The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933 Page: 242
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Coupled with it is a study in secession woven around a man who
"has, perhaps, been slighted by the political historian and too
briefly noted by those interested in things economic." Edmund
Ruffin, who was born at Coggin's Point in Prince George County,
Virginia, on January 5, 1794, lived through all of the episodes
preceding the American Civil War, passed man's allotted three
score years and ten during that war, and died by his own hand
about two months after Lee's surrender. He could write well
and he yearned to speak well, for he "had a weakness for real
audiences and human approval," but only a few times did he
succeed in putting the fire of his soul into his hearers.
Edmund Ruffin had two great interests in life. He was vitally
interested in the improvement 'of Southern agriculture and in
the development of Southern nationalism. On his paternal plan-
tation "Beechwood" he discovered the advantage of fertilizing its
impoverished soil with marl (common fossil shells). The Ameri-
can Farmer published his findings on soil improvement in a series
of articles in 1821. In 1832 his essays on the subject of fertiliz-
ing appeared in book form as An Essay on Calcareous Manures.
Through the Farmer's Register, an agricultural periodical which
he began to publish in 1833, he exercised a great influence, so
much so that in five years conditions changed in tidewater Vir-
ginia and emigration ceased. When he moved from Coggin's
Point to his estate "Marlbourne" in Hanover County in 1843 he
entered upon "the rewards of his earlier agricultural services."
He also developed a well-planned drainage system at "Marl-
bourne" and wrote about it as he had earlier about fertilizing.
In evaluating Edmund Ruffin's services to agriculture, Professor
Craven says that he "has good claim to be called the father of
soil chemistry in America."
Just as duty to God was the essence of Ruffin's religion, so
duty to man was the essence of his politics. Ruffin's great inter-
est in politics was the development of Southern nationalism. He
"was of the stuff from which Southern nationalists were made."
About the time the Wilmot Proviso was before Congress Ruffin,
writing in the Richmond and Charleston papers, said that "sepa-
ration from, and independence of, the present Union" was the
only "defense or means of safety left." The South would not
make war, nor would the North spend millions to gratify the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933, periodical, 1933; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101093/m1/262/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.