Syracuse University Library Opens New Exhibit on the Execution of Sacco & Vanzetti:

Amidst a seeming wave of domestic terrorism, the 1920 murder of two payroll guards in Braintree, Massachusetts, exploded into what could arguably be described as the trial of the century. Earlier that year, a plot had been exposed in which thirty bombs, disguised as free samples from the Gimbels department store, had been sent to such pillars of American capitalism as J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, as well as to U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Palmer was responsible for the prosecution and deportation of thousands of radicals, including labor organizers, peace advocates, and other ?undesirables.? Although the plot had not succeeded for lack of sufficient postage, in the resulting atmosphere of shock, fear, and repression, two working-class Italian Americans with anarchist connections, Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, were not only accused of the crime, but also became scapegoats in the reaction to the supposed threat of the combined forces of labor unrest, new waves of immigration, and the advance of the ?red menace? that followed the end of World War I.

This exhibition both commemorates the eightieth anniversary of the execution of the much-mythologized ?good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler,? and celebrates the 1967 installation of the Ben Shahn mural at the heart of the Syracuse University campus. It is not our purpose to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendants in the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. Rather, we wish to highlight not only the creative response to the perceived injustice of the prosecution and sentence, but also the decades of continuing protest over what Katherine Anne Porter described as ?the never-ending wrong.?

To see the exhibition on-line click here