Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Front Matter >> Introduction

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Introduction

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription xINTRODUCTION
after, but he was most interested \in the history of the
western hemisphere, particularly in the way the early
Spanish, French and English settlements evolved into the
nations of his own time. Evidence in his correspondence and
in his published reviews and notices indicates his extensive
knowledge of contemporary and older accounts of these
eras and events. In his historical writings about most places
and periods, he shows himself to be only a student of history
rather than a historian�that is, he depended for his knowl-
edge entirely on the previous researches and writings of the
real historians in these fields. But his study of the American
Revolution, particularly in South Carolina and the South,
was quite a different matter. In these areas he possessed the
historian's knowledge of primary sources�personal and
official correspondence, legal documents, diaries, eye-witness
accounts, and other records�as well as being thoroughly
familiar with all the published histories, biographies,
memoirs, records, and volumes of correspondence available.
He owned a large archive of Revolutionary War manuscripts
himself and had access to other extensive private collections.
Although his own manuscripts were predominantly of
Southern and South Carolina interest, they did not concen-
trate exclusively on these areas. His collection also contained
considerable numbers of the letters and other papers of
prominent civilian and military figures of the Revolution
from nearly every one of the original thirteen states, includ-
ing, among others, large collections of the correspondence of
General Washington, General Greene, Henry Laurens while
President of the Continental Congress, John Laurens while
Washington's aide-de-camp, and the Baron DeKalb, as well as
smaller numbers of letters by Patrick Henry, John Adams,
John Jay, General Horatio Gates, Governor Jonathan
Trumbull, and Samuel A. Otis. Simms was also intensely
interested in the local legends and traditions of the Revolu-
tion in South Carolina and spent nearly a lifetime collecting
such materials in his travels around his native state and in his
correspondence with local historians and antiquarians.