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The Death of a Fire-Eater

William Lowndes Yancey (born August 10, 1814, died July 27, 1863) was a journalist who went on to fame, or infamy, as a politician, orator, and diplomat. He spent years as one of the chief leaders of the Southern secession movement to protect slavery as an institution. A member of the group known as the Fire-Eaters, Yancey was one of the most active proponents of secession and defenders of slavery.

Yancey, sometimes referred to as the “Orator of Secession”, had the ability to hold large audiences under his spell. At the 1860 Democratic National Convention, Yancey, a leading opponent of Stephen A. Douglas and the concept of popular sovereignty, played a critical role in splitting the party into Northern and Southern factions.

The Fire-Eaters:  Pushing an agenda of secessionism in the South, the Fire-Eaters embodied the high level of sectionalism found in the U.S. during the 1850s. As early as 1850, there was a movement made up of pro-slavery extremists who made it their goal 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 their foes. A decade before the Civil War, the Fire-Eaters were urging southern secession, citing irrevocable differences between the North and South. The groups further inflamed passions by using extensive propaganda against the North.

Death of William L. Yancey

William Lowndes Yancey, whose death is announced from Richmond, was born in Columbia, S.C. in 1815, but at an early age removed to Alabama, Where he served in the legislature, and was in 1844, elected to Congress,serving for two terms, voting in 1845 for the admission of Texas.

William Lowndes Yancey

William Lowndes Yancey

In the National Democratic Convention in 1848 he nominated Mr. Cass (Lewis Cass) for the Presidency. From that time forward he was a leader of the extreme Southern party, always advocating state rights and favoring secession. He was among the seceding delegates to the Charleston Convention, and subsequently warmly advocated the election of Brookenridge.

He was among the principal originators of the rebellion, and as a member of the Alabama Convention reported the ordinance of secession, which was passed January 14th, 1861.

In February following he was sent to Europe to present the claims of the rebels to recognition at the hands of the Great Powers (of Europe). In February of last year he came home and entered the rebel Congress as a senator from Alabama.

Death of William L. Yancey in the Liberator

Death of William L. Yancey in the Liberator

Collection: The Liberator
Date: 1863-08-14
Title: Death of William L. Yancey

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