FACT CHECK: CBS NEWS CHANNEL 5, NASHVILLE, TN – WAS GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST CLEARED BY CONGRESS? NO.

1 Feb

CLAIM: CBS NEWS CHANNEL 5, NASHVILLE, TN – WAS GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST CLEARED BY CONGRESS? NO.

SOURCE: LINK

AUTHOR: CBS NEWS WVLT – CHANNEL 8, Knoxville, TN – Scripps Media, Inc.

INVESTIGATOR:

John Needham

VERDICT REVIEW:

INACCURATE

FACT CHECK DETAILS:

FACT TAG EARNED: FACTUAL INACCURATE

EXPLANATION TAG EARNED: MISLEADING

LOGIC TAG EARNED: NONE

CONTENT TAG EARNED: CLICK-BAIT HEADLINE

EXAGGERATION TAG EARNED: NONE

SOURCE TAG EARNED: NONE

IMPRECISE LANGUAGE TAG EARNED: NONE

OBJECTIVITY: NOT REVIEWED

FACTUAL INACCURATE

Yes. General Forrest was cleared on February 19, 1872. The Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States in its final report to Congress cleared Generals Forrest and Gordon of any wrong doing and complimented them for their role as peace makers in the affair.

“…it was that General Forrest and other men of influence in the State (Tennessee), by the exercise of their moral power, induced them (The Klu Klux Klan and similar groups) to disband.”

SOURCE: Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, made to the two Houses of Congress February 19, 1872 – Page 463

The statements of these gentlemen (Generals Forrest and Gordon) are so full and explicit that comment would only weaken their force. The evidence taken before the committee fully sustains them as to the other States relative to which evidence was heard, and it is only necessary to turn to the records and official documents of the State of Tennessee to show that all General Forrest said about the alarm which prevailed in Tennessee during the administration of Governor Brownlow was strictly true.”  

SOURCE: Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, made to the two Houses of Congress February 19, 1872 – Pages 453-454

MISLEADING

Williams leaves the reader confused by not focusing on the topic of the fact check. Instead of focusing on proving his claim, ‘WAS GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST CLEARED BY CONGRESS? NO.’, Williams focuses on the language used by the writers of the final report to Congress, dated February 17, 1872 on what he considers to be ‘Southern Sympathetic’.

CLICK-BAIT HEADLINE

William’s claim does not appropriately support the article as the focus of the fact check is on the language used in the final report to Congress which exonerates General Forrest. 

CONTEXT

In the years following the War of 1861, violence spiked in several of southern sovereign states between the two organizations: The Ku Klux Klan and the Union/Loyal Leagues. As the Federal armies went South, the Union League spread itself among the people. The goal of the League was to grow the Republican Party’s influence in the South by declaring for negro suffrage and white disfranchisement. Republicans saw negros as nothing more than pawns to to gain total control over the South. Think of the League as the Black Lives Matter movement of its day. Widespread unemployment of both whites and blacks gave rise to widespread lawlessness. Throughout the region small bands of Leaguers looted plantations and murdered civilians. In Tennessee, Governor Brownlow used militia in heavy-handed ways to drive fear in the local populations. According to the final Constitutional Report, the Klan was a counter-movement to the domestic terrorism tactics of Governor Brownlow and the Union League. It concluded, the actions of the League and Governor Brownlow gave birth to the Klan. As a result of the lawlessness, the Klan struck back. Local Republicans raised the alarm to President Grant. Through 1870 and 1871 President Grant signed into law a series of acts to re-enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in an attempt to restore order. During this time period, President Grant handed over reports from the War Department about the violence in southern states so Congress could investigate it with the goal of bringing indictments to persons on the charge of conspiracy. The joint committee of Congress conducted over six hundred and fifty interviews which resulted in 5,000 indictments and over 1,000 convictions but General’s Forrest nor Gordon were not among them. The general government even sent sent subcommittees to examine witnesses in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and still no evidence was uncovered to charge Generals Forrest or Gordon with conspiracy.

THE AUTHOR’S FACT CHECK

Phil Williams is a reporter for CBS NEWS Channel 5 in Nashville. Mr. Williams is performing a fact check on an article written by Tennessee Representative Andy Holt for jacksonsun.com, an online newspaper serving west Tennessee, and posted on July 16, 2015; The subject of the article reads ‘Nathan B. Forrest, one of South’s first civil rights leaders’. Williams fact check was posted on CBS NEWS Channel 5 web site on July 27, 2015. SOURCE: LINK

THE AUTHOR’S CONCLUSION

Instead of focusing on proving his claim, ‘WAS GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST CLEARED BY CONGRESS? NO.’, Williams focuses on the language used by the writers of the final report to Congress, dated February 17, 1872 on what he considers to be ‘Southern Sympathetic’. In fact, Williams admits Congress exonerated General Forrest:

“Going through a state-by-state analysis, the same Minority Report that supposedly exonerated Forrest went on to declare that “negro suffrage and negro government in South Carolina is a hopeless and total failure.”

So, How did Williams come to the conclusion that Congress had not cleared General Forrest? I was left to wonder how he did too, especially after a Congressional investigation of over 600 examinations, leading to over 5,000 indictments and 1,000 convictions.

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