Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> The Mother Land: The Southern Nationalism of William Gilmore Simms >> Page 13

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Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription "blatant beast" referred to the abolitionists, "of that green-eyed breed," Simms
wrote, "that left England quarreling with their neighbours and with themselves-that
quarreled with the Quakers and the witches-and would quarrel with God Almighty
himself, if he was not providential to have resolved never to admit them into near
neighbourhood with him."40
In his Fourth of July oration delivered at Aiken, South Carolina in 1844,
Simms revealed how close he then was, even in public position, toward advocating
political independence for the South, which he saw as occupying the same position
toward the North as the American colonies occupied toward Britain in 1776. The
South stood in the great tradition of English liberty stretching back to the Saxon
opposition to the Norman conquest, as had the North until it took up its oppressive
policies and attitudes towards the South. Simms recognized that North and South
(represented by Massachusetts and South Carolina) were "dissimilar in tastes, habits
and pursuits" in 1776. They were "trained in differing and conflicting schools,
hostile in opinion, doubtful of one another, - mutually distasteful and distrustful
...."41 Thus he establishes the individual character of North and South at the time of
the Revolution, a distinction important to a man who held so highly "the holy cause
of national individuality."42
The desire for mental independence of Britain the desire not to be ruled by a
foreign power was the key, Simms believed, to understanding the revolt of the
colonies in 1776.The leading patriots resented rule by persons with no greater
abilities than themselves. Simms analogized the earlier American situation to
present Southern conditions: "The same sense of mental independence which
prompted our ancestors to enter the field in 1776, with the British oppressor, will
make us warm now, and watchful, to resent every assault upon the province of our
local government, from whatever quarter it may come."43 Simms makes very clear
how fundamental was the South's determination to control its own destiny: "No
people not utterly shorn of pride, of manhood, of all the most ordinary sensibilities
of human nature, but must finally revolt at all hazards, against the constant warfare,
the prolonged annoyance, the denunciation and the indignity, and take measures of
safety and precaution against the dangers which these necessarily imply."44 Simms

40 Simms, Letters II, 88 (footnote 263); Simms to Armistead Burt, 1 Jan. 1845, in The Letters of
William Gilmore Simms, II, 4, and Simms to Hugh Swinton Legare, 15 Jan. 1 838, VI, 7-8. The
abolitionist quote appears in the same letter with the "blatant beast" quote. In a footnote, The
Letters, VI, p. 8, notes that the blatant beast appears in Spenser's Faerie Queene, where in Book
VI it is "allegorical of slander."
41 William Gilmore Simms, The Sources Of American Independence (Aiken, South Carolina:
[Town] Council, 1844), 19-20.
42 Simms, The Sources of American Independence, 21.
43 Ibid., 25.
44 Ibid., 24-25.