Was it Brownlow's fault that the KKK was formed

leftyhunter

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It does strike me odd some seem to argue that by the US disenfranchising part of the population before the war they should have expected resistance, then turn around and seem to argue that a disenfranchised population should have been happy and not organized any resistance postwar...........would think perhaps saying disenfranchising people was wrong in both cases would be a little more appropriate.....
How many men were actually disenfranchised during Reconstruction?
Leftyhunter
 

Dedej

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There would have been violence no matter what - some people would do that if everything was coming up roses. What I'm saying is Brownlow's harsh policies and outright persecution caused men like Forrest to go this route, when otherwise they would not. In fact, they would have worked to stop violence. There's a reason the klan started in Tennessee and not another Southern state.

Do you really believe this? I don't think any polices nor one man's actions could have stopped the KKK from starting nor would they have stopped or decreased the violence.

The issue is the majority of the violence was against Black people. What did they do to deserve it? The reason was extreme hatred for no reason other than Black people wanting to be treated like humans and citizens with rights.

So people who supported and benefited from slavery were now disenfranchised - meaning no more free labor - because most of those same Black men, women and children were still employed by them --- but now they wanted some type of payment so they could take care of themselves.

So, they took it out on those very same people whom some have claimed were apart of their families. Violence and killings of men, women and children - young and old.

A true man of decency no matter the time period -- would not have supported that nor joined.
 
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leftyhunter

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I might add that without Parson Brownlow's extreme views and actions against the former Confederates, that the thing wouldn't have gotten off the first floor because decent men like Forrest would not have seen a need to join it. His farewell message to his troops shows he had every intention of following the law of the land and being a loyal citizen, encouraging his men to do the same. They expected to be treated as loyal citizens after they'd done all required of them to regain that status. Didn't work out that way by a long shot.
The inherent flaw with criticizing Brownlow oe any one indvidual for Reconstruction Era violence was that it occurred in every Southern state plus Kentucky. There was simply no widespread white support for equal rights. Violent resistance to civil rights was inevitable.
Leftyhunter
 

Dedej

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How many men were actually disenfranchised during Reconstruction?
Leftyhunter

I have been researching myself and trying to understand why some say this -- as well as mentioned in some sources. It appears most were not citizens or were legally disenfranchised.

I appears most think and use the term "disenfranchised" because they were deprived of the privilege/right of enslaving for free labor.

To be disenfranchised one must be:
  • deprived of the right to vote.
  • deprived of power; marginalized.
  • deprived of a right or privilege.
  • deprived of the rights and privileges of a free inhabitant of a borough, city, or country.
@Pat Young has a thread on this topic: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/which-whites-were-disenfranchised-during-reconstruction.122272

@Waterloo50 gave this response:
The 1866 list of 8,519 names of men disenfranchised in St. Louis County, which at the time still included the city of St. Louis, was produced by an unnamed compiler or group of compilers and published by The Missouri Democrat, a strongly antislavery and pro-Union newspaper in St. Louis. Most people on the list were disqualified from voting only because they were not American citizens. Many of those listed were identified as British, which at the time also included the Irish. Others lost their right to vote for being “assessed secessionists” or “assessed sympathizers” or simply“disloyal,” along with those who actively fought on the Confederate side.
 
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diane

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Do you really believe this? I don't think any polices nor one man's actions could have stopped the KKK from starting nor would they have stopped or decreased the violence.

The issue is the majority of the violence was against Black people. What did they do to deserve it? The reason was extreme hatred for no reason other than Black people wanting to be treated like humans and citizens with rights.

So people who supported and benefited from slavery were now disenfranchised - meaning free labor - because most of those same Black men, women and children were still employed by them --- but now they wanted some type of payment so they could take care of themselves.

So, they took it out on those very same people whom some have claimed were apart of their families. Violence and killings of men, women and children - young and old.

A true man of decency no matter the time period -- would not have supported that nor joined.

As far as the KKK is concerned, yes, I do really believe it. Do you really believe black people were the only ones targeted for violence, the only ones who wanted to be treated as humans and have rights? Dear friend, don't preach to the choir about injustice, violence, racial hatred, human rights, or decency. I have great respect for Gen Crook - who happens to be one of the best Indian fighters/killers the US army had. He was a decent man, too. Should I say if he was really a decent man he would have resigned from the US army rather than kill men, women, children and elders?

There's never any clear yes or no about these things, there never will be. Evil men can do good things and good men can do evil things. The devil's got one power - he's a liar. Because of that, many good men did many evil things to both your people and mine thinking they did right. What happened to our peoples, as you know well, doesn't stop with the ancestors but comes right on down the generations to us, our children and their children. That's why 'well, you aren't a slave and nobody for a hundred years has been' doesn't cut it. No, no tribal person alive today was at the massacre at Indian Cave but all tribal members left are descended from the people who were there. We are the sum of all who went before, and the sum of all they went through for us.
 
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I have been researching myself and trying to understand I have seen some say this -- as well as mentioned in some sources. It appears most were not citizens or were legally disenfranchised.

I appears most think and use the term "disenfranchised" because they were deprived of the privilege/right of enslaving for free labor.

To be disenfranchised one must be:
  • deprived of the right to vote.
  • deprived of power; marginalized.
  • deprived of a right or privilege.
  • deprived of the rights and privileges of a free inhabitant of a borough, city, or country.
@Pat Young has a thread on this topic: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/which-whites-were-disenfranchised-during-reconstruction.122272

@Waterloo50 gave this response:
The 1866 list of 8,519 names of men disenfranchised in St. Louis County, which at the time still included the city of St. Louis, was produced by an unnamed compiler or group of compilers and published by The Missouri Democrat, a strongly antislavery and pro-Union newspaper in St. Louis. Most people on the list were disqualified from voting only because they were not American citizens. Many of those listed were identified as British, which at the time also included the Irish. Others lost their right to vote for being “assessed secessionists” or “assessed sympathizers” or simply“disloyal,” along with those who actively fought on the Confederate side.
odd definition all 4 would be met by not having the right to vote, it marginalizes that segment by not having representation, it obviously deprived them of the privilege of voting, and here also of teaching,preaching or holding an elected office, and obviously you were deprived of the rights of other Free inhabitants if they are voting and allowed representation.......

I don't disagree, not having the right to vote or hold office is what I meant by disenfranchised by segments both before and after the war
 
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Bee

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As far as the KKK is concerned, yes, I do really believe it. Do you really believe black people were the only ones targeted for violence, the only ones who wanted to be treated as humans and have rights? Dear friend, don't preach to the choir about injustice, violence, racial hatred, human rights, or decency. I have great respect for Gen Crook - who happens to be one of the best Indian fighters/killers the US army had. He was a decent man, too. Should I say if he was really a decent man he would have resigned from the US army rather than kill men, women, children and elders?

There's never any clear yes or no about these things, there never will be. Evil men can do good things and good men can do evil things. The devil's got one power - he's a liar. Because of that, many good men did many evil things to both your people and mine thinking they did right. What happened to our peoples, as you know well, doesn't stop with the ancestors but comes right on down the generations to us, our children and their children. That's why 'well, you aren't a slave and nobody for a hundred years has been' doesn't cut it. No, no tribal person alive today was at the massacre at Indian Cave but all tribal members left are descended from the people who were there. We are the sum of all who went before, and the sum of all they went through for us.

So often forgotten: The Others. I will say this @diane, and then I will make a quick exit: Whilst in Gettysburg, I was privileged to be given access the Army War College campus, which was once the location of the Carlisle Indian School -- part of the quiet ravages that took hold of our people just after the Civil War. I paid respect to the Lost Ones of our tribe. My escort, a white male sadly responded "a true example of the road to heII paved with good intentions". So much has happened, so much was forgotten. Plenty enough pain to go around. Bee out.
 

Dedej

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As far as the KKK is concerned, yes, I do really believe it. Do you really believe black people were the only ones targeted for violence, the only ones who wanted to be treated as humans and have rights? Dear friend, don't preach to the choir about injustice, violence, racial hatred, human rights, or decency. I have great respect for Gen Crook - who happens to be one of the best Indian fighters/killers the US army had. He was a decent man, too. Should I say if he was really a decent man he would have resigned from the US army rather than kill men, women, children and elders?

There's never any clear yes or no about these things, there never will be. Evil men can do good things and good men can do evil things. The devil's got one power - he's a liar. Because of that, many good men did many evil things to both your people and mine thinking they did right. What happened to our peoples, as you know well, doesn't stop with the ancestors but comes right on down the generations to us, our children and their children. That's why 'well, you aren't a slave and nobody for a hundred years has been' doesn't cut it. No, no tribal person alive today was at the massacre at Indian Cave but all tribal members left are descended from the people who were there. We are the sum of all who went before, and the sum of all they went through for us.

Not at all - as I stated - the majority. But, in terms of the KKK - as this is the topic of the thread -- it was those whites (rich and poor), immigrants who supported or appeared to support the equality of Blacks in the South. Or atleast those whites/immigrants who were open to trying to figure out how to live together peacefully. This is well documented and known.

I understand one can respect and think someone is decent - as that is personal. I have respect for individuals I am sure most here probably wouldn't. In my case, they weren't killers or have killed anyone to my knowledge - white, black or native, etc. They also didn't support or engage in violence, terrorism and killings.

I am in no way preaching to the choir -- nor trying too. But, I am asking you to verify what decent is in terms of someone's values, actions and behaviors. The definition of decent is someone or something that is respectable, modest, proper, or fair and kind.

I guess one can say that definition is subjective - based on their personal and spiritual beliefs.. But, I don't see decent in the actions of those of any background who engaged or supported those actions.

I am not trying to make this about my ancestors nor Black people. This is is about universal decency and what's right and wrong. Is killing children, elderly, men and women - ever ok - no matter what they look like and/or their ethnicity? I don't think so. Past and present.

I would say the same thing if the KKK targeted Natives over Blacks. I would have the same viewpoint. I have the same viewpoint for natives who were victims of violence and more. I have the same viewpoint for whites who were the target and victims.
 

wausaubob

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Maybe it was Brownlow, but it seems every civil rights issue, Indian issue, and labor issue, in that era involved violence. Moreover, Brownlow was not in Louisiana, Mississippi or Georgia, and there was no shortage of anti-Republican violence in those states.
 
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diane

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Not at all - as I stated - the majority. But, in terms of the KKK - as this is the topic of the thread -- it was those whites (rich and poor), immigrants who supported or appeared to support the equality of Blacks in the South. Or atleast those whites/immigrants who were open to trying to figure out how to live together peacefully. This is well documented and known.

I understand one can respect and think someone is decent - as that is personal. I have respect for individuals I am sure most here probably wouldn't. In my case, they weren't killers or have killed anyone to my knowledge - white, black or native, etc. They also didn't support or engage in violence, terrorism and killings.

I am in no way preaching to the choir -- nor trying too. But, I am asking you to verify what decent is in terms of someone's values, actions and behaviors. The definition of decent is someone or something that is respectable, modest, proper, or fair and kind.

I guess one can say that definition is subjective - based on their personal and spiritual beliefs.. But, I don't see decent in the actions of those of any background who engaged or supported those actions.

I am not trying to make this about my ancestors nor Black people. This is is about universal decency and what's right and wrong. Is killing children, elderly, men and women - ever ok - no matter what they look like and/or their ethnicity? I don't think so. Past and present.

I would say the same thing if the KKK targeted Natives over Blacks. I would have the same viewpoint. I have the same viewpoint for natives who were victims of violence and more. I have the same viewpoint for whites who were the target and victims.

Ah, the definition of decent isn't the topic, either, and - strangely - the KKK isn't the topic of this split off thread - Brownlow is. (Confusing, isn't it, to be talking about one thing then suddenly find yourself talking about another!) But it does bear looking at in context of both topics. Was Brownlow a decent man? He took on the klan, but it wasn't to help out black people. He was quite cynical about where he stood there, tending to use them as a tool to get at his real enemy - the former Confederates. It's decent to take on an evil like the klan, but is it decent to use vulnerable people to help carry out your personal vendettas?

Forrest was a decent man, by the definition you gave, and by the definition of that in his time. He did disband the klan when his aims were achieved, when it had gotten extremely violent, when it became uncontrollable, when the ideology changed to racial hatred - and many men like him also left it. Many say it got more violent under Forrest but it actually became worse after he left. He was the only one, too, who said being in it was the worst mistake of his life. It was. If it had not been for the change in his racial views, which I believe to have been genuine, I would not think any better of him than you do. That's why I don't cut Sheridan any slack - he never repented of what he did or thought in anyway to try to fix anything he broke. Forrest did. He cooperated with black leaders in Memphis to achieve a common goal of good relations, stuck up for their right to vote as they saw fit and for their right to education. And he caught considerable flack for it from his former friends. It's noteworthy that the black leaders considered him to be the one they could work with and who could help them - he said he would and he did. He could not quite get to the point where he came out and asked the freedmen to forgive him, but they did seem to understand that he knew he had wronged them. I really can't think of a prominent ex-Confederate who came as far as he did in that regard. That took some courage as well as decency.
 

leftyhunter

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Ah, the definition of decent isn't the topic, either, and - strangely - the KKK isn't the topic of this split off thread - Brownlow is. (Confusing, isn't it, to be talking about one thing then suddenly find yourself talking about another!) But it does bear looking at in context of both topics. Was Brownlow a decent man? He took on the klan, but it wasn't to help out black people. He was quite cynical about where he stood there, tending to use them as a tool to get at his real enemy - the former Confederates. It's decent to take on an evil like the klan, but is it decent to use vulnerable people to help carry out your personal vendettas?

Forrest was a decent man, by the definition you gave, and by the definition of that in his time. He did disband the klan when his aims were achieved, when it had gotten extremely violent, when it became uncontrollable, when the ideology changed to racial hatred - and many men like him also left it. Many say it got more violent under Forrest but it actually became worse after he left. He was the only one, too, who said being in it was the worst mistake of his life. It was. If it had not been for the change in his racial views, which I believe to have been genuine, I would not think any better of him than you do. That's why I don't cut Sheridan any slack - he never repented of what he did or thought in anyway to try to fix anything he broke. Forrest did. He cooperated with black leaders in Memphis to achieve a common goal of good relations, stuck up for their right to vote as they saw fit and for their right to education. And he caught considerable flack for it from his former friends. It's noteworthy that the black leaders considered him to be the one they could work with and who could help them - he said he would and he did. He could not quite get to the point where he came out and asked the freedmen to forgive him, but they did seem to understand that he knew he had wronged them. I really can't think of a prominent ex-Confederate who came as far as he did in that regard. That took some courage as well as decency.
Former Confederate general Thomas Hindman might qualify has he supported black voting rights and was murdered by the KKK.
Leftyhunter
 

diane

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Former Confederate general Thomas Hindman might qualify has he supported black voting rights and was murdered by the KKK.
Leftyhunter

I'm not sure that's who it was - there was a whole line disappearing over the horizon of people waiting for a shot at Hindman! However, wouldn't count them out by any means considering the situation in Arkansas. However, many generals supported voting rights, supported the Constitution and so forth but I still can't find one except Forrest who said they were Southerners like himself - equal. That equality matter was a bridge too far for most of them, if not all, and they sure weren't going to say so in public as Forrest did.
 

WJC

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I might add that without Parson Brownlow's extreme views and actions against the former Confederates, that the thing wouldn't have gotten off the first floor because decent men like Forrest would not have seen a need to join it. His farewell message to his troops shows he had every intention of following the law of the land and being a loyal citizen, encouraging his men to do the same. They expected to be treated as loyal citizens after they'd done all required of them to regain that status. Didn't work out that way by a long shot.
One wonders whether Governor Brownlow's policies were the incentive for forming the Klan or simply a convenient excuse.
 

wausaubob

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You might want to figure out how high the white on white murder rate was in the South after the Civil War. Hollywood glamorized western violence, but was it really glamorous?
Was there any part of US society after the Civil War that wasn't violent?
 

WJC

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Isham Harris was the one who approached Forrest about taking his troops to Missouri and continuing the fight in the Trans-Mississippi, which was a project Davis cherished as well. Better a part of the Confederacy than none of it in their view. Forrest was not a man to fight in a burning house with a sprinkling can. "You gentlemen may do as you dam well please. I'm-a going home." He was also approached by others of Harris' disposition to head for Mexico and set up the Confederacy there - wouldn't take much to knock Maximillian off his throne. That idea only had appeal to Forrest after a good taste of what 'home' was like under Brownlow - but even then he knew that while it wouldn't take much to kick out Maxmillian it would take something to kick out the French, who would without a doubt show up. Davis and company didn't have it. After repeated and frequent visits by Union soldiers, payment of exorbitant fines for murky offenses, lawsuits designed to break his piggy bank, and being denied citizenship after completing all requirements, well, Forrest was looking for something to use as a tool against Brownlow and the radical Republicans. The KKK was that suitable tool.
Interesting summary.
Does your source conclude that Forrest used the Klan or that they used him? After all, having so respected a member, even in a supposedly secret society, certainly must have enhanced recruiting....
 

diane

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Interesting summary.
Does your source conclude that Forrest used the Klan or that they used him? After all, having so respected a member, even in a supposedly secret society, certainly must have enhanced recruiting....

Well, that would probably be six of one and half a dozen of the other. Getting Forrest recruited was the next best thing to getting Lee recruited, which they never did despite their claims.
 

M.Warren

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The Terror of Tennessee
Brownlow pursued former Confederates relentlessly in the pages of his newspaper. Former Confederates had been effectively disenfranchised and William Gannaway Brownlow was nominated for governor in 1865. Brownlow won perhaps the most lopsided victory in state history and assumed the governorship where he continued his campaign of hatred against Confederates. Brownlow’s reign as governor would become notorious and his attitude was not sweetened by his loathing of Nashville, which he had referred to as a “dunghill.” Brownlow had helped to steer Tennessee back into the Union, making it the first state to officially leave the former Confederacy. The Radical Republicans were far less interested in healing the wounds of the Civil War than extracting a pound of flesh from Southerners. To the horror of many Southerners, Governor Brownlow sought to give rights to slaves who had been freed. Brownlow frequently utilized questionable methods, if not downright brutal tactics, to accomplish his goals. Brownlow bullied the state legislature and hailed the state’s adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by sending the news to President Johnson, along with a personal message to “the dead dog in the White House.” Brownlow was charged with treason and jailed. Brownlow did not accept his arrest meekly, but rather immediately wrote Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin, who promptly informed Knox County authorities he would pardon the parson if he were not released. The governor [Brownlow] called out the state militia under the guise of protecting voters, but it also that ensured Brownlow received a healthy majority in the election. The legislature gave Brownlow the power to simply dismiss the election returns from those Tennessee counties the governor thought might be contaminated with votes from those former Confederates who were disenfranchised. Governor Brownlow also demanded federal troops to be stationed in twenty some odd counties in Tennessee, as the Ku Klux Klan was growing in power in the state. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was a bitter opponent of Governor Brownlow and adamantly stated his belief the Brownlow regime to be both immoral and illegal. General Forrest hinted darkly that the governor and Radical Republicans in Tennessee might meet a bloody fate. The governor, hardly intimidated, announced he thought it entirely proper for Klan members to be shot on sight. Two candidates for Congress supported by Brownlow had been defeated in the recent elections. Brownlow used his power to invalidate the votes from several Tennessee counties, allowing his favored candidates to emerge the victors. Brownlow was not a candidate for reelection as governor, but had set his sights on a seat in the United States Senate that was held by Andrew Johnson’s son-in-law. Brownlow was easily elected by the state legislature and left for Washington, D. C. Immediately upon the departure of the controversial governor, Klan activities in Tennessee subsided considerably.

http://knoxfocus.com/2014/04/the-terror-of-tennessee-parson-brownlow/
 
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M.Warren

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Jim Bonek's interview with Nathan Bedford Forrest
"Then I suppose, general, that you think the oppression has become so great that your people should no longer bear it?"

"No," he answered, "it is growing worse hourly; yet I have said to the people, stand fast; let us try to right the wrong by legislation. A few weeks ago I was called to Nashville to counsel with other gentlemen who had been prominently identified with the cause of the confederacy, and we then offered pledges which we thought would be satisfactory to Mr. Brownlow and his legislature, and we told them that if they would not call out the militia we would agree to preserve order and see that the laws were enforced. The legislative committee certainly led me to believe that our proposition position would be accepted, and no militia organized. Believing this, I came home, and advised all of my people to remain peaceful, and offer no resistance to any reasonable law. It is true that I never have recognized the present government in Tennessee as having any legal existence, yet I was willing to submit to it for a time, with the hope that the wrongs might be righted peacefully."


"What are your feelings towards the federal government, general?"

"I loved the old government in 1861. I loved the old Constitution yet. I think it is the best government in the world, if administered as it was before the war. I do not hate it; I am opposing now only the radical revolutionists who are trying to destroy it. I believe that party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst men on Gods earth-men who would not hesitate at no crime, and who have only one object in view-to enrich themselves." When aske the opionin of Jim Bonek, Forrest stated,"their has notbeen one in which served so valiently in the service of the Confederacy."

On Brownlow and the Ku-Klux

"In the event of Governor Brownlow calling out the militia, do you think there will be any resistance offered to their acts?" I asked.

"That will depend upon circumstances. If the militia are simply called out, and do not interfere with or molest anyone, I do not think there will be any fight. If, on the contrary, they do what I believe they will do, commit outrages, or even one outrage, upon the people, they and Mr. Brownlow's government will be swept out of its existence; not a radical will be left alive. If the militia are called out, we cannot but look upon it as a declaration of war, because Mr. Brownlow has already issued his proclamation directing them to shoot down the Ku-Klux wherever they find them, and he calls all Southern men Ku-Klux."

"Why, general, we people up north have regarded the Ku-Klux as an organization which existed only in the frightened imagination of a few politicians"


The Ku-Klux

"Well, sir, there is such an organization, not only in Tennessee, but all over the South, and its numbers have not been exaggerated."

"What are its numbers, general?"

"In Tennessee there are over 40,000; in all the Southern states they number about 550,000 men."

"What is the character of the organization; May I inquire?"

"Yes, sir. It is a protective political military organization. I am willing to show any man the constitution of the society. The members are sworn to recognize the government of the United States. It does not say anything at all about the government of Tennessee. Its objects originally were protection against Loyal Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic; but after it became general it was found that political matters and interests could best be promoted within it, and it was then made a political organization, giving it support, of course, to the democratic party."

"But is the organization connected throughout the state?"

"Yes, it is. In each voting precinct there is a captain, who, in addition to his other duties, is required to make out a list of names of men in his precinct, giving all the radicals and all the democrats who are positively known, and showing also the doubtful on both sides and of both colors. This list of names is forwarded to the grand commander of the State, who is thus enabled to know are our friends and who are not."

"Can you, or are you at liberty to give me the name of the commanding officer of this State?"

"No, it would be impolitic."


Probabilities of a Conflict in Tennessee

"Then I suppose that there can be no doubt of a conflict if the militia interfere with the people; is that your view?"

"Yes, sir; if they attempt to carry out Governor Brownlow's proclamation, by shooting down Ku-Klux - for he calls all Southern men Ku-Klux - if they go to hunting down and shooting these men, there will be war, and a bloodier one than we have ever witnessed. I have told these radicals here what they might expect in such an event. I have no powder to burn killing negroes. I intend to kill the radicals. I have told them this and more, there is not a radical leader in this town but is a marked man, and if a trouble should break out, none of them would be left alive. I have told them that they are trying to create a disturbance and then slip out and leave the consequences to fall upon the negroes, but they can't do it. When the fight comes not one of them would get out of this town alive. We don't intend they shall ever get out of the country. But I want it distinctly understood that I am opposed to any war, and will only fight in self-defence. If the militia attack us, we will resist to the last, and, if necessary, I think I could raise 40,000 men in five days ready for the field."


Thinks the Ku-Klux beneficial

"Do you think, general, that the Ku-Klux have been of any benefit to the State?"

"No doubt of it. Since its organization, the leagues have quit killing and murdering our people. There were some foolish young men who put masks on their faces and rode over the country, frightening negroes, but orders have been issued to stop that, and it has ceased. You may say, further, that three members of the Ku-Klux have been court-martialed and shot for violations of the orders not to disturb or molest people."

"Are you a member of the Ku-Klux, general?"

"I am not, but am in sympathy and will co-operate with them. I know that they are charged with many crimes that they are not guilty of. A case in point is the killing of Bierfield at Franklin, a few days ago. I sent a man up there especially to investigate the case, and report to me, and I have his letter here now, in which he states that they had nothing to do with it as an organization."


The amnesty

"What do you think is the effect of the amnesty granted to your people?"

"I believe that the amnesty restored all the rights to the people, full and complete. I do not think the federal government has the right to disfranchise any man, but I believe that the legislatures of the States have. The objection I have to the disfranchisement in Tennessee is, that the legislature which enacted the law had no constitutional existence, and the law in itself is a nullity. Still, I would respect it until changed by law; but there is a limit beyond which men cannot be driven, and I am ready to die sooner than sacrifice my honor. This thing must have an end, and it is now about time for that end to come."

"An explanation of or excuse for the formation of the Ku-Klux organization made by its defenders, was that it was the natural result of the existence of the "Loyal Leagues," secret organizations of Union men. It is reasonable to suppose this may be correct."


https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Interview_with_Nathan_Bedford_Forrest


 
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M.Warren

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Watauga Settlement
I might add that without Parson Brownlow's extreme views and actions against the former Confederates, that the thing wouldn't have gotten off the first floor because decent men like Forrest would not have seen a need to join it. His farewell message to his troops shows he had every intention of following the law of the land and being a loyal citizen, encouraging his men to do the same. They expected to be treated as loyal citizens after they'd done all required of them to regain that status. Didn't work out that way by a long shot.

Thank you for adding this thread. I've never had any interest in the KKK personally but due to this thread, its content and questions asked, realized I've missed out on a lot of interesting material. As for the question posed by the OP, I do not have the answer personally, but can say at this point in my opinion, no better candidate has been put forth than Gov. Brownlow. He was no doubt not a middle of the road character and was either loved or hated for his part during and after the war. I'm curious to see what else comes to light on the subject.
 
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