from news stories is so inconsistent with their editorial policy of admitting publicity that is simply advertising very poorly disguised. The question the advertiser must face, however, is how to get the greatest value from every dollar spent. If an altruistic editorial policy plays into his hands, so much the better. I have no doubt that many other advertisers are in the same

position as ourselves in weighing the relative benefits we might receive from spending, say, $500 a month as a retainer fee for a capable publicity man, against $500 a month for newspaper space that ranges as high in cost as $14 a column inch.

Unless there is a decided reversal of policy on the part of the newspapers in the way of more rigid exclusion of free space, I think it quite likely that the choice of many advertisers will be in favor of the publicity man, in which event not only newspapers, but likewise advertising agencies and even the general public, are likely to be the losers. It is unfortunately true that a stick of free publicity is often worth more than a quarter page of paid advertising, if only for psychological


The only reason why I personally am opposed to publicity as against advertising expenditure is that the features of a company or product that are 'good publicity' are not necessarily good salesmanship, and cannot be depended on to present a permanent, consistent, and complete picture to the public. There are many people who would disagree with me in this respect, and such individuals would not hesitate in spending money for publicity rather than for paid space. Those who can well afford to do both would certainly be foclish to spend their money entirely for advertising and fail to take advantage of the present opportunity for publicity.

[blocks in formation]

Reading 'Invisible Presences' in the January Atlantic brings me to the point of writing what I have long had in mind to record - an experience of my own. We lost our oldest son, a high-minded, talented, unselfish young man of great promise, and already much accomplishment.

The third day after he became invisible his father heard his voice saying, "I have not gone away, Father.' But I heard nothing for more than a year. Then a younger brother, to whom he was in life devoted, was taken very ill. It was summer time, and we were at our country place, several miles from the city. Our physician was off on vacation and we must get another. Who should it be?

As day dawned I went to the kitchen and made coffee. After drinking a cup I sat down on a porch looking into the woods. My mind was entirely on the questions of what physician and what nurse. Then I heard our beloved, departed son, his voice natural as in life, say, 'Let me have him, Mother.' I replied instantly, 'Oh, no! Don't ask me that!'

feeling that I could not bear it to lose both.

That was all that happened. The voice came from an exact spot at the edge of the woods, not just out of the air—about thirty-six feet from me, and as if he were standing above the ground, about two feet perhaps, so that I thought at once, 'Spiritual bodies are not affected by gravitation.'

Since then I do not say I believe, because I know. I know that what we call death is only transition to a better life. It must be better or he would not have wanted his brother to share it. And it is a great comfort to be assured that the departed know of our affairs, keep their interest in us, and help us as far as they are able.

Do you not think that if all persons (not 'Spiritualists') who have any sort of communication from the other world would report it to the Atlantic, exactly as it occurred, it would be of value?


L. W. M.

In the November Atlantic Agnes Repplier dedicated her article to the "Thieves of Time.' One of the gang forthwith held her up with this ironical letter and questionnaire.

To Miss Agnes Repplier, Authoress

I am engaged in compiling a little book of personalia which, I flatter myself,-and not, I am confident, without reason, - will be of extraordinary value to posterity. From such a book the absence of information regarding the personal habits, tastes, and predilections of Agnes Repplier... would proclaim it a predestined failure.

May I ask for an hour or two of your time - always, I am sure, at the command of the Earnest Seeker?

Will you be good enough to fill out the accompanying questionnaire and let me have it at your earliest convenience? . . .

What seem to you to be the salient points of Homer's Odyssey as contrasted with the verse of the late Amy Lowell?

If Shelley had been familiar with the American bobolink, would he not, in your opinion, have apostrophized that bird rather than the skylark?

Would it have been possible for Walt Whitman to have written Evangeline or for Longfellow Leaves of Grass? If not, where lie the inhibitions?

I have learned that you reside on Clinton Street. Do you think the names of city streets should perpetuate those of distinguished men of history or of literature? Would it not be better to call them after the police?

You are fond of cats. Do you think that properly applied science of eugenics would result in developing a tail in a Manx cat?

Of what limitations are you yourself conscious? Do you suffer fools gladly or the reverse?

You have stated that you are of the Roman Catholic persuasion. In your opinion should Gentlemen Prefer Blondes be placed upon the Index?


[blocks in formation]



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.


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 railroad tracks. Two days later this car was found abandoned in woods at a distance from the scene of the crime. At the time of the Braintree holdup the police were investigating a similar crime in the neighboring town of Bridgewater. In both cases a gang was involved. In both they made off in a car. In both eyewitnesses believed the criminals to be Italians. In the Bridgewater holdup the car had left the scene in the direction of

Cochesett. Chief Stewart of Bridgewater was therefore, at the time of the Braintree murder, on the trail of an Italian owning or driving a car in Cochesett. He found his man in one Boda, whose car was in a garage awaiting repairs. Stewart instructed the garage proprietor to telephone to the police when anyone came to fetch it. Pursuing his theory, Stewart found that Boda had been living in Cochesett with a radical named Coacci. Now on April 16, 1920, which was the day after the Braintree murders, Stewart, at the instance of the Department of Justice, then engaged in the wholesale rounding up of Reds, had been to the house of Coacci to see why he had failed to appear at a hearing regarding his deportation. He found Coacci packing a trunk and apparently very anxious to leave. At the time, Coacci's trunk and his haste to depart for Italy were not connected in Chief Stewart's mind with the Braintree affair. But when, subsequently, the tracks of a smaller car were found near the murder car, he surmised that this car was Boda's; and in the light of his later discoveries he jumped to the conclusion that Coacci, Boda's pal, had 'skipped with the swag.' As a matter of fact, the contents of the trunk were found eventually to be wholly innocent. In the meantime, however, Chief Stewart continued to work on his theory that whosoever called for Boda's car at Johnson's garage would be suspect of the Braintree crime. On the night of May 5, Boda and three other Italians did in fact call. To explain how they came to do so we must go back a few days.

During the proceedings for the wholesale deportation of Reds under AttorneyGeneral Palmer in the spring of 1920, one Salsedo was held incommunicado in a room in the New York offices of the

Department of Justice, on the fourteenth floor of a Park Row building. This Salsedo was a radical friend of Boda and his companions. On May 4 these friends learned that Salsedo had been found dead on the sidewalk outside the Park Row building. Already frightened by the Red raids, they bestirred themselves to 'hide the literature and notify the friends against the federal police.' For this purpose an automobile was needed, and they turned to Boda.

Such were the circumstances under which the four Italians appeared on the evening of May 5 at the Johnson garage. Two of them were Sacco and Vanzetti. The car was not available and the Italians left, but the police were notified. Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested on a street car, Boda escaped, and the fourth, Orciani, was arrested the next day.

Chief Stewart at once sought to apply his theory of the commission of the two 'jobs' by one gang. The theory, however, broke down. Orciani had been at work on the days of both crimes, so he was let go. Sacco, a shoe operative, in steady employment at a shoe factory in Stoughton, had taken a day off, and this was April 15. Hence, while he could not be charged with the Bridgewater crime, he was charged with the Braintree murder. Vanzetti, as a fish peddler at Plymouth and his own employer, could not give the same kind of alibi for either day and so he was held for both crimes. Stewart's theory that the crime was committed by these Italian radicals was not shared by the head of the state police, who always maintained that it was the work of professionals.1

Charged with the crime of murder on May 5, Sacco and Vanzetti were indicted on September 14, 1920, and put on trial May 21, 1921, at Dedham, Norfolk County. The setting of the trial, in the courthouse opposite the old home of Fisher Ames, furnished a striking contrast to the background and antecedents of the prisoners. Dedham is a quiet residential suburb, inhabited by well

1 In this account of the joint trial of Sacco and Vanzetti the details of Vanzetti's separate trial cannot find a place. But Vanzetti's prosecution for the Bridgewater job was merely a phase of the South Braintree affair.

to-do Bostonians, with a surviving element of New England small farmers. Part of the jury was specially selected by the sheriff's deputies from Masonic gatherings and from persons whom the deputies deemed 'representative citizens,' 'substantial' and 'intelligent.' The presiding judge was Webster Thayer of Worcester. The chief counsel for these Italians was a Westerner, a radical and a professional defender of radicals. In opinion, as well as in fact, he was an outsider. Unfamiliar with the traditions of the Massachusetts bench, not even a member of the Massachusetts bar, the characteristics of Judge Thayer unknown to him, Fred H. Moore found neither professional nor personal sympathies between himself and the Judge. So far as the relations between court and counsel seriously, even if unconsciously, affect the current of a trial, Moore was a factor of irritation. Sacco and Vanzetti spoke very broken English and their testimony shows how often they misunderstood the questions put to them. In fact, an interpreter had to be used, whose conduct raised such doubts that the defendants brought their own interpreter to check his questions and answers. The trial lasted nearly seven weeks, and on July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty of murder in the first degree.


So far as the crime is concerned, we are dealing with a conventional case of pay-roll robbery. At the trial the killing of Parmenter and Berardelli was undisputed. The only issue was the identity of the murderers. Were Sacco and Vanzetti two of the assailants of Parmenter and Berardelli, or were they not?

On this issue there was at the trial a mass of conflicting evidence. Fifty-nine witnesses testified for the Commonwealth and ninety-nine for the defendants. The evidence offered by the Commonwealth was not the same against both defendants. The theory of the prosecution was that Sacco did the actual shooting while Vanzetti sat in the car as one of the collaborators in a conspiracy to murder. Witnesses testified to having seen both defendants in South Braintree on the morning of April 15; they

« ZurückWeiter »