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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, U.S. Senator. A native of Beaufort, Rhett read law and was admitted to the bar in 1821. In 1832 he was elected to the Nullification Convention. His reputation as a passionate defender of states-rights helped him win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1844 Rhett led what was known as the Bluffton Movement that called for state action against the tariff. The movement failed but left Rhett as the recognized leader of the immediate secessionists, or fire-eaters,” in South Carolina. Elected a U.S. Senator in December 1850, he resigned sixteen months later. With his son, Rhett purchased the Charleston Mercury that became a leading advocate of secession. Robert Barnwell Rhett was a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Convention, but afterwards never again held public office.

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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.