Part 1 of 2
Let me respond to Dunston’s speech (The Arab Tribune, Aug. 20, “We are responsible for dismantling white supremacy”).
“If we ain’t fightin’ to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fightin’ for.”
This line of illiterate colloquialism must have been written by Hollywood. I have read many books on Bedford Forrest and have never seen such a statement.
It’s true that General Forrest joined the Ku Klux Klan. The effort of the defeated South to reunite the South with the Union failed. The radical Republicans who had forced the South into secession over the tremendous tariffs (taxes) placed on all of the South’s products and supplies.
The U.S. government, with 75 percent of its income, example, steel was taxed 50 percent. Also, the federal government taxed each imported slave from 50 cents to 10 dollars in taxes from colonial times to the Civil War. The federal government derived far more from slave taxes than from any other single source. A subject ignored by the radical left.
The radical Republicans had complete control of congress in their hands and they, with Lincoln out of the way and Johnson, defender of Lincoln’s policy of reconcilability to bring the South into harmony with the Union, was impeached.
The Congress pushed through another kind of reconstruction – reconstruction which aimed at complete destruction of the Southern states. The new policy of military occupation.
The South was disarmed and helpless and in anarchic conditions. The rural regions were infested with Bushwhackers and the cities were infiltrated with scalawags, carpetbaggers and roving gangs of blacks, the federal troops did nothing to fight crime waves that terrorized urban citizens, many of the crimes were allegedly committed by the federal troops.
The returning confederates met tyrannical hostility from unionists all over the South. Ex-confederates and their families were beaten, abused and terrorized by the unionists. The union army had looted many households and destroyed farms throughout the South.
Something had to be done to stop the oppressors iron-fisted ruthless use of power and uncontrolled authority.
In May 1866 a small group of ex-confederate soldiers joined together in Pulaski, Tenn., and formed a secret order to stop the brutal federal occupation and reconstruction and liberate the South from this dictatorial control.
They drew up an elaborate ritual based on the Masonic oath. The group was also mostly Masons. They came up with a unique name for the order, the Ku Klux Klan. Ku Klux was a Greek word, kuklos, meaning circle.
They would meet in secret places and in public cover themselves and their horses with ling white robes. After a few parades they noticed the blacks took them for spirits from the underworld.
This gave them, because their political genius had not been destroyed, the idea which later developed into the only tactics available for suppression of the Union Army, the scalawags and carpetbaggers’ regimes. It had spread rapidly over the Southern states.
General Forrest a once saw its possibilities. He went to Nashville to find his former chief of artillery, Capt. Morton, who had an office across from the Maxwell House Hotel.
Morton had looked out of his window and saw General Forrest. He went to the street to meet with him. After salutations, the general said, “John I hear this Ku Klux Klan is organized in Nashville, and I know you are in it and I want to join.”
Capt. Morton kept smiling and changing the subject. The captain took the general for a ride in his Bucay. When they reached the woods, Capt. Morton said, “General, you want to join the Ku Klux Klan?”
Gen. Forrest said, “That’s what I came up here for.”
They stepped out of the Bucay and the general received the order. Capt. Morton administered the preliminary oath of the order. Capt. Morton said, “Go to the Maxwell House, room 10 tonight. Now you know how to get in.”
To be continued…
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