Bartolomeo Vanzetti's Speech to the Court
|Vanzetti's statement upon sentencing (1927)
|An April 9, 1927 speech given by Bartolomeo Vanzetti at the end of the Sacco & Vanzetti trial. The grammar is not altered so as to reflect his Italian origins.|
CLERK WORTHINGTON: Bartolomeo Vanzetti, have you anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon you?
BARTOLOMEO VANZETTI: Yes. What I say is that I am innocent, not only of the Braintree crime, but also of the Bridgewater crime. That I am not only innocent of these two crimes, but in all my life, I have never stolen and I have never killed and I have never spilled blood. That is what I want to say...
Well, I want to reach a little point further, and it is this, that not only have I not been trying to steal in Bridgewater, not only have I not been in Braintree to steal and kill and have never stolen or killed or spilt blood in all my life, not only have I struggled hard against crimes, but I have refused myself of what are considered the commodity and glories of life, the prides of a life of good position, because in my consideration it is not right to exploit man. I have refused to go in business because I understand that business is a speculation on profit upon certain people that is right and therefore I refuse to do that.
Now, I should say that I am not only innocent of all these things, not only have I never committed a real crime in my life--though some sins but not crimes--not only have I struggled all my life to eliminate crimes that the official law and the moral law condemns, but also the crime that the moral law and official law sanction and sanctify--the exploitation and the oppression of the man by the man, and if there is a reason why I am here as a guilty man, if there is a reason why you in a few minutes can doom me, it is this reason and none else...
We were tried during a time whose character has now passed into history. I mean by that, a time when there was a hysteria of resentment and hate against the people of our principles, against the foreigner, against slackers, and it seems to me--rather, I am positive of it, that both you and Mr. Katzmann have done all what it were in your power in order to work out, in order to agitate still more the passion of the juror, the prejudice of the juror, against us...
Because the jury were hating us because we were against the war, and the jury don't know that it makes any difference between a man this is against the war because he believe the war is unjust, because he hate no country, because he is a cosmopolitan, and a man that is against the war because he is in favor of the other country that fights against the country in which he is, and therefore a spy, an enemy, and he commits any crime in the country in which he is in behalf of the other country in order to serve the other country. We are not men of that kind. Nobody can say that we are German spies or spies of any kind. Katzmann knows very well that. Katzmann knows that we were against the ware because we did not believe in the purpose for which they say that the war was fought. We believed that the war is wrong, and we believe this more now after 10 years that we studied and observed and understood it day by day--the consequences and the result of the after war. We believe more now than ever that the war was wrong, and we are against war more now than ever, and I am glad to be on the doomed scaffold if I can say to mankind, "Look out; you are in a catacomb of the flower of mankind. For what? All that they say to you, all that they have promised to you--it was a lie, it was an illusion, it was a cheat, it was a fraud, it was a crime. They promosed you liberty. Where is liberty? They promised you prosperity. Where is prosperity? They have promised you elevation. Where is the elevation?"
From the day that I went into Charlestown, the misfortunate, the population of Charlestown, has doubled in number. Where is the moral good that the war has given to the world? Where is the spiritual progress that we have achieved from the war? Where are the security of life, the security of the things that we possess for our necessity? Where are the respect for human life? Where are the respect and the admiration for the good characteristics and the good of the human nature? Never before the war as now have there been so many crimes, so much corruption, so much degeneration as there is now...
Well, I have already say that I not only am not guilty of these two crimes, but I never committed a crime in my life-- I have never stolen and I have never killed and I have never spilt blood, and I have fought against crime, and I have fought and I have sacrificed myself even to eliminate the crimes that the law and the church legitimate and sanctify.
This is what I say: I would not wish to a dog or to a snake, to the most low and misfortunate creature of the earth-- I would not wish to any of them what I have had to suffer for things that I am not guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I was an Italian, and indeed I am an Italian; I have suffered more for my family and for my beloved than for myself, but I am so convinced to be right that you can only kill me once but if you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already.