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William James Rivers Papers

Thirteen manuscripts, 1881-1910, correspondence and writings of William James Rivers (1822-1909), including "Bits of History for a Boy," [1893], in three parts, written "For my grandson WJR Jr. of Eastover, S.C. & his young friends & acquaintances & others of his same age & educational acquirements." The manuscript is arranged in three parts: "Indians in South Carolina," "About the Pirates on the Carolina Coast," and "Some Other Troubles in Colonial Times." "Bits of History for a Boy" is discussed in Rivers' letter to [Edward] McCrady, 24 January 1895.

Among other correspondence is a letter, 20 November 1881, written by Rivers from Chestertown, Md., where he served as president of Washington College, to his daughter Emma. Rivers sympathized with Emma's literary aspirations but cautioned her that publishers "would be guided entirely by `What will it cost? How much will I make by it?' No matter how excellent, your work will be submitted to this test, & this alone." Further advising that he never "made one dollar" by his writings, Rivers suggests that she submit her manuscript to a periodical for publication in serial form and notesó"Mr. Simms told me his pieces were rejected by magazines (when offered for nothing) and after he had won a reputation the same pieces were purchased by such magazines for $50 for each small poem. So goes the world, my child."

An amusing letter, 19 July 1891, expresses Rivers' opinion of titlesó"You ask me if you must still entitle me `Professor.' I received that title by the Legislative act establishing the So. Ca. College & have been known for 35 years by it, most people not knowing my initials. I have been written to by military titles as high up as Colonel; often as Doctor of Divinity & as Rev. (if one could hear me at times when I am vexed, he would not think there was anything Reverend in me); I have, of late, received letters from Massachusetts & from Texas entitling me L.L.D.; I have been offered Ph.D. for a small sum of money (I refused, of course); I have often been written to as Hon. & as President; my acquaintances here salute me as Doctor or Professor, & one white fellow citizen lately called me Boss & another Captain....I only call myself Wm J. Riversó& as David used to say you may call me as you please, provided you don't call me too late for dinner. All titles are pretty much a matter of moonshine. Only `consequential' people put any value upon them."

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