Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Art

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Thomas Brown

Abstract

In 1960 the South Carolina Confederate War Centennial Commission sponsored a reenactment of the 1860 secession convention as the keystone event for state observances of the Civil War Centennial. Local organizations such as the Richland Country Historical Society and WIS Television produced the reenactment, which featured politicians like Strom Thurmond and George Bell Timmerman in leading roles as secession delegates. The pageant had three live showings, and a televised version of the reenactment aired on WIS-TV, which broadcast the program across the state. Following the production’s open-circuit broadcast, the SC Educational Television Center continued broadcasting it in state public schools between 1961 and 1966. Although the pageant in many ways hearkened back to similar programs in style and subject matter, the composition of the pageant and its historiographical underpinnings represented a departure from authoritative historical interpretations of secession and the Civil War promoted by South Carolina historians. By employing the rhetoric of secession and linking it with populist white Southern resistance to the federal government in 1960, the program’s organizers used the reenactment to promote white supremacy and to reinforce white opposition to federal integration, Civil Rights, and racial equality. Furthermore, the state commission propagated this production through SCETV state educational programming.

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