Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> Annual Address Before the South Caroliniana Society, 3 April 1943 >> Page 37

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Page 37

Speech | 2007
Transcription ways seem to be able to magnetize me on to a little further
The Simms letters show Simms frustrated in his great am-
bition to put on record his interpretation of his people, based on
his own lifelong search for and preservation- of available source
material. As early as 1839, when his little daughter asked him -
for information about the state, he realized that nothing had.
been written "suited to the proper understanding and to the
ardent temperament of the young." He thereupon provided her
and the young people of South Carolina with a very readable
-history of the state. By 1848 he had definitely reached the point
where he was ready to discuss his great ambition. He outlined
his plan to the man with whom he had communed as a brother
for more than a quarter of a century, James Henry Hammond.
He told Hammond that his heart had Jong been set on an elab-
orate history of the state based in large measure on the records
he had gathered. Could Hammond get 1000 subscribers for such
a work at $5.00 each? Would the General Assembly do what
New York, Louisiana, Georgia and other states had done send
an historiographer to Europe to ransack colonial offices for doc-
uments? Several years before, he said, Albert Rhea had asked
him if he would be the one to go to Europe to do it. The work
should contain a comprehensive analysis of all 'transition periods,
with the exception of Nullification, still too hat off the griddle.
Selections should be published from the store of source material.
Especial attention must be given the Up Country.
Time does not permit me to go into the financial difficulties
and family, troubles which, with war and disaster, foiled Simms
in his great ambition. But what became of the source material
upon which he based his ambition? He gives us an idea. A
collection of 1000 letters went as a royal gift to his dear friend
Hawkins Ferris, Assistant Secretary of the United States Treas-
ury. Among many other things, a very fine Washington letter,
described as suitable for framing as a library piece, wept to his
intimate, Evert A. Duyckinck. I do not know the actual num-
ber of letters and papers that went as gifts to such friends as
the poet Bokie, James Lawson, the wealthy Scotch dramatist,
and. others in the North. I do not begrudge these gifts because
these northern friends stuck staunchly to the South in its need.
It was their, money that Simms doled out to Timrod monthly,
their money that bought provisions for Simms to distribute to
scores of southern families, starving, so Simms said in silence.
These northern friends helped Simms sell Jameson's Bert .rand
du Guesclin (which had been published in England during the-
war and had run the blockade safely home) for the benefit of
the Jameson family. They had helped dispose of Tefft's fa-
mous collection of autographs for the benefit the Tefft fam-
ily. They had helped dispose of a noted collection of coins for
another southern family left destitute by the war.