The Southern Quarterly Review (SQR) originated in January 1842 in New Orleans but moved to Charleston later that year, where it remained until October 1854. It relocated to Baltimore in 1855 and then returned to South Carolina and was published in Columbia from 1856 to 1857. It had the advantage of being not a literary magazine but rather a magazine open to any branch of knowledge. It also had experienced editors in Daniel K. Whitaker (1842–1847), transplanted from New England, and South Carolina’s man of letters William Gilmore Simms (1849–1854). It survived longer than any other important magazine except the Southern Literary Messenger.
The Review was unabashedly a conservative southern magazine, advocating classicism in literature, agrarianism and slavery in economy, and Protestantism in religion. The antagonists were French philosophy, Voltaire, and the leaders of the French Revolution, all of whom were viewed as dangerous to government and to the South’s predominant Protestantism. New England transcendentalism was considered the latest heresy imported from German idealism in an attempt to deny the literal truth of the Bible.
Agrarianism was a recurrent topic. George Frederick Holmes advocated plantation economy as promoting simplicity, moderation, patriotism, reverence for the past, and the classical virtues (October 1844). Holmes recognized that the mental discipline gained from the study of the classics was of great value to the professional man. Because it covered such a wide range of subjects, SQR had a large number of contributors, including William J. Grayson, Robert Barnwell Rhett, James Warley Miles, Frederick A. Porcher, Beverly Tucker, and J. D. W. DeBow. Authorities to whom it paid homage included Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walter Scott, and John C. Calhoun. No magazine sketched better the idea of the southern gentleman with his “polished manners” and “moral excellences” (January 1853). More than any other periodical, the Southern Quarterly Review sought to define the incompatibilities that would necessitate the South’s becoming a separate nation. Its last issue appeared in February 1857.
Ryan, Frank W. “Southern Quarterly Review.” In The Conservative Press in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century America, edited by Ronald Lora and William Henry Longton. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1999.