Gov. Haslam says Nathan Bedford Forrest bust may not stay at Cap - WSMV News 4

Gov. Haslam says Nathan Bedford Forrest bust may not stay at Capitol

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The bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed at the Tennessee Capitol. The bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed at the Tennessee Capitol.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Following controversy over the Confederate flag at the Capitol in South Carolina, Gov. Bill Haslam has spoken on a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Tennessee Capitol.

"If I'm choosing the Tennesseans that I'm going to honor, and we're only going to honor a few in the State Capitol, I don't think I'd pick Nathan Bedford Forrest," Haslam said.

Haslam said he believes the bust of Forrest was placed in the Capitol to join a bust of Union Admiral David G. Farragut. Together, Haslam said the two showed the divide of Tennesseans in the Civil War. He said he's not sure Forrest's bust will stay.

"I think this is a good opportunity for the Capitol Commission and State Historic Commission to review and say, 'Who do we want there?'" said Haslam. "Any person could have something people don't like, so the commission is going to have to think what the criteria will be."

Representative Craig Fitzhugh Tuesday announced he'll introduce a bill to place a bust of late member of the Tennessee House of Representatives Lois DeBerry in the Capitol.

Some, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, have opposed the removal of Forrest's bust from the Capitol.

"If you don't know where you came from, you don't know where you're going," said Don Scruggs, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "General Forrest was a great man who was important. Tennessee would not be Tennessee without Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was one of the greatest military minds ever in the whole world. We're proud of that in Tennessee. If you knew your history, you would not hate Nathan Bedford Forrest or the confederate flag or anything else the south represents."

Haslam isn't only speaking on the bust. He said he was contacted by at-large metro councilwoman and mayoral candidate Megan Barry Monday about having greenery block the view of a statue of Forrest that overlooks I-65.

"I agree it's not a statue that I like and that most Tennesseans are proud of, anyway," said Haslam. "We have to check the issue of what we can and we can't do. I don't think the state has the right to take everything we don't like and just plant shrubberies to block that. We have to make sure we're following along."

Bill Dorris, who owns the private property where the statue stands, said he'd prefer a wall to be built in that spot to help with noise and flooding concerns. 

He said he has the means to raise up the flags and statue to where drivers could still see them. Dorris also said he thinks it's a mistake to remove any images of Forrest because so many tourists come to Tennessee to experience its history.

Haslam also said he'd probably support legislation to have the Confederate flag removed from specialty license plates.

"I think the Confederate battle flag is something people are ready to see moved to museums," said Haslam.

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