Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 933a William James Rivers >> Page 203

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Page 203

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription J(`NE H59 203
the mastery in that very province which he has made his own. Why is he to play second fiddle always; to be tied, as a mere cannister, to the cat's tail of social position. Why should Mr. Petigru and Dr. Moultrie, the one a great lawyer, the other a great physician perhaps, but both of them grossly ignorant of our history, be put at the head of our Hist. Soc. You & I who have been workers in that field, & may claim to know something, are to give way to thesej8
'The "Minutes" of the South Carolina Historical Society record that on May 19, 1855, a meeting was held at the Medical College of South Carolina, in Charleston, preparatory to the formation of an historical society. The following men were present: James Louis Petigru, Mitchell King, Dr. James Moultrie, Dr. John Edwards Holbrook, Ogden Hammond, William James Rivers, Frederick Adolphus Porcher, Dr. Elias Horlbeck, Bartholomew Rivers Carroll, Dr. Thomas Lewis Ogier, George Seabrook Bryan, Dr. Francis Turquand Miles, and Dr. James Postell Jervey. At a second meeting, on June 2, the following officers were elected: President, James L. Petigru; First Vice President. Dr. James Moultrie; Second Vice President, Simms; Corresponding Secretary, William James Rivers; Recording Secretary, Frederick Adolphus Porcher; and Treasurer, Dr. A. Baron Williman. At a meeting on July 30 "the Secretary reported to the Society that W Gilmore Simms had declined the office of Vice President of the Society; whereupon it was resolved that Mr. Simms resignation be received and that the vacancy be filled at the next meeting." The society met again on Oct. 29 and elected Trescot the Second Vice President. (These same officers were reelected at later meetings, including that of May 19, 1859, the last held before the date of this letter from Simms to Rivers.) The Charleston Courier of June 4 reports the election of officers at the meeting on June 2, and Simms is listed as the Second Vice President. The Courier of July 31 in reporting the meeting held on July 30 does not mention Simms' declining the office, but in listing the officers of the society the vice presidents are given as "Dr. James Moultrie, ." On
Oct. 30 the Courier in its notice of the meeting on Oct. 29 reports: "W. H. TRESCOTT. Esq. was elected a Vice President, in the place of W. G I LM O R E Slants, Esq. who declined." There is no way to reconcile the facts with the account Simms here gives Rivers. Probably Simms was both hurt and infuriated that his accomplishments as an historian had been honored with a mere second vice presidency rather than the presidency of the society.
For Frederick Adolphus Porcher, professor of history and belles lettres at the College of Charleston, see note 213, c. Nov. 1, 1849 (511); for James Louis Petigru, see introductory sketch. James Moultrie, Jr. (1793—1869), a native of Charleston, was graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1812. He returned to South Carolina and was president of the Medical Society of South Carolina during 1820—1821. He was influential in founding the Medical College of South Carolina and in 1833 was appointed to the chair of physiology. He was one of the delegates to the organizational meeting of the American Medical Association in Philadelphia in 1847 and was elected vice president of the association; in 1850 he was elected president. For an account of his career, see Joseph loot Waring, A History of Medicine in South Carolina, 1825—1900 (IColumbia]: South Carolina Medical Association, 1967), pp. 272—275.