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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Documents | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription xxiv INTRODUCTION
that Congress enjoyed the constitutional right to regu-
late the territories, only a sovereign people could create
a state. Congress may admit states to the Union, but the
creation of a state is an act of sovereignty that must be
exercised by a given community of people, and it was
only that people at or after the act of creation who could
decide the question of slavery. So Hammond ends with
the same question Where does the ultimate allegiance
of the American lie? and the same answer that he
began with Sovereignty in America was that organic
body of the people of a state in plenary convention
The sentiments and concerns recorded here may be
remote from today. Yet given the range, versatility, and
subtlety of the intellect displayed by these papers, it is
perhaps not too much to assert that no student of
antebellum American intellectual life can safely dis-
regard James Henry Hammond. At the least their repub-
lication can be an occasion to re-examine the indi-
viduality here represented and the larger Southern
society reflected in it ´┐Ża society which, centering in
Hammond's South Carolina after the 1820's, still
remains to be fully comprehended despite all the
attention that has been devoted to it.
l Clement Eaton, The Mind of the Old South (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana 2State University Press, c. 1964), pp. 21-42.
Sir Herbert Butterfield, "Moral Judgments in History," re-
printed in Hans Meyerhoff, ed., The Philosophy of Hitory in Our
Time (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., c. 1959), pp.
3Hammond is among the best-documented personalities of the
Old South. The James Henry Hammond Papers at the South
Caroliniana Library of the University of South Carolina contain an
estimated 4,720 items and 106 manuscript volumes. The Library of
Congress's James Henry Hammond Papers are described as being