Ruffin, Edmund rŭf´ĭn [key], 1794–1865, American agriculturist, one of the Southern fire-eaters , b. Prince George co., Va. His interest in improving impoverished land led him to become a pioneer in soil chemistry. Against much opposition he advocated the benefits of marl and proved its value. His arguments were propounded in An Essay on Calcareous Manures (1832, 5th rev. ed. 1852). He founded (1833) and edited until 1842 an excellent agricultural publication, the Farmers' Register. An ardent supporter of states' rights and secession, he left Virginia for the more congenial political milieu of South Carolina, where on Apr. 12, 1861, he was given the privilege of firing the first shot against Fort Sumter. With the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox he committed suicide.
See his Diary, ed. by W. K. Scarborough (Vol. I, 1972).
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