Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> The Mother Land: The Southern Nationalism of William Gilmore Simms >> Page 5

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Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription in the central government and an understanding that the welfare of all States and
regions was to be promoted, loyalties to all three could be maintained in harmonious
balance, at least in theory. Simms and other South Carolina Unionists during the
Nullification crisis, though most of them were very much against the federal tariff
legislation which they believed harmed South Carolina, were strongly attached to
the Union through sentiments of prestige and tradition and overlooked this breach of
mutual benefit for all sections. It is a common mistake to think that they were only
Unionists, however. Their party's very name indicated otherwise: The Union and
State Rights Party. Simms ardently editorialized in favor of the "glorious Union of
our common country," which won for Americans their liberty, but recognized the
Southron and the Yankee (Simms's terms in the Gazette) to have distinction of
character, history, and interests.6
The Northern and Southern versions of America go back to the very earliest
days of colonization, and have their roots in the Old World.7 At least as early as
1631 Captain John Smith, the founder of Virginia, had noted "the seed of envy"
between New England and Virginia.8 Distrust between the sections ran so deep in
1775 that some at least considered the creation of "two grand Republics" by the
Continental Congress — one Southern and one Northern.9 And soon after the British
colonies formally won their independence from Britain in 1783, a British captain
said to an American general: "When all of you are in your graves, there will be wars
and rumors of wars in this country: there are too many different interests in it for
them to be united under one government. ... One of these days, the Northern and



6 For different character and history, see especially an unsigned editorial in the City Gazette of 17
Feb. 1830, p. 2, describing the character of the Southron and the Yankee, especially in regard to
the Revolution. Divergence of interests between the North and the South is evident in the whole
tariff controversy which is extensively covered in the Gazette. The slavery issue occupies a small
place in the pages of the Gazette. Occasionally, other distinctions between North and South are
evident.
7 Though much of the more recent scholarship has sought to deny a distinctive Southern identity
much before the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the contrary evidence is legion and unassailable.
Two works identifying strong regional identities, especially including North and South, going
back to the Revolutionary period, are John Richard Alden, The First South (Baton Rouge: LSU
Press, 1961), and Joseph L. Davis, Sectionalism in American Politics, 1774-1787 (Madison: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 1977). The best treatment of British cultural origins of distinctive
American regions is found in David Hackett Fischer, Albion 's Seed: Four British Folkways in
America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
8 Cited in the review of Lewis P. Simpson, Mind and the American Civil War: A meditation on
Lost Causes (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989) in the Journal of Southern
History for May 1992, pp. 359-360.
9 Joseph L. Davis, Sectionalism in American Politics, 1774-1787 (Madison: The University of
Wisconsin Press, 1977), p. 10.




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