The Knights of the Golden Circle Support the Confederacy
By Alice Mullaly
Jefferson Public Radio
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
As many as 2,500 Southern sympathizers in Oregon joined the national Knights
of the Golden Circle society that supported the Confederacy during the Civil
War. One of its chapters was in Jacksonville.
The organization used secret passwords and signs. If a man stroked his beard
with thumb and first finger of his right hand touching and another responded
by scratching behind his right ear, these men would know they were both
Knights of the Golden Circle.
Some members supported forming an independent Republic of the Pacific Coast
that would condone a labor force of Chinese, Hawaiian, and Negro slaves.
More menacingly, these secret groups bought guns and practiced military
drills. An Oregon militia troop was called up in 1864 to quell the threat of
openly militant Knights in the Long Tom and Siuslaw River valleys of
Joseph Lane, Oregon's Indian fighter, outspoken southern sympathizer and the
state's first U.S. Senator, was sent back to Oregon in disgrace, accused of
smuggling guns to the Knights.
With the defeat of the South in the Civil War, the Knights of the Golden
Circle vanished, but their beliefs persisted with many people.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program
producer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It Was is a
co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To share
stories or learn more about the series, visit asitwas - dot.org.
Source: McLagan, Elizabeth, A Peculiar Paradise: a History of Blacks in
Oregon, 1788-1940, The Oregon Black History Project, Georgian Press, 1980