Posts Tagged ‘Sacco and Vanzetti

15
Apr
09

On This Day, April 15: Sacco and Vanzetti

April 15, 1920

The Sacco-Vanzetti case draws national attention

A paymaster and a security guard are killed during a mid-afternoon armed robbery of a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Out of this rather unremarkable crime grew one of the most famous trials in American history and a landmark case in forensic crime detection.

Both Fred Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli were shot several times as they attempted to move the payroll boxes of their New England shoe company. The two armed thieves, identified by witnesses as “Italian-looking,” fled in a Buick. The car was found abandoned in the woods several days later. Through evidence found in the car, police suspected that a man named Mike Boda was involved. However, Boda was one step ahead of the authorities, and he fled to Italy.

Police did manage to catch Boda’s colleagues, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were each carrying loaded weapons at the time of their arrest. Sacco had a .32 caliber handgun–the same type as was used to kill the security guards–and bullets from the same manufacturer as those recovered from the shooting. Vanzetti was identified as a participant in a previous robbery attempt of a different shoe company.

Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, believing that social justice would come only through the destruction of governments. In the early 1920s, mainstream America developed a fear of communism and radical politics that resulted in a anti-communist, anti-immigrant hysteria. Sacco and Vanzetti, recognizing the uphill battle ahead, tried to put this fear to their advantage by drumming up support from the left wing with claims that the prosecution was politically motivated. Millions of dollars were raised for their defense by the radical left around the world. The American embassy in Paris was even bombed in response to the Sacco-Vanzetti case; a second bomb intended for the embassy in Lisbon was intercepted.

The well-funded defense put up a good fight, bringing forth nearly 100 witnesses to testify on the defendants’ behalf. Ultimately, eyewitness identification wasn’t the crucial issue; rather, it was the ballistics tests on the murder weapon. Prosecution experts, with rather primitive instruments, testified that Sacco’s gun was the murder weapon. Defense experts claimed just the opposite. In the end, on July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty; they were sentenced to death.

However, the ballistics issue refused to go away as Sacco and Vanzetti waited on death row. In addition, a jailhouse confession by another criminal fueled the controversy. In 1927, Massachusetts Governor A. T. Fuller ordered another inquiry to advise him on the clemency request of the two anarchists. In the meantime, there had been many scientific advances in the field of forensics. The comparison microscope was now available for new ballistics tests and proved beyond a doubt that Sacco’s gun was indeed the murder weapon.

Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in August 1927, but even the new evidence didn’t completely quell the controversy. In October 1961, and again in March 1983, new investigations were conducted into the matter, but both revealed that Sacco’s revolver was indeed the one that fired the bullet and killed the security guards. On August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had not received a fair trial.

“The Sacco-Vanzetti case draws national attention,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=973 [accessed Apr 15, 2009]

On This Day

1784 – The first balloon was flown in Ireland.

1817 – The first American school for the deaf was opened in Hartford, CT.

1861 – U.S. President Lincoln mobilized the Federal army.

1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln died from injuries inflicted by John Wilkes Booth.

1912 – The ocean liner Titanic sank at 2:27 a.m. in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg the evening before. 1,517 people died and more than 700 people survived.

1945 – During World War II, British and Canadian troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.

1947 – Jackie Robinson played his first major league baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Previously he had only appeared in exhibition games.

1952 – U.S. President Harry Truman signed the official Japanese peace treaty.

1952 – The first B-52 prototype was tested in the air.

1953 – Charlie Chaplin surrendered his U.S. re-entry permit rather than face proceedings by the U.S. Justice Department. Chaplin was accused of sympathizing with Communist groups.

1960 – The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was organized at Shaw University.

1987 – In Northhampton, MA, Amy Carter, Abbie Hoffman and 13 others were acquitted on civil disobedience charges related with a CIA protest.

1989 – Students in Beijing launched a series of pro democracy protests upon the death of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang. The protests led to the Tienanmen Square massacre.

1998 – Pol Pot died at the age of 73. The leader of the Khmer Rouge regime thereby evaded prosecution for the deaths of 2 million Cambodians.

April 15, 1959

Castro visits the United States

Four months after leading a successful revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro visits the United States. The visit was marked by tensions between Castro and the American government.

On January 1, 1959, Castro’s revolutionary forces overthrew the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. From the beginning of the new regime in Cuba, U.S. officials worried about the bearded revolutionary. Castro’s anti-American rhetoric, his stated plans to nationalize foreign properties in Cuba, and his association with a number of suspected leftists (including his second-in-command, Che Guevara) prompted American diplomats to keep a wary eye on him. Though he worried politicians, American reporters adored him–his tales of the days spent fighting a guerrilla war in Cuba, the fatigues and combat boots he favored, and his bushy beard cut a striking figure. In April 1959, Castro accepted an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors to visit the U.S.

The trip got off to an inauspicious start when it became clear that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had no intention of meeting with Castro. Instead, Eisenhower went to the golf course to avoid any chance meeting with Castro. Castro gave a talk to the Council on Foreign Affairs, a New York-based group of private citizens and former government officials interested in U.S. international relations. Castro was confrontational during the session, indicating that Cuba would not beg the United States for economic assistance. Angered by some of the questions from the audience, Castro abruptly left the meeting. Finally, before departing for Cuba, Castro met with Vice President Richard Nixon. Privately, Nixon hoped that his talk would push Castro “in the right direction,” and away from any radical policies, but he came away from his discussion full of doubt about the possibility of reorienting Castro’s thinking. Nixon concluded that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline-my guess is the former.”

Relations between the United States and Castro deteriorated rapidly following the April visit. In less than a year, President Eisenhower ordered the CIA to begin arming and training a group of Cuban exiles to attack Cuba (the disastrous attack, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, was eventually carried out during the Kennedy administration). The heated Cold War animosity between America and Cuba would last for over 40 years.

“Castro visits the United States,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2638 [accessed Apr 15, 2009]

23
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-23-2008: Ribbontrop-Molotov Pact

The Hitler-Stalin Pact

On this day in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact, stunning the world, given their diametrically opposed ideologies. But the dictators were, despite appearances, both playing to their own political needs.

After Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain had to decide to what extent it would intervene should Hitler continue German expansion. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, at first indifferent to Hitler’s capture of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia, suddenly snapped to life when Poland became threatened. He made it plain that Britain would be obliged to come to the aid of Poland in the event of German invasion. But he wanted, and needed, an ally. The only power large enough to stop Hitler, and with a vested interest in doing so, was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool to Britain after its effort to create a political alliance with Britain and France against Germany had been rebuffed a year earlier. Plus, Poland’s leaders were less than thrilled with the prospect of Russia becoming its guardian; to them, it was simply occupation by another monstrous regime.

Hitler believed that Britain would never take him on alone, so he decided to swallow his fear and loathing of communism and cozy up to the Soviet dictator, thereby pulling the rug out from the British initiative. Both sides were extremely suspicious of the other, trying to discern ulterior motives. But Hitler was in a hurry; he knew if he was to invade Poland it had to be done quickly, before the West could create a unified front. Agreeing basically to carve up parts of Eastern Europe-and leave each other alone in the process-Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, flew to Moscow and signed the non-aggression pact with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov (which is why the pact is often referred to as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). Supporters of bolshevism around the world had their heretofore romantic view of “international socialism” ruined; they were outraged that Stalin would enter into any kind of league with the fascist dictator.

But once Poland was German-occupied territory, the alliance would not last for long.

“The Hitler-Stalin Pact.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Aug 2008, 04:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6560.

 

On This Day

1838 – The first class was graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, MA. It was one of the first colleges for women.

1839 – Hong Kong was taken by the British in a war with China.

1902 – Fannie Merrit Farmer opened her cooking school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, in Boston, MA.

1914 – Tsingtao, China, was bombarded as Japan declared war on Germany in World War I.

1926 – Rudolph Valentino died. He was 31 and had been a silent film star.

1927 – Nicola Sacco and Bartolemeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston, MA, for the murder of two men during a 1920 robbery.

1947 – Margaret Truman, U.S. President Truman’s daughter, gave her first public performance as a singer. The event was at the Hollywood Bowl and had an audience of 15,000.

1959 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Sally debuted as an infant.

1979 – Soviet dancer Alexander Godunov defected while the Bolshoi Ballet was on tour in New York City.

1987 – Robert Jarvik and Marilyn Mach vos Savant were married. The event was called the “Union of Great Minds” since Savant had an IQ of 228 and Jarvik was the inventor of the artificial heart.

1998 – Boris Yeltsin dismissed the Russian government again.

2001 – California Congressman Gary Condit gave an interview to ABC’s Connie Chung. Condit denied involvement in Chandra Levy’s disappearance and avoided directly answering questions about whether they had an affair.

 

Dolley Madison saves portrait from British

On this day in 1814, first lady Dolley Madison saves a portrait of George Washington from being looted by British troops during the war of 1812.

According to the White House Historical Society and Dolley’s personal letters, President James Madison left the White House on August 22 to meet with his generals on the battlefield, as British troops threatened to enter the capitol. Before leaving, he asked his wife Dolley if she had the “courage or firmness” to wait for his intended return the next day. He asked her to gather important state papers and be prepared to abandon the White House at any moment. The next day, Dolley and a few servants scanned the horizon with spyglasses waiting for either Madison or the British army to show up. As British troops gathered in the distance, Dolley decided to abandon the couple’s personal belongings and save the full-length portrait of former president and national icon George Washington from desecration by vengeful British soldiers, many of whom would have rejoiced in humiliating England’s former colonists.

Dolley wrote to her sister on the night of August 23 that a friend who came to help her escape was exasperated at her insistence on saving the portrait. Since the painting was screwed to the wall she ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas pulled out and rolled up. Two unidentified “gentlemen from New York” hustled it away for safe-keeping. (Unbeknownst to Dolley, the portrait was actually a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s original). The task complete, Dolley wrote “and now, dear sister, I must leave this house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I am directed to take.” Dolley left the White House and found her husband at their predetermined meeting place in the middle of a thunderstorm.

The next night, August 24, British troops enjoyed feasting on White House food using the president’s silverware and china before burning the building. Although they were able to return to Washington only three days later when British troops moved on, the Madisons were not again able to take up residence in the White House and lived out the rest of his term in the city’s Octagon House. It was not until 1817 that newly elected President James Monroe moved back into the reconstructed building.

“Dolley Madison saves portrait from British.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Aug 2008, 04:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=55386.

17
May
08

On This Day, 5-17-08: Linda Brown

Brown v. Board of Ed is decided

In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. That ruling was used to justify segregating all public facilities, including elementary schools. However, in the case of Linda Brown, the white school she attempted to attend was far superior to her black alternative and miles closer to her home. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took up Linda’s cause, and in 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka reached the Supreme Court. African American lawyer (and future Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall led Brown’s legal team, and on May 17, 1954, the high court handed down its decision.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the nation’s highest court ruled that not only was the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional in Linda’s case, it was unconstitutional in all cases because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American students. A year later, after hearing arguments on the implementation of their ruling, the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

The Brown v. Board of Education decision served to greatly motivate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

“Brown v. Board of Ed is decided.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:38 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6900.

1630 – Italian Jesuit Niccolo Zucchi saw the belts on Jupiter’s surface.

1681 – Louis XIV sent an expedition to aid James II in Ireland. As a result, England declares war on France.

1756 – Britain declared war on France, beginning the French and Indian War.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange was founded at 70 Wall Street by 24 brokers.

1875 – The first Kentucky Derby was run at Louisville, KY.

1926 – The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires was damaged by bombs that were believed set by sympathizers of Sacco and Vanzetti.

1940 – Germany occupied Brussels, Belgium and began the invasion of France.

1946 – U.S. President Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled for school integration in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. The ruling declared that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal.

1973 – The U.S. Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings.

1980 – Rioting erupted in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie. Eight people were killed in the rioting.

1987 – An Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 American sailors. Iraq and the United States called the attack a mistake.

1996 – U.S. President Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. Megan’s Law was named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed in 1994.

2000 – Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and David Luker surrendered to police in Birmingham, AL. The two former Ku Klux Klan members were arrested on charges from the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls.

2006 – The U.S. aircraft carrier Oriskany was sunk about 24 miles off Pensacola Beach. It was the first vessel sunk under a Navy program to dispose of old warships by turning them into diving attractions. It was the largest man-made reef at the time of the sinking.

Washington criticizes “taxation without representation”

On this day in 1769, George Washington launches a legislative salvo at Great Britain’s fiscal and judicial attempts to maintain its control over the American colonies. With his sights set on protesting the British policy of “taxation without representation,” Washington brought a package of non-importation resolutions before the Virginia House of Burgesses.

The resolutions, drafted by George Mason largely in response to England’s passage of the Townshend Acts of 1767, decried Parliament’s plan to send colonial political protestors to England for trial. Though Virginia’s royal governor promptly fired back by disbanding the House of Burgesses, the dissenting legislators were undeterred. During a makeshift meeting held at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia’s delegates gave their support to the non-importation resolutions. Maryland and South Carolina soon followed suit with the passing of their own non-importation measures.

“Washington criticizes “taxation without representation”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=625.

The Memphis Belle flies its 25th bombing mission

On this day in 1943, the crew of the Memphis Belle, one of a group of American bombers based in Britain, becomes the first B-17 crew to complete 25 missions over Europe.

The Memphis Belle performed its 25th and last mission, in a bombing raid against Lorient, a German submarine base. But before returning back home to the United States, film footage was shot of Belle‘s crew receiving combat medals. This was but one part of a longer documentary on a day in the life of an American bomber, which included dramatic footage of a bomber being shot out of the sky, with most of its crew parachuting out, one by one. Another film sequence showed a bomber returning to base with its tail fin missing. What looked like damage inflicted by the enemy was, in fact, the result of a collision with another American bomber.

The Memphis Belle documentary would not be released for another 11 months, as more footage was compiled to demonstrate the risks these pilots ran as they bombed “the enemy again and again and again-until he has had enough.” The film’s producer, Lieutenant Colonel William Wyler, was known for such non-military fare as The Letter, Wuthering Heights, and Jezebel.

A fictional film about the B-17, called Memphis Belle, was released in 1990, starring John Lithgow, Matthew Modine, and Eric Stoltz.

“The Memphis Belle flies its 25th bombing mission.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:46 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6456.

Operations continue in Cambodia

A force of 10,000 South Vietnamese troops, supported by 200 U.S. advisers, aircraft and logistical elements, attack into what was known as the “Parrot’s Beak,” the area of Cambodia that projects into South Vietnam above the Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese reached the town of Takeo in a 20-mile thrust. This action was part of the ongoing operation ordered by President Richard Nixon in April. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launched a limited “incursion” into Cambodia that included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside the Cambodian border in both the “Parrot’s Beak” and the densely vegetated “Fishhook” area (across the border from South Vietnam, 70 miles from Saigon). Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967.

In the United States, news of the incursion set off a wave of antiwar demonstrations, including one at Kent State University that resulted in the killing of four students by Army National Guard troops. Another protest at Jackson State in Mississippi resulted in the shooting of two students when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory. The incursion also angered many in Congress who felt that Nixon was illegally widening the scope of the war; this resulted in a series of congressional resolutions and legislative initiatives that would severely limit the executive power of the president.

“Operations continue in Cambodia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1850.




April 2020
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 281 other followers