Zinn Replies to Pollit re Sacco and Vanzetti, etc...

       
I agree with you about Paul Avrich. He is the country's leading authority on anarchism. Anything he has written is worth reading. A wonderful book on the Haymarket Affair, another on the Kronstadt Uprising.

There is no one book that does what you ask. Is there ever one book that does what we want done?  What comes closest is the book (probably out of print, though you can borrow my copy if you want -- originally published in 1948 by Harcourt Brace, reprinted 1978 by Princeton Univ. Press) by Louis Joughin and Edmund Morgan. Joughin, as I recall was connected to to the academic world, maybe worked for the AAUP. Edmund Morgan is a fine historian of an older generation.  The book has three parts: first, the legal case itself (this is the least original part of the book); second, a kind of social history of the case, putting it into its historical context, the wartime hysteria, the anti-foreignism, also dealing with the national reaction to the verdict through the 1920's, the protests, etc. up to the execution and the reactions to it in the next year or two; third,especially useful, the literary legacy, the poetry and novels written about the case.

One of the several novels was Upton Sinclair's BOSTON, written in a kind of heat right afterwards -- I think it is worth reading. It is fiction but has more factual material about the case and its personalities than most non-fiction treatments. For one thing it may give a clue to your question about upper-class women joining the campaign because its protagonist is just such a woman. The novel is long out-of-print, but in 1978 a small Boston publisher re-issued it, for which I wrote an Introduction (reproduced in my just off the press -- don't laugh at the title!-- "Zinn reader").

>>   Another question the Sacco and Vanzetti case raises is about the efficacy of political and popular campaigns on behalf of prisoners  on the left facing the death penalty. Sacco and Vanzetti were the objects of a huge worldwide effort on their behalf -- mammoth demonstrations around the world, letter writing campaigns, pleas from foreign governments, etc. They had support in every social stratum, including the Governor of Massachusetts own circle of friends.And  their trial was blatantly unfair in ways that were energetically pointed out by important legal figures.

 But in the end, these efforts failed. The same thing happened with the Rosenbergs (whose trial we now know was even more unfair than it seemed at the time). I can't think of an example that's turned out the other way. Can you?

Not many! Tom Mooney was sentenced to death for a bomb exploding in 1916 during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco (Warren Billings, his co-defendant was convicted of second-degree murder).  After the trial, revelations of perjury, distinguished people speaking for them, including Woodrow Wilson. National, international protests (Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, exiled to France, were organizing European protests.Mooney's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment but he remained in jail another twenty years, then pardoned, released in 1939 by Governor Olsen. The Haymarket Eight? A partial victory. Again, national and international protest. When the Illinois Supreme Court rejected their appeal, George Bernard Shaw wrote (this is close to his exact words): "If the world must lose eight of its people, it can better afford to lose the eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court.  Four were executed. One a suicide in prison. Three pardoned by Gov. Altgeld of Illinois.

We could go way back to Shays' Rebellion. Put down, its leaders sentenced to death. How much popular protest it's hard to say, but Shays' supporters in the farm country of Western Massachusetts were angry. Jefferson was sympathetic tothe Rebellion but Sam Adams thought they should hang. A few did hang, a few others including Shays, pardoned.

All I can thing of at the moment! But you're right -- it's rare to stop an execution through protest. But obviously not rare enough to daunt determined radicals. Let's see how Mumia Abu Jamal ends up --unquestionably, nationaland international protest (in Bologna two years ago I saw  wall posters on his behalf). And I have no doubt the protests caused the hanging judge a year ago August to delay the execution.

--Howard Zinn