Southern History Month 2019: Robert Barnwell Rhett on the “Age Of Reason”

“As the great idea of the eighteenth century was that of union against tyrants, so it is that of the nineteenth century, the independence of nationalities.”
– William Woods Holden, Raleigh 1862

As I thought about my plans for April, it occurred to me that there was another tradition on this blog that it might be worth reviving in the waning years of Blompf and conservatism.

Here’s an excerpt from Rhett: The Turbulent Life and Times of a Fire-Eater on the values of the Enlightenment and their perversion in the antebellum era:

“And there was another threat. At Beaufort College, Barnwell Smith (Rhett) absorbed from Petigru a detestation of “pernicious dogmas” of what Smith (Rhett) called “the whole batch of French atheists and philosophers, who, by denying the weakness of our fallen nature, would set man against his fellow man, in vain efforts for abstract justice and equality, and vainer efforts for human perfectibility.” He rejected almost the whole of the Age of Reason out of hand. “Reason is a faculty of the mind – not a principle,” he would conclude. Noble as that faculty was, however, it was the most easily perverted. Men could twist reason to support the most flagrant sophistries, and the French in 1792 made it the basis of their postrevolutionary government as he saw it. Passion was natural and thus reasonable, and therefore not to be suppressed. If reason could dictate moral rectitude, then anything could be justified, no matter how unjust or perverse.”


Robert Barnwell Rhett would have hated SJWs:

“It is only the strong man – strong in conscious rectitude, strong in convictions of truth, strong in the never-failing and eternal vindications of time – who can put aside the temptations of present power, and patiently submit to official inferiority,” he would say of Petigru. “Superficial observers may not understand,” he said, “the greatness of such a man.” It was a kind of greatness he would emulate if he could.”

Robert Barnwell Rhett stood against public opinion on disunion in South Carolina for over thirty years until he finally triumphed in December 1860.

“Here is a subject in which passion, and feeling, and religion are all involved,” he added perceptively. “All the inexperienced emotions of the heart are against us; all the abstractions concerning human rights; all the theories of political dreamers, atheistic utilitarians, self-exalting and self-righteous religionists, who would reform or expunge the bible, – in short, enthusiasts and fanatics of all sorts, are against us.” Only those who really understood the nature of the black race and had seen the practice of slavery firsthand in the South could understand them, he maintained …

Rhett felt that emancipation was part and parcel of the evil that emerged in France in the previous century, for the Enlightenment was not the only evil it helped to visit upon the world. The misguided push for universal rights and against slavery was “born in atheism, and baptized in the blood of revolutionary France,” and it accomplished its purpose. “It has never failed,” he said, “and never will fail, in accomplishing its purpose, where the slaveholder does not control his destinies.” …

Worse, universal suffrage, will give to those who have no property, the absolute control of the property and legislation of the country.” Then the Yankees would learn the truth, “in all its horrors, that the despotism of numbers may be the most terrible that can scourge a fallen people.”

We’ve been through all that.

Rhett was right that even Yankees would live to see the day when the beast which they have nurtured at their breasts would turn on them one day and devour them.

“Aristocrat, conservative, populist, revolutionary – he would have been a familiar figure in Paris in 1789, or Petrograd in October 1917, or most especially perhaps Germany in 1933, not because he was evil or bloodthirsty – which he certainly was not – but because he had a genius for stirring the passions and the prejudices that could compel millions to uprising. He was a man familiar in all times and all nations, the perfect revolutionary.”

We’ve always loved Rhett on this blog.

While we don’t agree with him on everything, he is by far one of the most interesting, important and neglected figures in Southern history and worthy a new hearing.

It has been 154 years since the abolition of slavery. I will be 39-years-old this year. It is clear to me that Rhett was absolutely right about the vain quest for racial equality. I have sat here and watched a generation pass and have grown into a middle aged man and a father. I have been demonized as a “racist” for looking at the data and refusing to believe in racial equality.

The data shows nothing but intractable racial differences. It has been that way for literally a century now of testing. Trillions of dollars have been invested in eliminating racial gaps to no avail. We have demonized White identity to accomplish this social goal and have stirred up an enormous amount of hatred and resentment against White people … and for what?

Are we to believe that racial differences will go away when Jared Taylor is no longer allowed to travel to Europe? We’re living a Clown World that is being steered by fools.

Note: Even if they will never admit it publicly, educated people know that Southern paternalism, honesty and candor is the only way we will ever move forward out of the mid-20th century ditch. There is nothing that can forever hold back the tide of scientific truth.

About Hunter Wallace 12380 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. “Then the Yankees would learn the truth, ‘in all its horrors, that the despotism of numbers may be the most terrible that can scourge a fallen people.'”

    Well, yes–the masses will vote for Yang bucks. The whole problem, as Rhett failed to grasp, began with the South, specifically with Virginia, whose baronial types hitched a ride on the New England secession from Britain, in the 1770s. It was Virginians, was it not, who tried to assemble a Union made up of all the British colonies along the East Coast? It was Virginians who drafted the Magna-Carta-ish Constitution, with its opposition to “tyranny” or whatever it was that those barons were blathering about. It was their vaunted love of “liberty” that gave power to the masses, who now vote everyone’s money around.

    Eventually, as we know too well, Virginia was eclipsed, in Southern power, by South Carolina, where had been made the great mistake of bringing the Caribbean race arrangements to the American mainland, i.e. to land that was already being established as white territory. For centuries, there had been little racial backwash from the European colonies; but now, with the rise of Charleston, a clash over the racial makeup of what had become America was inevitable.

    As things have turned out, whites are suffering tremendous damage, not only in America’s North, South, East, and West but in Europe, too.

    Thanks, Dixie.

  2. What would Rhett think of the Yang Gang?

    To honor Rhett, seek Partition. An independent Dixie is plausible in the context of a Northern Alliance.

    1) Partition
    2) Northern Alliance
    3) Dixie separates from the white American remnant, but stays united within the Alliance.

    Destiny calls:

    First Corinthians 13:11
    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    Partition 2020.

      • “We don’t live in the 19th century. We’re not really dealing with the same problems.”

        Unfortunately, Hunter, we’re stuck with political leaders who legislate for the 19th and mid 20th Centuries. They’re still dealing with the problems of WWII and the Cold War. Then there’s the matter of dealing with the Kaiser, the six million Jews threatened with extermination at the hands of the Tsar’s Cossacks and dispatching the Great White Fleet to Venezuela to counter the Brasillian, Argentinean and Spanish navies.

        With all that, they’re just too busy and preoccupied to deal with the 21st Century. Not that they’ve noticed it, anyway.

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