1. To introduce this lesson, students should discuss today's arguments about the need to balance safety with civil liberties. How does fear of the unknown attacker cause us to be willing to give up the freedom that American citizens have always prized?
2. Using the websites listed below, students will research the Sacco—Vanzetti trial, looking at all aspects of the trial, including the biographies of the two men, excerpts of the trial transcript, pictures, summary of evidence, sentencing, etc.
3. After careful consideration, students are encouraged to set forth their opinions (in a short essay) on:
- the degree to which the government honored civil liberties
- the thoughts of the two men (as found in their letters)
- whether or not the two men were actually guilty
5. Engage the whole class in a discussion of how to balance a sense of safety with an allegiance to the notion of civil liberty.
Have students set up and participate in a mock re-trail of the case. Students will serve in different positions within the court (bailiff, judge, attorneys, defendant, plaintiff, witnesses, jury, etc.).
- On Anarchy and the First Red Scare
- The Sacco--Vanzetti Trial
This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University.