Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> ''Cash is Conqueror'': The Critique of Capitalism in Simms's ''The Western Emigrants'' and ''Sonnet—The Age of Gold'' >> Page 89

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Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 89 THE SIMMS REVIEW

person to insist upon their original claims and upon what is still due them
by our race" (Early and Strong 114).
A look at Simms's other writings that focus on the Choctaws
reveals his deep understanding of the plight of the Native American
people, illuminating the connection between this empathy and the situ-
ation depicted in "The Western Emigrants." In "Indian Sketch," Simms
stresses the injustice of the Choctaw removal from their native lands:
The glory of the Indians (as they were) is the hunt and the
battle field; and in robbing them of the extent of coun-
try sufficient for the one pursuit, and exercising such a
powerful restraint upon them, as a ready and well-armed
frontier, in the other, we seem to have robbed them of all
of that pride, love of adventure and warlike enthusiasm,
which is the only romance, the North American Indian
ever had in his character. (126-27)
Close examination of Simms's poem, "I was a wanderer long ...," shows
a direct connection between the Choctaw presence in the poem and the
hidden importance of Choctaw removal in "The Western Emigrants."
In "I was a wanderer long ...," the speaker states that the Choctaw are
"melancholy men, / Who love the woods, their ancient fathers gave" (39-
40). Simms presents the Choctaws as a people who show great reverence
for the land, which has passed in their families from generation to gen-
eration. By contrast, the patriarch in "The Western Emigrants" does not
appear to love the woods of his native South Carolina as the Choctaws do
their lands. The contrast in the beliefs of the two groups the patriarch's
family and the Choctaws is highlighted in "The Western Emigrants":
for the home he leaves,
The grave he should have chosen, and the walks,
And well-known fitness of his ancient woods.
Self-exiled, in his age he hath gone forth
To the abodes of strangers, seeking wealth
and in foreign clay
His branches will all wither. (44-48, 57-58)
Here the speaker states that the patriarch's actions are clearly driven by
the pursuit of monetary wealth, which motivates the capitalist, rather