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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
(330) 337 - 8514
....researching, preserving, showcasing
Offices are located in the upper level of the Dale Shaffer Research Library
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.
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.