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in U.S. history, term applied by Northerners to proslavery extremists in the South in the two decades before the Civil War. Edmund RuffinRuffin, Edmund
, 1794–1865, American agriculturist, one of the Southern fire-eaters, b. Prince George co., Va. His interest in improving impoverished land led him to become a pioneer in soil chemistry.
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, Robert B. RhettRhett, 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.
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, and William L. YanceyYancey, William Lowndes,
1814–63, American leader of secession, b. Warren co., Ga. Admitted (1834) to the bar in Greenville, S.C., he soon moved to Alabama. There he became an outstanding lawyer, was elected to the state house of representatives (1841) and the state senate
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 were the most notable of the group. As early as 1850, at a convention held in Nashville, Tenn., the "fire-eaters" urged secession upon the South, but the Compromise of 1850 and more moderate counsel combined to postpone that event for another 10 years. Although the "fire-eaters" were in large measure responsible for the movement to organize a separate Southern government, they filled minor offices under the Confederacy.
References in periodicals archive ?
In Fanatics and Fire-Eaters, Ratner and Teeter posit "the media of the mid-nineteenth century played a role in determining both the perception and the course of the events" leading to the Civil War.
As well as fire-eaters and a great light show, the line-up includes DJs Lisa Littlewood, Huggy, Stevie Sole Middleton, Ken Fan and Otis F.
She alone could find truth among the collections of freaks, Siamese twins, bearded ladies, and fire-eaters.
Albeit in very different ways, both of these books make substantial contributions to the renewed effort to understand the mind of the Old South and its defense of slavery, Eugene Genovese through a brief but wide-ranging study of southern slaveholders' attitudes toward freedom and progress, and Eric Walther with a carefully nuanced account of nine of the Old South's leading fire-eaters and their emphatic prosouthern, proslavery, prosecession thought.
The powers-that-be are worried the public will be harmed by knife-throwers and fire-eaters.
AN APPEAL to help a five-year-old boy was answered by dancers, singers, stilt walkers and fire-eaters from across Liverpool.
A Fire & Ice theme adds even more excitement with fire-eaters and flame jugglers entertaining visitors during the interludes between skating sessions on Friday and Saturday evenings - as well as every evening from December 17 to 23 inclusive.
Miss Europe, Quasimodo, the Bearded Lady, the half-man half-woman, the deformed and the bent, Atlas The Dwarf, the fire-eaters, the teachers and preachers, the blues singers.
Paul Opacic, who played Steve Marchant in Emmerdale, turned on the lights, while fire-eaters, jugglers and Santa provided entertainment.