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

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Biographical Sketch

Documents | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 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. One hundred copies were printed without preface, note, comment or correction. To remedy in part these defects, the following sketch has been prepared for insertion in these volumes.
JAMES HENRY HAMMOND was born in the District of Newberry, S. C.,
November 15, 1807. His father was the sixth in descent from William
Hammond, of London, whose son, Benjamin, came to Massachusetts in
1634. The family resided in that State, until the father of the subject
of this sketch, moved to South Carolina .in 1803. There he married
Catharine Fox Spann of Fdgefield, and became Professor of Languages
in the South Carolina College in 1805. Young Hammond graduated
with distinction from this college in 1825, when, under the pr:sideney
of Thomas Cooper, it was one of the foremost institutions of learning
in America. He was admitted to the bar in 1828, and entered at once
upon a lucrative practice of the law. In 1831 he married Catherine
Fitzsimons, (laughter of Christo her Fitzsimons, who had accumu-
lated a fortune in Charleston, then one of the chief centres of commerce
in the United ^5 tat es. T1.ev took up their residence on the Silver Bluff
plantation, on the left bank of the Savannah River. His life was that
of a Southern planter. Living in the solitude of the open country,
with only a semi-weekly mail, he toiled daily in his fields, surveying,
levelling, and directing in person the operations of clearing, draining,
manuring, and improving the methods of tillage. He succeeded
largely, sustaining the thrift of the soil, and reducing several thousand
acres to cultivation, including large bodies of swamp never before pen-
etrated by the foot of man. From one field of six hundred acres he
gathered a crop of thirty-seven thousand bushels of corn, in a section
thought then, and since, little adapted to this crop. These things he
accomplished by his labor, out of his limited resources, in the face of all
obstacles, without once borrowing money. Devoted . to his family, he
was scarcely less so to his slaves. Lightly tasked, well clothed, well
fed, their lives and persons protected, their sufferings alleviated by the
kindest care, their domestic affections cherished with conscientious deli-
cacy, a church brilt for ticn1, (:hl.istian preaching with religious in-
struction in a Sunday School furnished, it would have been difficult to
find a happier or more progressive body of agricultural laborers with
greater local attachments, more trusting in, and trusted by those they
worked for, than the slaves on his plantations.
His leisure hours were given to a broad and patriotic consideration
of public affairs. Self-contained, with his life work about him, he
neither sought, nor desired public office. But when the occasion rc-