Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

An Early and Strong Sympathy: The Indian Writings of William Gilmore Simms

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

An Early and Strong Sympathy: The Indian Writings of William Gilmore Simms

Article excerpt

An Early and Strong Sympathy: The Indian Writings of William Gilmore Simms. JOHN CALDWELL GUILD5 and CHARLES HUDSON (eds.). University of South Carolina Press, Charleston, 2003. 604 pp., ill. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN: 1-57003-441-9.

An Early and Strong Sympathy: The Indian Writings of William Gilmore Simms, edited by John Caldwell Guilds and Charles Hudson, is an attempt to pull the seemingly forgotten southern poet and writer William Gilmore Simms from obscurity in order to receive consideration from the American literary community. The mechanism used for this attempted resurrection is Simms's descriptive writings concerning Native Americans. Although Simms was a representative of the southern planter elite, he had a curiosity about the "Indian" that made its way into his work. Simms produced an enormous volume of Indian writings by his death in 1870, but he does not appear to be valued or remembered for this. His owning of slaves and his views on upholding slavery as an institution became a major subject of his writing and may account for his absence from more modern literary anthologies. Simms even used his writing to combat the concepts promoted by Harriett Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (Ridgely, American Literature 31[4]:421-433). The justification Simms had for the continued enslavement of Africans and African Americans and for white superiority, in any sense, seem at odds with his views concerning Native Americans. As the editors note, Simms's writing demonstrates sympathy and empathy toward Indians. At times he expresses sentiments that seem to grant them equality. …

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