Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Golden Circle

Golden Circle (proposed country)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Golden Circle was a pan-Caribbean political alliance inspired by the Burr conspiracy, in the 1850s that would have included many countries into a United States-like federal union. The Golden Circle was centered in Havana and was 2,400 miles (3,900 km) in diameter. It included northern South America, most of Mexico, all of Central America, Cuba, Haiti and most other Caribbean islands, and the southern United States. The circle's border roughly coincides with the Mason-Dixon line, and it includes the cities of St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Mexico City, and Panama City.

Many supporters of the Federal Republic of Central America that had failed in 1840 saw the Golden Circle as its natural extension[citation needed]. Never realized as a political unit, the Circle was competitive with and threatened the establishment of strong federal governments in the United States and Mexico[citation needed]. In the years after the Mexican-American War, many Americans felt that the largely weak and corrupt governments in Latin America should be reformed into democracies, by conquest if necessary[citation needed].

One of the political arguments in favor of the Golden Circle involved slavery. European colonialism and the African slave trade had declined more rapidly in some countries than others, and by 1850 slavery had been abolished in all British and French territories, along with the northern U.S. states. Slavery was, however, still practiced in the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and in the Brazilian Empire. In the years prior to the American Civil War, abolitionism was one of several divisive issues in the country. In the United States, despite the closing of the slave trade, the slave population continued to grow during this time through natural increase.

The delicate balance of power between the northern and southern U.S. states was threatened by the proposed Golden Circle. Federalists feared that a new Caribbean-centered coalition would align the new Latin American states with the slave-state side. This would tilt the balance of power southward and weaken U.S. federalism in favor of the Pan-American confederalist union. Gold Circlists believed that an alignment with the remaining slaveholding Caribbean territories would reinforce their political strength.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was the U.S. organization formed to promote and help create the Pan-American union of states. It was organized in 1854 by George W. L. Bickley, a Virginia-born doctor, editor, and adventurer living in Cincinnati. It grew slowly until 1859 and reached its height in 1860. The membership, scattered from New York to California and into Latin America, was never large.
After the civil war, many Americans moved their slave-based operations to Cuba and Brazil (see Confederados), where slavery remained legal into the 1880s.

Other American adventurists in Latin America echoed some of the ideals of the Golden Circle; William Walker was the most successful of those individuals who attempted to build a Latin American empire. Some historians think that the Spanish-American War was a continuation of these policies.

In fiction

The fictional speculative movie C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America which looks at a Southern victory in the Civil War, was inspired by a brief mention of the concept of the Golden Circle in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War (see section on 'Directors Comment)' - though it is interpreted in the film as a plan enacted after the war, rather than one that ended in 1860 before the war started.

See also

Republic of Sonora
All of Mexico Movement
American Empire

Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves enacted 1807, outlawed new slaves brought into US

Further reading

May, Robert E. (1973). The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 080710051X.
Categories: Slavery in the United States | Slavery in the New World | Proposed countries