January 18, 2022

Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch’s Household Loves Merciless Accomplice Common and Klan Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest

10 min read


During an interview with a Catholic anti-abortion outlet this September, Lynn Fitch—the lawyer arguing the case that could effectively overturn Roe v. Wade—known as reproductive freedom a “states’ rights” difficulty.

Fitch, Mississippi’s first girl lawyer normal, is undoubtedly conscious of the historic associations of that phrase, which one native outlet famous has been “often invoked throughout Mississippi’s historical past, together with in protection of slavery, segregation and the state’s now-defunct same-sex marriage ban.” Very almost as a rule, the utilization of “states’ rights” appears to presage a curbing of civil rights, and Fitch’s effort to ban almost all abortions in her state suits that sample. It’s a authorized effort steeped in patriarchy and misogyny, twin oppressions that continuously come packaged with white supremacy.

These connections possible sprang to thoughts for a lot of earlier this month when a profile of Fitch talked about her household’s 8,000-acre farm, often called “Galena Plantation,” aka “Fitch Farms,” the place she spent childhood weekends horse using and searching quail. The location was initially owned by William Henry Coxe, whom one newspaper in 1894 described as “a rabid secessionist”; one other Coxe property web site says of the first Galena Plantation house, which was destroyed within the Fifties, that “bricks for the muse and the chimneys have been burned on the place by slave workman (sic), and the high-quality inside detailing was additionally the work of slave carpenters.” An African American family tree web site locations the variety of enslaved of us forced to labor at Galena Plantation at 104, and a 1971 article from Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger notes “the slave quarters” on the farm “have been so massive it was mistaken for a village.”

Invoice Fitch, Lynn’s father, apparently renovated that once-meager housing, and right this moment it’s possible among the many lodgings out there to paying friends of Galena Plantation—a form of Accomplice Disneyland on the identical web site the place Black of us have been enslaved and subjected to abuses we are going to by no means totally know.

In accordance with a 2005 article, Invoice Fitch was “a civil war buff, particularly in the case of Common Nathan Bedford Forrest.” The Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation website boasts that he “purchased, transported, and restored Nathan Bedford Forrest’s previous cabin dwelling… full with previous Civil Struggle and Nathan Bedford Forrest memorabilia.” It also indicates that “friends could retire for the night in one among six not too long ago restored Civil Struggle-era cabins, one among which was as soon as the house of Accomplice Common, Nathan Bedford Forrest.”

This temporary description curiously omits a number of the most notable details about whom Forrest was recognized to be.

Gen. Forrest ordered them shot down like canine, and the carnage continued.

For starters, Forrest is right this moment most widely known as the primary Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, which was based by former Confederates simply months after the tip of the Civil Struggle—and the beginning of black emancipation, a minimum of in identify—in 1865. Forrest is alleged to have praised the Klan marketing campaign of harassment, intimidation, and terror towards Black of us and its white supremacist aims by stating, “That’s a very good factor; that’s a rattling good factor. We are able to use that to maintain the n—-rs of their place.” He would oversee the KKK’s development to almost half 1,000,000 members whereas main the Klan till 1869, the identical 12 months the group was officially declared a terrorist organization by a federal grand jury. In 1871, Congressional hearings concluded someplace between 20,000 and 50,000 Black folks have been murdered from 1866 to 1872 by the Klan and its violent sympathizers.

Additionally absent from the Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation recollection of Forrest is the infamous bloodbath of Black troopers he led at Fort Pillow, in Tennessee, simply alongside the Mississippi River. After Forrest and his troops had overtaken the fort, as a substitute of holding the surrendered Union troopers as prisoners of conflict, Forrest’s males went on a killing spree, taking notably murderous goal at Black Union servicemen. Accounts of this pogrom are horrific. Mack Leaming, a white Union Officer, would later write that “most of the coloured troopers, seeing that no quarters have been to be given, madly leaped into the river, whereas the rebels stood on the banks or half manner up the bluff, and shot on the heads of their victims.” He describes one Black soldier, who whereas trying to give up “appeared to be wounded and crawled on his palms and knees. Lastly one of many accomplice troopers positioned his revolver to the pinnacle of the coloured soldier and killed him.”

One other white Union naval officer, Robert S. Critchell, penned an 1864 letter to the New York Occasions during which he described surveying the our bodies of lifeless Black troopers alongside the riverbank within the aftermath. ​​“Most of them had two wounds,” Critchell wrote. “I noticed a number of coloured troopers of the Sixth United States Artillery, with their eyes punched out with bayonets; lots of them have been shot twice and bayoneted additionally.”

Even one among Forrest’s Confederates painted a scene of the immoral violence, writing that “poor deluded negroes would run as much as our males, fall upon their knees and with uplifted palms scream for mercy however they have been ordered to their toes after which shot down… I with a number of others tried to cease the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded however Common Forrest ordered them shot down like canine, and the carnage continued.”

A surviving Black combatant, testifying before Congress in 1864, recalled that Forrest’s Confederates “nailed some black sergeants to the logs and set the logs on hearth,” and gave a firsthand eyewitness account of seeing Forrest among the many violent throngs.

A closing report from the Home Committee on the Conduct of the War from Might 1864 detailed but extra cruelty:

The officers and males appeared to vie with one another within the devilish work; males, girls, and even kids, wherever discovered, have been intentionally shot down, overwhelmed, and hacked with sabres; a number of the kids no more than ten years previous have been pressured to face up and face their murderers whereas being shot; the sick and the wounded have been butchered with out mercy, the rebels even coming into the hospital constructing and dragging them out to be shot, or killing them as they lay there unable to supply the least resistance. All around the hillside the work of homicide was occurring; numbers of our males have been collected collectively in strains or teams and intentionally shot; some have been shot whereas within the river, whereas others on the financial institution have been shot and their our bodies kicked into the water, lots of them nonetheless dwelling however unable to make any exertions to avoid wasting themselves from drowning. A few of the rebels stood on the highest of the hill or a brief distance down its aspect, and known as to our troopers to come back as much as them, and as they approached, shot them down in chilly blood; if their weapons or pistols missed hearth, forcing them to face there till they have been once more ready to fireplace. Throughout have been heard cries of “No quarter!” “No quarter!” “Kill the damned n—-ers; shoot them down!” All who requested for mercy have been answered by essentially the most merciless taunts and sneers. Some have been spared for a time, solely to be murdered below circumstances of higher cruelty….

These deeds of homicide and cruelty ceased when evening got here on, solely to be renewed the subsequent morning, when the demons rigorously sought among the many lifeless mendacity about in all instructions for any of the wounded but alive, and people they discovered have been intentionally shot. Scores of the lifeless and wounded have been discovered there the day after the bloodbath by the boys from a few of our gunboats who have been permitted to go on shore and acquire the wounded and bury the lifeless. The rebels themselves had made a pretence of burying an incredible lots of their victims, however that they had merely thrown them, with out the least regard to care or decency, into the trenches and ditches in regards to the fort, or the little hollows and ravines on the hill-side, masking them however partially with earth. Parts of heads and faces, palms and toes, have been discovered protruding by the earth in each path.

THE BUTCHER FORREST AND HIS FAMILY: All of Them Slave Drivers and Girls Whippers

And nonetheless, there may be but extra lacking from the Fitch Farms discover about Forrest, whose former property the Fitch household appears so proud to host. Earlier than the conflict, Forrest made his fortune as a “slave dealer.” Samuel Hall, a previously enslaved man, wrote in 1912 that Forrest “would purchase up slaves and hold them on this yard and promote them like folks promote hogs right this moment.” One other freedman, Louis Hughes described how Forrest had cruelly bought off his spouse’s family.

“Once they arrived in Memphis, they have been put within the dealer’s yard of Nathan Bedford Forrest,” Hughes recounted. “None of [her] household have been bought to the identical particular person besides my spouse and one sister. All the remaining have been bought to separate individuals.”

Forrest possible additionally raped Black girls, each these he enslaved and others, and an 1864 article within the New York Tribune said as a lot. Forrest biographer Jack Hurst has a verified record of Forrest’s first act as an enslaver being the “buy” of “a Negrow [sic] girl named Catharine aged seventeen and her youngster named Thomas. The Tribune article — THE BUTCHER FORREST AND HIS FAMILY: All of Them Slave Drivers and Girls Whippers — appears to make reference this similar enslaved girl, describing her as Forrest’s extramarital “spouse,” a title that can’t be held by somebody with no authorized autonomy over their physique or life. The article additionally fees Forrest with personally beating a slave to demise:

He was accounted imply, vindictive, merciless and unscrupulous. He had two wifes [sic] — one white, the opposite coloured [Catharine], by every of which he had two kids. His “patriarchal” spouse, Catharine, and his spouse, had frequent quarrels or home jars. The slave pen of previous Bedford Forrest, was an ideal horror to all negroes far and close to…

His mode of punishing refractory slaves was to compel 4 of his fellow slaves to face and maintain the sufferer stretched out within the air, after which Bedford and his brother John would stand, one on both sides, with lengthy, heavy whips, and lower up their victims till the blood trickled to the bottom. Girls have been usually stripped bare, and with a bucket of salt water standing by, during which to dip the devices of torture, a heavy leather-based thong, their backs have been lower up, till the blisters lined the entire floor, the blood of their wounds mingling with the briny combination so as to add torment to the infliction. One slave man was whipped to demise by Bedford, who used a trace-chain doubled for the aim of punishment. The slave was secretly buried, and the circumstance was solely recognized to the slaves of the jail, who solely dared to check with the circumstance in whispers.”

Famous historian Eric Foner also writes {that a} Black freedman named Ned Forrest Hargress was “seemingly the son of a slave girl raped by the Accomplice normal Nathan Bedford Forrest because the Civil Struggle drew to a detailed.” Sydney Nathans’ A Thoughts to Keep: White Plantation, Black Homeland consists of that Forrest and his troops camped in a single day in Greensboro, Alabama, in April 1865. An enslaved girl named Dorothy, pressured to cook dinner for the Confederates, was later “summoned to the tent of the Common.”

“When Dorothy had a son 9 months later, on January 1, 1866, she believed that Common Nathan Bedford Forrest was his father. She gave her son Forrest’s identify to affirm the hyperlink.”

All of those crimes, horrors, and violence—sexual and murderous—have been dedicated by the person who owned the log cabin that stands on the Fitch property, and which the Texas AG’s father, who died earlier this year at the age of 88, reportedly transported 40 miles, “disassembled and reassembled,” and “lovingly restored” log by log, before moving into it himself. A lot of this data is broadly recognized amongst these of us aware of Forrest, together with “Civil Struggle buff” Invoice Fitch and the household he raised on tales from that period. And someway, the Fitch household continues to brag that it owns this property and invitations of us to remain in it, as if to shout their indifference to his murderous anti-Black cruelty—or maybe to sign their approval of it.

Texas Lawyer Common Fitch was a signatory to a letter that propagates Republican race-baiting and misinformation about vital race principle, and which recommended funding must be denied to public faculties that train “any initiatives that characterize america as irredeemably racist or based on ideas of racism.” Final 12 months, she dropped charges against Canyon Boykin, a white former cop who was indicted by a grand jury in 2016 for manslaughter within the killing of Ricky Ball, a Black 26-year-old, throughout a visitors cease. She filed an unsuccessful movement in April to place the brakes on a lawsuit by Black Mississippi parents who’re suing the state for breaking “federal legislation by spending much less on majority-Black faculties than majority-white ones.” Fitch additionally opposes efforts to overturn an 1890 Jim Crow era provision within the Mississippi Structure that bans individuals who have been charged with felonies from voting for the remainder of their lives.

Now, she’s trying to power pregnancies in Mississippi, and finally, to finish the period of reproductive rights—which inserts with the remainder of the story, lastly instructed.

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