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"R" is for Rhett, Robert Barnwell [1800-1876]

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"R" is for Rhett, Robert Barnwell [1800-1876]. Congressman, US Senator. After serving in the General Assembly, Rhett was elected to Congress in 1837. In 1844 he was one of the organizers of the unsuccessful Bluffton Movement, but afterwards was recognized as the leader of the state’s fire-eaters who wanted South Carolina to leave the union. Elected to the U.S. Senate, he resigned after his radical faction lost a crucial election in 1851. He and his son acquired the Charleston Mercury, which, during the 1850s, became the leading voice of Southern radicalism. Once secession came, he represented South Carolina at the Provisional Confederate Congress in Montgomery. He left the Congress a strong critic of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and throughout the war Robert Barnwell Rhett and the Mercury viciously and regularly attacked Davis and the Confederate government.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.