On this day August 23, 1927
Sacco and Vanzetti are executed via electrocution in Massachusetts for the 1920 armed robbery and murder of a pay-clerk and a security guard in Braintree, Massachusetts.
Today, the case continues to incite controversy based on questions regarding culpability, the question of the innocence or guilt of Sacco and Vanzetti, and conformance, the question of whether the trials were fair to Sacco and Vanzetti.
On August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis signed a proclamation declaring, “Any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
We are not here to say whether these men are guilty or innocent. We are here to say that the high standards of justice, which we in Massachusetts take such pride in, failed Sacco and Vanzetti.”
On December 24, 1927, the headquarters of the Citibank and of the Bank of Boston in Buenos Aires were blown up by the Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, in apparent protest of the execution. Di Giovanni, one of the most vocal supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti in Argentina, had already bombed the US embassy in Buenos Aires a few hours after Sacco and Vanzetti were condemned. Later, Di Giovanni and his comrades would unsuccessfully attempt to bomb the train in which president Herbert Hoover travelled during his stay in Argentina, in December 1928.
A few days after the executions, Di Giovanni received a letter from Sacco’s widow thanking him for his actions and informing him that the director of the tobacco firm Combinados had proposed her a contract to produce a cigarette brand named “Sacco & Vanzetti”. On 26 November, 1927, Di Giovanni and his comrades duly bombed a Combinados tobacco shop.
Both Sacco and Vanzetti famously refused a priest but both men went peacefully and proudly to their deaths. Sacco’s final words were “Viva l’anarchia!” and “Farewell, mia madre.” Vanzetti, in his final moments, gently shook hands with guards and thanked them for their kind treatment, read a statement proclaiming his innocence, and finally said, “I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me.”