Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Confederate Heritage Honors Klan Founder

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 4, 2014



John Booker Kennedy was one of the original six Confederate veterans who organized the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee. In fact, according to one history of the group, it was Kennedy who suggested they call themselves after the Greek word kuklos, that another member suggested be written as “Ku Klux.” Kennedy’s own obituary in the May 1913 issue of the Confederate Veteran magazine explicitly acknowledges his role in the founding of the group. Confederate Heritage™ folks will trip all over each other in the rush to absolve Nathan Bedford Forrest of the common (and strictly incorrect) accusation that he was a founder of the Klan, but John Booker Kennedy really was.

I do wish these folks would quit pretending that they’re put off by the Ku Klux Klan, and have no truck with it. Confederate Veteran magazine, then (as now) the official publication of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, certainly wasn’t squeamish about embracing the group. Robert Mestas, the proprietor of Defending the Heritage, surely knows about Kennedy’s history, since it appears that he lifted both the image and caption from the Tennessee State Archives. Here’s the full caption:


Confederate Veteran John B. Kennedy
Kennedy served the Confederacy as a private with Company A of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He was wounded at Chickamauga and at Jonesboro, Georgia. Kennedy was one of the six original organizers of the Ku Klux Klan on December 24, 1865, in the Pulaski law office of Major Thomas M. Jones, and he would be the last of the six founders to die.


I don’t know why I should expect better from Robert. After all, he has a habit of making up fake quotes from Confederate veterans, right?



18 Responses

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  1. Jon said, on October 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Robert has a lot of bad habits. He frequently misquotes, takes things out of context, tells half-truths, & some flat out lies. He will ban anyone at that site who even begins to explain how he is wrong. So there is no surprise that he would hide the identity of Kennedy.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      It’s not unique to Robert. He’s just one of the more prominent online practitioners of it.

  2. jarretr said, on October 4, 2014 at 11:23 am

    If these folks were really interested in heritage, they’d admit that, for many a Rebel soldier (and southern Democrat), the Ku Klux Klan was a logical extension of antebellum/Confederate-era ideology.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Robert E. Lee is (rightfully) given credit for rejecting the idea that his men should melt away into the woods and carry on the war as guerrillas and partisans — what today we would call an insurgency. But the reality is that the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups during Reconstruction were doing just exactly that.

      • jarretr said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

        Indeed, the Klan wouldn’t have fit in with the regular army side of the war, but the guerrilla side, well, that’s another story.

      • Bob Nelson said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        There’s also a rumor, often quoted — cannot substantiate it, verify it or dismiss it out of hand — that before the KKK got organized at the Maxwell House in Nashville in 1867, representatives of the Klan contacted Robert E. Lee about becoming the Imperial Wizard. He declined. Says a lot about the character of the man.

        • Andy Hall said, on October 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          Everything I’ve read about Lee suggests that after Appomattox he considered that struggle over, done, finished.

          • Neon Confederate said, on October 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

            You can not join the SCV without having a confederate ancestor that is validated by genealogical records. There is no auxiliary membership so that my friend is nonsense.Times change and people with it so what.The various local Camps have their own character.I belong to a camp in California that has about 40 % percent of the membership who belong to the Sons of Union veterans of the Civil War. A good deal of us belong to the society of teh War of 1812,Sons of the American Revolution adn I belong to the Sons of the Republic of Texas.

            I had a great granddaughter 27th Virginia nd a great great grandfather 9th Va who surrendered at Appomattox and are in the parole book. They both handed the story Lee made it clear the War was over.

  3. Bob Nelson said, on October 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Am unable to connect to your link about “making up fake quotes.” A message says it is unavailable on Facebook. Perhaps it’s been taken down. For those who may not know, the old “Confederate Veteran” magazines (1893-1932) are available online. Interesting reading although sometimes you have to spade through the rhetoric. A good place to look for biographical information on former Confederate soldiers (obits), especially officers of lower rank. As you may or may not know, I joined the S.C.V. for a few years although I have no ancestors from the South. Just wanted to get a slant on the group. You are correct — the modern magazine makes an attempt to distance itself from the KKK whereas the original publications had no problem embracing the organization.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      It’s still there, not sure why you don’t see it. Robert acknowledged he made it up, but only after people began asking him about the source.

      So far, no one over at “Defending the Heritage” has asked about Kennedy’s involvement in organizing the Klan. I’m sure most don’t know, and Robert clearly doesn’t want them to. That’s why he omitted the last sentence of the caption he copied over from the Tennessee archives.

      • OhioGuy said, on October 4, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        What a [redacted]! The problem is that some folks will believe it. Next thing you know he’ll be posting quotes from exslaves about how much they liked the old plantation life and cursed the day the Yankee hordes arrived.

  4. Mike Musick said, on October 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    On the photo with Andy’s original post: Love the dog, though.

  5. terry said, on October 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Wow, look at that black confederate in the archive picture!!

  6. OhioGuy said, on October 7, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Well, I agree that R.E. Lee would not have supported the KKK in any way. However, I think it’s important to remember that the vast majority of the original KKK members (and members of the other similar groups) were Confederate veterans. Also, as Albion Tourgée pointed out in his writings, these terrorist groups used Confederate Army tactics and communication procedure in planning and organizing their murderous activities.

  7. Neon Confederate said, on October 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    America always uses terror ask the plains Indians about D Sherman,he slaughter of the Philippine insurrection.not to mention the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo. Or Shermans march to the sea.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      As a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, I’m sure you’re aware of the extermination policy against the Comanche adopted by President Lamar, and continued through the Republic period and right up through statehood to the Civil War. I’m sure you’re also aware that several Confederate generals from Texas, including Ben McCulloch, Albert Sydney Johnston and Sul Ross owed their Confederate commissions in part to their aggressive campaigns against Native Americans as part of the Texas Rangers (e.g., the Battle of Pease River). Removal or extermination of Native Americans occurred pretty much every place where settlers wanted to live, and usually with their enthusiastic support. It’s not something cooked up in Washington or by “D. Sherman,” whoever that might be.

  8. Neon Confederate said, on October 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    D is just a typo. Of course I am aware of that my statement is directed at the entire US including the confederacy.I had a great Uncle who was captured by Federals and then served as a body guard and federal soldier during the war fighting Comanches. I am not a Confederate apologist, but constant equating of the average soldier with some kind of arch fiend that goes on with some of you colleagues is a bit much

    • Andy Hall said, on October 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      “Of course I am aware of that my statement is directed at the entire US including the confederacy.”

      Your previous comment certainly didn’t read that way.

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