Selected Letters of Nicola Sacco from the Dedham Jail
Photo by Greg Wolf,
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November 30, 1921. Dedham Jail
Saturday the 26th my Rosie and the children came to visit me, and this was the first time I seen the children since the time you left Dedham. You can imagine how happy I felt to see them so joyful and so gay and in the best of health, if only you could see little Ines. She got so fat, she is really a dolly, Dante also looks very good. He writes to me every week. Rosa also looks very good after the operation she is gaining daily. I feel very good and I don't do nothing but exercise, read and write. I am very sorry that no one comes and see you, no one comes to see me neither, but Rosie . . .
[Rosie and Rosa refer to Sacco’s wife Rosina. Ines and Dante are Sacco's young children. Bartolo refers to Vanzetti.]
October, 1923. County Jail, Dedham
DEAR MRS. EVANS
You never can imagine how much it was great the joy of the recluse when I see in that court room all the noble legion of our friends and comrades, which they are work hard for forty-one month for the triumph of that consecration and inviolable of the human justicy and for the liberty of Sacco and Vanzetti.
By the way, my dear mother, you believe we will have a new trial? I am tol you the truth Mrs. Evans, I did like very much the way Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hill they did present the new evidence, and for some moment they did relief the soul of the sad recluse. If you happen to see Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hill give for me my dear and best rigard and for the splendor defense they have made. So I will hope they will finish this long and dolorus calvary.
Meanwhile salute fraternally all our friends and comrades, and you dear mother of the human oppressed have one of my warin affectionate embrace from your now and for ever friend and comrade, Nicola Sacco.
[Mrs. Evans refers to Mrs. Elizabeth Evans, a supporter of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s who was long convinced of their innocence. Mr. Thompson refers to William G. Thompson, Sacco and Vanzetti’s appellate counsel. Mr. Hill refers to Mr. Arthur D. Hill, an attorney who also worked on Sacco and Vanzetti’s behalf after Thompson retired.]
November 23, 1923. Dedham Jail
DEAR MRS. EVANS:
Of course, I will try to read aloud for your sake, and for my own. Of course, I will try to satisfy as best I can that generous mother who for three years has done everything she could for my soul and the soul of my poor family. I begin to read aloud from the day you and Mrs. William James came to see me. I don't read very loud, so as not to disturb anybody. So you see I always try to do the best I could.
Yesterday all the prisoners went out in the yard for two hours because of T'hanksgiving Day, and when I come in I feel a little hunger, but when I don't have much air I don't feel hunger at all. So I need air,--air, just as much air as I can have.
I always remember when my brother Sabino and me were on ship board on the way to this free country, the country that was always in my dreams. I was very sic of the seas and one morning my brother conducted me to the Doct and he order for me a good purge and for my brother that felt fine he ordered a good soup. . .
So that is just the same here. The prisoner who don't like to work, they send him to work, and who really feels like work and need to have air, air, just as much air as he can, they keep him in a cell all day long.
[Sabino refers to Sacco’s brother Sabino Sacco with whom Nicola emigrated to the United States. Mrs. William James was a supporter of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s whose husband wrote a series of books titled "Psychology" of which Sacco read the first volume in prison.]
February 26, 1924. Dedham Jail
MY DEAR FRIEND MRS. JACK:
. . . Every night when the light goes out I take a long walk and really I do not know how long I walk, because the most of the time I forget myself to go to sleep, and so I continue to walk and I count, one, two, three, four steps and turn backward and continue to count, one, two, three four and so on. But between all this time my mind it is always so full of ideas that one gos and one comes. . . I find one of my mostly beautiful remembrance while I am thinking and walking, frequently I stop to my window cell and through those sad bars I stop and look at the nature into crepuscular of night, and the stars in the beauti blue sky. So last night the stars they was moor bright and the sky it was moor blue than I did ever seen; while I was looking it appear in my mind the idea to think of something of my youth and write the idea to my good friend Mrs. Jack first thing in morning. So here where I am right with you, and always I will try to be, yes, because I am study to understand your beautiful language and I know I will love it. And I will hope that one day I could surprise the feel of my gratitude towards all this fierce legion of friends and comrades.
The flowers you send to me last week it renew in my mind the remembrance of my youth. It complete sixteen years ago this past autumn that I left my father vineyards. Every year in autumn right after the collection I usd take care my father vineyard and sometime I usd keep watch, because near our vineyard they was a few big farmer and surronder our vineyard they was vast extension of prairie and hundreds animal they used pasturage day and night on those vast prairie. So the most of night I remane there to sleep to watch the animal to not let coming near our vineyard. The little town of Torremaggiore it is not very far from our vineyard, only twenty minete of walk and I used go back and forth in morning an night and I usd bring to my dear an poor mother two big basket full of vegetables and fruits and big bounch flowers. The place where I used to sleep it was a big large hayrick that my good father and my brothers and I build. The hayrick it was set in one comer near the well in the middle of our vineyard, and surronde this sweet hayrick they was many plants and flowers except the red rose, because they was pretty hard to find the good red rose and I did love them so much that I was always hunting for find one plant of those good--red rose!
About sixty step from our vineyard we have a large piece of land full of any quantity of vegetables that my brothers and I we used cultivate them. So every morning before the sun shining used comes up an at night after the sun goes out I used put one quart of water on every plant of flowers and vegetables and the small fruit trees. While I was finishing my work the sun shining was just coming up and I used always jump upon well wall and look at the beauty sun shining and I do not know how long I usd remane there look at that enchanted scene of beautiful. If I was a poet probably I could discribe the red rays of the loving sun shining and the bright blue sky and the perfume of my garden and flowers, the smell of the violet that was comes from the vast verdant prairie, and the singing of the birds, that was almost the joy of deliriany. So after all this enjoyment I used come back to my work singing one of my favorite song an on way singing I used full the bascket of fruit and vegetables and bunch of flowers that I used make a lovely bouquet. And in the middle the longuest flowers I used always put one of lovely red rose and I used walk one mile a way from our place to get one of them good red rose that I always hunting and love to find, the good red rose. . .
P.S. How you find the day of our dear Mrs. Evans birthday? I have here very beauti bag to suprise her. If you hap to see her give my warm regard.
[Mrs. Jack refers to Mrs. Cerise Jack who was a member of the New England Civil Liberties Committee and a supporter of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s.]
August 18, 1924. Dedham Jail
FERD H. MOORE:
SIR:--Saturday I received your letter with enclose the post card that Mrs. M---- R---- sent to me--and the little pamphlet that you use to send to me it just to insult my soul. Yes, it is true, because you would not forget when you came here two or three times between last month with a groups people--that you know that I did not like to see them any more; but you brought them just seem to make my soul keep just sad as it could be. And I can see how clever and cynic you are, because after all my protest, after I have been chase you and all your philanthropists friends, you are still continue the infamous speculation on the shoulder of Sacco -Vanzetti case. So this morning before these things going any more long, I thought to send you these few lines to advise you and all your philanthropist -friends of the “ew Trail League Committee” to -not print any more these lettters with my picture and name on, and to be sure to take my name out if they should print any more of these little pamphlets, because you and your philanthropists has been use it from last three years like a instrument of in-famous speculation. It is something to carry any man insane or tuberculosis when I think that after all my protest to have my case finish you and all your legione of friends still play the infame game. But, I would like to know if yours all are the boss of my life! I would like to know who his this men that ar abuse to take all the authority to do everything that he does feel like without my responsibility, and carry my case always more long, against all my wish. I would like to know who his this--generous-ma!!! Mr.---Moore--! I am telling you that you goin to stop this dirtygame! You hear me? I mean every them word I said here, because I do not want have anything to do any more with "New Trail League Committee," be-cause it does repugnant my coscience.
Many time you have been deluder and abuse on weakness of my comrades good faith, but I want you to stop now and if you please get out of my case, be-cause you know that you are the obstacle of the case; and say! I been told you that from last May 25th---that was the last time you came to see me, and with you came the comrade Felicani and the Profess Guad-agni. Do you remember? Well, from that day I told you to get out of my case, and you promised me that you was goin to get out, but my--dear--Mr. Moore! I see that you are still here in my case, and you are still continued to play your famous gam. Of course it is pretty hard to refuse a such sweet pay that has been come to you right long--in--this big--game. It is no true what I said? If it is not the truth, why did you not finish my case then? Another word, if this was not the truth you would quit this job for long time. It has been past one year last June when you and Mr. Grella from New York came to see me into Bridgewater Hospital and that day between you and I we had another fight--and you will remember when I told this Mr. Moore! I want you to finish my case and I do not want to have anything to do with this politics in my case because it does repugnant my co-science--and your answer to me was this: Nick, if you don't want, Vanzetti does want! Do you remem-ber when you said that? Well, do you think I believe you when you said that to me? No, because I know that you are the one that brings always in these mud in Sacco-Vanzetti case. Otherwise, how I could believe you when you been deluder me many times with your false promise? Well--! anyhow, wherever you do if you do not intent to get out of my case, remember this, that per September I want my case finish. But remember that we are right near September now and I don't see anything and any move yet. So tell me please, why you waiting now for? Do you wait till I hang myself? That's what you wish? Let me tell you right now don't be illuse yourself because I would not be surprise if somebody will find you some morning hang on lamp-post.
Your implacable enemy, now and forever,
P.S. Enclose in this letter you find the letter and the pamphlet that you sent to me and I return to you, so if your philanthropist friends of the "New Trail League Committee" should print some more these or any kind these letters and pamphlets, you can show them just the way to print next time. So you be ad-vised now, that if any other my post card or letter should come to you address, please sent to me just my own, and not . . . these.
[Ferd Moore, the recipient of this letter, was counsel for Sacco at the Dedham trial. Felicani refers to Aldino Felicani, a friend of Sacco’ who founded the Defense Committee. Profess Guadagni refers to radical professor Felice Guadagni who helped the Defense Committee early in the effort to free Sacco and Vanzetti. Sacco's mention of Bridgewater Hospital refers to his stay at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminal Insane where he was committed following his 1923 hunger strike.]
December 28, 1924. Dedham Jail
MY DEAR BARTOLO:
This morning only I have received your dear kind letter that you sent to me in Nov. 26, and you can imagine how glad I was to get it. Yes, it is great for me to get once in a while one of your letter, because they are always full of thought and faithful. Well, I have here a mount of things to tell you but however that would be too long, and so I will only say that I hope that we will see each other soon.
You are quite right when you say--that after all we are still on our feet--of course, because we are always keep in our soul the hope and faithful in our innocent; and I am sure that we will keep this hope and faithful till the bright day of our triumph.
Yes Bartolo, it is very croock means, but the comrades and the proletariat of the world they are always with us, indeed much more today than ever was. Therefore, you will let me say to you courage my dear friend, because this fight we are going to win, because I am faithful to this new legion of our dear comrades.
I will close now to say that I was glad to hear from you that you are feeling good and so am I. Meanwhile have my warm embrace with my most brotherly affection.
Your faithful comrade now and forever,
[Ferdinando was the name with which Nicola Sacco was christened.]
June 18, 1925. Dedham Jail
MY DEAR COMRADE VANZETTI:
This morning right after I was waken my first thought it was to write you these few lines, and send you my most kind and warm wish for your birthday, with hope that it will be the last of yours and mine birthdays that we spend in this terrible and iniquitous bastille, of the land of the free ... country!
The last time that my comrade Rosina was out here to see me, she told me that she was out here to see you with my little Ines, and you can so well imagine how glad I was when I heard it. Afterwards I asked her why she didn't bring Dante too, and she said that he had to go to school, but she will bring him to see you just as soon she will have the chance. And therefore, I suppose that they will be over to see you pretty soon because June 21 Dante will have the school vacation, and I know just how much anxious my boy is to coming over to see you yes, because he told me so....
Well, my dear comrade, it seems to me that this old degenerate world has not shown any better day for us yet, but we will always hope that someday the sunshine will bright our souls again. Meanwhile, I will close to say, that in spite of all I do feel pretty good, and I hope to hear from you the same....
June 18, 1926. Dedham Jail
DEAR MRS. EVANS:
It was an early bright morning when the harmony of the nature were resting upon the soil of the mother nature, while I were looking through the iron bars and contemplate the little sweet space of the nature, a noble old image in mine eyes appear--while she were coming toward me, a little gay breezes blow from the azure river seaside moving her lovely gray hair. Then, sudden after I wake from this bliss sweet vision I could see that were none other than the idea that I had since several day before. . . to write you to-day. . .. Therefore, this morning--in spite of all, I could not go any longer without write you these few lines, I stood so long without write you a single word, but after your last welcome visit you give to me I could never rest without sent you--that through all the struggle long year have been kind to me as an dear mother can be--my warm heart greeting.
Yes, your last grateful visit were a good relief for me because, after you had read to me your truly and good faithful article that you wrote for our freedom, I felt such commotion that remind me of the same commotion that I felt in my sweet youth in the embrace of my poor dear good mother, for I have find in you that same sincere and faithful that my dear mother she always had toward me. Therefore, let me tell you right now that if the puritan of Massachusetts they have lost all the sense of the human feeling, your image should live forever as example of noble tradition of English woman, while surely if you should die you will leave the proselytes among your friends that I know and unknowing that I love. . .
March 3, 1927. Dedham Jail
DEAR FRIEND MRS. WINSLOW:
. . . . The unexpected visit that you and Mrs. Codman kindly have gave to me, though that personally we never know before yesterday, it were welcome to me.
Our conversation were rather short than long and yet, the describe of vineyard, the remembrance of my sweet days of adolescent, the good soul of my poor old dear mother and the family that I loved, it reenjoyed this sad life of today. Moreover, today, the remembrance of this noble soul of mother has renew in my soul the joy for I have find here another old dear mother, that in the struggle of these long years past she have been always near me and my family sufferance; and today, even when she is lying in bed with broke ankle she find the way to sent me the flowers and her warm greeting by her good friends.
I have received your good letter the other day, and I were please to hear that you enjoyed the visit and that Mrs. Evans is going to come out all right. Therefore, please let me say thank you ever so much for your kind expression words and the solidarity fraternal you have toward our case, and for the good news you have from Mrs. Evans. . .
Yes, I have read very carefully the article that Prof Frankfurter wrote in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, and after all the bitterness of these long way cross years, I enjoyed to see an competent lecture man to demolish all the frameup and flat one by one all the falsehood witness, who had try to sent us right straight to the electric chair. It is the truth flash of light that will remain forever into the history of tomorrow, it together with The Brief that Mr. Thompson wrote a year past. . .
Ed. Note: Prof. Frankfurter refers to Professor Felix Frankfurter of Harvard who wrote a well-respected article about the Sacco and Vanzetti trial in the Atlantic Monthly magazine and was eventually published in book form as Felix Frankfurter, The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti A Critical Analysis for Lawyers and Laymen (Academic Reprints 1954) (1927). Mrs. Winslow refers to Mrs. Gertrude L. Winslow, a supporter and confidant of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s. Mrs. Evans refers to Mrs. Elizabeth Glendower Evans, a supporter of Sacco and Vanzetti who was long convinced of their innocence. Mrs. Codman refers to Mrs. E. A. Codman of Boston, a believer in Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s innocence.
April 26, 1927. Dedham Jail
DEAR FRIEND MRS. CODMAN:
It is very sad to be doomed and waiting for the electric chair today, after we have wait for seven long years segregate in this hole cell behind the sad bars for
see our right justice. It is a shame for the Massachusetts law to step upon all the tradition of freedom of the United States.
But, however, we still live and we have our eyes to look above and down, we see the spring come always more vivid and blooming and the flowers grow always nice and free; while the perfume of the beauty blooms gaily arise in the earth, in my vision appear one by one all the remembrance of mine beloved and the old and new friends and comrades warmly.
I saw Mrs. Evans together with my companionship last week, and she always talk about you and Mrs. Winslow--which I appreciate very much your and Mrs. Winslow kindness and sympathy that you both have toward our case and my family.
Meanwhile give my best regard to all, to Mrs. Winslow and special to your doctor--the good bright man as Mrs. Evans describe me. . .
[Mrs. Codman refers to Mrs. E. A. Codman of Boston, a believer in Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s innocence. Mrs. Evans refers to Mrs. Elizabeth Glendower Evans, a supporter of Sacco and Vanzetti who was long convinced of their innocence. Mrs. Winslow refers to Mrs. Gertrude L. Winslow, a supporter and confidant of Sacco and Vanzetti.]
May 8, 1927. Dedham Jail
DEAR AUNTIE BEE:
Next Thursday will be seven years that I have been segregate day after another in this narrow sad cell, and after I have been inexcusably persecute all these long years past, I and my poor family, here am I waiting to the ignominous execution. But however, this morning suddenly after I wake, my gaze were turn with the smile towards the bright and beautiful blue sky, while the gold sunrise were shining the flowers of the little pear tree and the leaves of an oak trunk that beginning to blossom, I was breathing with joy the perfume of these flowers that the friends sent to me, the vivid sweet atmosphere of another day that the gay breeze were blowing in my neat cell. It is sweet to me the date of this day because it remind me, warmly in my heart, the remembrance of my first and second old dear mother; the comradeship, the confidence of all the sudden pain of your life that stick to you, to her, and of the grave yonder, and with it all the other poor sufferince mothers. In the Herald issue of May 5th--cutting that you sent me---it weren't pleasant news, when we read, Sacco has refused to sign his name to the Fuller petition because-- fanatic and--insane. puff ! oh yes, it was also like that alway in the history of past. . . if his act would hurt the purse of an spiteful and tyrant class, after they had crush him to death, they call him felon-fanatic and insane. But in spite of all, in the right part has remain always the pride of an sincere faith which one have love and for it suffered and know to fall as he have suffered and loved, while at the other side is the ignominous shame for the humanity.
I felt very sorry when Rosina had tell me that the guards have refused to let you in to see me. Well I hope and I please the authority of this institution that next time, I would like that they would let you in anytime you should come to see me. . .
[Auntie Bee is not television’s beloved Frances Bavier, but instead refers to Mrs. Elizabeth Glendower Evans, a supporter of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s who was long convinced of their innocence and was referred to as Auntie Bee by her friends.]
May 14,1927. Dedham Jail
DEAR MRS. WINSLOW:
I have received your welcome letter of May 5th and also the other before it was a lovely one, and you forgive me for I have not answer the one before last. . .
You are very kind when you say that you went to see Rosina to bring her good news and to see her how she was for she was troubled the day after that I refuse to sign my name at the petition that Mr. Thompson sent in to the Gov. Fuller. I thank ever so much for this very gentil idea especially, and for all other and the sympathy that you are showing towards our case. Pardon me, but please can you tell me what is the good news that you brought to my companion? I did not sign my name because I am positively that the Gov. Fuller and also any other legal step of law they would have refuse to give us any square deal. Many friends and comrades of mine like you they hope and they have always the hope, and that is too bad to see them today sleeping in that same illusion optimism, while we face to the electric chair. My hope, the only one which I had always that today rest in my heart, it is that only the friends and comrades and the international proletariat can save us from the iniquitous execution.
Do not be afraid! When I think all this poor stupid, oppressed humanity, the sufferance of my belove Rosina and all the persecution for along these seven years segregate in this hell hole cell, I really forget what fear means. If the conscience of Massachusetts justice have the chance to hang us, don't worry, dear friend, they will inexorably execute us....