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 INTRODUCTION

arrogant Southern grandees for the laboring men of the
North. Read in context, the statement may be more
reasonably seen as one of sympathetic alliance with the
labor of the North. It is the capitalists that Hammond
regards as his enemy and undertakes to insult. It is the
capitalists to whom the peroration is directed, a perora-
tion which, as H.H. suggests, might be the epitaph of the
planter class. You capitalists of the North are demand-
ing to seize the helm of the republic from the planters of
the South who have thus far guided it, Hammond
declared. You may well succeed. But reflect that, after
seventy years, we will turn over to you a government
strong, prosperous, and honorable. Will you be able to
say as much when your turn comes to yield?
The speech at Barnwell Court House, October 29,
1858, while he was Senator, is designed to explain to
Hammond's constituents the maneuverings of the
previous session of Congress. It is a well-considered
review of the position of the South at that point. To
Hammond the explosive issue of slavery in the terri-
tories had arisen not out of the demands or requirements
of the South but out of the demagogic party maneuver-
ings of the North. The moderate tone of the speech lends
itself to the suspicion that on the eve of secession the
lifelong Southern nationalist had come to accept the
Calhounian vision of a united South within the Union.
Noteworthy is his desire to do justice to those North-
erners who had withstood the anti-Southern currents of
the time.
The last selection, a speech in the Senate seven
months before the secession of South Carolina, is, like
the first selection and the speech on Kansas, concerned
with the question of sovereignty. Specifically at issue
was power to prohibit slavery in the territories, for
Southerners a complex constitutional question. Granted