In American history, the Fire-Eaters were a group of pro-slavery Southernern Democrats in the Antebellum South who urged the separation of Southern states into a new nation, which became the Confederate States of America. The dean of the group was Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina. Some sought to reopen the international slave trade, which had been illegal since 1808.[1]


By radically urging secession in the South, the Fire-Eaters demonstrated the high level of sectionalism existing in the U.S. during the 1850s, and they materially contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–1865). As early as 1850, there was a Southern minority of pro-slavery extremists who did much to weaken the fragile unity of the nation. Led by such men as Edmund Ruffin, Robert Rhett, Louis T. Wigfall, and William Lowndes Yancey, this group was dubbed "Fire-Eaters" by northerners. At an 1850 convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the Fire-Eaters urged Southern secession, citing irrevocable differences between the North and the South, and they inflamed passions by using propaganda against the North. However, the Compromise of 1850 and other moderate counsel kept the Fire-Eaters cool for a time.

In the later half of the 1850s, the group reemerged. During the election of 1856, Fire-Eaters used threats of secession in order to persuade Northerners, valuing unity over anti-slavery, to vote for James Buchanan. They used several recent events for propaganda, among them "Bleeding Kansas" and the Sumner-Brooks Affair, to accuse the North of trying to abolish slavery immediately. Using effective propaganda against 1860 presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, the nominee of the anti-slavery Republican Party, the Fire-Eaters were able to convince many southerners of this. However, Lincoln, despite abolitionist sentiment within the party, had promised not to abolish slavery in the Southern states, but only to forbid it in the territories.[2] They first targeted South Carolina, which passed an article of secession in December 1860. Wigfall, for one, actively encouraged an attack on Fort Sumter to prompt Virginia and other upper Southern States to secede as well. The Fire-Eaters helped to unleash a chain reaction that eventually led to the formation of the Confederate States of America and to the American Civil War. Their influence waned quickly after the start of major fighting.

Notable Fire-Eaters


  • Walther, Eric H., The Fire-Eaters, (Louisiana State University Press, 1992) ISBN 0-8071-1775-7
  • Walther, Eric H. William Lowndes Yancey: The Coming of the Civil War (2006)


  1. ^ William J. Cooper, Jr. and Thomas E. Terrill (2008). The American South: A History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 363. ISBN 9780742563995.
  2. ^ Wilson, Douglas L. Lincoln and Abolitionism The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Retrieved March 30 2016.
  3. ^ Sansing, David G. (December 2003). "John Jones Pettus: Twentieth and Twenty-third Governor of Mississippi: January 5, 1854 to January 10, 1854; 1859-1863". Mississippi Historical Society. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  4. ^ Dubay, Robert W. (1975). John Jones Pettus, Mississippi fire-eater. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 15. ISBN 9781617033537.

External links

1860 Democratic National Conventions

The three 1860 Democratic National Conventions were crucial events in the lead-up to the American Civil War. The first Democratic national convention adjourned in deadlock without choosing candidates for President and Vice President. A second official convention nominated Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois for President and former Senator Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia for Vice President. A third, “rump,” convention, primarily Southerners, nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge for President and Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon for Vice President.

Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves

The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 (2 Stat. 426, enacted March 2, 1807) is a United States federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.

This legislation was promoted by President Thomas Jefferson, who called for its enactment in his 1806 State of the Union Address. He had promoted the idea since the 1770s. It reflected the force of the general trend toward abolishing the international slave trade which Virginia, followed by all the other states, had prohibited or restricted since then. South Carolina, however, had reopened its trade. Congress first regulated against the trade in the Slave Trade Act of 1794. The 1807 Act ended the legality of trade with the U.S. However, it was not always well enforced and slaves continued to be smuggled in limited numbers. The 1807 law did not change that—it just made importation from abroad a crime. The domestic slave trade within the U.S. was unaffected by the 1807 law. Great Britain, the major power involved in the Atlantic slave trade, had passed the comparable Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, on the 23rd of February 1807 (achieving royal assent on the 25th of March 1807), preceding the outlawing of slavery throughout the British Empire through the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

Badagry Festival

Badagry Festival is an annual event held in Badagry, a town in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is organised by the African Renaissance Foundation (AREFO). The event reflects the significance of the ancient town during the slave trade era. It is a convergence of culture and display of African heritage. The organizer brings the indegine and culture-loving fans from around the world to celebrate the festival. One of the major highlights is the artistic display by masquerades, dancers, and fire eaters. It features football competition, the beating of Sato drum, and Liberation Day Celebration.

David Almond

David Almond FRSL (born 15 May 1951) is a British author who has written several novels for children and young adults from 1998, each one receiving critical acclaim.

He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, "the world's most prestigious prize in children's literature".

For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.


Fire-Eater or fire eater may refer to:

Fire eater, a performer who places flaming objects into their mouth and extinguishes them

Fire Eater (album), an album by jazz saxophonist Rusty Bryant

Fire-Eater (film), a 1998 Finnish film

Fire-Eaters, extreme pro-slavery politicians in the 19th-century United States

The Fire Eater, a 1921 American Western film

"The Fire-Eater", an episode of the Japanese anime TV series Dragon Ball

The Fire-Eaters, a 2003 children's novel by David Almond

Mangiafuoco (Italian for "Fire-Eater"), a fictional character from Carlo Collodi's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio (1881-1883) and its various adaptations

Fire eating

Fire eating is the act of putting a flaming object into the mouth and extinguishing it. A fire eater can be an entertainer, a street performer, part of a sideshow or a circus act but has also been part of spiritual tradition in India.

James G. Randall

James Garfield Randall (June 4, 1881 in Indianapolis, Indiana - February 20, 1953) was an American historian specializing on Abraham Lincoln and the era of the American Civil War. He taught at the University of Illinois, (1920–1950), where David Herbert Donald was one of his students and continued his work.

Born in Indiana and named after U.S. President James A. Garfield, Randall obtained a B.A. from Princeton University (1903), and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago (1912). Randall was known for his systematic, scientific methodology based on thorough study of primary sources, his mastery of constitutional issues, and his neutrality regarding North and South. His multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln remains a major resource for scholars. He was president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association 1939-1940. His wife Ruth Painter Randall wrote Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage (1953). His The Civil War and Reconstruction (1937) was for many years the most important history of the era.

Randall, a devout Methodist who was horrified by the carnage of World War I, believed the Civil War was a terrible mistake, caused by the failure of the political system to find a compromise. It was a "needless war," an interpretation that won widespread assent before World War II. Along with Avery Craven, Randall, watching the rise of fascism in Europe, concluded the American Civil War did not emerge from the conflicting material interests of economic classes, as Charles A. Beard said. Instead, Randall believed it was brought about by fanatics, like the abolitionists in the North and the Fire-Eaters in the South. These fanatics, with very little material at stake, raced each other into war.

Randall argued in Civil War and Reconstruction that the war "could have been avoided, supposing of course that something more of statesmanship, moderation, and understanding, and something less of professional patrioteering, slogan-making, face-saving, political clamoring, and propaganda, had existed on both sides." But such had not been the case. In Randall's view, extremists in both sections emerged as villains, the abolitionist radicals worst of all. "Reforming zeal, in those individual leaders in whom it became most vociferous and vocal, was often unrelieved by wisdom, toleration, tact, and the sense of human values.... It was a major cause of the conflict itself." That is, minority elements inflamed sectional passions to a point where compromise, which might have been brought about by sensible and responsible men, became impossible.

John A. Quitman

John Anthony Quitman (September 1, 1798 – July 17, 1858) was an American politician and soldier. He served as Governor of Mississippi from 1835 to 1836 as a Whig and again from 1850 to 1851 as a Democrat and one of the leading Fire-Eaters.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table is a novel for children written by Roger Lancelyn Green. It was first published by Puffin Books in 1953 and has since been reprinted. In 2008 it was reissued in the Puffin Classics series with an introduction by David Almond (the award-winning author of Clay, Skellig, Kit's Wilderness and The Fire-Eaters), and the original illustrations by Lotte Reiniger.

Green attempted to weave together the many legends surrounding King Arthur in a single narrative, claiming that Thomas Malory's version of the story, Le Morte d'Arthur, was a loose collection of separate stories. Green attempted to relate each legend so that the entire story would have a beginning, middle and end. Green used many sources in addition to Malory.

Laurence M. Keitt

Laurence Massillon Keitt (October 4, 1824 – June 2, 1864) was an American planter, lawyer, politician, and soldier from South Carolina. During his tenure in the United States House of Representatives, he was included in several lists of Fire-Eaters—men who adamantly urged the secession of southern states from the United States, and who resisted measures of compromise and reconciliation, leading to the American Civil War.

Keitt is notable for being involved in two separate acts of legislative violence in the Congressional chambers. In the first, Keitt assisted Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) in his 1856 attack on Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) in the Senate chamber by brandishing a pistol and cane to prevent other Senators from coming to Sumner's aid. The second was in 1858, when he attacked and attempted to choke Representative Galusha Grow (R-PA) during an argument on the floor of the U.S. House.

When the Civil War began, he served as a deputy of the Provisional Confederate States Congress and later as a colonel in the Confederate States Army, until he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor in June 1864.

Louis Wigfall

Louis Trezevant Wigfall (April 21, 1816 – February 18, 1874) was an American politician who served as a Confederate States Senator from Texas from 1862 to 1865. He was among a group of leading secessionists known as Fire-Eaters, advocating the preservation and expansion of an aristocratic agricultural society based on slave labor. He briefly served as a Confederate Brigadier General of the Texas Brigade at the outset of the American Civil War before taking his seat in the Confederate Senate. Wigfall's reputation for oratory and hard-drinking, along with a combative nature and high-minded sense of personal honor, made him one of the more imposing political figures of his time.

New Variety

The New Variety is an American cabaret created and produced by Thom Goodman and Richard O'Donnell in the 1990s. It was a fast-paced, ever-changing volley of acts that included award-winning jugglers, fire-eaters, stand-up comics, singers, musicians, and sketch comedy troupes.

Siege of Odawara (1590)

The third siege of Odawara (小田原征伐, Odawara seibatsu) occurred in 1590, and was the primary action in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaign to eliminate the Hōjō clan as a threat to his power. The months leading up to it saw hasty but major improvements in the defense of the castle, as Hideyoshi's intentions became clear. Thus, despite the overwhelming force brought to bear by Hideyoshi, the siege saw little actual fighting.

The massive army of Toyotomi Hideyoshi surrounded the castle in what has been called "the most unconventional siege lines in samurai history." The samurai were entertained by everything: from concubines, prostitutes and musicians to acrobats, fire-eaters, and jugglers. The defenders slept on the ramparts with their arquebuses and armor; despite their smaller numbers, they discouraged Hideyoshi from attacking. So, for the most part, this siege consisted of traditional starvation tactics. Only a few small skirmishes erupted around the castle, as when a group of miners from Kai Province dug under the castle walls, allowing men under Ii Naomasa to enter.

After three months, the Hōjō surrendered, facing overwhelming numbers and, presumably, an impending shortage of food and supplies. Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Hideyoshi's top generals, was given the Hōjō lands. Though Hideyoshi could not have guessed it at the time, this would turn out to be a great stepping-stone towards Tokugawa's attempts at conquest and the office of Shōgun.

In addition to taking Odawara Castle, Hideyoshi also defeated the Hōjō at their outposts at Hachiōji, Yorii, and Shizuoka in and near the southwestern part of the Kantō region. The Chiba, allies of the Hōjō in Shimōsa, also saw Sakura Castle fall to Honda Tadakatsu and Sakai Ietsugu of the Tokugawa army during the campaign. Chiba Shigetane, daimyō of the Chiba, surrendered the castle to the besieging forces on the condition that his clan would not be abolished. While the Chiba were consequently divested of all of their holdings, many of their senior members were taken into service by Tokugawa retainer Ii Naomasa, thanks to aid he had received many years earlier from the clan during the occupation of Takeda Katsuyori's Tsutsujigasaki castle.The tea master Yamanoue Sōji was at the service of the Odawara lords. He was sentenced to death in a tortuous way.

Steve Bingham (bassist)

Steve Bingham (born 4 April 1949, Solihull, Warwickshire) is a bass guitarist who joined the worldwide chart topping UK band The Foundations in 1969 - replacing their former bass player - and stayed with them until their break-up in 1970.He played on the 1972 Ennismore album by Colin Blunstone, on the 1974 Anymore for Anymore album by Ronnie Lane, and the 1976 album Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms) by Kevin Westlake. Steve also toured with Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance in "The Passing Show", which took a huge circus tent on the road with dancing girls, fire eaters, clowns and a general assortment of circus people.

In 1999, because of the popularity of the film There's Something About Mary, the renewed interest in '"Build Me Up Buttercup" and The Foundations, a version of the band reformed with Colin Young on vocals, Alan Warner on guitar, Bingham on bass, and Gary Moberley on keyboards, etc. The group stayed together for a period of time seeing a change of the lead singer with Hue Montgomery replacing Colin Young.In recent years Bingham has been a member of Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band as well as the "Reformed but Unrepentant" reunion edition of Slim Chance with original Slim Chance members Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson.

The Fire-Eaters

The Fire-Eaters is an award winning children's novel by David Almond, published in 2003.

Vortex ring

A vortex ring, also called a toroidal vortex, is a torus-shaped vortex in a fluid or gas; that is, a region where the fluid mostly spins around an imaginary axis line that forms a closed loop. The dominant flow in a vortex ring is said to be toroidal, more precisely poloidal.

Vortex rings are plentiful in turbulent flows of liquids and gases, but are rarely noticed unless the motion of the fluid is revealed by suspended particles—as in the smoke rings which are often produced intentionally or accidentally by smokers. Fiery vortex rings are also a commonly produced trick by fire eaters. Visible vortex rings can also be formed by the firing of certain artillery, in mushroom clouds, and in microbursts.A vortex ring usually tends to move in a direction that is perpendicular to the plane of the ring and such that the inner edge of the ring moves faster forward than the outer edge. Within a stationary body of fluid, a vortex ring can travel for relatively long distance, carrying the spinning fluid with it.

William Lowndes Yancey Law Office

The William Lowndes Yancey Law Office is located at the corner of Washington and Perry Streets in Montgomery, Alabama. It served as the law offices for one of the South's leading advocates of secession from the United States, William Lowndes Yancey, from 1846 until his death in 1863. He joined with John A. Elmore to form a legal firm after his resignation from Congress on 1 September 1846. Yancey wrote Alabama's Ordinance of Secession after the election of Abraham Lincoln and subsequently served as the Confederacy's Commissioner to England and France.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was also declared a National Historic Landmark on 7 November 1973. The building's interior included the historic floor plan and other decorative details when it was declared a landmark. The late 1970s brought redevelopment of the site and the building was altered, this caused substantial losses to enough of the historic elements that the landmark designation was withdrawn on 5 March 1986. The building remains on the National Register of Historic Places, however.As a lawyer, populist legislator, firebrand orator, and party leader, William Lowndes Yancey was an important figure in sectional politics in the leadup to the Civil War. As one of the leading Southern Fire-Eaters, he gained national influence as an aggressive advocate of Slavery and States' Rights and exacerbated sectional differences that led to the secession of the Southern states from the Union. He had his law office in this building from 1846 until his death in 1863. Through successive modernizations and restorations in the 1970s and 1980s, the building lost much of the historic integrity for which it was originally designated a landmark, leading to the withdrawal of its designation. It was, however, retained on the National Register of Historic Places.

William Porcher Miles

William Porcher Miles (July 4, 1822 – May 11, 1899) was among the ardent states' rights advocates, supporters of slavery, and Southern secessionists who came to be known as the "Fire-Eaters." He is notable for having designed the most popular variant of the Confederate flag, originally rejected as the national flag in 1861 but adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee before it was reincorporated.

Born in South Carolina, he showed little early interest in politics, and his early career included the study of law and a tenure as a mathematics professor at the Charleston College from 1843 to 1855. In the late 1840s, as sectional issues roiled South Carolina politics, Miles began to speak up on sectional issues. He opposed both the Wilmot Proviso and the Compromise of 1850. From then on, Miles would look at any northern efforts to restrict slavery as justification for secession.

Miles was elected as mayor of Charleston in 1855 and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1857 until South Carolina seceded, in December 1860. He was a member of the state secession convention and a representative from South Carolina at the Confederate Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, which established the provisional government and constitution for the Confederate States. He represented his state in the Confederate House of Representatives during the American Civil War.


¡Tchkung! was a band from Seattle, Washington who blended guerrilla theater, "tribal" drumming, and punk ethics. Their live performances included multiple drummers, violin, didgeridoo, and electric bass, all played to fire breathers and fire eaters, body piercing, and other theatrical scenes. Often compared to Crash Worship, or Crass, the band has been described as "industrial", though "post-industrial" might be more accurate. The band became well known for the conclusions of their shows, which occasionally ended in police raids (such as in Eugene), riots (particularly Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival in 1994,) and street parades in which audience members were encouraged to participate. After the break-up of the band, members (including Wilson and Filastine) went on to form the political marching band Infernal Noise Brigade. (managed by David Meinert)

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