Blowback on Forrests' Pole Bearers Speech: “Unworthy of a Southern gentleman”

truthckr

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Forrest was an excellent general, but not a great supported of civil rights. I was led to understand the Forrest spent his early life buying, selling, and owning slaves. After the war not only did not believe the former slaves should be free, he believed they should be allowed to vote or have any civil rights or social or legal status. Forrest believed blacks were inferior and could never be anything but inferior. Why would anyone believe he was a racist?
You are correct, but that seems to have been the prevailing opinion of most of the white citizens of the era.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
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Dec 13, 2011
Here is what I wrote that may be causing confusion:

[Forrest's Pole-Bearers speech] is sometimes cited as proof that the former slave dealer and Klan leader “wasn’t a racist” or some similar nonsense, as if that modern term had much import in mid-19th century America.​

Let me expand a little on that, if I may.

The Pole-Bearers speech -- a single event from near the end of Forrest's life -- is sometimes cited as evidence of his warm and generous nature toward African Americans, and great respect for them as a group. It is, in fact, sometimes cited as a direct refutation that Forrest was "racist," or as evidence that he was, in fact, a pioneering civil rights advocate for African Americans:

Nathan Bedford Forrest Racist? Read On
http://www.nathanbedfordforrest.net/

Memphis' first White Civil Rights Advocate
http://www.scv-kirby-smith.org/forrest civil right.htm

General Nathan Bedford Forrest - the first true civil rights leader
http://www.southernheritage411.com/truehistory.php?th=039

Earlier in this thread, @truthckr suggested that at the close of his life, Forrest was trying to make amends for earlier actions in his life. I don't disagree with that, although I think there were other, more proximate reasons for his making that speech, at that time. Regardless, the Pole-Bearers address reflects at best a change in attitude, perhaps a religious conversion, that occurred in Forrest's last years. It doesn't change anything that had gone before, or say anything about the Nathan Bedford Forrest of 1850, 1860, or 1870. The Forrest who gave the Pole-Bearers speech is simply not the Forrest of Forrest & Maples, or the Wizard of the Saddle, or the Imperial Wizard. That's why I say that using the Pole-Bearers speech to "prove" Forrest's beneficent attitude toward African Americans is simply "nonsense."

Finally, I think it would improve the discourse around the events of the Civil War era if we stopped trying to show that this or that person (Forrest, Lincoln, Lee, Sherman, whatever) was "racist," because that's a modern term that could legitimately be applied to virtually everyone. It's darn-near useless as a label for people 150 years ago; what's far more instructive is to focus on what they said and did, and make assessments based on that.
 
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Joined
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For good and bad, the Civil War profoundly changed the nation, and the people in the nation, and how and what they thought inside their heads. One of the most common reactions to the war was the sense that everything had changed, and that people were living in a different place then they had been before the war. Forrest, and his entire generation, white and black, north and south, were in a different place. Not always a better place, or the right place or the best place, but certainly different.
 

Nathanb1

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Regardless, the Pole-Bearers address reflects at best a change in attitude, perhaps a religious conversion, that occurred in Forrest's last years. It doesn't change anything that had gone before, or say anything about the Nathan Bedford Forrest of 1850, 1860, or 1870. The Forrest who gave the Pole-Bearers speech is simply not the Forrest of Forrest & Maples, or the Wizard of the Saddle, or the Imperial Wizard. That's why I say that using the Pole-Bearers speech to "prove" Forrest's beneficent attitude toward African Americans is simply "nonsense."

Again, I have a problem with folks trying to put their own spin on history(not Andy, just for the record). I'm fairly happy with the idea that he was aware he was close to the end. I will say, the article Andy turned up does reflect the sort of thing I would have expected with his speech...lots of condemnation--behind his back and from a distance, but condemnation nonetheless. To me, the fact that he showed up and made the speech is pretty amazing. Show me another person with his track record who did anything even close to it. I guess I appreciate that as much as anything.
 

JerseyBart

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Again, I have a problem with folks trying to put their own spin on history(not Andy, just for the record). I'm fairly happy with the idea that he was aware he was close to the end. I will say, the article Andy turned up does reflect the sort of thing I would have expected with his speech...lots of condemnation--behind his back and from a distance, but condemnation nonetheless. To me, the fact that he showed up and made the speech is pretty amazing. Show me another person with his track record who did anything even close to it. I guess I appreciate that as much as anything.

His change of mind/heart may have come late in life, but that says a lot about and for him. He changed. Some died never having changed their mind or heart and passed the same bigoted attitudes and opinions down to their descendants and so on.
 

Nathanb1

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There's a lot about Forrest's later years, especially the summer of 1875, that's difficult to completely get one's head around. Forrest was many things, but a two-dimensional caricature is not one of them. It ain't simple, y'all.

Thus the reason we're still talking about him. I'm into interesting. :smile:
 

Terry6400

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Terry, Andy and I often disagree but since I've been here following his posts and reading his stuff I can say without reservation that he is a first class historian with an penchant for accuracy regardless of whose ox gets gored. He is not anti-Confederate per se but demands from others the same thing he strives to achieve, historical accuracy. My advice is to stay, read and learn and to tone down the rhetoric a tad. You'll enjoy it better.
CMWinkler, I too have followed Andy's post, both here, and on his "Dead Confederates" blog. If you think Andy's evidence is conclusive of true history, then you AND Andy needs a lesson on admissible evidence.

My words are not meant to be rhetoric or inflammatory. Inadmissible evidence must be challenged for what it is - false. Southerners can no longer allow Union sympathizers, or book writer/historians want-to-be, to write their false version of southern history with impunity. For the past 150 years, too many southerners have been brainwashed with the northern version of the War for Southern Independence.

I cannot accept words on a blog or images from a second or third source, such as Andy's links contain, as evidence of truth. I believe Andy knows his evidence is false and inadmissible. As such, I believe he only posted here to inflame the southern reader, and defame the Confederate solders’ good name. Andy is gloating over the fact that someone must have been mad. Andy exact quote, “Geez. Sounds like they were mad, huh?”

What people call American History is really Yankee history written by New Englanders glorifying the North. To the victor goes the spoils. The Victor in the war for Southern Independence was the North. They claimed the right to force their point of view of the war on all Americans.

To do this the North in the past 150 years, used persecution, destruction, theft of personal property, kidnapping, rapine and murder of southern women, and a total disregard for the Constitution. They created a very powerful myth, and a huge centralized government bureaucracy that has completely destroyed democracy and freedom in America.

The myth that the Yankee invader used and still uses to justify their invasion of the South was to free the slaves. A bold face lie. Southern history taught in all the schools, then and now, is just a recitation of the North's justification for invasion. Northern history taught in Southern schools has the Southern children, calling the Northern invaders saviors and the Southern defenders traitors.

President Jefferson Davis predicted if the North won the war they would re-write history to cover up all their crimes. He was right!

In my opinion Andy Hall falls squarely within that category, and his latest post is just another example of defaming the South and the Confederate soldier. My honor and my memory of my fifteen (15) Confederate ancestors, none of which ever owned a slave, will allow it to continue.
 

AUG

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Forrest was an excellent general, but not a great supported of civil rights. I was led to understand the Forrest spent his early life buying, selling, and owning slaves. After the war not only did not believe the former slaves should be free, he believed they should be allowed to vote or have any civil rights or social or legal status. Forrest believed blacks were inferior and could never be anything but inferior. Why would anyone believe he was a racist?
Forrest did however offer 47 of his slaves to stay with him during the war and he realized and told them that either way they would be free. During an interview after the war with the Cincinnati Commercial, Forrest was quoted as saying: “ When I entered the army I took forty-seven Negroes into the army with me, and forty-five of them were surrendered with me. I told these boys that this war was about slavery, and if we lose, you will be made free. If we whip the fight and you stay with me you will be made free. Either way you will be freed. These boys stayed with me, drove my teams, and better confederates did not live”.
 
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Diana9

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Read the other speeches for context, if you can find them.

I came across the newspaper extract which printed all the speeches, including Forrest's, but I haven't been able to find it again. Most of the speeches, as I recall, were to encourage blacks to vote for southern whites, with assurances that they had their best interests at heart. My impression was that it was a bit of a snow job.
 
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JerseyBart

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Terry6400,
if you disagree with someones post by all means debate it using sources and historical evidence...But, to say that the history written about the war was all written by Northeners is just plain wrong from almost the day the war ended Southern authors were writing books on it...
Lost Cause "rational" and a red pen taken to history...
 

brass napoleon

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What people call American History is really Yankee history written by New Englanders glorifying the North. To the victor goes the spoils. The Victor in the war for Southern Independence was the North. They claimed the right to force their point of view of the war on all Americans.

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how tired I am of this lame, tired old platitude and excuse. :nah disagree:

Post some evidence to support your lame excuses, or be discredited. Your choice.
 

jgoodguy

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Andy’s posted image of the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle, July 31, 1875 is not real evidence of hatred and racism, or that someone is even mad about Forrest’s speech? Fake is what I call it, without references. The supplied image is not even good forgery work, and the content surely does not portray Gen. Forrest's attitude toward black folks. Andy accepts one single incident of a fake newspaper article purporting to be from the Survivor’s Association of the Cavalry of the Confederate States as absolute proof of racism, or that someone is mad, but refuses to consider the one single incident of Forrest's behavior where he shows kindness to a black child.


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Nathanb1

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There's a lot about Forrest's later years, especially the summer of 1875, that's difficult to completely get one's head around. Forrest was many things, but a two-dimensional caricature is not one of them. It ain't simple, y'all.

I think you were just promoted to the quotes thread. That becomes more appealing to me the more I look at it.
 

AndyHall

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I also found this, from the Pulaski, Tennessee Citizen of July 22, 1875, that also expresses dissatisfaction with Forrest's actions at the Pole-Bearers meeting. Reconstruction-era Pulaski is infamous for being. . . well, never mind what Reconstruction-era Pulaski is infamous for.

Anyway, the first graf here is repeating from another paper, and the second is the Pulaski Citizen's editorial comment:

The Washington Republican and its neighbor, the Chronicle, have both abused Gen. Forrest bitterly, in past years, for not "fraternizing" with the negroes [sic.] and treating them as "men and brethren." Now, when Forrest goes to a negro picnic, fraternizes to the extent that he makes a pretty speech to the "colored ladies" and tells his audience that he wants to get nearer to them, these singularly contradictory papers abuse him for his friendly attitude to the negro and denounce him as a hypocrite. -- Courier Journal.

Which is evidence to our mind that the Republican and the Chronicle are learning some sense, even though it be at the expense of consistency. We thing Gen. Forrest transcended the limits of propriety, at least, in his gushing speech to the color ladies on the 4th. It was ridiculous.​

Not as condemnatory as the Survivor's Association, but not on board with the whole racial-group-hug thing, for sure. :O o:
 
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AndyHall

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The editors of the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle (which later published the resolution of the Confederate Survivor's Association) seem to have been made dyspeptic by the Pole Bearer address. July 9, 1875, p. 2:

Hands were very severely shaken across the bloody chasm [1] in Memphis last Monday. At the celebration of the Fourth-fifth in that city General Forrest, the man who captured Foot Pillow and the reputed head of the Ku-Klux-Klan in the South, was guest of the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers, a colored organization in that city which has been the cause of much trouble and has precipitated several riots. "President Henley" of the Pole Bearers, introduced "Miss Lou Lewis," who, as the "representative of the colored ladies," addressed him as "Mr. Forrest" and presented him with a bouquet "as a token of reconciliation, and an offering f peace and goodwill." "Mr. Forrest" accepted the flowers "as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the South," and accepted it "more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one in God's earth who loves the ladies it is myself." General, or should we say "Mr." [Gideon] Pillow, after whom the fort was named, was also present with newspaper editors and other distinguished citizens, and Mr. Pillow made a speech. We believe the climax has been reached now and Gabriel may blow his horn [2] without fear that anyone will be left. Very great progress has been made in the hand shaking business we must confess and we beg leave to cry a halt. Will somebody pass around the ipecac?

_______

[1] This is a sarcastic reference to Horace Greeley's 1872 presidential campaign, in which he called for an end to Reconstruction and argued that "the masses of our countrymen, North and South, are eager to clasp hands across the bloody chasm which has too long divided them. . . ." Republican cartoonists like Thomas Nast used that phrase to devastating effect.

[2] When the Bible says the Lord will return to earth; i.s., the end of the world.
 
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unionblue

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CMWinkler, I too have followed Andy's post, both here, and on his "Dead Confederates" blog. If you think Andy's evidence is conclusive of true history, then you AND Andy needs a lesson on admissible evidence.

My words are not meant to be rhetoric or inflammatory. Inadmissible evidence must be challenged for what it is - false. Southerners can no longer allow Union sympathizers, or book writer/historians want-to-be, to write their false version of southern history with impunity. For the past 150 years, too many southerners have been brainwashed with the northern version of the War for Southern Independence.

I cannot accept words on a blog or images from a second or third source, such as Andy's links contain, as evidence of truth. I believe Andy knows his evidence is false and inadmissible. As such, I believe he only posted here to inflame the southern reader, and defame the Confederate solders’ good name. Andy is gloating over the fact that someone must have been mad. Andy exact quote, “Geez. Sounds like they were mad, huh?”

What people call American History is really Yankee history written by New Englanders glorifying the North. To the victor goes the spoils. The Victor in the war for Southern Independence was the North. They claimed the right to force their point of view of the war on all Americans.

To do this the North in the past 150 years, used persecution, destruction, theft of personal property, kidnapping, rapine and murder of southern women, and a total disregard for the Constitution. They created a very powerful myth, and a huge centralized government bureaucracy that has completely destroyed democracy and freedom in America.

The myth that the Yankee invader used and still uses to justify their invasion of the South was to free the slaves. A bold face lie. Southern history taught in all the schools, then and now, is just a recitation of the North's justification for invasion. Northern history taught in Southern schools has the Southern children, calling the Northern invaders saviors and the Southern defenders traitors.

President Jefferson Davis predicted if the North won the war they would re-write history to cover up all their crimes. He was right!

In my opinion Andy Hall falls squarely within that category, and his latest post is just another example of defaming the South and the Confederate soldier. My honor and my memory of my fifteen (15) Confederate ancestors, none of which ever owned a slave, will allow it to continue.


Terry6400,

Bunk. Opinion. Slander. Insult.

And **** little else, sir.

Present your evidence on your bunk, opinion, slander and insults or simply state that's the best you can do.

Oh, and one more thing...

YAWN.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

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