The Sacco and Vanzetti Case and the Psychology of Political Violence

Authored by: Michael Topp

The Routledge History of Italian Americans

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415835831
eBook ISBN: 9780203501856
Adobe ISBN:


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What began as a simple, if brutal, robbery became one of the most notorious and important trials in American history. Payday was 15 April 1920 at the Slater and Morrill shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Just after 3:00 pm that day, paymaster Frederick Parmenter and his guard Alessandro Berardelli left the company’s offices and headed toward its nearby factory. They never arrived at their destination. Two men waiting by a fence outside the nearby Rice and Hutchins factory robbed them of boxes containing $15,776 and shot them both. Berardelli was killed instantly, and Parmenter died soon after the robbery. The two shooters fired into the air, and at nearby factory windows and a bystander, then jumped into an approaching car with two or three other people in it and drove quickly out of town. The crime took less than a minute; the trial would last seven years, and its implications are in many ways still with us today. 1

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