Happy birthday to Edmund Ruffin, who was born in this day in 1794 in Prince George County. Ruffin, of course, grew up to be the white-haired prophet of secession and claimed to have fired the first shot on Fort Sumter. Before he became “radicalized,” though, he was a farmer and did stuff like experiment with different soil compounds and worry about acidity. John Brown changed all that, and when things didn’t work out, Ruffin ended his life.
IMAGES: Top: Edmund Ruffin (Library of Congress); The Farmers’ Register (1834), a monthly publication edited by Ruffin (Virginia Historical Society); bottom: one of the friction primer wires used in setting off cannon charges in the bombardment on Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861 (Virginia Historical Society)