Back to top

Nathan Bedford Forrest, et al, to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, September 17, 1866, Memphis, Tennessee.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, detail

Prior to a scheduled "Convention of Southern Soldiers" in Memphis, a group of former Confederate officers sent this message to a mass meeting of Union veterans then gathered in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Soldiers' and Sailors' Convention was a meeting of former federal servicemen who largely supported the conciliatory policies of President Johnson and the Democratic Party.  Sensing an opportunity for fraternity and a restoration of political rights for the former Confederacy, the former secessionist soldiers made it clear that they trusted this gathering to speak for their future and in return pledged loyalty to the United States and "security of life, person, and property, and freedom of speech and opinion to all."  The signatures of the notorious Nathan Bedford Forrest and others soon to be active in the Klu Klux Klan did not move public opinion in the North in favor of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Association.  (By John Osborne) 

Tabs