Monday, September 22nd, 2014
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1927 / Charlestown, MA

The Day Will Come


My dear Dante,
I still hope—and we will fight until the last moment—to revindicate our right to live and to be free, but all the forces of the state and of the money and reaction are deadly against us because we are libertarians or anarchists.

I tell you now that all I know of your father, he is not a criminal, but one of the bravest men I ever knew. Someday you will understand what I am about to tell you. That your father has sacrificed everything dear and sacred to the human heart and soul for his fate in liberty and justice for all. That day you will be proud of your father, and if you come brave enough, you will take his place in the struggle between tyranny and liberty, and you will vindicate his (our) names and our blood.

If we have to die now, you shall know, when you will be able to understand this tragedy in its fullest, how good and brave your father has been with you, your father, and I, during these eight years of struggle, sorrow, passion, anguish, and agony.

Remember, Dante, remember always these things: we are not criminals; they convicted us on a frame-up; they denied us a new trial; and if we will be executed after seven years, four months, and seventeen days of unspeakable tortures and wrong, it is for what I have already told you—because we were for the poor and against the exploitation and oppression of the man by the man.

The day will come when you will understand the atrocious cause of the above-written words in all its fullness. Then you will honor us. Now Dante, be brave and good always. I embrace you.

© 1928, 1995, The Viking Press, Inc. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

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About the Author

Bartolomeo Vanzetti, from a letter to Dante Sacco. Following the murder of a shoe-factory paymaster and a guard on April 15, 1920, Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, both Italian-born anarchists, were arrested on May 5. Despite having alibis that were corroborated by witnesses, the two men were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. In 1925 another man confessed to involvement in the crime, as part of the Joe Morelli gang, but Sacco and Vanzetti’s appeals to the supreme court of Massachusetts were not heard. The two men were sent to the electric chair on August 23, 1927.

Those from whom we were born have long since departed, and those with whom we grew up exist only in memory. We, too, through the approach of death, become, as it were, trees growing on the sandy bank of a river.
Bhartrihari, c. 400
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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