“. . . . Plantation agriculture rapidly exhausted the soil. The sectional balance of Congress aside, planters needed new land to grow the cotton that secured their influence on the national (and international) stage. As Karp explains, “Slaveholders in the 1850s seldom passed up an opportunity to sketch the inexorable syllogism of King Cotton: the American South produced nearly all the world’s usable raw cotton; this cotton fueled the industrial development of the North Atlantic; therefore, the advanced economies of France, the northern United States, and Great Britain were ruled, in effect, by southern planters.” The backlash to slavery — the effort to restrain its growth and contain its spread — was an existential threat to the Southern elite.
It was the realization of that threat with the election of Abraham Lincoln — whose Republican Party was founded to stop the spread of slavery and who inherited a federal state with the power to do so — that pushed the Southern elite to gamble its future on secession. They would leave the union and attempt to forge a slave empire on their own.”
David Lindsay: This is a great essay, and it had me struggling with the hope it is right. The following comment helped articulate some of my reservations.
“Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) was a prominent Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869. Before the war, Forrest amassed substantial wealth as a cotton plantation owner, horse and cattle trader, real estate broker, and slave trader. In June 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army and became one of the few soldiers during the war to enlist as a private and be promoted to general without any prior military training. An expert cavalry leader, Forrest was given command of a corps and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname “The Wizard of the Saddle”. He used his cavalry troops as mounted infantry and often deployed artillery as the lead in battle, thus helping to “revolutionize cavalry tactics”, although the Confederate high command is seen by some commentators to have underappreciated his talents. Although scholars generally acknowledge Forrest’s skills and acumen as a cavalry leader and military strategist, he has remained a controversial figure in Southern racial history for his main role in the massacre of several hundred Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, a majority of them black, coupled with his role following the war as a leader of the Klan.In April 1864, in what has been called “one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history”, troops under Forrest’s command at the Battle of Fort Pillow massacred hundreds of troops, composed of black soldiers and white Tennessean Southern Loyalists fighting for the Union, who had already surrendered. Forrest was blamed for the slaughter in the Union press, and this news may have strengthened the North’s resolve to win the war.”
Source: Nathan Bedford Forrest – Wikipedia
Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.
“NASHVILLE — God knows I didn’t visit the Tennessee State Museum last week to pay my respects to the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, but while I was there I figured I might as well take a look. It’s been quite a year for the Confederate general, slave trader and grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
In June, Forrest’s remains were disinterred from their burial site in Memphis and transported across the state to the new National Confederate Museum in Columbia, Tenn. The transfer was the result of years of activists’ efforts to rid largely Black Memphis — where Martin Luther King Jr., of course, was assassinated — of any remnants of Forrest’s legacy there.
“It’s like a burden has been lifted,” Van D. Turner, a Shelby County commissioner, told The Associated Press. “It just gives us breath.”
The next month, the giant bust of Forrest was removed from the Tennessee State Capitol, where it has been generating controversy since it was installed in 1978. It was reinstalled in the Tennessee State Museum in a small temporary gallery adjacent to a permanent exhibition about Tennessee’s role in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Forrest’s role as a slave trader and Ku Klux Klan leader, among other depredations, is clearly explained in the permanent exhibition, and this historical context is very different from the place of honor the bust occupied in the Capitol. Visitors to the Tennessee State Museum, learn exactly who Nathan Bedford Forrest really was and exactly which evil he fought to preserve.
“. . . Rachel Carson, the author of the environmental classic “Silent Spring,” attributed the rampant use of pesticides in part to government “propaganda” and “the authoritarian control that has been vested in the agricultural agencies.” Like Mr. Nader, she urged Americans to stop trusting the government to act responsibly.
Today, with an onslaught of attacks on the regulatory state coming from the right, it may seem counterintuitive to study how Mr. Nader, Ms. Carson and their allies contributed — from the left — to criticizing government. But in the 1970s, it was as if liberals took the big-government bicycle apart to fix it and then couldn’t figure out how to get it running properly again.
Now, as Democrats double down on using the government to address the urgent problems of our era, like climate change and economic inequality, they should absorb the lessons of this history. If you attack government but still want to wield its power for social good, you have to show you can make it work better.” . . .