From John Dos Passos, in The Big Money, on the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti:
they have clubbed us off the streets they are stronger they are rich they hire and fire the politicians the newspapereditors the old judges the small men with reputations the collegepresidents the wardheelers (listen businessmen collegepresidents judges America will not forget her betrayers) they hire the men with guns the uniforms the policecars the patrolwagons
all right you have won you will kill the brave men our friends tonight
there is nothing left to do we are beaten
….they have built the electricchair and hired the executioners to throw the switch
all right we are two nations
America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have bought the laws and fenced off the meadows and cut down the woods for pulp and turned our pleasant cities into slums and sweated the wealth out of our people and when they want to they hire the executioner to throw the switch
I’m reading the U.S.A. trilogy and by chance I happened to read that passage last night. Today, Ed Kilgore tells me, is the 86th anniversary of the execution, so I thought it might be appropriate. Everything old is new again.