Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> Tiger's Meat: William Gilmore Simms and the History of the Revolution >> Page 28

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Page 28

Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription proud enterprise." If it were not countered, New England-centered history would pass
to future generations as the accepted truth. (Tyson, like Southerners, spelled real
English and not the artificial Noah Webster version.) Lorenzo Sabine's account of
South Carolina and New England in the American Revolution is nothing more nor less
than a move in this game.
In 1856, when Simms entered the Burnt Over District, the Republican Party
had for the first time effectively combined the economic and cultural agendas of the
dominant Northern class into an effective political movement, the lever of which was
paranoia over the alleged Southern plot to spread slavery to the North.
Simms's essays on "The Revolution in South Carolina," in addition to being
a mine of information, are a complete and true answer to all the aspersions and claims
orchestrated by the New Englanders.12
Sabine's history of American Loyalists is a very poor work, mostly a list of
identified Tories. The historical essay that precedes it, containing the claim that
Massachusetts had won the Revolution in the South while South Carolina had been
"imbecile," is completely gratuitous and irrelevant to the subject of the book.13 Sabine,
it may be noted, came from an area of Maine inhabited largely by Tories, but he gives
no real insights from personal experience. It was also an area notorious for trading
with the enemy during the War of 1812.
In context it is well to remember that New England was held in disdain by
many Americans because of traitorous activities during that war, something that was
to Simms in the realm of common knowledge. Massachusetts in a glaring assertion
of state's rights had withheld its militia from federal service during a time of invasion--
-and then for years had notoriously demanded from Congress compensation for its
militia expenses. Recall that it was Southerners like the young Calhoun who had
demanded redress for the American seamen, mostly New Englanders, impressed by
the British. The powers of New England had been indifferent to impressment of their
poorer compatriots because they were making too much money in trade with wartime
Europe to care.
It is not possible to deal here with all of Sabine's falsehoods about the
Revolution in the South. Simms did it very well in his articles. Some of Sabine's
claims are simply silly. He asserts that South Carolinians were so enervated by slavery
they were unable to defend Charleston. But New York, Boston, and Philadelphia had
been occupied during much of the war without any resistance, even though they were
defended by the common army of the States! Charleston fell after a heroic resistance,

12 "South Carolina in the Revolution" and "The Siege of Charleston," in Southern Quarterly Review
(July and October, 1848), 28:37-77, 263-327.
13 Sabine's title was The American Loyalists, or Biographical Sketches ofAdherents to the British
Crown in the War of the Revolution; Alphabetically Arranged; with a Preliminary Historical Essay.