Southern Gov.’s Skip Confederate Funeral
AP, Apr. 13
Fourteen Southern governors were invited to this weekend’s ceremonial burial of the crew of a sunken Confederate submarine, but none plans to attend.
Most of the governors cited scheduling conflicts, but some observers say they may be wary of the political implications of attending an event expected to draw thousands of Confederate re-enactors.
“A historian might be attracted to this event without any consequences. An elected governor would probably get some criticism for attending. It’s inevitable,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
The hand-cranked Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship, went down Feb. 17, 1864, and was recovered nearly four years ago. Remains of the eight-man crew will be buried Saturday following a five-mile procession through Charleston.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was among those who declined the invitation, citing a conflict with his Air Force Reserve duty. A spokesman said Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer will attend instead.
The Rev. Joseph Darby, vice president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, did not think it would hurt Sanford politically if he attended.
“It would be a matter of personal preference, so it’s totally up to him,” Darby said. “I, luckily, will be out of town this weekend, so I don’t have to even look at the TV coverage.”
Ferrel Guillory, director of the University of North Carolina’s program in Southern politics, media and public life, said this generation of Southern governors is more pragmatic than previous elected leaders, preferring to invest time in issues rather than ceremonies.
“Maybe in the '50s and '60s you could have gotten a bunch of governors together for this,” he said.