OPINIONSnNew England Against Americanby Clyde Wilsonn”The fiction of Mr. Simms gave indication, we repeat, of genius, and that of noncommon order. Had he been even a Yankee, this genius would have beennrendered immediately manifest to his countrymen, but unhappily (perhaps) henwas a Southerner. . . . His book, therefore, depended entirely upon its ownnintrinsic value and resources, but with these it made its way in the end.”n— Edgar Allan Poen”Long Years of Neglect”:nThe Work and Reputation ofnWilliam Gilmore Simmsnedited by John Caldwell GuildsnFayetteville and London:nUniversity of Arkansas Press;n248 pp., $20.00nIn the heroic effort to establish annAmerican literature, intellect, andnculture before the Civil War, the mainnline of tension was not between cosmopolitansnand provincials, nor betweennclassicists and romanticists. It wasnregional. But the primary regional dividingnline was not drawn, as you maynthink, along the Appalachians (East vs.nClyde Wilson is a professor of historynat the University of South Carolina.nWest), nor along the Potomac (Northnvs. South). Rather, it was at the HudsonnRiver (New England vs. America).nThis descriptive historical truth isnnow obscured by the fact that the NewnEnglanders were successful in convincingnmuch of posterity that they werenAmerican culture, a process that wasnassisted by their colonization of Manhattannduring the antebellum periodnthrough such figures as Horace Greeleynand William Cullen Bryant. Yet thenlines of tension were clearly drawn andnobvious to everybody at the time: onnthe one hand, moralistic, reformist,nsentimental, pushy, genteel, devolvednPuritan, transcendental New Englanders,neager to impose the supremelynvirtuous model of the closed communitiesnof Massachusetts as the patternnnot only for America but for all man­nnnkind; on the other hand, a more leisurelynand tolerant, openhanded, rural,nfrontier, traditional, Anglican, gentlemanlyn(not genteel) spirit that visualizednthe true American culture asnarising from the open spaces South andnWest of the Hudson (or in the case ofnMelville, the seas). New York andnPhiladelphia were in many culturalnrespects closer to the South than tonBoston, at least before the 1850’s.nIn the literary politics that characterizednthe antebellum period, a host ofnwell-organized, industrious, mutuallyadmiringnNew England scribblers pursuedna totally ungenerous policy ofnself-aggrandizement, presenting themselvesnto the world as America andnignoring or slandering the rest of thencountry whenever it suited their purposes.nAfter the Civil War, lacking anynMAY 1989/25n