Did Nathan Bedford Forrest Order the Ku Klux Klan to Disband January 25, 1869? A Discussion of KKK General Order Number 1

Pat Young

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#1
There are many references in Forrest biographies of his ordering the disbanding of the Ku Klux Klan on January 25, 1869 in his General Order Number 1 issued in his role as Grand Wizard of the Klan. @diane provided me with a link to the order. What do you make of it? What does it say? Does it really order the Ku Klux Klan to disband:

forrest order 1.JPG
 

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jgoodguy

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#3
There are many references in Forrest biographies of his ordering the disbanding of the Ku Klux Klan on January 25, 1869 in his General Order Number 1 issued in his role as Grand Wizard of the Klan. @diane provided me with a link to the order. What do you make of it? What does it say? Does it really order the Ku Klux Klan to disband:

View attachment 226302
Based on this no, just the masks and costumes destroyed and those who insist one wearying disguise be removed from the order.
 

Pat Young

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#4
I don't know. But, what is the source of this text?
Diane supplied this link, and I screenshotted it:

https://books.google.com/books?id=fhcnmDIQOW8C&pg=PA28&dq=n+b+forrest+written+order+disbanding+klan&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiMnpyZvObfAhWbIDQIHSbaAaUQ6AEIRDAF#v=onepage&q=n b forrest written order disbanding klan&f=false

I see the order quoted in parts quite frequently, but I have had trouble finding the full order before diane sent it to me. If anyone thinks it is not accurate and can supply a different version, that would be appreciated.
 
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#7
Diane supplied this link, and I screenshotted it:

https://books.google.com/books?id=fhcnmDIQOW8C&pg=PA28&dq=n+b+forrest+written+order+disbanding+klan&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiMnpyZvObfAhWbIDQIHSbaAaUQ6AEIRDAF#v=onepage&q=n b forrest written order disbanding klan&f=false

I see the order quoted in parts quite frequently, but I have had trouble finding the full order before diane sent it to me. If anyone thinks it is not accurate and can supply a different version, that would be appreciated.
Thanks, this is food for thought. My gut reaction to anything that relies upon a "congressional investigation," is not good, but I'll chew on it and think about it.
 

diane

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#8
What I'm looking for in my files and can't find so far is the version of this order published in the Memphis Avalanche. That one was similar but worded differently and, at least to me, was clear about disbanding. So...there are two versions of this order. Neither are signed by Forrest but there is some question as to whether or not he had the authority to do that. At any rate, it's not disbanded by the order I linked to. More like let's not be obvious, and get rid of anything that will incriminate you.
 

Pat Young

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#9
The UDC endorsed book on the Klan by Mrs. S.E.F. Rose says that the Order from Forrest disbanded the Klan. Notably, however, she does not reproduce the relatively short Order, while she has a long appendix reproducing many less important Klan documented in full.
 

Pat Young

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#10
The S.E.F. Rose version, which was widely dispersed by groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, appeared in her 1914 book The Ku Klux Klan or Invisible Empire. Rose explained the purpose of her book:

THE younger generation should know the true history of the Ku Klux Klan, and have the proper respect for this organization, which did so much for the South in her dark days. Children will be told all the false things concerning it, so we should see to it that they are told the truth. Encyclopedias, books of reference, and some histories, are full of false statements about the South, and information about the South's part in the War between the States, is very meager and unsatisfactory.

Here is how she describes the disbandment:

IN February, 1869, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire, issued a Proclamation to his subjects to disband; and this strange and mysterious order having accomplished its great mission, in relieving the South from the galling yoke of Carpet-Bag rule, passed out of existence forever.

The order for disband-ment included instructions to burn all regalia and paraphernalia, banners, etc. The disbandment has been thus described: ''In Nashville, just before disbandment, the Clansman, in full Ku Klux regalia, paraded through the streets, and although the Capitol was in charge of three thousand Reconstruction Militia, and two hundred police, who were sworn to take every Ku Klux dead or alive, the boldness of the Ku Klux so dumbfounded the police, that the silent horsemen rode through the lines without being molested. Straight up Capitol Hill they marched and then down again, not a word was spoken, and once outside the city, they entered the shadows of the forest. Down its dim aisles, lit by threads of moonbeams, the horsemen slowly wound their way to the appointed place. For the last time the Chaplain led in prayer, the men disrobed, drew from each horse his white mantle, opened a grave and solemnly buried their regalia, sprinkling the folds with the ashes of their burned ritual. In this weird ceremony ended the most remarkable Revolution in m'any respects, in history. The Ku Klux Klan was born in mystery, lived in mystery, and mystery will ever shroud its grave."

Quoting from the writings of Major Lamar Fontaine, of Mississippi, "No tales of the Arabian Nights, no legend of the 'Border Land of Scotia,' nor of Richard Couer de Leon, in the land of the Moselm, when the Cross and Crescent, contended for supremacy in the Holy Crusades, can rival in heroic courage and daring, the romantic deeds of valor, performed by this mighty Invisible Army of the white men of the South. Here in all ages to come the Southern romancer and poet will find inspiration for story and song. That Invisible Army gave back to its beloved land much that she lost during four years of the bloody carnival of death, that landed upon her fair form in the early sixties. Restored the majesty and grandeur, that were hers, and that was the envy of the nations of all the world in days gone by. No nobler or grander men ever gathered on this earth than those assembled in the meeting places of the Klan. No human hearts were ever moved with nobler impulses or higher aims of purpose. The maintenance of law and order, the preservation of the home, the protection of the virtue of the noblest womanhood in all the annals of time, moved these men to action.

In the courts of this invisible, silent, and mighty government, there were no hung juries, no laws delayed, no reversals, on senseless technicalities by any Supreme Court, because from its Court there was no appeal, and punishment was sure and swift, because there was no executive to pardon.


After the negro had surrendered to the Ku Klux Klan, which he did by obeying their orders to the very letter,—for they feared that organization more than the devil and the dark regions,—the Invisible Empire vanished in a night, and has been seen no more by mortal man on this earth."
 

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#11
This book, aimed at younger white readers, was endorsed by the two major Confederate heritage organizations. It helped spread the view of the Ku Klux Klan that endured for half a century. The book was part of the early 20th Century revival of interest in the Klan and of the construction of a romantic history of the Klan. From the opening pages of the book:

THIS book is dedicated by the author to the Youth of the Southland, hoping that a perusal of its pages will inspire them with respect and admiration for the Confederate soldiers, who were the real Ku Klux, and whose deeds of •courage and valor, have never been surpassed, and rarely equalled, in the annals of history...

ENDORSEMENT: THIS Book was unanimously endorsed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, in Convention assembled at New Orleans, La., November 12-15, 1913, and co-operation pledged to endeavor to secure its adoption as a Supplementary Reader in the schools and to place it in the Libraries of our Land.

A Resolution to endorse this Book was adopted, without a dissenting voice, by the Sons of Confederate Veterans at Reunion May 6-8, 1914 at Jacksonville, Florida, and their efforts pledged to have it placed in the schools throughout the South.
 

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#12
A book written by members of the Ku Klux Klan titled Ku Klux Klan: Its Origins, Growth and Disbandment says:

The Grand Wizard had been invested with the power to determine questions of paramount importance to the interests of the order. Therefore, in the exercise of that power, the Grand Wizard declared that the organization heretofore known as the Ku Klux Klan was dissolved and disbanded. Members were directed to burn all regalia and paraphernalia of every description, and to desist from any further assemblies or acts as Ku Klux. [53] The members of the Klan were counseled in the future as heretofore, to assist all good people of the land in maintaining and upholding the civil laws, and in putting down lawlessness. This proclamation was directed to all Realms, Dominions, Provinces and "Dens" in "the Empire." It is reasonably certain that there were portions of the Empire never reached by it. The Klan was widely scattered and the facilities for communication exceedingly poor. The Grand Wizard was a citizen of Tennessee. Under the statute just now quoted newspapers were forbidden to publish anything emanating from the Klan. So that there was no way in which this proclamation could be generally disseminated.

Wilson, D. L. (Daniel Love); Lester, J. C.. Ku Klux Klan Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment (Kindle Locations 1134-1138). . Kindle Edition.

This book has an introduction by Walter Fleming, a prominent Dunning School historian. It has scholarly impedimentia that Fleming added to this "history." It too has an extensive appendix of KKK documents but does not reproduce the so-called disbandment order. Fleming says in a footnote that the library at Columbia University has a copy of the order from Forrest. That would likely have been placed there by Dunning, who taught there, or one of his followers. Again, since Fleming had access to the order, I wonder why he did not add it to the appendix or include it in one of his many footnotes.
 

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#13
I am inclined to believe that the order in the OP is accurate but incomplete. Here is a scholarly explanation of the order:

JOURNAL ARTICLE
Kukluxism in Tennessee, 1865-1869
Thomas B. Alexander
1547470603654.gif

Tennessee Historical Quarterly
Vol. 8, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER, 1949), pp. 195-219 (25 pages)
Published by: Tennessee Historical Society

kluxism2.JPG

kluxism3.JPG
 

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I've done some searching, and it appears to have digital access to The Avalanche will require someone that is either a Tenn. resident or that has a subscription to Readex, according to this link to Tenn. Newspaper Digitization Project. Maybe @east tennessee roots can pry it open. : )

https://www.lib.utk.edu/tndp/where-to-find-tn-newspapers/

Every other reference I have found notes it as on microfilm or original copies.
 
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#19
There are many references in Forrest biographies of his ordering the disbanding of the Ku Klux Klan on January 25, 1869 in his General Order Number 1 issued in his role as Grand Wizard of the Klan. @diane provided me with a link to the order. What do you make of it? What does it say? Does it really order the Ku Klux Klan to disband:

View attachment 226302
Well one of the stories passed down through family is that yes indeed he did retire his uniform for a few reasons .truth be told he was actually good to his servants that lived on his property which is one reason why his army was large upon freeing his slaves many in fact stayed to battle beside him so its been said. Another story passed down is that he in fact gave $250 to each man that stood beside him and promised another 250 upon return if they did not return the 250 would be given to the mans family . another story told is that his chapter of the klan was started almost as if to give the black women rights in his compound as well as to create some sort of peace in the general area for all people .he was a business man and is ugly as it was slaves were reality and being that he had many many of them he tried to create some sort of protection for his investment .see a black woman could go home after working in the field or in the home and the man she was with could beat her senseless and nobody cared because they were slaves it went unreported same with the rapes taking place daily within the slave community. Rapes not only by their own people but by other whites working on the plantations it had to have been a cruel and ugly environment back then.. So family story told of course probably has twist and turns added along the way is that the women had a job to do also and it was his investment he was protecting if she was all beat up she couldnt do her job and production would slow down so to put a stop to those things from happening he formed a klan that would then learn the men a lesson basically if they beat their wives they still belonged to him i think around 5000 in total at 1 point so if you beat your wife and she cant work then you yourself would be beat too...now of course thats the positive side of the story im sure their was some negative also just as anything else in the world there is 3 sides to every story my side your side and the truth. Which beings that many of his slaves stayed after being freed id like to think that the story of him being good to them hold some truth. After retiring his suit family rumor is that a brother i think did not treat people the same nor did he retire his and in fact treated them very poorly and had alot to do with the klans purposes being changed which it only progressed in a negative manner from there.. As i stated these are just forrest passed down my great grandmother Mary forrest born in 1903 i think whom married bedford forrest great great great grandson of NFB is the one whom told me parts of that over a sandwhich and glass of milk when id stop by her house walking home from school to pick some apricots. One thing for sure is she was NOT a liar ever i dont think she knew how to tell a lie so she obviously heard that from some1 most likely on grandpa bedfords side.
 
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Well one of the stories passed down through family is that yes indeed he did retire his uniform for a few reasons .truth be told he was actually good to his servants that lived on his property which is one reason why his army was large upon freeing his slaves many in fact stayed to battle beside him so its been said. Another story passed down is that he in fact gave $250 to each man that stood beside him and promised another 250 upon return if they did not return the 250 would be given to the mans family . another story told is that his chapter of the klan was started almost as if to give the black women rights in his compound as well as to create some sort of peace in the general area for all people .he was a business man and is ugly as it was slaves were reality and being that he had many many of them he tried to create some sort of protection for his investment .see a black woman could go home after working in the field or in the home and the man she was with could beat her senseless and nobody cared because they were slaves it went unreported same with the rapes taking place daily within the slave community. Rapes not only by their own people but by other whites working on the plantations it had to have been a cruel and ugly environment back then.. So family story told of course probably has twist and turns added along the way is that the women had a job to do also and it was his investment he was protecting if she was all beat up she couldnt do her job and production would slow down so to put a stop to those things from happening he formed a klan that would then learn the men a lesson basically if they beat their wives they still belonged to him i think around 5000 in total at 1 point so if you beat your wife and she cant work then you yourself would be beat too...now of course thats the positive side of the story im sure their was some negative also just as anything else in the world there is 3 sides to every story my side your side and the truth. Which beings that many of his slaves stayed after being freed id like to think that the story of him being good to them hold some truth. After retiring his suit family rumor is that a brother i think did not treat people the same nor did he retire his and in fact treated them very poorly and had alot to do with the klans purposes being changed which it only progressed in a negative manner from there.. As i stated these are just forrest passed down my great grandmother Mary forrest born in 1903 i think whom married bedford forrest great great great grandson of NFB is the one whom told me parts of that over a sandwhich and glass of milk when id stop by her house walking home from school to pick some apricots. One thing for sure is she was NOT a liar ever i dont think she knew how to tell a lie so she obviously heard that from some1 most likely on grandpa bedfords side.
Funny thing is those biographies that were wrtiten werent autobiography nor were writen by forrest family so none of us know the entire real truth we only know what somebody decades later perceived the truth to be. If theres any1 out there still alive that knew gramps personally id sure like to meet them ..lol..ive got a ton of questions myself ...
 

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