NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Gov. Bill Lee recommended Wednesday that the State Capitol Commission move the controversial bust of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest to the Tennessee State Museum where it could be displayed in context.
The State Capitol Commission is scheduled to take up the issue of moving the bust on Thursday.
“What I would add now is that the most appropriate way to get full context to this complicated life is to put the bust in the State Museum where the very purpose is to see and understand our history in full,” Lee said. “These are my thoughts on what the Capitol Commission should do: That we put the bust in the museum. where it can be part of an exhibit that can be studied and learned from and seen in full context.”
Lee emphasized his recommendation is far different from the “destructive tide” that has resulted in the defacing of Confederate statues in several cities across the country.
“The Nathan Bedford Forrest bust is not just another Confederate symbol. There are reasons that this particular bust has for 40 years stood above others as controversial,” Lee said. “It’s because this particular individual, and a particular season of his life significantly contributed to one of the most regretful and painful chapters in our nation’s history.
“I’m asking the Capital Commission to consider whether the current placement of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust allows for his full story to be told. And his contribution to our history to be fully understood,”
He is remembered for the infamous massacre of over 300 black soldiers at Fort Pillow in West Tennessee by troops under his command. He also was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War.
He is also remembered for skill as a military strategist despite not having any formal military training. His maxim was “get there first with the most men,”