Talk:Nathan Bedford Forrest

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The Posthumous Legacy sections seems a little POV. More specifically the sentence "Propaganda controversy still surrounds his actions at Fort Pillow perpetuated by those who ignore the facts of the incident, and his reputation has been marred by disproven allegations regarding his supposed leadership role in the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan," seems to be slanted in Forrest's favor. The following sentence, "His remarkably changed views on race in his later years were quickly forgotten as Forrest erroneously became an icon for the Klan and holdout racist Southerners who mistakenly believed Forrest to have been a scion of racism and segregation," seems to imply that the writer knows for a fact or at least has overwhelming evidence that Forrest wasn't a racist. I don't want to label him a racist, but trying to paint him as a pro-Union, pro-black saint is a little a ridiculous. The man sold slaves and later fought in the Civil War to defend his livlihood, and later still made public statements praising the KKK. Eno-Etile 03:53, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

I will humbly submit the following. Nathan Bedford Forrest brought a number of his personal slaves with him to the war, with the promise that if they volunteered to fight and stayed by him through the war, he would free them as well as pay them. They did stay with him through the war, excepting casualties. N.B.F. was also elected the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but this was several years after the klan became a fraternal organization for confederate veterans after the war. The Klan has existed in 3 different guises, the first klan was established according to it's charter with only one purpose: entertainment, the only method available by the first laws was hazing new members. This Klan became unpopular as the reins of political control in Tennessee were handed over entirely to Unionist Tennesseeans when the war ended. Nathan Bedford Forrest in his capacity of Grand Wizard of the National KKK disbanded this first Klan, the next time history saw the KKK in the early 1900's, it was running the state of Indiana. I feel that the automatic demonizing of the antebellum south and it's major figures is no longer needed in our progressive age, but the many years of slanted history may never give a truly accurate account of what was, in it's basic form, people living in the old south who lost a war with the United States.

I will submit that my touch-ups will be subtle, unslanted, and well referenced. Feel free to keep me extra honest... L0stUs3r (talk) 07:02, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. Currently reading Battles and Leaders, written shortly after the war by the generals (majors, colonels, captains, etc.) who fought in it. When I compare what was written by the participants to way it's portrayed in history books now, it's like night and day. This whole section of history has been made into a one-dimensional mockery, where the only issue is slavery, the South is evil and bad and it's a good thing the just and heroic North won. Slavery wasn't the only, or even the main issue, the southern states believed they would be allowed to leave the union peacefully, and the North was as racist (if not more so) as the South.

The previous poster is correct, we can't keep white-washing history forever (victors' "justice"?). Enough time has passed, we should be able to start to take a more objective/rational view of Civil War History in the US.

BTW: Many comments here imply that labeling someone a racist is bad - or that being a racist is bad. It's just some people's belief. Judging it as bad, isn't that very POV? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:53, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

fact - forrest was a liar and a murderer and a war criminal - wikipedia does not allow that to be written — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:09, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

Just got back from Selma this weekend. Statue, bust, what have you, is definitely up and running. Somebody should probably edit the entry to reflect that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:35, 31 May 2015 (UTC)


You can't fault pro-Forrest websites for being biased and then fill the article with suggestions that he was an irredeemable racist and only cite sources which have a clear and obvious bias AGAINST Forrest. It is not for Wikipedia to pay historical figures back over perceived sins which do not have strong historical support. If you want this to remain "Wikipinion" or "Wikigossip" keep doing this kind of thing...I don't think it's credible in the shape that this site is in to suggest that this is any kind of credible encyclopedia...I wonder if this entire think is a help or hindrance based on how many rumors and outright lies are passed off to millions as fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Contradiction regarding KKK[edit]

The article states both that General Forrest was an active participant in the establishment and early years of the KKK. However it also states that no evidence exists that Forrest indeed had anything to do with the KKK. You can't have it both ways. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kadel (talkcontribs) 15:49, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Forrest's role as a KKK leader is sourced to a reliable, secondary source. The lede contained an unsourced quote as well as the allegations that he was somehow cleared by Congress -- in the body of the article this claim (but not the quote) is sourced to some 400+ pages of congressional testimony, but does not provide an exact quote or any reliable, secondary source that summarizes the significance of this testimony. Since Forrest's role in the KKK is widely reported in reliable secondary sources, I have removed the contradictory material from the lede. This article has been tagged for lack of citations for over a year and it is abou time that some of this stuff be deleted until it is properly sourced. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 16:49, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Forrest was leader of the "original KKK" which he dissolved. Others later created a "new KKK" which had no link to Forrest. Edison (talk) 03:29, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
But he was elected as leader without his knowledge. That does not really make him a Klan leader. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
The article states that he had no formal involvement with the KKK at any stage, yet also claims that he "dissolved the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1869". Both cannot be correct.Royalcourtier (talk) 05:21, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

KKK Membership[edit]

I just read an interesting article by Dr. Michael R. Bradley, and in it he claims that to this day there is no conclusive proof as to Forrest's membership in the KKK, therefore it is a conclusory statement without evidence to say that he was a member. He went on to say that at the time he supposedly joined Tennessee had been readmitted to the Union, thus had less of a personal reason to join. He also stated that part of the reason he might not have joined because he was too obvious of a leader. Dr. Bradley never denied that Forrest was a member, but argued that there was no conclusive evidence of it. He also noted that another reason for lack of proof was that the early Klan did not keep written records, therefore it would be hard to confirm his alleged membership. Dr. Bradley also stated that the closest thing to proof was a statement in an appendix of The Artillery of Nathan Bedford Forrest that he inducted Forrest into the Klan, but the book was written decades after the event supposedly happened, it was written in a time when the Klan was popular and Morton may have wished to bolster Forrest's reputation, and it seems to be inspired by an article written by Rev. Thomas Dixon, the same person who authored The Clansman. Given all of this information, shouldn't the article say in its introduction that, "it is believed that Forrest was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and served as it's Grand Wizard for a time, but he denied membership and later distanced himself from the Klan" rather than definitively saying that he was a member? Emperor001 (talk) 18:58, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Link to article? If Bradley is reputable in the field (extraordinary claim) and/or is rebutted or evaluated by a peer in some way, then this should definitely be included in some way ("There may not be absolute proof of his involvement.[cite]", for example). Otherwise, his claim at least needs to be fact-checked before being footnoted. SamuelRiv (talk) 23:59, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Okay. I'd have to do more research on him which I may do when I get some spare time. I was at first a little skeptical if the article met the reliable source requirement because I read it in the latest issue of the "Confederate Veteran" and while that does not automatically make it unreliable, I was wary if the article would meet the non-POV standard. I did a brief google search on him which confirms what the magazine said about Dr. Bradley, that he is a professor of American history, but if anyone who knows more about him can confirm that he is enough of an expert to confirm that this article is reliable that would be great; if not then I will do more research when I get the chance. Emperor001 (talk) 20:24, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

A mention of this article had already made its way into this page, though in an odd spot. After some digging I've taken it out, though. Dr. Michael Bradley does seem to be a historian of the civil war, but all his publications are mass-market books and he doesn't seem to have any academic publications or citations where other academic historians evaluate his claims. I found a link to his article [1] from a Sons of the Confederate Veterans page [2]. I'll note Bradley is not just a life member of the SCV but a former commander of the Tennessee Division. In reading his article, he makes a much stronger claim than what was described here, namely:

For example, Forrest is damned as a slave trader, as a plantation owner, and for his action in "massacring" the USCT at Fort Pillow. None of these things are examined in terms of accuracy or discussed in a historical perspective; these things are thought to be bad by people of the 21st Century; therefore, they must be bad and anyone who says otherwise is wrong and, perhaps, a racist.

In short, his article is a long attempt to rehabilitate Forrest's image by accusing the entire body of historical work about him of being biased by moral "presentism". Considering the context (an extraordinary claim, published in a popular magazine, no reviews by other historians, published by an organization with neoconfederate leanings by a prominent member) I had POV concerns and took it out. Metadox (talk) 01:46, 16 May 2014 (UTC)


Nathan Bedford Forest WAS the first "Grand Wizard" of the Klu Klux Klan. I do not see this man's reputation and legacy as anything but the head of this country's first terrorist organization.shyjayb 09:09, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

There is no proof to your statement whatsoever. I for one would like to see you provide documentation to validate your claim. The article and statements attributed to him (1868) were quickly and repeatedly refuted by Forrest himself shortly after the Cincinnati article and for years afterward. No credible witness has ever been documented proving his membership, let alone as the 'First' Grand Wizard or leader of any kind. Both the reporter for the paper, who fabricated statements, and the then Governor and later Senator from Tennessee, William Brownlow lied in print. Brownlow lied and distorted the record repeatedly, both in the Senate and through his newspaper. He was so radicalized and corrupt that a 1982 survey of 50 Tennessee historians voted him the worst Governor in the States history. He also is one of the most hated men in the States history. I implore you to research the newspapers of the time (1865-1872 for starters) as well as the Congressional records concerning the Select Committee hearings into the Klan. It is unfortunate that so many figures or events in our history have been so corrupted by hate and bias that ignorance has become truly, bliss. JMP — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:46, 3 July 2015 (UTC)