From Nationalism to Secessionism: The Changing Fiction of William Gilmore Simms

Synopsis

Like many Southerners before the Civil War, William Gilmore Simms changed from a nationalist to a secessionist. Charles Watson illustrates this transformation through a step-by-step examination of Simms' literary works, which express the changing attitudes of other, more inarticulate Southerners, who found a voice in Simms' fiction. In the first half of his career, from 1825 to 1848, Simms wrote as a national author, composing patriotic romances. But, when the political conflict over slavery worsened, starting with the Wilmot Proviso, which prohibited the westward expansion of slavery, Simms became an uncompromising proponent of Secession.