Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas >> Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas >> Front Matter

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Front Matter

Drama | John R. Thompson | 1852


           “I have also a very Texan drama unpublished in my desk,” Simms wrote to state legislator, Armistead Burt, in January 1845, “which will make a rumpus, be sure, if ever it reaches light upon the stage.”[1]  That drama, Michael Bonham, was originally published pseudonymously (by “A Southron”) in the Southern Literary Messenger from February to June 1852.  Richmond publisher, John R. Thompson, released it as a small pamphlet after its serial run in July 1852.[2]  The drama is based on James Butler Bonham, a South Carolina native and lieutenant in the Texas Calvary, who died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.  John C. Guilds highlights how the political context in the winter of 1843-44 piqued the interest of the author, as “the U.S. Senate was debating the annexation of Texas as a new slave state, and Simms, as a member of the South Carolina legislature in 1844, enthusiastically advocated expansion of the United States into Texas.”  Guilds speculates that the critical success of Norman Maurice (1851), another border drama from Simms, also induced the author to revisit poetic drama one last time to celebrate patriotic themes.[3]