Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 11: No 2) >> Pioneers, Indians, and ''Southern Adams'' in ''The Two Camps'' >> Page 7

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Scholarship | 2003
Transcription Then I thought, if there is any picture in this life more sweet and
beautiful than two young people jest beginning to feel love for one
another, and walking together in the innocence of their hearts,
under the shady trees, I—'ve never seen it! (WC 79)

Although in the midst of this budding interracial romance, Simms conveniently
delivers himself from excessive controversy by orchestrating Lenatewa's murder
by a rival Indian warrior, he leaves little question that Lucy's love for Lenatewa
was genuine for this forest maiden, Simms writes, "had a hurt in the heart," and
"warn't much given to smiling after that" (WC 80).
Reflecting the commonsensical woridview. garnered from his own earlier
and extensive frontier travels, Simms suggests that people of two ideologically
different, and often-hostile races, can overcome prejudice by recognizing their
shared threads of humanity. More obliquely, Simms implies the possibility of
merging cultures —a view strikingly different from what the then-traditional view
of the dichotomous duality between Indian and white civilizations an idea in
keeping with his being labeled a "complex iconoclast" (Guilds, Sympathy xiii).7
Simms further suggests this cultural merging when Nelson tells Lenatawa
to let the Indians know that "I am a friend, not an enemy, and they should not
come to burn my wigwam" (WC 62)8. This blending of course complicates any
efforts to categorize Simms neatly into one narrow point of view as well as any
one specific movement in American literature. Like the protagonists in "The Two
Camps," Simms remains too complex an individual to be limited to either the

7 Simms's titles lend themselves particularly well to this duality—e.g., "The Two
Camps," and "The Wigwam and the Cabin". I think Simms was subtly implying
the merging of cultures on the frontier and that the longer white people lived on
the frontier, the more Indian-like they became. This view does not at all
contradict ardent assertions of white cultural superiority au contraire, it fits with
Simms's idea that "A wandering people is more or less a barbarous one," and that
frontier culture debased white civilization by lessening the "hold which
refinement and [white] society have hitherto held upon the individual man" (The
Social Principle 262).
8 This idea of Simms's cultural merging blends almost perfectly with West's
historical assertions concerning how "Boone was entering a world in which native
and white cultures and lives already were inexplicably wound into a knot beyond
anyone's untangling. If we could go back to that time and place, we would notice
this first in material culture.. _Early white farmers often lived in wigwam-like
houses; some Indians lived in log cabins, cooked in brass kettles, ate on pewter
plates, slept in feather beds" (37). Simms interestingly manifests this overlapping
inextricability throughout his writings by often using the term "wigwam" in an
oft-slangy fashion in favor of the more traditional "house" or "home" see for
instance, his letters to A. L. Taveau (Letters, III, 59) and to John Reuben
Thompson (Letters, III, 91).