Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) age 56
Original Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK)
Nathan Bedford Forrest served as lieutenant general in the confederate army during the Civil War He was remembered as a great leader during the war and as an influential political southern figure afterwards. He is most notably remembered as being the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a secret organizational group that engaged in terrorist acts against African Americans during immediate post war years.
Some people may ask whether or not Nathan Bedford Forrest was the original founder of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). Well according to John Coski, who is a historian at the Museum of the Confederacy is quoted as saying Forrest was not. Forrest was, however, an early member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) serving as their first official Grand Wizard. Forrest became involved in the Klu Klu Klan (KKK) in 1866 sometime after the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was founded. By the time Forrest was introduced to the the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) the organization had grown to the point where an experienced commander was needed, and Forrest fitted the bill. Soon thereafter Forrest was sworn in as the original Grand Wizard of the KKK.
Under the rule of Forrest the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was relatively restrained in its actions. White males members of the KKK attempted to persuade black voters to return to a state of repression and slavery. Forrest tried to maintain order but after numerous failed peaceful attempts the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) began using violence and intimidation which later escalated and became widespread throughout the KKK. Forrest became ringleader of this violence and using his military background engaged in midnight parades, ghost masquerades; and torturing and even killing African Americans in order to spread their cause.
During Forrest’s rule he claimed that the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) had over 550,000 total members. He described the Klu Klux Klan as “a militant organization with a political agenda. In 1869 Forrest attempted to dissolved the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), although many factions continued to meet in later years. Forrest was subpoenaed by Congress and testified on activities conducted by the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). Forrest denied any involvement with the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) at this time. In 1875, Forrest views shifted to be contrarian to those held by the Klu Klux Klan KKK;). He even gave a speech apologizing for his previous beliefs held at an African American which was warmly accepted.
Nathan Bedford Forrest held a very prominent role in the Klu Klux Klan’s (KKK) history. Without his militant background, which ultimately got him elected as the Klu Klux Klans (KKK) first Grand Wizard, who knows how the world would perceive the KKK today. It is highly likely that without his role in the KKK the organization would have developed in a peaceful activist manner.
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