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

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Introduction

Documents | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription xiv INTRODUCTION
volume. "8 From the evidence of these two letters of
Simms it seems reasonable to assume that the volume in
hand was compiled by him during the war. Be that as it
may, the book appeared in 1866 with the imprint of John
F. Trow and Company of New York in an edition of only
100 copies, according to Harry Hammond's intro-
ductory sketch. That untitled, undated sketch, obvi-
ously written and printed later than the manufacture of
the volume itself, was tipped into some copies at the end,
into others immediately preceding the text (where it has
been placed in this reprint). It does little to clarify the
circumstances of the editing and publishing of the
volume, informing us only that "at a period when the
entire obliteration of everything at the South seemed
imminent and inevitable, these papers were hurriedly
sent to the publishers in the hope of preserving some
trace of what had been." Ironically, a work conceived as
providing a hallowed text for an independent South
ended as a tattered relic of a Lost Cause, preserved on
the sufferance of a Northern publisher.
Making allowance for its filial origins, Harry
Hammond's sketch is an adequate if too brief account of
his father's public career. Clearly James Henry
Hammond would have risen to the top wherever fate had
placed him, although two factors aided his ascent. One
was the openness of the Carolina society of his time to
talent. The sketch does not mention, for instance, that
while still in his early twenties Hammond, the son of a
schoolteacher who had immigrated from Massachu-
setts, was entrusted by men like John C. Calhoun,
Robert Y. Hayne, and James Hamilton, Jr., with the
editorship of their party newspaper in the capital city
and then with key appointments in the militia. The other
factor that assisted his rise was a good marriage which
laid the basis for his fortune, though Hammond's talent
and energy improved upon that good luck.