Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 2: No 1) >> Simms in Georgia--1825 and 1849 >> Page 27

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 27

Secondary Scholarship | 1994
Transcription 27

SIMMS IN GEORGIA--1825 and 1849

James Kibler


Two significant sources place Simms in Georgia in 1825, well before his
authorship of Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia. In a hand-written note to the poem
entitled "The Broken Arrow," in his Scrapbook G (Charles Carroll Simms
Collection, South Caroliniana Library), Simms stated that his poem was "in my
nineteenth year, written while traveling through the nation," hence in 1825. The
poem is set at the Indian town "Broken Arrow," fifteen miles south of present-da
Columbus, Georgia, the place of a meeting preliminary to the signing of the
Georgia Treaty of February 1825, and portrays Chief William McIntosh, also
called "Broken Arrow." McIntosh was a Lower Creek Indian, assassinated 1
May 1825, by a party of his fellow Creeks for betraying the Creek Nation to the
United States government. The Treaty ceded Indian lands without the knowledge
of its owners. In another note, Simms relates that the articles of the Georgia
Treaty of 1825 were "received while I was in the Nation" and that he himself
read these articles to "an old Chief of the Mackintosh party," who could not rea
Selected Poems of William Gilmore Simms (1990), pp. 316-317, notes that
in Simms's previously unrecorded essay "The Broken Arrow" in Ladies'
Companion (January 1844), Simms states that he passed through the Creek Nation
"a few weeks after the assassination of General William Macintosh," hence in
mid-May 1825, and that he "picked up, as well from Indian as from white
authorities, sundry small particulars relating to the event." Both the poem and
the essay "The Broken Arrow" thus contain firsthand accounts which historians
have not used, and again further demonstrate Simms's great depth of experience
and involvement with the Native American on his home ground, a knowledge far
greater than any other American literary figure's.


An important note in Wheler's Magazine, I (August 1849), p. 72, proves
that Simms visited both Athens, Georgia, and the Georgia mountains during the
summer of 1849. Editor Charles L. Wheler, of Athens, gives this account of
Simms in his journal:

We had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of this gentleman
very lately, while he was sojourning in our town. Mr. Simms also
has been on a visit of the picturesque mountain region of Georgia.
Our readers will be pleased to learn that he will write frequently
for this Magazine.