The Salem Historical Society

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The Salem Historical Society
Main Entry for Meeting Room and Gift Shop in the lower level of
Dale Shaffer Research Library

239 South Lundy
Salem, OH
(330) 337 - 8514

....researching, preserving, showcasing

Office Hours
Monday, Wednesday,
Thursday  9am-noon

Offices are located in the upper level of the Dale Shaffer Research Library

Mailing Address:
208 South Broadway Ave
Salem, OH 44460


Weekly Sunday 1-4pm

Monthly 3rd Tuesday 6-9pm
(May through October)

Tours are also available by appointment, call 330-337-8514

Tours begin at the front door of the Pearce House at 208 South Broadway.

Trolley Tours begin at the lower level of Dale Shaffer Library on South Lundy Ave.

A Letter From Dixie

Posted 4/28/2014

Last week we uncovered a original letter in the author's beautiful calligraphy handwriting on tablet paper.  There is no date and no name other than "Dixie" in the title.  But this letter, which is really a poem, seems to be written sometime after the civil war when segregation was still strong.  It is heart-warming and gives an insight into the minds of the Negroes in the south.  The original was scanned and a copy in the original hand-writing should soon be on display.  The transcription shown here retains the spelling and phrasing as shown in the original.   

A Letter From Dixie

 1.     “I am quite an inteligeht negro”,

As words in our section go.

And I live in a land where the rice,

And the cane and the cotton grow.

I’m sure I’m a well disposed fellow

And anxious to do what is right,

And to live at peace with my neighbors

For I don’t like to quarrel and fight.


2.    There are one or two things, however,

That seem to stand in the way.

So I thought I would write a letter

To our friends in the North and say

That the rights they stroved to give us,

And purchased with treasure and blood

The laws they made to protect us

Are dragged, like our flag, in the mud.

That the Union’s a mere abstraction

The ballot an engine of fraud

The highest law the shot-gun

And blindfold justice a bawd.


3.     The negro can vote if he’s willing

To vote as the white men dictate,

Otherwise the revolver or shot-gun,

Was likely to be his fate.


4.    And its right good Southern logic,

Indeed it’s the current belief,

If a negro can’t prove himself honest,

He certainly must be a thief.

Presumption will favor a white man

Until his rascality’s shown,

But a negro they say is different

As we white folks always have known.


5.    Down here if a crime is committed,

And the criminal can not be found,

Suspitions will rest on a negro,

If there’s one in a mile around,

And when the accused is imprisoned

Whether guilty they don’t wait to see

But take him away from the jailor

And swing him right up to a tree.


6.    It matters not whether he’s guilty

Or not, it is nothing but right

If he’s likely to do any mischief

To hang him for fear that he might.


7.    I’m quite an intelligent negro,

But such things I can’t understand,

Where all men are free and equal

By the highest law of the land.

I’m quite an intelligent negro,

But I cannot exactly see

Why there’s one set of laws for the white folk

And a different set for me.


8.    Perhaps some philosopher somewhere

The riddle will kindly explain.

Why justice and Christian character

Are different for different men.

Why they set us aside in the churches

And in the common schools

And in the insane asylums.

They separate even the fools.


9.    And some intellects prophetic,

Have honestly thought that in Heaven

A sort of a kitchen department

To colored folks would be given.

There’s but one place we’se not separated

The reason I’m sure I can’t tell

But no one has yet thought proper

To set us aside in Hell.