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

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Page 8

Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription It became increasingly apparent to Simms that America was being defined by
Northern intellectuals and politicians so as to exclude the South. In the pages of his
Southern and Western Magazine he captured this perfectly by asserting how the
"self-complacent Yankees ... have come really to consider the United States as their
exclusive possession, to fancy that they have founded it wholly, achieved all its
successes, reared up and established its liberties, and, voting themselves the saints,
have concluded to take possession of the spoils."23 Introducing the Southern and
Western to its readers in January 1845 he had noted how "The Northern press claims
to supply us in the South and West with all our Literature, and will take none of ours
in return. ... Our work simply proposes that justice should be done to the mind
which fills our region."24
Even earlier, in 1842 in the Magnolia, which he then edited, Simms had
praised a Charleston book publisher for having

discerned the necessity, which has not been often apparent to the
Southern people themselves,—of preparing the lessons at home
which are to inform the minds of our children. ... With this
consideration, they are employing Southern writers, who not only
know the facts in our history and the wants of our children, but who
are themselves interested by birth, connection, feeling and fortune, in
the progress of our sectional mind and in the maintenance of our
peculiar institutions. It has been a conviction frequently forced upon
our people, that the books of education and history, provided for our
children at the North, not only forbear to do justice to the deeds of
our ancestry, but very frequently misrepresent and disparage our
policy and character. ... nothing is more shockingly or annoyingly
frequent than the disparaging injustice which slurs over the events of
Southern history, in a few pages, while every trifle, in that of the
North, is elaborated into tumid importance and made to occupy
volumes. It is time for this miserable injustice to end.25

Simms was particularly upset with the treatment accorded South Carolina's
role in the Revolution by Northern historians, and with the attack on South Carolina
from the Senate floor by Senator Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts; the basic
argument being that South Carolina was very laggard in the Revolution and owed

23 William Gilmore Simms, "Proceedings Of The New York Historical Society - 1844," Southern
and Western Maga:ine And Review II, No. 1 (July 1845), p. 63.
24 William Gilmore Simms, "Our New Monthly," Southern and Western Magazine And Review I,
(January 1845), pp. 67-68.
25 William Gilmore Simms, "Southern Education - Books," The Magnolia, n.s. 1, no. 1 (July
1842), 59.