Bartolomeo Vanzetti – 1888-1927
Vanzetti was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States when he was 20. He became a fish peddler and, angered by the way many immigrants lived in America, he became a committed anarchist. On May 5, 1920, Vanzetti and his friend and fellow anarchist Nicola Sacco were arrested for the robbery-murders of a shoe factory paymaster and a guard. On flimsy circumstantial evidence, they were convicted in 1921. The case became an international cause célèbre as prominent intellectuals the world over protested that the men had been convicted for their political beliefs. On August 23, 1927, after seven years of appeals and incarceration, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. Subsequent investigation suggested that Sacco was in fact guilty, but Vanzetti innocent. On August 23, 1977, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis posthumously exonerated both men.