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Edmund Ruffin, III
Edmund Ruffin photo at Fort Sumter, SC IMG 4532.JPG
A standard photograph of Edmund Ruffin, displayed at Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina
Born (1794-01-05)January 5, 1794
Died June 18, 1865(1865-06-18) (aged 71)
Resting place Edmund Ruffin Plantation
Education College of William and Mary
Occupation Planter, agronomist, author, soldier
Known for Revolutionizing Southern agriculture; his claim to have fired the first shot of the Civil War
Spouse(s) Susan Hutchings Travis
Children 11

Edmund Ruffin, III (January 5, 1794 – June 18, 1865) was a wealthy Virginia planter and slaveholder who served in the Virginia Senate from 1823 to 1827. In the last three decades before the American Civil War, his pro-slavery writings received more attention than his agricultural work. Ruffin staunchly advocated states' rights and slavery, arguing for secession years before the Civil War, and became a political activist with the so-called Fire-Eaters. Ruffin is given credit for "firing the first shot of the war" at the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861 and fought as a Confederate soldier despite his advanced age. When the war ended in Southern defeat in 1865, he he took his own life rather than submit to "Yankee rule."

Ruffin is also known 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 1832, a book on his findings for improving soils. He has since become known as "the father of soil science" in the United States.

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