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PostNathan Bedford Forrest; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 04/07/17 11:40 am)
Gary Moore writes:
In the discussion of the transatlantic slave trade, JE (6 April) asked my opinion of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the former slave trader. I've usually stayed away from making conclusive statements about Forrest because he was such a complex figure, covered by the myths and emotions of an excited age. The Ft. Pillow massacre story about his troops takes on a different light every time I look at it, and Forrest himself apparently once saved a man from lynching from a white mob. His life as a slave dealer reflects the amazingly contorted psychology of his environment, but this is hardly an excuse when looking from outside those contortions.
JE has a manuscript of mine that contains the following quote: "The reality of southern slavery lay behind a curtain of mystery so thick, historian Michael Tadman has pointed out, that no firm picture of the average slave plantation has ever emerged. This was scarcely vindicating, however. Tadman also documented how the business of slavery verifiably sent long coffles of chained merchandise shuffling through the countryside, as traders broke up families to buy cheap and sell dear. And this was only one aspect of the evil."
JE comments: Gary Moore sent me a gloss of "coffles," one of those words we fortunately no longer need to know: a chained procession of animals or slaves. Tellingly in the context of our present discussion, it comes from the Arabic: qafila, a caravan or trading company.
I'm swamped at present, but I look forward to reading Gary's manuscript. Getting a sneak peek at WAISer writings is one of the best perks of this job.
How about a Nathan Bedford Forrest quote: "No damn man kills me and lives." It's worthy of Yogi Berra.