Confederate History Month 2012: Robert Barnwell Rhett on the “Age of Reason”

South Carolina

Here’s another except from Rhett: The Turbulent Life and Times of a Fire-Eater on the Enlightenment:

“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.”

This is also worth considering:

“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.

Rhett stood against public opinion in South Carolina for over thirty years until he triumphed in December 1860.

Note: As I have stressed repeatedly, there is really nothing new under the sun; all the debates that we are having today, the issues that we are considering and the solutions that have been proposed, have been debated and answered by our predecessors.

John C. Calhoun foresaw the rise of BRA as early as 1849.

About Hunter Wallace 9896 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. “Rhett stood against public opinion in South Carolina for over thirty years until he triumphed in December 1860.”

    Sure, but only now is coercive liberalism completely dominant in the West and effectively suppressing all other worldviews. When the state sentences an old man like Horst Mahler to 11 years ( ), a death sentence in his case, simply because of something he’s written and said, all pretence that the Western man lives in something called “the free world” that respects “human rights” is a blatant lie.

  2. The Alt-right needs to have a long, hard look at antebellum southern political thought. It is a diamond mine.

  3. ‘He rejected almost the whole of the Age of Reason out of hand.’

    Rhett was a good man. Dr Hill has referred to ‘the Englightenment’ as ‘the Endarkenment.’ I think that’s very appropriate.

  4. You can say in Teheran some things that you cannot say in Paris, and vice versa. For example, you may say in Teheran that the Holocaust story as presented to us is a political fabrication and walk free, but you cannot do that on the streets of Paris. Conversely, you may say that Muhammad was a child-abuser and a very wicked man in Paris, but not in Teheran. So, what I’m getting at is that as long as the West has these arbitrary hate-speech laws and Holocaust-denial laws where you can get a prison sentence for coming up with impertinent questions on a WW II historical point, it has no leg to stand on and certainly no business lecturing the Chinese or Iranians.

  5. Hunter, you need to put together a “reactionary dixie” reading list. Calhoun, Rhett, etc. You know, “required reading for the liberty-loving, equality-hating southerner or southern-sympathizer”.

  6. Lord Palmerston

    “the American [Civil] War…has manifestly ceased to have any attainable object as far as the Northerns are concerned, except to get rid of some more thousand troublesome Irish and Germans. It must be owned, however, that the Anglo-Saxon race on both sides have shown courage and endurance highly honourable to their stock.”

    you have to love this guy. He was inches away from pitching in against the Union. Makes you think about the GOP Lincoln Cult. I think that God of American history ought to be taken down a fucking peg or two.

  7. Indeed it is time for a glossy, Dixie reactionary magazine. Top notch political commentary, culture, arts, and what mindweapons calls “heirloom children”. *Intentionally* white children to work as heirloom seeds to replenish the founding race of Dixie and Western Civilization.

    Make it all cool. Make it rebellious. Make it beautiful. Make it a status symbol. Win.


    here a writer compares Lincoln and Palmerston. Palmerston leaves his nation much as he found it. Tracing his ancestors back to 1066. Which is a bad thing apparently.

    Lincoln kills a bunch of people, dispossessed his own people ans sets up a chain reaction that will undoubtedly bury the west.

    Who would you prefer to be? Someone who honoured your ancestors? Or someone who fucked your own descendents?

  9. “Glossy, Dixie reactionary magazine” = lawsuit, protest, firebomb magnet. Homeland Security, the FBI, and the IRS would be on the office doorstep with a search warrant on Day One. You’d have to edit and publish it in a free country and airdrop it in, because no American press would print it and no American newsdealer would distribute it. Any writer published in it would be derbyshired, any store or newsstand carrying it would be sharptonized.

    Nice idea, though. It would make a great website.

  10. Confederate Renaissance

    Seems to me, that’s exactly what we need; with or without Southron Independence the 1st step needs to be about rekindling our pride and relearning our history

  11. All of these are excellent ideas. But a reading list of antebellum political thought would be pretty simple to put together, especially if you’ve already read them.

  12. We’re really just mining for old ideas right now. I’ve compiled a link of blog posts under Confederacy Resources. Eventually, I might work this material into a book that destroys the myth of the Rainbow Confederacy.

  13. Confederate Renaissance sounds like a great politics/philosophy magazine.

    From Olde Dominion press, perhaps.

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