Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee Date in the current year: July 13, 2024

Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, celebrated on Tennessee in July 13, is one of the most controversial holidays in the United States since it celebrates a Confederate Army general who was also a slave trader and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born on July 13, 1821 in the family of a blacksmith. When he was 16 years old, his father died, and Forrest became the primary caretaker of the big family (his parents had 12 children, with Nathan and his twin sister Fanny being the eldest). In 1841, Forrest joined his uncle Jonathan’s business. He inherited the business following his uncle’s death in 1845.

By the mid-1850s, Forrest had earned enough money to acquire several cotton plantations and become a successful slave trader. By the end of the decade, he had become one of the richest and most influential men in the South. In 1858, Forrest was even elected an aldermen in Memphis.

After the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Forrest enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private. Since the army was very poorly equipped, he used his own money to buy horses and equipment for a Tennessee volunteer regiment.

The governor of Tennessee and Forrest’s superior officers were surprised to see someone of his wealth and prominence enlist as a private, especially taking into account that major planters didn’t have to serve at all. They decided to commission Forrest as a lieutenant colonel and tasked him with recruiting and training a battalion of mounted rangers.

Despite his lack of formal military training or experience, Forrest was a good leader and tactician. During the war, he participated in many important battles, including the Battle of Sacramento, the Battle of Fort Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh, the First Battle of Murfreesboro, and many more. By the end of the war, he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Forrest capitulated on May 9, 1865, a month after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

After the end of the war and the abolition of slavery Forrest, unlike many other Confederate leaders, didn’t go into politics due to his lack of formal education. He tried several business ventures to recover from the financial setback caused by the abolition, but they were unsuccessful.

In late 1866 or early 1867, Forrest got involved in the Ku Klux Klan and soon became the organization’s Grand Wizard. When Congress investigated Klan activities in 1871, he denied membership. During his final years, Forrest’s business ventures continued to fail and his health began to decline. He died from complications of diabetes on October 29, 1877.

For many years, Nathan Bedford Forest Day used to be an official holiday in Tennessee, proclaimed annually by the governor in accordance with state law. However, more and more people each year opposed the observance, arguing that Forrest’s background as a slave trader and white supremacist views outweighed his military accomplishments.

In 2020, the Tennessee legislature passed the bill which released the governor from issuing a proclamation of Nathan Bedford Forest Day every year. Despite this, the observance wasn’t canceled for good as of 2021.

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Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee, holidays in Tennessee, observances in the United States, observances in Tennessee