Sacco & Vanzetti

Contributor: Sarah Lerdal. Lesson ID: 11058

Immigration has always been an issue. For immigrants, it's a chance for a new life. However, it can make some people already living in those countries nervous about change. Read about a pivotal case.


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Immigration has been a hotly debated topic in America for decades, with strong opinions on all sides. The issue has become even more complex in recent years, with many questions raised about the treatment of legal immigrants and their place in American society.

  • So, do you think that bias against legal immigrants still exists?
  • Are immigrants more or less likely to be blamed for America's problems than native-born citizens?

These are challenging and controversial questions. Explore a 1921 case to better understand the complex history, politics, and cultural attitudes surrounding immigration in America.

  • In times of crisis, how has the treatment of immigrants been impacted?

To compare America from 100 years ago to the America of today, you need to start in Eastern Europe.

In 1917, Russia was led by a tyrannical tsar. Russians stopped fighting on the Allies' side to have a freedom revolution.

Although the tsar was overthrown and the people wanted democracy, an anti-democratic dictator took the leadership in Russia. His name was Vladimir Lenin, and he brought an economic system known as communism.

For a more in-depth explanation, explore the causes and timeline of The Russian Revolution, Through American Eyes.

Then, research communism as an ideology.

  • How does it differ from America's economic system of capitalism?

Communists came to be called "reds," named after the red flag of the worldwide communist organization. Members of the communist party were also known as Bolsheviks.

Americans feared that the communists would want to take over the United States. About the same time as the communists were coming to power (they renamed Russia the Soviet Union), anarchists were causing problems in America.

Read about Anarchism.

  • What do anarchists believe?

The wave of widespread fear of both communists and anarchists came to be known as the Red Scare.

This hysteria led to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer going on a witch-hunt for suspected communists and anarchists. He arrested thousands and then deported hundreds of people, mostly immigrants who were never charged with a crime.

Check out The Red Scare to more fully understand this time in American history.

A group of people thought Palmer was overstepping his bounds, specifically the freedom of speech and other civil liberties. They formed a group known as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU, which is still around today, quickly became involved in a critical court case.

America has been described as a melting pot of many nationalities. View this 1920 cartoon.2

Uncle Sam boiling in a pot over a fire stoked by a Bolshevik

  • What message do you think the artist was trying to send?
  • How does it fit in with the era of the Red Scare?

Continue on to the Got It? section to research a famous spy case!

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