An American Political term used in the 1850s and into the 1860s – a ''Fire Eater'' was a Southern Democratic Politician who openly supported the establishment of Slavery and – in cases were it had been abolished (tacitly), revive it. The term referenced a Politicians ability to seemingly ''spilt fire'' from His mouth during His often long and filibustering speeches on Slavery and States Rights as they applied to The South. Several well known Fire Eaters were not only strongly opposed to The Lincoln Platform for President, they were seen by many as being the primary ''cause'' of The American Civil War from a political point of view.
Perhaps the ''Father'' of Fire Eaters was South Carolina Congressman John Calhoun. Long serving Congressman and Vice-President of The US, He was staunchly against the abolition of Slavery. In fact, He would use the cause of ''Succession'' as early as the 1830s, to intimidate anti-Slavery supportive Politicians. His ideology would become a ''political standard'' for South Democratic politics for many years after His death. By the late 1850s, the ''Fire Eater'' mantle was taken up and ''worn'' by a particular group of southern Politicians (mostly from South Carolina). These were Edmund Ruffin, Robert Rhett, Louis Wigfall and William Yancey. These men were seen as being the foremost in agitating and helping to establish The American Confederacy, which would ignite Civil War.