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 quired it, or his fellow citizens called on him for help, he was never
backward in doing what his hands found to do with all his might.
Believing in State sovereignty, he held that the undivided allegiance of
the citizen belonged to this transcendant power, however much his obe-
dience might be due to any member of coordinate governments.
Throughout his life, his earliest public utterances (see report of a
meeting of the States Rights and Free trade party of Barnwell, S. C.,
7th July, 1834), and his latest (see speech on the Relation of the States,
U. S. Senate, 21st Mav, 1860), bear witness to the strength of this faith.
In 1834 he was elected to Congress, but his health failing, he was forced
to resign before the close of the first session he attended, His pliysi=
cians advised him to travel, and after spending some time in Europe,
he returned to his home at Silver Bluff and his agricultural pursuits.
He was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1842. His adrninistra-
tion was marked by its rigid economy. He asked that the appropria-
tions for arms which he left unexpended be withdrawn, as the State
had more munitions of war than it would ever probably require. He
proposed plans for the immediate liquidation of the State debt, although
her bonds stood higher in the English market than those of any other
State save one; he advised steps looking to a practical approximation
of universal free trade; he systematized the first agricultural survey
of the State; consolidated the two State arsenals into the military acad-
emy, and organized it after the model of West Point; urged that every
dollar that could be spared from the wants of the State be expended on
education, especially in the establishment in each district of an academy
of high grade; recommended a reduction and consolidation of State
offices. He was assailed in voluminous petitions, circulars and letters,
on account of the conviction of one John L. Brown for abducting a ne-
gro slave. Brown was tried and condemned under an English colonial law;
Governor Hammond had pardoned him before any of these documents
arrived ; he however replied to them in a letter to the Presbytery of
Glasgow and in two letters to Thomas Clarkson, Esq.
These letters were translated in France, and had a wide European
circulation, as the fullest argument in defence of Southern slavery.
Opposed to slavery in the abstract, opposed to the reopening of the
African slave tiade, opposed to the extension of slavery by propagand-
ism in this country (see Barnwell speech, 26th October, 1858), he de-
fended the peculiar domestic slavery of the South, against the denunci-
ations of Abolitionists from all quarters, asserting that they denounced
a thing of which they knew absolutely nothing ´┐Żnay, which did not
even exist. During a long period of retirement and labor on his plan-
t atiors that followed, he made numerous contributions to the literature
of the day, iiotably a series of articles against the railroad system and
the Bank of the State: an oration before the Mechanics Institute of