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Vanzetti's Letter
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

The year is nineteen twenty-seven, the day is the third day of May;
The town is the city called Boston, our address this dark Dedham jail;
To your Honor, the Governor Fuller, to the Council of Massachusetts State,
We, Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, do say:

Confined in your jail here at Dedham and under the sentence of death,
We pray you exercise your powers to look at the facts of our case;
We do not ask you for a pardon, for a pardon would admit of our guilt;
Since we are both innocent workers, we have no guilt to admit.

We are both born by parents in Italy, we cannot speak English too well;
Our friends of labor are writing these words here back of the bars of our cell;
Our friends say if we speak too plain, sir, we may turn your feelings away,
And widen these canyons between us, but we risk our life to talk plain.

We think, sir, that each human being is in close touch with all of man's kind;
We think, sir, that each human being knows right from the wrong in his mind.
We talk to you here as a man, sir, even knowing our opinions divide;
We did not kill the guards at South Braintree, nor dream of such a terrible crime.

We call you eye to this fact, sir, we work with our hand and our brain;
These robberies, killings, were done, sir, by professional bandit men.
Sacco has been a good cutter, Mrs. Sacco their money has saved;
And I, Vanzetti, I could have saved money, but I gave it as fast as received.

I'm a dreamer, a speaker, and a writer, I fight on the working folks' side;
Sacco is Boston's fastest shoe trimmer, and he talks to the husbands and wives.
We hunted your land, and we found it, hoped we'd find freedom of mind,
Build up your land, this Land of the Free, this is what we came to find.

If we were those killers, Good Governor, we'd not be so dumb and so blind
To pass out our handbills and make workers' speeches here by the scene of the crime.
Those fifteen thousands of dollars the lawyers and judge say we took,
Do we, sir, dress up like two gentlemen with that much in our pocketbook?

Our names are on that long list of radicals of the Federal Government, sir,
They say that we needed watching as we peddled our literature;
Judge Thayer's mind was made this corridor to death, sir, like workers have walked before,
But we'll work in our working class struggle if we live a thousand lives more.

 


© Copyright 1960 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
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