Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> The Mother Land: The Southern Nationalism of William Gilmore Simms >> Page 14

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Page 14

Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription acknowledged that "the moral and social ties which have bound us to the North, are
greatly weakened, — I had almost said sundered."45
To be subservient to the North, to be beholden to it, in thought, education,
morals, opinion, or way of life, was absolutely unthinkable to any people of the
noble stock of liberty loving Englishmen. For Southerners not to have pursued their
cultural, and, under the proper circumstances, their political independence, would to
Simms have been a failure of moral will, and a falling away from the noble deeds of
illustrious ancestors. Southern independence was to Simms another chapter in man's
struggle for dignity, worth, and human betterment, promoting creativity and
In private correspondence during the remainder of the 1840s Simms continued
occasionally to express his desire for an independent Southern nation as when he
wrote his friend James Henry Hammond in 1847 that additional territory might help
the South to "a sufficiently large republic of our own."46
During the 1850 Compromise crisis, Simms warmly expressed his desire for
Southern independence. To Beverley Tucker he wrote in January 1850: "the
formation of the new republic would bring us wonderfully nearer to one another.
The idea grows upon us rapidly. ... I have long since [emphasis supplied] regarded
the separation as a now inevitable necessity. The Union depends wholly upon the
sympathies of the contracting parties, and these are lost entirely."47 In 1850,
inarticles for the Southern Quarterly Review, Simms subtly endorsed the idea of
Southern political independence. He did this through the favorite Southern method
of moderation and understatement — the South asked only for respect and certain
fundamental rights. But Simms had "no hope that the North will show more
moderation, or a better sense of justice, than has hitherto marked her career."
Though not expressly stated, the conclusion was implicit: the South would be forced
to seek her future independently of the North.48
In Southward Ho!, published in 1854, Simms endorsed Southern political
independence in forceful fashion, through the voice of characters on the ship bound
for Charleston. A South Carolinian expressed the sentiment of the state: "there is
very little doubt that a vast majority favors the formation of a Southern
confederacy."49 In 1857 Simms informed Congressman William Porcher Miles of

45 Ibid., 31.
46 Simms to James Henry Hammond, 29 March 1847, in The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, II,
47 Simms to Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, 30 Jan. 1850, in The Letters of ;W'illiam Gilmore Simms,
III, 8.
48 See Simms, "The Southern Convention" and "Summer Travel in the South," in the Southern
Quarterly Review of September 1850.
49 William Gilmore Simms, Southward Ho!: A Spell Of Sunshine (New York: A'N,M1S Press, 1970;
reprint of the 1885 edition, Chicago), pp. 175-176, 248-257, 388-389. The quote is found at page