Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> Simms and Major Henry >> Page 7

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Page 7

Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription comical names, and the contrast of cultures as seen through characters who are
carefree and those who are genteel and restrained.
Although the real-life Henry was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in
1796, in 1816, at the age of nineteen, he moved to the Spartanburg District, where
he taught school for several years, studied law, and was subsequently admitted to
the Bar in 1821, and, in the same year, appointed Notary Public by Governor
Bennett. Five years later, Henry was appointed as the chief aid to Major-General
John Belton O'Neall of Newberry in the South Carolina militia with the rank of
major. In 1828, Henry was elected for the first time as a representative in the
South Carolina Legislature for the Spartanburg District and was subsequently
reelected in 1832, 1840, 1846, and 1848. He served in this capacity until his
death on 28 January 1850 (Landrum 484). Henry was also a civil-minded citizen
of Spartanburg. He was elected a member of the first town council in 1832, in
1838 was appointed the first town solicitor, and was one of the subscribers who
helped to establish a female seminary in the town (History of Spartanburg County
57, 58, 61). Like Simms, Henry was among the minority who opposed
Nullification in 1832, although it is not known if they actually knew each other at
the time. In 1832, Henry was serving his second term in the state legislature, and
his stance on Nullification created much animosity for him in political circles.
And on 4 July 1832, at a meeting of the Union Party in Spartanburg, Henry
publicly recited on the town square for the occasion Washington's Farewell
Address rather than the Declaration of Independence. In explaining why he did
this, Henry noted that the Farewell Address expressed pro-Union sentiments
(Landrum 101). According to the Reverend Landrum's recollection, Henry, a
native New Englander, "'was everywhere, by his bitter political enemies,
denounced as a `Yankee' . . . This to one of his refined and sensitive feelings was
a source of constant irritation, and led to hostility and bitterness between himsel
and certain leading men of the opposite party, which he could never wholly
erase"' (qtd. in O'Neall 527).
Besides sharing the same political views on the Nullification controversy,
Simms and Major Henry knew each other personally when they served together in
1844 in the South Carolina House of Representatives and as members of the
committee of Federal Relations, a committee in which Simms was also the
chairman (Wakelyn 96). In two letters, both written in 1847, after Simms's tenure
in the House had ended, to his friend and the former governor of South Carolina,
James Henry Hammond, Simms actually mentions Henry by name. In the first of