South Carolinians literally had a ball last night celebrating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The secession ball, organized by the Confederate Heritage Trust — and sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans — reportedly featured a 45-minute theatrical play re-enacting the signing of the Ordinance of Secession, where South Carolina declared its intention to secede from the union.According to the event’s website, the original Ordinance of Secession was actually on full display at the event, and the South Carolina Senate’s interim president Glenn McConnell — an avid Civil War re-enactor himself — was expected to attend. The event’s dress code called for modern black tie, period formal or pre-war militia, and tickets cost $100.
The gala’s website describes it as an “EVENT OF A LIFETIME”!!! (emphasis theirs). But South Carolina NAACP president Lonnie Randolph told The State he thinks the event is more about celebration than history, and he planned on boycotting the ball. About 120 protesters marched in opposition to the event.
“We are not opposed to observances,” he said. “We are opposed to disrespect. This is nothing more than a celebration of slavery.”
Thomas Hiter, of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, appeared on Hardball last night, along with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. Hiter defended the event, called the state’s secession an “act of immense political courage” and went so far as to claim the Civil War didn’t start over slavery.
But Robinson, of course, rejected Hiter’s premise. “If it had not been for slavery, there would not have been the Civil War,” he said. “There’s no other reading of history.”
Hiter continued to sidestep any questions regarding any potential celebration of slavery, but he was sure of one thing: “Had I found myself alive in those days, I think, I hope, to pray to God, I would have fought the way my ancestors did … for the South.”
Organizers were not available to speak to TPM before the event.