The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939

Dear Uncle Remus:

Here is something in which I would like to get the assistance of Mr. Billy Sanders, the sage of Shady Dale, and of all the readers of the Home Magazine and of all who think as the editors of the Home Magazine evidently do think.

Last Saturday, in the late afternoon, when it had grown a little cool, I was riding with two of my aides, Captain Fitzhugh Lee, and Captain Archie Butt of your own State and my Mother's State of Georgia. The mare I was on by the way was named Georgia, and a good mare she is, too, well behaved, and a good jumper. We were taking our horses out to exercise them over some jumps. We had just been listening to the really superb singing of the men's chorus of the Arion Singing Society, an organization of citizens of German birth or parentage, who were about to go abroad to appear at certain courts and elsewhere in Europe, and who had wisht to sing in the White House as a farewell before starting on their foreign journey. Among other things they had, at my request, sung "Dixie" (as well as the Old Kentucky Home and the Suwanee River). While riding we were talking over the fact that Dixie was far and away the best tune (and the best military tune, that we knew, not even excepting Garry Owen), and that it
had won its way until it was the tune which would bring everybody to his feet with a yell in any audience in any part of the country; and we were bemoaning the fact that there never had been any words which were in any way adequate to the tune, and dwelling on the further fact that it was such a fine battle tune—the best battle tune of our army. Captain Butt then added that just as Dixie stood alone among tunes, so we had in Julia Ward Howe's great Battle Hymn of the Republic the very finest and noblest battle hymn possest by any Nation of the world, a hymn that in loftiness of thought and expression, in both words and tune, lent itself to choral singing as no other battle hymn did in any country; and he added that there was not a sectional line in the hymn, not a word that could awaken a single unpleasant thought in the mind of any American, no matter where he lived and no matter on which side he or his father had fought in the great war. I told him I entirely agreed with him, and that, just as Dixie was becoming the tune which when played excited most enthusiasm among Americans everywhere, so I hoped that sooner or later all Americans would grow to realize that in this Battle Hymn of the Republic we had what really ought to be a great National treasure, something that all Americans would grow to know intimately, so that in any audience anywhere in the land when the tune was started most of the audience should be able to join in singing the words. We then grew to wondering if this good result would ever be achieved, and we thought it would be worth while to write to
you. We know that any such movement can come, if at all, only because of a genuine popular feeling, and with small regard to the opinion of any one man or any particular set of men ; and it can only come slowly in any event; but we thought it might be helped on a little if what we had to say was published in your magazine. I append a copy of the Battle Hymn.

Faithfully yours, Theodore Roosevelt
Mr. Joel Chandler Harris,
Atlanta, Georgia.