Edmund Ruffin Photo

Edmund Ruffin

Born: Jan 5, 1794

Death: Jun 17, 1865

Birthplace: Prince George County

Profession: Politician

Nationality: United States

Edmund Ruffin

Date of Birth : Jan 5, 1794
Date of Death : Jun 17, 1865
Birth Place : Prince George County

Edmund Ruffin was a wealthy Virginia planter and slaveholder who in the 1850s was a political activist known as one of the Fire-Eaters. He advocated states' rights and justified slavery, arguing for secession years before the Civil War. Ruffin was credited as "firing the first shot of the war" at the Battle of Fort Sumter; he served as a Confederate soldier despite his advanced age. When the war ended in Southern defeat in 1865, he committed suicide rather than submit to "Yankee rule." Ruffin's chief legacy is his pioneering work in methods to preserve and improve soil productivity; he recommended crop rotation and additions to restore soils exhausted from tobacco monoculture. Early in his career, he studied bogs and swamps to learn how to correct soil acidity. He published essays and in 1852 a book on his findings for improving soils. He has become known as "the father of soil science" in the United States. He was among a circle of intellectuals who sought reformation in the South. He also wrote books on slavery and the economy of the South, and a comparison between conditions of slavery and those of free labor in the North.


  • Politician
  • Scientist
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