Robert Barnwell Rhett (1800-1876) was born Robert Barnwell Smith in Beaufort, and changed his name legally by act of the South Carolina legislature in 1838. Elected to the state House of Representatives from 1826-1834, he served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1837-1849. On the death of John C. Calhoun, he was chosen to fill Calhoun's Senate seat. A delegate to the Secession Convention, he also represented South Carolina at the Confederate Provisional Congress in 1861, and chaired the committee which wrote the constitution of the Confederate States of America . At the end of the war he moved to St. James Parish, Louisiana. Engraving from "Harper's Weekly," 1861.
Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.