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Bresci, Gaetano (11 November 1869–22 May 1901), silk weaver and regicide, was born in Coiano, Italy, the son of Gaspero Bresci, a peasant/artisan, and Maddalena Godi. At age eleven Bresci was apprenticed to learn the art of silk weaving; he later attended a Sunday school to acquire a specialized trade. While still a youth, Gaetano participated in an anarchist group. First arrested for disturbing the peace in 1892, he was subsequently confined to the penal island of Lampedusa for more than a year for his role in organizing a strike. Now identified as a “dangerous anarchist,” Bresci had difficulty securing employment....

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Sacco, Nicola (22 April 1891–23 August 1927), and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (11 June 1888–23 August 1927), Italian anarchists convicted of murder in the celebrated Sacco-Vanzetti trial, were born, respectively, in Torremaggiore, Italy, and Villafalletto, Italy. Sacco was the son of Michele Sacco, a peasant landowner and merchant, and Angela Mosmacotelli. (Sacco’s given name was Ferdinando; he adopted the name Nicola in 1917 to honor an older brother who had died.) Vanzetti was the son of Giovan Battista Vanzetti, a peasant landowner, and Giovanna Nivello. Both Sacco and Vanzetti emigrated to the United States in 1908. Sacco found steady work as an edge-trimmer in shoe factories in Milford and Stoughton, Massachusetts. He married Rosina Zambelli in 1912; they had two children, the second born during Sacco’s imprisonment. Vanzetti, whose lonely private life was mitigated by the pleasure he found in books, endured long periods of unemployment or toiled at menial jobs before becoming a fish peddler in the spring of 1919. What Sacco and Vanzetti shared in common during these years was a deep commitment to anarchism....

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