From the Richmond Whig, 6/20/1865, p. 2, c. 5
SUICIDE OF EDMUND RUFFIN, SR. – The community will be shocked beyond measure to learn that the venerable Edmund Ruffin, Sr., of Virginia, who, for a great number of years, had occupied a high place in the public estimation, has terminated his own life by violence. The facts in our possession up to this writing are meagre, but those facts are sufficient to warrant us in saying that the deed was committed on Saturday last, at the residence of deceased’s son, Edmund Ruffin, Jr., about 27 miles this side of Danville.
It is now said that Mr. Ruffin’s mind had been very perceptibly affected since the evacuation of Richmond and the surrender of the Confederate armies. For a week previous to terminating his life, Mr. Ruffin kept his chamber, busily employed in writing what subsequently turned out to be a history of his political life. He also wrote letters, and in one of them he left directions as to the disposal of his body. He bathed himself, put on clean under and outer clothing, and directed that his body should be buried in the habiliments he had put on, without shroud or coffin. He then seated himself in a chair, put a loaded musket to his mouth, and, leaning back, struck the trigger with his hickory stick. The first cap did not explode, and he replaced it by another, which discharged the musket, the charge of ball and buck blowing off the crown of the venerable old gentleman’s head and scattering his brains and snowy hair against the ceiling of the room. When the family, alarmed by the report, reached Mr. Ruffin’s room, he was found lying back in his chair, the gun leaning against him, and life gone. A paragraph in the letter left for the perusal of family and friends explained the tragic deed. It reads: “I cannot survive the loss of the liberties of my country.”
Mr. Ruffin was very aged – perhaps eighty years of age – and brooding over the troubles of the times, the war and its results, no doubt unhinged his mind and caused a derangement of his once strong and vigorous faculties.
Mr. Ruffin, though a politician of the old school, never held any office of distinction. He was eminently an agriculturalist, and wrote much on the development of Virginia’s resources. He was proud of his State and always defended her good name. He was at one time, years ago, President of the Agricultural Society of Virginia, and published the “Farmers’ Register,” at Petersburg – a paper devoted to farming interests.