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Important Note on this work
This biography, though historically based, should not be considered factual. It is not that there was no such man -- indeed there was, and other accounts indicate that Francis Marion is as deserving of praise as this account would indicate -- or moreso. It is not that the events described did not take place -- most of them, at least, did.

 

It is simply that Parson Weems (Mason Locke Weems, 1759-1825), in an honest effort to teach a high patriotism, nobility, and morality, sometimes embellished or exaggerated his stories to the point of falsehood, as with his invention of the cherry tree anecdote in his Life of Washington. It seems strange that such a devotion to moral teaching should use falsehoods to reach its audience, but he apparently felt the means justified by the end.

Not everyone agreed with his methods, and Gen. Peter Horry wrote to him: "I requested you would (if necessary) so far alter the work as to make it read grammatically, and I gave you leave to embellish the work, but entertained not the least idea of what has happened . . . You have carved and mutilated it with so many erroneous statements your embellishments, observation and remarks, must necessarily be erroneous as proceeding from false grounds. . . . Can you suppose I can be pleased with reading particulars (though so elevated, by you) of Marion and myself, when I know such never existed." Though Horry did not want to be known as the co-author of this work, I have suffered to let his name remain, with this notice, as it has traditionally been connected with it.

For all this, the basic ideas, gleaned largely from facts provided by Peter Horry and Robert Marion (the nephew of Francis), remain largely unchanged. Even in this decadent state, Weems' biography brought the nation's attention to Francis Marion, and inspired numerous other writers to touch on the subject -- two of these works, biographies by James and Simms, are especially noteworthy. Therefore, for the literary, rather than strictly historical, value, the following is presented to the reader.

Alan Light, Birmingham, Alabama, 1997.

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Etext Prepared by Alan Light