Did Nathan Bedford Forrest found the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)?I know he was the first grand wizard but did he found the KKK?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is improbable that former Confederate cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest personally and singularly founded the Ku Klux Klan. He may well have been an early member and, possibly, even its first national leader--the Grand Imperial Wizard. Forrest denied many times ever being part of the KKK, but his own later statements contradict his denial, and there is little doubt that he supported its right to exist and its main goals. According to one source,

Six well-educated Confederate veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee, created the original Ku Klux Klan on December 24, 1865... The name was formed by combining the Greek kyklos (κυκλος, circle) with clan.

The driving force of the early KKK was actually another former Confederate general, George Gordon, a native of Pulaski. Gordon was one of 14 Confederate generals killed or wounded at the disastrous Battle of Franklin in 1864, and he is credited with writing the KKK "Prescript, or Klan dogma." It was probably Gordon who first invited Forrest to participate.

Forrest became involved sometime in late 1866 or early 1867. A common report is that Forrest arrived in Nashville in April 1867 while the Klan was meeting at the Maxwell House Hotel, probably at the encouragement of a state Klan leader, former Confederate general George Gordon. The organization had grown to the point where an experienced commander was needed, and Forrest fitted the bill. In Room 10 of the Maxwell, Forrest was sworn in as a member.

Forrest was interviewed by a Cincinnati Commercial newspaper writer in August 1868 in which he answered questions about the Klan. He denied being a member but applauded the goals of the "protective military organization," and claimed that its strength

"... In Tennessee there are over 40,000; in all the Southern states they number about 550,000 men."

For more of Forrest's interview, see the link below:


Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question