How did a lost letter expose the deception of world-famous author Upton Sinclair? America's first real war on terror was against communist and socialist progressives that engaged in anarchist activity against the United States. In his novel 'Boston', Sinclair told the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two men who were tried and executed for murder. The two were heroes of the left, and Sinclair wanted to clear their names in his book. But he did so knowing that the opposite was true, and a forgotten letter revealed the truth. Paul Hegness found the letter, and revealed the story to Glenn on radio.
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Rough transcript of this segment is below:
GLENN: There is one chapter in the book "Dreamers and Deceivers" that is -- is so essential that you read because it's all happening again. It is a story that you will find in the health care debacle that is going on now where the president has lied and we are now seeing all of these tapes where it showed that they plotted out the lie. You're also seeing it on the streets of Ferguson, where the president and others are meeting with the people who are -- are revolutionaries. Meeting with them, telling them, keep the revolution on track. This is outrageous what is happening. But it's all happened before. I'm going to introduce you to two names that you most likely have never heard before. Sacco and Vanzetti. These two guys were really some of America's first terrorists. Yes, I know, your kids are being taught now that the pilgrims were America's first terrorists but these guys were America's first terrorists. They were communist revolutionaries. You don't know their name but they have streets named after them in the former Soviet Union. They have pencil factories. All of the pencils that the kids used as they were taking their tests and doing all of their homework in the former Soviet Union had the name of America's two terrorists. Because they died in vain. They were not -- Stalin was not going to get them die in vain in the Soviet Union. He wanted to make sure everyone knew who these two guys were. I'm going to introduce you to somebody else. His name is Upton Sinclair. He's a guy you probably know. He is a literary giant but he is also a really deeply disturbed man. He wanted a second American revolution in the name of Karl Marx. He was George Bernard Shaw's good friend. When he -- when his wife got pregnant as we outline in the book, he wanted an abortion. But they were illegal. And so he convinced his wife to continually throw herself down on the ground and try to have a miscarriage. Deeply disturbed man. But he is a literary giant. We all love him. He wrote a couple of books that you might know. "The Jungle" is one of them. The other one that he wrote is called "Boston."
And that's the one that we want -- we really want to focus on here. "Boston" is the story of those two men that he tried to make sure that they -- their names were cleared. I want to bring in Paul Haggis. He's the guy who gave us all of the information on this chapter on Upton Sinclair in the new book "Dreamers and Deceivers." He is a collector of history, a rare book collector, and he ran into a box of rare papers that nobody knew really what they had when he purchased them. We'll get to the papers, but first, tell me the story of -- get me to the paper. Tell me the beginning -- it's in the Woodrow Wilson administration.
HAGGIS: Well, the beginning is pretty interesting because of course, we had Upton Sinclair, this world famous author, great socialist. He was a vice presidential candidate for the socialist party. Along with Jack London who was the presidential candidate the same year for the socialist party. He wrote many articles, many books, promoting socialism. He claimed thought to be an anarchist but nonetheless, he protected anarchists. And that was kind of the lead-up to my going to an auction, that my friend of mine, Bruce Lawrence, was the auctioneer at, asked me to come over to the auction which I did, and looking through the various things that interested in me, but there was a box of old letters that attracted my attention. And as I dug through those letters, maybe a thousand or 2,000 letters, and they seemed to be the estate of a fella by the name of John Beardsley who was an attorney in Los Angeles in the '20s and the '30s. And as I dug through those letters, I came upon this letter. And what attracted me is it said, after 10 days returned Upton Sinclair, P. O. box 3022, station B, Long Beach, California. Of course, I knew who Upton Sinclair was because I'm kind of an amateur student of American history. And when I opened the letter, I also knew he had written the book "The Jungle," which led to the formation of the FDA. Also knew that he had written the book "Boston", which was the story of Sacco and Vanzetti, wherein he attributed innocence to Sacco and Vanzetti.
GLENN: Now, what these guys did, these guys went and -- they were terrorists. And couldn't get them on terror rap but they had robbed a payroll of a shoe factory. And there were witnesses to it. And as they were driving away, it seemed like it was a pretty button-upped case. They had a lot of people that say I saw them, and I can't swear to you, but it looked just like them. It may not have been there. Maybe it was their twins. But it looked like just like those two guys. They ended up getting the death sentence and they were both electrocuted. One of them last words was, long live the revolution or some nut thing like that. The other guy kept saying, I'm innocent. I'm telling you I'm an innocent man. Upton Sinclair wanted to make sure, because it was good for the revolution, to make sure that progressives and socialists and communists did not look like violent terrorists. And so he needed to make sure, in his book, "Boston," that he cleared their name. So he -- do you think he believed it at the beginning, that they were innocent?
HAGGIS: You know, the thing about socialists and communists, it doesn't matter whether or not they believe the facts. The issue is they've got to protect the revolution.
GLENN: Right. So --
HAGGIS: And of course, Upton Sinclair was a major proponent of protecting the revolution.
GLENN: Correct. And he had gone and het met with Teddy Roosevelt. Even Teddy Roosevelt hated this guy. Teddy Roosevelt said this guy is so dishonest. And so as he -- he starts to write this book, he wants to clear the two guys and make sure that everybody believes that these -- these socialist revolutionaries certainly weren't violent. It wasn't them. It was the bad evil capitalist system that wrongly put -- put them to death.
HAGGIS: And he claims in the letter that he -- he approaches them as if they were innocent. Which is kind of interesting, isn't it, because how do you know whether or not someone is innocent or guilty until you hear the facts?
HAGGIS: But he had heard the facts as promulgated by his fellow socialists and he intended to prove that these people were in fact innocent.
GLENN: Okay. Now, he writes the book "Boston", clearing these guys' name. It becomes a huge best-seller. It becomes a very big propaganda tool against the capitalist state. And in it he says they are absolutely innocent. He leaves something out in the book. He's talking to one of the prosecutors. What was his name? Moore.
HAGGIS: Fred Moore.
GLENN: Fred Moore.
HAGGIS: No, actually I think Fred Moore was part of the defense team. Not sure --
GLENN: He might have been the defensive.
HAGGIS: I think he was part of the defense team.
GLENN: He is interviewing him and Sinclair says, he's writing this book. He's like, yes, he was defendants, because they were both progressives. And he said, he said, look, he's bluffing. He says, you know and I know. They're guilty as sin. That's when the lawyer says, yeah, you're right. And let me tell you a few things I know about them. And he just unloads. Well, Sinclair now is -- now is -- he's got -- what is he going to do? Everybody knows he's in the middle of writing this book. He's already released some chapters in this book to the press. He's been this big proponent for him. So what is he going to do? Is he going to say, oh, wow, I was wrong? Is he going to hurt the progressive movement? Is he going to -- is she going to just let the book just -- is he going to let the book just fade away and say I don't know anything, or is he going to proceed is lie about it.
HAGGIS: And he decides to proceed and lie.
GLENN: And this letter was written and held for a later date, right?
HAGGIS: Well you know, it what astonished me about the letter as I flipped through it, I went to the conclusion, and as you point out so well in the book, which by the way, I really enjoyed the book.
GLENN: Thank you.
HAGGIS: And all of the various chapters, primarily because I knew Richard Nixon and also Walt Disney.
HAGGIS: But the book is well written. What I like about it is a series of different stories that are very easy to read and you don't get lost in the book.
HAGGIS: It's really neat.
GLENN: Thank you.
HAGGIS: But as I pulled out this letter, he had written in this letter, this letter is for yourself alone. Stick it away in your safe and sometime in the far distant future, the world may know the real truth about the matter. Well, the implication there of course is they didn't get the real truth from me earlier in the book "Boston" which as you pointed out was a best-seller.
HAGGIS: He said I'm here trying to play my own part in the story and the basis of my seemingly contradictory moods and decisions. And of course, he made the -- he discloses in the letter that he made the affirmative decision not to tell the truth. He had been told by Fred Moore that Moore was one of the people who invented the false story of the innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti as part of the defense team and notwithstanding that as a good socialist and a good communist, they let the book go to press and it became a best-seller. It was distributed worldwide. It was very popular book in the Soviet Union. And as you point out, in the book, "Dreamers and Deceivers," one of the people who came to their aid was none other than Josef Stalin. Which ought to tell us something right off the top.
GLENN: That's incredible.
HAGGIS: The murder of 100 million people.
GLENN: Incredible. Did you know the whole story about --
HAGGIS: I knew the Sacco and Vanzetti story. I was particularly interested in American history. And it was fun. I found this letter and of course I'm looking around to make sure that no one see what is I'm looking at because I then quickly slipped the letter back into the box.
HAGGIS: And when the box came up for sale, I raised my paddle and I bought the box for a hundred dollars.
GLENN: A hundred dollars.
GLENN: So this had been sitting there since 1920 in a vault.
HAGGIS: The letter is dated August 29th, 1929. I found the book in -- or the letter in I think 1997 at this auction. And the letter sat in my collection for a number of years until I was subsequently interviewed by someone in the "L.A. Times" on another subject and we were talking about historical documents and I mentioned this. And that author Jean Pasco of the "L.A. Times," says, gee, I want to do a story on that. So she went to the university of Indiana where the Upton Sinclair collection is kept, authenticated the letter and wrote a story that was front page of the California section of the "L.A. Times." On Christmas Day, maybe five years ago. And it sat there until you discovered this presumably -- that story.
HAGGIS: And you know, and I think what's important about your book, not only in the context of the Upton Sinclair story, but you've done a marvelous job of correcting the truth with respect to circumstances in American history that are clearly misrepresented.
GLENN: It's not only -- I mean, you know, that's one of the big things that I want to do, is correct the truth. But not just to, for instance -- I think one of the guys who's been so -- so wronged in American history is Tesla. And that I would like to correct the truth because it's just right. But this story in particular is repeating itself right now. We're watching this play out again in the streets of Ferguson. We're watching it play out in the White House. We're watching it play out in the newsroom, we're watching it play out with the writers of today. We're watching it play out with the -- with the propaganda that's going into our schools. And they know it's lies. They know -- they know these things are lie. But the glorious revolution is more important.
HAGGIS: Well, and if you read the history of socialism in this country, and particularly from the '20s and the '30s, you'll see the goal of the socialists at that time are really the goals that are part of the Democratic Party agenda the Obama Administration agenda. It's curious that as you say, it doesn't seem to matter to people what the truth is and particularly to the socialists. What matters is furthering the revolution.
GLENN: Paul, thank you very much for everything.
HAGGIS: Appreciate it.
GLENN: Really appreciate it. What are you going to do with the letter? What's it worth now?
HAGGIS: Oh, I have no idea. I'm a collector of this, that, and the other and I have a couple of -- of firearms that came off the battlefield at the Little Big Horn and I have an original transcript from the trial of the Roman Catholic priest who opposed the king of England.
GLENN: Holy cow.
HAGGIS: When the -- when the --
GLENN: What's the most shocking thing you ever had your hands on?
Anything you ever held? Somebody just let me hold what's called the Marquette, the actual plaster cast. Of the Lincoln Memorial. He actually handed it to me it's about 12 inches tall. And he handed it to me. And I said, no, no. And he said go ahead. I'd recommend you sit down first. And I sat down and I held in it my lap. And my hand shook. It was remarkable. Have you ever --
HAGGIS: I think about the things that I lost and one of them was something that my wife just wouldn't permit me to bring home. It was a bronze canon that carried the inscription of a presentation from the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington.
GLENN: Holy cow.
HAGGIS: That was at an auction also.
PAT: Did you file for divorce after that?
HAGGIS: Yeah, I'll tell you.
GLENN: Why wouldn't she let you bring it home?
HAGGIS: It was about 10 feet long and it weighed probably around four tons.
HAGGIS: I just didn't think she would appreciate that in the living room.
PAT: Here's what you say --
HAGGIS: I would have put it there.
GLENN: I would have put it there, too. Thanks so much, Paul.
HAGGIS: Thank you. Pleasure being here.