Thursday, August 20, 2020

Confederate Group: Capitol Commission Has No Say on Second Floor … of the Capitol

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge State Capitol building
  • State Capitol building

The Tennessee Capitol Commission had no business trying to remove the bust of slave owner and disgraced Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol, according to the group who donated the bust in the first place.

The Nashville-based Joe Johnston Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the commission and the state of Tennessee Monday to stop the removal of the bust.

The suit claims the state owns the Capitol building. It also claims the Capitol Commission is tasked with the preservation of the Capitol, “including the building and contiguous grounds.” But the suit contends the “Capitol Commission lacks any jurisdiction over the Forrest bust or as to other matters related to the second floor of the Capitol,” which is where the Forrest bust is placed.

The group has legal interest in the Forrest bust saga, as it raised the funds to create the bust.
“Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of America’s most remarkable men and is considered by many to be this country’s most outstanding cavalry commander,” reads the camp’s website. “During Forrest’s military career he captured 31,000 prisoners, came under the fire 179 times, and had 29 horses shot from under him. Forrest reportedly said, ‘They got 29 of my horses but I am one up on them.’ With his own hands he had killed 30 of the enemy.”

To raise the funds for the bust, the camp commissioned a painted portrait of Forrest. Raising the money took five years, according to the suit. On their site, the camp still offers a 3’X2’ print of that portrait of Forrest for purchase. It’s “suitable for framing” and costs $20 with $6 shipping and handling.

  • Joe Johnston Camp 28, Sons of Confederate Veterans (Johnston, left)

The suit claims the bust is protected by a 1971 joint resolution from the Tennessee House and Senate. Only state lawmakers can determine whether or not the bust can go anywhere, the camp claims.

“As set forth herein, the Capitol Commission is not a ‘public entity’ that has control over either the Forrest bust nor the contents or composition of the second floor of the Capitol and there lacks authority and it is not a proper party to adopt any action to see a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission,” reads the suit.

That is exactly what the Capitol Commission did last month. But the commission also asked for two other busts — of historical Navy officers — to be removed from the floor as well. The Historical Commission could take up a vote on the waiver later this year.

Read the suit here:

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