Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust

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For the statue in Nashville, see Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue. For the statue in Memphis, see Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument.

Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust
ArtistLoura Jane Herndon Baxendale
Completion date1978
LocationNashville, Tennessee, United States
Coordinates36°9′57″N 86°47′3″W / 36.16583°N 86.78417°W / 36.16583; -86.78417Coordinates: 36°9′57″N 86°47′3″W / 36.16583°N 86.78417°W / 36.16583; -86.78417

The Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust is a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest that is displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.


In 1973 Douglas Henry, the Democratic member of the Tennessee Senate for Nashville, proposed a resolution to install a bust of General Forrest in the state capitol; this passed on April 13, 1973.[1] He has been considered a Southern hero of the American Civil War because of his daring military exploits. In contemporary times, some observers have been more troubled by his leadership of the Ku Klux Klan after the war and his pre-war career as a slave trader, when he made a fortune.[1]

Fundraising for the bust was from the sale of 24" x 30" reproductions of a Forrest portrait at the Travellers Rest, a historic plantation in the Nashville area.[1] The portrait by Joy Garner had been commissioned in 1973 for Travellers Rest by the Joseph E. Johnston camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[1] The bust was designed by Loura Jane Herndon Baxendale, whose husband was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[1] It was installed in the capitol on November 5, 1978.[1]


On the day of the bust's dedication, numerous African Americans protested at the capitol.[1] More protests were organized by Black Tennesseans for Action in February 1979 after they were unsuccessful in gaining a meeting with Governor Lamar Alexander to discuss the issue.[1] That month, the bust was "damaged after someone struck it in the head with a blunt object". Soon after, two crosses were burned in Nashville, a symbolic intimidation associated with the historic Ku Klux Klan; one of the crosses was burned outside the NAACP headquarters.[1] In October 1980, "Tex Moore, grand dragon of the Tennessee chapter of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and others held a news conference in front of the bust."[1]

In the wake of the 2015 Charleston church shooting, in which nine African Americans were murdered by a young white supremacist, Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper and state Representative Craig Fitzhugh suggested Forrest's bust should be removed from the Tennessee capitol.[2] Republican Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker also agreed.[1][2] However, its removal was postponed.[2]

After the violence of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Governor Bill Haslam explicitly called for removal of the bust from the capitol, while Senator Corker suggested it should be moved to the Tennessee State Museum.[3] But the Capitol Commission oversees elements of maintaining the complex. Composed of Secretary of State Tre Hargett, State Treasurer David Lillard, and Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, the Commission voted to reject the removal.[3][4] Governor Haslam said that he was "very disappointed" with this decision.[5]

In December 2017 a legislative bill was proposed to relocate the bust to the Tennessee State Museum.[6]

In January 2019 the members of the State Capitol Commission turned down a request to remove the bust by a 7 to 5 vote.[7]

At the end of January, 2019 a group of Tennessee college students arrived at the Tennessee State capitol to request of newly elected Governor Bill Lee that the bust be removed. State troopers did not allow the students to see the governor because they did not have an appointment, but they did manage to meet with a representative from his office.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ebert, Joel (August 18, 2017). "Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the Tennessee Capitol: What you need to know". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Boucher, Dave (July 17, 2015). "State delays action on Nathan Bedford Forrest bust". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Buie, Jordan; Ebert, Joel (September 1, 2017). "Nathan Bedford Forrest stays in Tennessee Capitol, panel decides". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  4. ^ "Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust Will Not be Removed from State Capitol". WGNS. September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  5. ^ Buie, Jordan (September 5, 2017). "Gov. Bill Haslam disappointed in Capitol Commission decision on Nathan Bedford Forrest bust". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  6. ^ =Natalie Allison; Dave Boucher (December 15, 2017). "Bill filed to relocate Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from state capitol to Tennessee State Museum". The Tennessean.
  7. ^ Mojica, Adrian (1 September 2017). "Tenn. State Capitol Commission votes down removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust". WLOS.
  8. ^ "Students ask Governor to remove bust from capitol". WTVF. 31 January 2019.