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Item 7051 - Bartolomeo Vanzetti Autograph Letter Signed and Ephemera Catalog 509 (Oct 2017)

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Minimum Bid: $500.00
Sold Price: $21,972.83 (includes buyer's premium)


ALS signed "Bartolomeo Vanzetti," four pages, 6 x 9.5, September 12, 1923. Letter to famed writer H. G. Wells, in part (spelling and grammar retained): "I am glad that you like my 'Proletarian Life,' and I am proud and grateful for your good will toward us. And it is for these things that I passed over my embarrassment and decide to write. Because, Mr. Wells, there are things of which no one else may be more positive than myself. One of them is my innocence. Sacco was framed with me. I am an anarchist; for more than fifteen years I have labored, alone as well as in good company, to learn something about man and his natural dwelling. I was honestly convinced of the injustice of the constitude justice and I found words of fire in my rebellious preaching against explotation, tyranny and deceitness. Still, had I not experienced it, I would not have believe how easy it is to find guilty two time an innocent man who have surpassed his time. I wrote the little autobiographic skecht of a part of my life, because I was required to do it. In accepting, I intended to rend a good service to the humble for whom I write. No one is more consciouse then me of my inefficent as a writer. I have no pretetion—but, firmly convinced of my proffesed principles and criterions—beliving that the natural man is good—(insofar his love to himself and to the race is concerned) and that the historical man is bad to himself and to others—I wrote to strife against the herrors by which the human mind is intossicated—maiby more this very day than never before. So a wrote the plain elementary truth upon the narrated part of my life—those plain truths so ignored or scorned by both the golden and the raged mob—and yet so necessary to be know and kept present.

The translator, forgetting that I am at the bottom of the pit and, inspired by Christian pity, has though well to eliminate the little that was useful in the original. Your fame as a writer, Mr. Wells, is familiar to me, in spite that I do not have yet read your works (we have some of them in our library) excepted some fragments and articles. In reading what you have said of the moving-pictures artists, I was glad to have said the same of the films, in a little novel which I am now correcting. Though humble and oscure, I have left a treasure of love along the path of my life. Too-many are sure of my innocence and sharing my suffering. They may suppress one—slowly or quickly make no difference—but not impunently. You are an historian, Mr. Wells—would you tell the truth—if tomorrow the revenge of the humble with explode in the terrestrial olimpic of the semi-god? Now I beg you to accept not only the gratitude of Nicola Sacco and of me—but the gratitude of our beloved…P.S. Please, excuse my poor English." In fine condition, with light overall toning to the first page, and edge toning to two other pages.

Accompanied by five piece of unsigned ephemera related to the Sacco-Vanzetti cause: a pamphlet reprinting a June 15, 1924 New York Times article entitled "Sacco and Vanzetti Soon to Learn Fate"; a fundraising circular distributed by the "Sacco-Vanzetti New Trial League" of Boston; a flyer headed "Special Notice to All Friends of Sacco and Vanzetti," announcing speeches and protests on August 19th and 21st, 1927; a card announcing the "Last Day of Demonstration" for the Twin Cities scheduled for 36 hours before the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, August 21, 1927; and a mimeographed flyer announcing Twin Cities protests in August 1927.

In 1920, the Italian-born immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted of murdering the paymaster and guard of a shoe factory and running off with the payroll. Found guilty and sentenced to death on July 14, 1921, their case became one of the greatest causes celebres of the century—many felt that Sacco and Vanzetti had been condemned for their political beliefs. There followed six years of motions, appeals, fundraising, and campaigning by a host of public figures from around the world—Edna St. Vincent Millay, Felix Frankfurter, John Dos Passos, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells among them—with the goal of forcing a retrial. Judge Webster Thayer denied all appeals.

For his part, after reading Felix Frankfurter's controversial Atlantic article condemning Judge Thayer, Wells penned a scathing rebuke in the London Sunday Express of June 5, 1927: 'I do not see how any clear-headed man, after reading the professor's summary, can have any other conviction than that Sacco and Vanzetti are as innocent of the Braintree murder, for which they are now awaiting death, as Julius Caesar, or—a better name in this connection—Karl Marx.' The public outcry was to no avail, and the infamous pair were executed in the electric chair just after midnight on August 23, 1927. Wells would also write a famous October 1927 analysis of the Sacco-Vanzetti saga in its aftermath, calling it 'a case like the Dreyfus case, by which the soul of a people is tested and displayed.'

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