Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> The Mother Land: The Southern Nationalism of William Gilmore Simms >> Page 6

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Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription Southern powers will fight as vigorously against each other, as they have both
united to do against the British."10
Simms was imbued from infancy with a Southern personality. He described
himself as "a born Southron,"11 a term that meant an ardent Southerner. As John
Guilds notes, Simms, in his first magazine, the Album, initially published in 1825
when Simms was only nineteen, "had hit what was to be the keynote of his career as
a magazine editor: the advancement of Southern Literature."12 This was an even
stronger theme in his second endeavor at literary editorship, the Southern Literary
Gazette of 1828-1829. The prospectus of this journal gave as its express purpose the
encouragement of "native genius."13 Quite revealing, these two magazines anticipate
many of Simms's later literary accomplishments. For example, a tale in the Album
of the immediate pre-Revolutionary period in South Carolina, "Moonshine," is a
forerunner of Simms's first famous Revolutionary War romance, The Partisan.14
And the Southern Literary Gazette contains the "Chronicles of Ashley River,"
detailing white-Indian conflict that Simms develops further in The Yemassee and
The Cassique of Kiawah.15 Simms's articulation of the epic South had begun when
he was yet a teenager.
Certain comments by Simms in these years, before the Nullification debates
assumed their stridency, reveal how Southern was Simms's outlook. In the
introduction to his volume of poetry, Early Lays, published in 1827, he expressed
his resentment at the treatment accorded his Lyrical and other Poems in the United
States Review and Literary Gazette, saying: "I have endeavored to divest myself of
all sectional prejudice but cannot avoid the consciousness that had I not been born
south of the Potomac, I might have claimed more from the kindness of my critical
friends."16 In the Southern Literary Gazette, he spoke of "our Southern
dependencies, (literary as well as political)," and indicated a certain feeling of
inferiority when he acknowledged that "We have been taunted by Englishmen and
Northernmen ... so frequently, that we have at length really come to taunt ourselves,
and question our right to the high names of our ancestors."17

10 George Hanger, Life, Adventures, and Opinions, II (London: 1801), pp. 426-427; cited in Ulrich
Bonnell Phillips, The Course Of The South To Secession (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co.,
1939), p. 1.
11 Simms to George Frederick Holmes, 15 Aug. 1842, in The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, 1:
12 John C. Guilds, Jr., "Simms's First Magazine: The Album," Studies In Bibliography, 8, 1956, p.
13 Cited in John Caldwell Guilds, Simms: A Literary Life (Fayetteville, The University of Arkansas
Press, 1992), p. 26.
14 Guilds, p. 13.
15 Ibid., p. 29.
16 William Gilmore Simms, Early Lays (Charleston: 1827), vii-viii.
17 Southern Literary Gazette, n.s., 1 (August 1, 1829), 127, and (1 June 1829), 33.