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 Charleston; another before the two societies of the South Carolina Col-
lege, and one at the invitation of the City Council of Charleston, on the
Life, Character and Services of John C. Calhoun. Very unexpectedly
to himself, in 1857, he was elected United States Senator from South
Carolina. In a speech deliver ed the 4th of March, 1858, in reply to
Mr. Seward, on the admission of Kansas to the Union, he closed with
these words: "You complain of the rule of the South; that has been
another cause that has preserved you. 'W e have kept the Government
conservative to the great purposes of the Constitution. We have
placed it, and kept it, upon the Constitution; and that has been the
cause of your peace and prosperity. The Senator from New York says
that that is about to be at an end; that you intend to take the Govern-
ment from us; that it will pass from our hands into yours. Perhaps
what he says is true; it may be; but do not forget�it can never be for-
gotten�it is written on the brightest page of human history, that we,
the slaveholders of the South, took our country in her infancy, and after
ruling her for sixty out of the seventy years of her existence, we sur-
rendered her to you, without a stain upon her honor, boundless in
prosperity, incalculable in her strength, the wonder and the admiration
of the world. Time will show what you will make of her; but no time
can diminish our glory or your responsibility." Early (U. S. House of
Representatives, 1836), lifting his voice in warning against the avowed
disunion sentiments of the Abolitionists; fully sensible of the advan-
tages of the Union; with a profound veneration for the institutions
established by the Constitution; appreciating the glory of remaining an
integral part of the great republic; opposed to the secession move-
ment in 1852; advising against that of 1860; he nevertheless held the
autonomy of his native State paramount to all other considerations,
and after the passage of the ordinance of secession, by the convention
of South Carolina, he resigned his seat in the United States Senate.
Broken in health by his sojourn in Washington, he was too feeble to
take an active part in the conflict that followed. Anxious to maintain
the financial stability of the Confederacy, he devised and proposed to
the Confederate authorities a plan for prohibiting the private export of
cotton; for purchasing it with bonds of the new government and hold-
ing it abroad and at home as a basis of credit. As the sequel showed
it might have added a value amounting to two billion of dollars in gold
to the resources of the Confederacy, To the last he sustained the fail-
ing fortunes of his country's cause, animis opibusque. He died November
13th, 1864, just three days before Sherman started on his march to the
sea, which swept away with the besom of war the homes and institu-
tions of the South, Free Trade and State Sovereignty, in defence of
which, the life here recorded, had been spent. H. H.