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This fear was legitimized by the scientifically racist ideas of men like Madison Grant, an anthropologist who wrote in his famous book, The Passing of the Great Race, published in 1916, that Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples were superior to the 'lower races,' which he argued were Jews and other ethnic groups.
Grant based these assertions on a new science, and it was labeled eugenics.
The Klan advertised itself, encouraging Americans who wanted to hold on to traditional values to join the group.
The Klan became a traditional nativist crusade, assailing Jews, as well as blacks, but during the decade most of the Klan's venom was saved for Catholics.
American Artist Ben Shahn painted a famous series of paintings based on the trial and the death of the two immigrants.
The trial highlighted an upsurge in nativism, or a fear of foreign peoples and foreign ideas.
Free 5-day trial The decade of the 1920s saw older, traditional values of American society challenged by the rapidly changing Modern Age.
Elements of the nation reacted to such change with fear.
Many intellectuals and liberals of the day took up the cause of Sacco and Vanzetti, demonstrating on their behalf.
S., only worked to deepen resentment many Americans had towards the foreign born.
The most celebrated court case of the time highlighted this hostility perfectly.
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The eugenics movement argued that attributes of intellect and ability are directly related to the genetics of the various races.