Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 8: No 2) >> Native American Representation in Simms's The Yemassee >> Page 34

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Secondary Scholarship | 2000
Transcription Native American Representation in Simms's The Yemassee

Peter Murphy

The era depicted by Simms in The Yemassee (1835) was generally a time of
great dissension between native and settler, and ultimately among natives
themselves.1 However, allegiances were sometimes established among the two
communities; for instance, five hundred Indians from various tribes fought along
with thirty settlers in the Tuscarora War which lasted from 1711 to 1713 (Brown
23). But reciprocal offenses committed eventually strained these relationships.
One account reads:

From September 1710, to April, 1715, two dozen complaints were
officially recorded against traders in the journals of the South
Carolina Commissioner (Indian Books). The accusations covered
almost every type of offense: from the enslaving of free Indians to
a Yamassee Cacique's complaint on October 25, 1712 that Trader
Alexander Nicholas beat his wife '`so that she dyed and the Child
within her." (Brown 52)

The Yamassee War took place shortly thereafter as Indians joined together to try
to rid the territory of colonizers and settlers. Simms records the following in "The
Yemassee Uprising," which prefaces the original version of The Yemassee (from
The Boston News-Letter, June 6-13, 1715, p.[2].):

The Governor has placed Garrisons in all Convenient Places that
may be, in order to Defend the Country from the Depredations and
Incursions of the Enemy, till better Provisions can be made: We
had about a hundred Traders among the Indians whereof we
apprehend, they have Murder'd and Destroy'd about Ninety Men,
& about Forty more Men we have lost in several skirmishes. (xliv)

The war ended, or "peace was effected," in August, 1716, according to Governor
Robert Johnson of South Carolina, after "several Slaughters and Blood Sheddings,
which [have] lessened their numbers and utterly Extirpating some little tribes"
(Brown 147). Simms records that in 1715 "the Yemassee [had been] in all their
glory" (The Yemassee 3). But there were differences of opinion and ambiguities

1 An earlier version of this article was delivered as a paper at the Simms in Charleston Conference,
January 2000.