Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina

Documents | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978

                Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina was originally published in New York by John F. Trow & Co. in 1866.  The Southern Studies Program at the University of South Carolina included Selections in the South Caroliniana Series, and so it was published by the Reprint Company in 1978.  James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) served South Carolina as a member of Congress from 1835-1836, governor from 1842-1844, and United States senator from 1857 until 1860, when he resigned upon South Carolina’s secession from the Union.  Hammond was described as a “most intimate friend” of Simms by one of the daughters of notable judge and legislator A.P. Aldrich, and “perhaps the one man to whom Simms ever surrendered the floor in argument or conversation.”  Despite Hammond’s personal scandals, Simms once wrote to him: “Were you as rarely good as you are rarely endowed, you would be one of the most perfect men living.”[1]  Although the work was not originally credited to Simms in 1866, Clyde N. Wilson argued in his introduction to the 1978 edition that the format of the volume, combined with the details in Simms’s correspondence, strongly suggests that he compiled and edited Selections during the war.[2]  Wilson’s supposition would be confirmed in the 2012 publication of The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, Volume VI. 

                Simms’s interest in compiling Hammond’s papers can be traced back as early as 1862, when he wrote a 16 January letter to Richmond editor John Reuben Thompson, who at the time was editing a volume of “patriotic poetry inspired by the Independence of Dixie.”  Simms believed the volume coincided with his own plans to publish a series of portable volumes, titled “Library of the Confederate States,” which entailed biographies of famous men and selections from their writings and speeches.  Simms indicated that his first installment was already under way: “I am now revising Hammond’s Essays & Speeches for the press.” [3]  After Hammond’s death in November 1864, Simms wrote a letter of consolation to his friend’s son, Harry, in January 1865.  Simms enclosed letters he received from Hammond and recommended that “we should reserve his correspondence for some future volume, whenever events should suffer us to prepare it for the press.  His letters contain some of his most valuable writings & the cream of them should be put on record … It may be well, too, to incorporate these extracts throughout the progress of a memoir, corresponding with the several periods of his life.”[4] 

                The 1978 Reprint Edition features plain green boards and spine.  The title page reads: SELECTIONS | FROM THE | LETTERS AND SPEECHES | OF THE | HON. JAMES H. HAMMOND, | OF SOUTH CAROLINA. | With An Introduction And Notes | By Clyde N. Wilson | Published for the Southern Studies Program | University of South Carolina | [publisher's logo] | THE REPRINT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS | SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA | 1978.  The title page of the 1866 edition features: SELECTIONS | FROM THE | LETTERS AND SPEECHES | OF THE | HON. JAMES H. HAMMOND, | OF SOUTH CAROLINA. | [rule] | NEW YORK: | JOHN F. TROW & CO., PRINTERS, 50 GREENE STREET. | 1866.

 

Michael Odom



[1] Letters, 1:cxii.  Hammond’s affectionate misconduct with his nieces, the daughters of Wade Hampton II, effectively sunk his political career. 

[2] Wilson, Clyde N., introduction to Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina, by William Gilmore Simms (Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Company, 1978), xiv.

[3] Letters, 6:223.

[4] Letters, 4:483.  

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