"We Don't Have Enough Contempt for NBF"

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
The problem, as I see it, is this doesn't really do much to further discussion because there has never been a time in history where there wasn't competing thoughts on similar subjects. For every Simon Legree-esque slave owner there is a John Brown and vice versa. I don't think there can be any doubt as to the position of the vast majority of Northerners about slavery and blacks in general....they didn't care one way or the other just as long as they weren't living next door. It's a sad reality, but that was the reality. Just because many in the North didn't desire slaves of their own didn't mean they were entirely righteous. And of course the same could be said in the opposite direction for good, religious men of the South who also happened to own slaves. The real problem is when either persuasion tries to pigeon hole the other. It just doesn't really work.

Well that's the beauty of it. We get to dig into the complexity instead of just saying "he was a man of his time."
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Well that's the beauty of it. We get to dig into the complexity instead of just saying "he was a man of his time."
You should study CA history during this period. You think NBF was so bad. Californians ran off all of their blacks. Enslaved and starved to death their native Americans. Hung Asians, banned them eventually. Treated Hispanics no better. Good thing NBF wasn’t a Californian, he would of been Racist!
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
You should study CA history during this period. You think NBF was so bad. Californians ran off all of their blacks. Enslaved and starved to death their native Americans. Hung Asians, banned them eventually. Treated Hispanics no better. Good thing NBF wasn’t a Californian, he would of been Racist!
It’s different when “the other guys” do it, isn’t it?
 

Wizard of Cozz

Private
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
The issue is everyone back then, if we apply today's standards, would of been racist. Even many abolitionists, while against slavery, didn't believe that blacks were as intelligent as whites, and many also wanted them set free and shipped to Africa. It's important to look at people through a lens that understands their upbringing and their society as a whole.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
The issue is everyone back then, if we apply today's standards, would of been racist. Even many abolitionists, while against slavery, didn't believe that blacks were as intelligent as whites, and many also wanted them set free and shipped to Africa. It's important to look at people through a lens that understands their upbringing and their society as a whole.
You may have the right ideas but, this is a Civil War forum And the topic is Forrest.
 

BillO

Captain
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Location
Quinton, VA.
Here's a non-rhetorical question - if Nathan Bedford Forrest's repudiation of his ways later in life merits a more positive view of his character, then does John Brown's noble cause merit a more positive view of his character?

If bringing in John Brown pulls this thread too off course I apologize.
I think perhaps a bit more study and a bit less typing would help you understand a bit more.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
What they always forget when they try to hold NBF to their modern standards is this. He was a man in a place and time when is actions were in effect normal. No amount of modern-day proselytizing can change the place or time, no matter how many times they attempt to do it.
I am always sympathetic to the argument that you can only judge someone by the morals of the age. In NBF's case, slavery by 1860 was seen more and more by the civilized world as a great evil. The vast majority of nations had outlawed slavery by 1860, so the US south was very much out of step with even contemporary morals. Even many southerners saw this. All that being said, NBF was a slave trader, which even in the slave holding society was viewed with distaste. And it seems Forrest was a particularly aggressive slave trader, in that it made him a very rich man. So even by the standards of the South, before the war he was viewed with some contempt by his fellow southerners, and when viewed in terms of what evolving morals found acceptable in 1860, he was very much on the wrong side of what considered morally acceptable. So yes, we can certainly hold him in contempt without resorting to modern standards.
 

Will Carry

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Location
The Tar Heel State.
I never said he wasn't a scoundrel but I will not hold him in contempt. I have done terrible things in my life and cannot condemn a person for doing the same. You can go through history a hold people in contempt. There are so many. Uncle Joe once said "Show me a man and I will find a crime he has committed."

Luke 6:41-46​

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

I can't believe I just quoted the bible. ThAT is contemptable too and I apologize.
 
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JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Well, to be fair, I didn't say I personally hold him in contempt. As many have said, Forrest is very complicated and is not susceptible to easy analysis, IMO. So like many people, I have conflicting opinions on him. My main point in responding, though, was to point out that he doesnt get a pass for being a slave trader based on the morals of his age.
 

Borderruffian

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2007
Location
Marshfield Missouri
I am always sympathetic to the argument that you can only judge someone by the morals of the age. In NBF's case, slavery by 1860 was seen more and more by the civilized world as a great evil. The vast majority of nations had outlawed slavery by 1860, so the US south was very much out of step with even contemporary morals. Even many southerners saw this. All that being said, NBF was a slave trader, which even in the slave holding society was viewed with distaste. And it seems Forrest was a particularly aggressive slave trader, in that it made him a very rich man. So even by the standards of the South, before the war he was viewed with some contempt by his fellow southerners, and when viewed in terms of what evolving morals found acceptable in 1860, he was very much on the wrong side of what considered morally acceptable. So yes, we can certainly hold him in contempt without resorting to modern standards.
Regardless of what the morals of the " world " was in your opinion in 1860 and how out of step you feel the South was, it changes not a thing. It was still legal, it was still the cultural norm of a large percentage of the slave holding and border states of which people such as NBF were raised with and yes NBF prospered because of the legality of that institution. To blame him or hold him in " contempt " for a legal business venture albeit a venture frowned upon in some circles then and a vast majority now is an endeavor, yet again to hold him to a modern-day standard. No matter how it's dressed up it don't historically fly.
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
I am always sympathetic to the argument that you can only judge someone by the morals of the age. In NBF's case, slavery by 1860 was seen more and more by the civilized world as a great evil. The vast majority of nations had outlawed slavery by 1860, so the US south was very much out of step with even contemporary morals. Even many southerners saw this. All that being said, NBF was a slave trader, which even in the slave holding society was viewed with distaste. And it seems Forrest was a particularly aggressive slave trader, in that it made him a very rich man. So even by the standards of the South, before the war he was viewed with some contempt by his fellow southerners, and when viewed in terms of what evolving morals found acceptable in 1860, he was very much on the wrong side of what considered morally acceptable. So yes, we can certainly hold him in contempt without resorting to modern standards.

Chattel slavery was still practiced in many countries at the start of the civil war. While European powers abolished slavery in their colonies, many of the colonies had become independent. Gradual emancipation was adopted in a number of Latin American countries in the 1850's but it still flourished in Brazil, Cuba, Paraguay, Argentina, Puerto Rico, etc. at the start of the ACW. It did not become illegal in far eastern countries ( China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Siam, etc) until late 19th early 20th. African countries did not ban the practice until even later. What had become universal in the world at the start of the war was the ban on the slave trade.

That said, NBF was an abolitionist in the 1860's.

The slave trader thing was true but its nature is exaggerated by both his supporters and his detractors.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Regardless of what the morals of the " world " was in your opinion in 1860 and how out of step you feel the South was, it changes not a thing. It was still legal, it was still the cultural norm of a large percentage of the slave holding and border states of which people such as NBF were raised with and yes NBF prospered because of the legality of that institution. To blame him or hold him in " contempt " for a legal business venture albeit a venture frowned upon in some circles then and a vast majority now is an endeavor, yet again to hold him to a modern-day standard. No matter how it's dressed up it don't historically fly.
Well, I respect your opinion, but we will have to disagree. As I said, he was looked down upon by his contemporaries for engaging in what was deemed a distasteful business. So I think I am using the then contemporary standard. I think your opinion is the one that flies of in the face of historic fact actually. I understand you disagree.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Chattel slavery was still practiced in many countries at the start of the civil war. While European powers abolished slavery in their colonies, many of the colonies had become independent. Gradual emancipation was adopted in a number of Latin American countries in the 1850's but it still flourished in Brazil, Cuba, Paraguay, Argentina, Puerto Rico, etc. at the start of the ACW. It did not become illegal in far eastern countries ( China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Siam, etc) until late 19th early 20th. African countries did not ban the practice until even later. What had become universal in the world at the start of the war was the ban on the slave trade.

That said, NBF was an abolitionist in the 1860's.

The slave trader thing was true but its nature is exaggerated by both his supporters and his detractors.
I have never heard before that Forrest was an abolitionist. Do you have a cite for that? I'd love to look into that. I know late in life he reconciled with the defeat and urged racial healing.
 

Borderruffian

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2007
Location
Marshfield Missouri
Well, I respect your opinion, but we will have to disagree. As I said, he was looked down upon by his contemporaries for engaging in what was deemed a distasteful business. So I think I am using the then contemporary standard. I think your opinion is the one that flies of in the face of historic fact actually. I understand you disagree.
That Slave Dealers, especially minor slave dealers were off handedly ( in public and " polite society " red that as slave holders) treated as somewhat of an anthemea is no great secert. Yet they had no problem whatsoever using the service, did they? Especially when NBF became a land owner in Mississippi and an Alderman in Memphis. It was a game the Planter Class liked to play yet NBF was entertained by the same people as he expanded his business. It helps to understand the way thing's were down if you wish to wax philosophical on mores and how things were.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
I think I understand quite well how things were, thank you. And yes, you are quite right. As Forrest grew rich they somehow were able to hold their noses and deal with the nouveau riche as he entered the planter class grew respectable.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
This thread is something like 16 years-old. @diane hasn't posted in a while as far as I can tell and may have retired herself from CWT, but she's the one who knows best of Forrest
His history isn't good by 21st century standards, but his "reconciliation speech" is worth reading. It can be found below and probably at other sites that make readers happy in terms of sources.

https://the-american-catholic.com/2010/08/06/nathan-bedford-forrest-and-racial-reconciliation/
It's an old thread, but only six years old.

Personally, I think older threads are very important when there is knowledge to be gained.
Many times some of the best experts that posted in older threads are no longer with us ... (for whatever reasons).
However, their original information, is at times ... priceless.

And yeah, Diane was the premier Forrest expert.
She may be gone from CWT, but her knowledge remains in old posts on this forum.
 
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