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 93

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Page 93

Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 93 THE SIMMS REVIEW

for riches in Mississippi—even if they are not guaranteed. By portray-
ing both characters as superficial—even if the patriarch is less extremely
superficial Simms successfully stresses his belief that capitalists are
superficial individuals with souls that are "poor shriveled, naked and
empty-handed" (Poetry 87).
"Sonnet—The of Gold" presents the capitalist as one who "[over-
throws his] enemy" and "[takes] his empire" (7). This echoes Simms's
belief stressed in his lecture "The Ages of Gold and Iron" that agri-
culture and its planters were the enemies of capitalists and were being
trampled and dominated by capitalism. As Simms elaborates, "vainly did
the farmer strike to defend his possessions," and thus his empire was eas-
ily taken (14).
Simms's assertion in line 8 of "Sonnet" that capital "makes the
ally serve" has a striking connection with the removal of the Choctaw
tribe from Mississippi. By stating that an Indian presence "might halt or
slow the physical and economic progress of America along the frontier,"
Andrew Jackson gained several allies in the fight for Choctaw relocation
(Remini 106). Jackson cleverly played on the white public's fear when
he made the Choctaw presence in Mississippi a question of economic
prosperity and subsequently of capitalistic prosperity. By appealing to
the materialist desires of the capitalists, he was able to succeed in the
unjust and dehumanizing process of the Choctaw removal, thereby gain-
ing several allies. Judging by the treaties that followed Jackson's efforts
capital as Simms stated did indeed make his allies serve.
In Poetry and the Practical, Simms speaks of the desire for
capitalistic gain:
The ... passion, which, in Society, whets cunning, sharp-
ens avarice, prompts strife and fraud, and a gnawing
hunger for a neighbour's gains, is, in the case of nations,
the mother of war! ... The arts, the liberal exercises that
delight in peace, are the only corrections of this insane
appetite .... (9)
"The Western Emigrants" and "Sonnet The Age of Gold" are two key
examples of Simms's attempt to correct grave injustices. Whether it
was the horrific removal of the Choctaw tribe, the circumscription of
agriculture by capitalistic enterprise, or the excessive and unwarranted
greed of capitalism itself, Simms was intent on amending what he saw
as the grave errors of a world where "cash is conqueror" (9). To expose