Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> The Pen as Sword: Simms and the Beginning of the War — Rediscovered Writings from 1861 >> Page 3

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Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription Simms was well acquainted with these men, although he did not hold them
all in equal or high regard. With the possible exceptions of James Lawson
and James Henry Hammond, however, William Porcher Miles was Simms's
closest friend. Simms wrote several letters to Miles while he was in
Montgomery offering advice on the structure of the new Southern
government. One of the issues Simms addressed was that of the new
government's financial policy. When the Montgomery Convention first met
it adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America
which granted authority to all preexisting laws of the United States in force
at the time of secession. This included the Tariff of 1857 which many
Southerners found objectionable as it contained protectionist elements for
the benefit of Northern industry. Once debate began on the permanent
constitution, several delegates determined to institute a change in
Confederate tariff policy. There were three different schools of thought as to
the basic approach the Confederacy should pursue; those who favored
unfettered free trade, those who supported a protective tariff to make the
South industrially as well as politically independent and those who
advocated a tariff for revenue purposes only.5
One of the key issues in this debate was that of whether to have both
import and export duties. Simms addressed this issue in a 2 March 1861
letter to Miles. "As for Export and Import duties both, what nonsense,"
Simms told his friend.6 "A simple duty for Revenue, of 10 per cent. would
suffice. We should be tenacious of an economical government."7 Yet, this
was not the only place Simms voiced his opinion on the tariff policy of the
new Confederate government being established in Montgomery. He did so
the same day in a letter to the editor of the Charleston Mercury. The
existence of this letter was known to the editors of The Letters of William
Gilmore Simms, and it is mentioned in note 54 on page 337 of Volume IV. It
is known to have been written by Simms because it is signed with the
pseudonym "Gossypium," the Latin word for "cotton," a pseudonym Simms
used on other occasions as well.8 The letter was omitted from the Letters
edition "because of lack of space."9 That Simms signed the letter with the
pseudonym "Gossypiurn" is appropriate. As part of a $15 million loan
approved by the Confederate Congress on 28 February 1861 an export duty
of one-eighth cent per pound was to be placed on all cotton shipped from the
Confederacy after 1 August 1861. It was not long before debate to increase



5 Douglas B. Bali, Financial Failure and Confederate Defeat, (Chicago:
University of Illinois Press, 1991), 203.
6 Letters, IV, 337.
7 Ibid.
8 See James E. Kibler, Jr., Pseudonymous Publications of William Gilmore Simms
(Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1976), 55.
9 Letters, IV, 337.