Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1800 – 1876

Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1800 – 1876

Robert Barnwell Rhett
Robert Barnwell Rhett

Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800 – 1876: A List of Selected Resources prepared by Grace Morris Cordial, MLS, SL, CA, Beaufort District Collection Manager, Beaufort County Library, South Carolina.

Politician, United States Congressman, Newspaperman, and ardent supporter of State’s Rights and slavery, Rhett founded the Bluffton Movement and became known as the “Father of Secession.”

All links active as of last update: 14 December 2014

Web based resources:

Robert Barnwell Rhett in “Members of the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate with Connections to Beaufort County, SC (In Order of Date of Birth)” at

“Rhett, Robert Barnwell” entry in Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 – Present website found at

“Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800 – 1876” entry in History, Art & Archives: United States House of Representatives website found at,-Robert-Barnwell-%28R000184%29/.

“Rhett, Robert Barnwell” Entry in South Carolina Encyclopedia (ALL) has been uploaded by the South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board to the internet at

Robert Barnwell Rhett Papers based at University of North Carolina can be accessed online at,Robert_Barnwell.html.

“Rhett, Robert Barnwell” entry in House Divided: The Civil War Research Search Engine at Dickinson College, Anniversary Edition website found at 

An image of the gravesite and tombstone of Robert Barnwell Rhett in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC is on the Find A Grave website at

Read the National Historic Landmark documentation and see images of his home at 6 Thomas Street in Charleston on the South Carolina Department of Archives and History website found at

Read the findings of the Circuit Court in “Robert Barnwell Rhett, Plaintiff in Error, v. Robert F. Poe, Cashier of the Bank of Augusta, Defendant.” 43 U.S. 457 (2 How. 457, 11 L.Ed. 338) on the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School website found at

The Alabama Department of Archives and History has posted a cartes-de-viste of Rhett in its digital version of Confederate Officers Photograph Album website found at

The Elizabeth Barnwell Gough house history written by Penelope Holme Parker includes information about Rhett’s term of residence there at

“Secession Oak draws Crowd on 116th Anniversary of Bluffton Speech under its Bows,” by Rob Wile, Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, SC), 31 July 2010 found at

Robert Barnwell Rhett, Sr.: His Political Career by Walter B. Niles, (Master’s Degree Thesis, Indiana University), 1922 is posted online through the HathiTrust website at;view=1up;seq=1

Letter of the Hon. R. B. Rhett to the Editors of the National Intelligencer on the Right of Debate in Congress [by Robert Barnwell Rhett], Washington [D.C.] printed at the Globe Office of Congress,1841 is posted online in the Internet Archive website at

A valid Beaufort County Library or SCLENDS library card offers one access to the DISCUS subscription databases. Ask your local librarian about subscription database services in your area.

Come to the Beaufort District Collection to see these items:

Beaufort County Historical Society Papers, #27 “Beaufort’s Galaxy of Great Men.” ” (BDC only for hardcopy; Microfilm available at BEA, HHI)

Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 1800-1876 [BDC Vertical File]

Rhett Family [BDC Vertical File]

Cited in “Newspaper Sketches of Noted South Carolinians of the Past.” Ask for assistance.

SC B CALHOUN The death and funeral ceremonies of John Caldwell Calhoun, containing the speeches, reports, and other documents connected therewith, the oration of the Hon. R.B. Rhett, before the legislature, &c., &c. Pub. by order of the legislature. Columbia, S.C: Printed by A.S. Johnston, 1850. HathiTrust has posted a full-text digital version of this document at;view=1up;seq=9.

SC B RHETT The Political Life and Services of the Hon. R. Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina by Daniel Wallace, 1859.  HathiTrust has posted a full-text digital version of this document at;view=1up;seq=9.

SC B RHETT Robert Barnwell Rhett: Father of Secession by Laura A. White, 1931.

SC 810 WAR The Writers of South Carolina with a critical introduction, biographical sketches, and selections in prose and verse by George Armstrond Wauchope, 1910.

SC 929.2 GEN Genealogical Chart: Barnwell of South Carolina, 1898.

SC 929.3 SOU South Carolina genealogies: articles from the South Carolina historical (and genealogical) magazine. Published in association with the South Carolina Historical Society by Reprint Co., 1983.

SC 973.5 RHE Speech of Mr. Rhett, of South Carolina, on the protective or prohibitory policy [Pamphlet]: delivered in the House of Representatives, December 22, 1841 by Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1841.

SC 973.5 RHE Speech of the Hon. R.B. Rhett, of South Carolina, [Pamphlet]:  on the Oregon territory bill, excluding slavery from that territory – the Missouri Compromise being proposed and rejected. Delivered in the House of Representatives of the U.S., Jan. 14, 1847 by Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1847.

SC 973.64 RHE Speech of R. Barnwell Rhett, [Pamphlet]: on the resolution submitted by Mr. Foot, of Mississippi, in relation to the compromise measures: delivered in the Senate of the United States, December 15th and 16th, 1851 by Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1851.

SC 973.64 RHE Speeches of Senator Rhett and Senator Clemens in controversy [Pamphlet]: delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 27th and 28th of February, 1852 by Robert Barnwell Rhett, 1852.

SC 973.7 CIS Taking a Stand: Portraits from the Southern Secession Movement by Walter Brian Cisco, 1998.

SC 973.713 HAM The Secession Movement in South Carolina, 1847-1852 by Philip M. Hamer, [1918]. HathiTrust has posted a full-text digital version of this document at; view=1up;seq=9

SC 973.71357 HEL South Carolina secedes: a drama in three acts: a curriculum resource by Alexia Jones Helsley; [editor and designer, Judith M. Andrews], no date.SC 975.7 SOU “Hamlet to Hotspur: Letters of Robert Woodward Barnwell to Robert Barnwell Rhett” edited by John Barnwell. South Carolina Historical Magazine 77 (October 1976): 236-56. (BDC, HHI)

SC 975.799 RHE An address from the Hon. R. Barnwell Rhett to the people of Beaufort and Colleton districts, 1841 by Robert Barnwell Rhett.

SC 975.799 STU Magnolia Cemetery [Pamphlet]: an interpretation of some of its monuments and inscriptions, with a reminiscence of Captain James Stuart, a notice of John Allan Stuart, and a tribute to the people of Beaufort by Benj. R. Stuart, 1896.

Check out these materials from the Beaufort County Library:

B RHETT Rhett: the turbulent life and times of a fire-eater by William C. Davis, 2001 (BDC, BLU, HHI)

973.7 RHE A fire-eater remembers: the Confederate memoir of Robert Barnwell Rhett by Robert Barnwell Rhett, 2000 (ALL)

975.703 BAR Love of order: South Carolina’s First Secession Crisis by John Barnwell, 1982  (BDC, HHI)

973.7092 WOO The Civil War 100: A Ranking of the most influential people in the War Between the States by Robert Wooster, 1998. (STH)

973.713 CHA Crisis of Fear: Secession in South Carolina [by] Steven A. Channing, 1970. (BDC, BEA)

973.78 CHE A diary from Dixie: the Civil War’s most celebrated journal, written 1860-1865 by the wife of James Chesnut, Jr., an aide to President Jefferson Davis and a brigadier-general in the Confederate Army by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, 1997 (BEA, BLU)

973.782 CHE Mary Chesnut’s Civil War edited by C. Vann Woodward, 1981 (BDC, BLU, HHI)

REF 975.73 SOU “Rhett, Robert Barnwell” Entry in South Carolina Encyclopedia (ALL) has been uploaded by the South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board to

975.799 ROW V1 The history of Beaufort County, South Carolina, Volume 1, 1514-1861 by Lawrence Sanders Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., 1996 (ALL)

975.7992 BEA PT.2 Beaufort Tricentennial Lecture Series [DVD]: Part 2, February 13, 2009: Sea Island Cotton Kingdom [with Dr. Larry Rowland]; The Idea of a Southern Nation [with Dr. John McCardell, Jr.] (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)

975.7992 BEA PT3 Beaufort Tricentennial Lecture Series [DVD] Part 3, February 20, 2009: The Civil War in the Sea Islands [and] The Port Royal Experiment [with Dr. Stephen Wise] (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)

Please note: Image of Robert Barnwell Rhett at the top of this post is from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 – Present website cited above.

Legend for location codes: Beaufort District Collection (BDC); Beaufort Branch Library (BEA); Bluffton Branch Library (BLU); Hilton Head Island Branch Library (HHI); Lobeco Branch Library (LOB); St. Helena Branch Library (STH)