Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876

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Charleston, S.C. plantation owner, politician, ardent secessionist, and author. Robert Barnwell Rhett (1828-1905) was his son.

From the description of Rhett family papers, 1825-1938. (The South Carolina Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 32141642

U.S. Senator from South Carolina and leader in the secession movement.

From the description of Papers, 1838-1874. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 20115801

Robert Barnwell Rhett (1800-1876) was a congressman and senator from South Carolina, 1837-1852, and a member of the Nashville Convention, 1850; the secession convention, 1861; and the Confederate Congress at Montgomery, 1861.

From the description of Robert Barnwell Rhett papers, 1835-1880. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 25255393

S.C. Representative, 1828-1834; U.S. Congressman, 1837-1849 and 1850-1852; outspoken advocate of states' rights and member of Nashville Convention during secession crisis of 1850; born R.B. Smith, surname changed to Rhett in 1838; native of Beaufort, S.C.; relocated to Louisiana in 1867; father of Robert Barnwell Rhett, Jr. (1854-1901), editor of the Charleston Mercury.

From the description of Robert Barnwell Rhett papers, 1752-1953. (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 41442327

Robert Barnwell Rhett (1800-1876) was born at Beaufort, S.C., to James and Marianna Smith. He started practicing law there in 1824, was in the legislature in 1826, and was attorney general of South Carolina in 1832. The family name was changed from Smith to Rhett, a colonial ancestor, by an act of the legislature in 1838.

Rhett served as a Democrat in the United States Congress from March 1837 to March 1849, representing Beaufort and Colleton, S.C.; and served in the United States Senate (replacing John C. Calhoun) from 18 December 1850, through 1852. A leading advocate of states rights and an early proponent of secession, Rhett was a member of the Nashville Convention, 1850; delegate to the secession convention, 1861; member of the Confederate Congress at Montgomery in 1861 and also at Richmond; and was chair of the committee on the Confederate constitution.

In 1836, Rhett had made an advantageous purchase of a plantation, and in the 1850s another. He had residences in Walterboro and later in Charleston, and while he was at the capital had a house in Georgetown, D.C. He owned the Charleston Mercury, which regularly published his extreme pro-southern views and those of other fire-eaters. . His son Robert Barnwell Rhett Jr. became editor of the newspaper in 1857. After the Civil War, Rhett moved to Saint James Parish, La., and out of politics, except for brief service as a delegate to the 1868 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Rhett married Elizabeth Washington Burnet in 1827. She died in 1852, and about a year later he married Katherine Herbert Dent. Rhett had at least four children, including sons Robert Barnwell Rhett Jr., Albert M. Rhett, Edmund Rhett Jr., and Herbert Rhett. Robert Barnwell Rhett died in 1876 in Saint James Parish, La., at the home of his son-in-law Alfred Roman.

From the guide to the Robert Barnwell Rhett Papers, 1835-1880, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Confederate officers photograph album, n.d. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part II: The Civil War and the Confederacy, 1832-1915. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Ruffin, Edmund, 1794-1865. Papers : of Edmund Ruffin, 1818-1865. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. Papers, 1856-1889. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876. Robert Barnwell Rhett papers, 1835-1880. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Stapleton, John, fl. 1839. John Stapleton papers, 1790 Oct. 5-1839 Aug. 22. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Whaley, Mitchell & Clancy. Whaley, Mitchell & Clancy law firm records, 1853-1871, bulk 1866-1871. South Carolina Historical Society
creatorOf Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876. Letter, 1841 January 15 [n.p.], to Daniel Webster [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Gordon, George Augustus, 1827-1912. Correspondence. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876. Papers, 1838-1874. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Burt, A. (Armistead), 1802-1883. Papers, 1759-1933. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin, 1790-1870. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet Papers, 1793-1960; bulk, (1793- 1861). University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Cobb, Nicholas, fl. 1844-1861. Miscellaneous papers of the Hutter family, 1685-1859. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Robert Barnwell Rhett Papers, 1835-1880 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Bacot, Josephine Rhett, 1859-1932. Bacot family papers, 1860-1938. College of Charleston, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
referencedIn F. H. Elmore Papers, 1795-1858, (bulk 1839-1850) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
creatorOf Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876. Robert Barnwell Rhett papers, 1752-1953. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Bacot, Daniel Huger, 1847-1920. Daniel Huger Bacot papers, 1948-1905. South Carolina Historical Society, SCHS
creatorOf Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876. Rhett family papers, 1825-1938. South Carolina Historical Society, SCHS
referencedIn Seabrook, Whitemarsh B. (Whitemarsh Benjamin), 1795-1855. Whitemarsh B. Seabrook correspondence, 1849-1852. Library of Congress
referencedIn Photographs of Confederate generals and Civil War political leaders, 1861-1865. University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Main Library
referencedIn Dwight, Isaac Marion, 1799-1873. Isaac M. Dwight family papers, 1837-1860. South Carolina Historical Society
referencedIn Warren, John D., d. 1885. John D. Warren papers, 1856-1885. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Elmore, F. H. (Franklin Harper), 1799-1850. Papers of F. H. Elmore, 1795-1858 (bulk 1839-1850). Library of Congress
referencedIn James Henry Hammond Papers, 1774-1875, (bulk 1823-1864) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
referencedIn Hammond, James Henry, 1807-1864. James Henry Hammond papers, 1774-1875 (bulk 1823-1864). Library of Congress
referencedIn Cobb, Nicholas, fl.1844-1861. Miscellaneous papers of the Hutter family [manuscript], 1685-1859. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Planters' and Mechanics' Bank of South Carolina. Records, 1840-1841. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bacot, Daniel Huger, 1847-1920. person
associatedWith Bacot, Josephine Rhett, 1859-1932. person
associatedWith Benning, Henry L. (Henry Lewis), 1814-1875. person
associatedWith Branch, William H. person
associatedWith Brownson, Orestes Augustus, 1803-1876. person
associatedWith Buchanan, James, 1791-1868. person
associatedWith Burt, A. (Armistead), 1802-1883. person
associatedWith Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850. person
correspondedWith Confederate States of America. Army corporateBody
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dent family. family
associatedWith Duncan, William H. person
associatedWith Dwight, Isaac Marion, 1799-1873. person
associatedWith Elmore, F. H. (Franklin Harper), 1799-1850. person
associatedWith Forster, Matthew. person
associatedWith Gordon, George Augustus, 1827-1912. person
associatedWith Hall, Hiland, 1795-1885. person
correspondedWith Hammond, James Henry, 1807-1864. person
associatedWith Legaré, Hugh Swinton, 1797-1843. person
correspondedWith Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin, 1790-1870. person
associatedWith Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. person
associatedWith Memminger, C. G. (Christopher Gustavus), 1803-1888. person
associatedWith Planters' and Mechanics' Bank of South Carolina. corporateBody
associatedWith Polk, James K. (James Knox), 1795-1849. person
associatedWith Reid, Edmund. person
associatedWith Rhett, Alfred M. person
associatedWith Rhett, Andrew Burnet, 1831-1879. person
associatedWith Rhett, Andrew Burnett, 1831-1879. person
associatedWith Rhett, Catherine Ann Herbert Dent, 1821-1882. person
associatedWith Rhett, Edmund, 1835-1871. person
associatedWith Rhett, Edmund, Jr. person
associatedWith Rhett, Elizabeth Washington Burnet, 1809-1852. person
associatedWith Rhett family. family
associatedWith Rhett family. family
associatedWith Rhett family. family
associatedWith Rhett, Henrietta Aiken. person
associatedWith Rhett, Herbert. person
associatedWith Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1828-1905. person
associatedWith Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1854-1901. person
associatedWith Ruffin, Edmund, 1794-1865. person
correspondedWith Seabrook, Whitemarsh B. (Whitemarsh Benjamin), 1795-1855. person
associatedWith Shurbin, Edward. person
associatedWith Southern Convention (1850 : Nashville, Tenn.) corporateBody
associatedWith Stapleton, John, fl. 1839. person
associatedWith Thompson, Waddy, 1798-1868. person
associatedWith United States. Congress corporateBody
associatedWith Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862. person
correspondedWith Warren, John D., d. 1885. person
associatedWith Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852. person
correspondedWith Whaley, Mitchell & Clancy. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sandy Dam Plantation (S.C.)
Charleston (S.C.)
United States
Jehosse Plantation (Charleston County, S.C.)
Georgia--Altamaha
United States
South Carolina
South Carolina--Charleston
United States
Texas
Colleton County (S.C.)
Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.)
Oak Land Plantation (Colleton County, S.C.)
Great Britain
South Carolina
Charleston (S.C.)
Confederate States of America
South Carolina
United States
Confederate States of America
Subject
Confederate Memorial Day
Real property--History--19th century
Families--Social life and customs
Politicians--History--19th century
Patronage, Political--History--19th century
Medicine--Practice--History--19th century
Nullification (States' rights)
Dueling--History--19th century
Rice
Slaves--Medical care
Slavery
Plantations--Records
Sectionalism (United States)
American newspapers--History--19th century
Secession
Education--History--19th century
Legislators--History--19th century
Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
Plantations
Slave trade
Tariff--History--19th century
Banks and banking--history--19th Century
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1800-12-21

Death 1876-09-14

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