Rhett, Robert Barnwell
Rhett, Robert Barnwell,1800–1876, American politician, b. Beaufort, S.C. His family changed its name from Smith to Rhett (after a colonial ancestor) in 1837. A lawyer, he was a state legislator, state attorney general (1832), U.S. representative (1837–49), and senator (1850–52). Extremely pro-Southern in his views, he split (1844) with John C. CalhounCalhoun, John Caldwell
, 1782–1850, American statesman and political philosopher, b. near Abbeville, S.C., grad. Yale, 1804. He was an intellectual giant of political life in his day. Early Career
Calhoun studied law under Tapping Reeve at Litchfield, Conn.
..... Click the link for more information. to lead the movement for separate state action on the tariff. Rhett was one of the leading fire-eatersfire-eaters,
in U.S. history, term applied by Northerners to proslavery extremists in the South in the two decades before the Civil War. Edmund Ruffin, Robert B. Rhett, and William L. Yancey were the most notable of the group.
..... Click the link for more information. at the Nashville Convention of 1850, which failed to endorse his aim of secession for the whole South. When South Carolina passed (1852) an ordinance merely declaring the state's right to secede, he resigned (1852) his seat. He continued to express his rabid secessionist sentiments through the Charleston Mercury, edited by his son. Rhett was a member of the South Carolina secession convention in 1860. Receiving no office in the Confederate government, he returned to South Carolina, where he sharply criticized the policies of President Jefferson DavisDavis, Jefferson,
1808–89, American statesman, President of the Southern Confederacy, b. Fairview, near Elkton, Ky. His birthday was June 3. Early Life
Davis's parents moved to Mississippi when he was a boy.
..... Click the link for more information. .
See W. C. Davis, A Fire-Eater Remembers: The Confederate Memoir of Robert Barnwell Rhett (2000).