Monday, February 27, 2012
"...KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
The Ohio river from a few miles below Pittsburg to Cairo was the dividing line between freedom on the north and west and slavery on the south and east. West Virginia (then a part of "Old Virginia") and Kentucky were slave states and Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were free states. All three of these free states had been settled in an early day largely from slave states. Southern Illinois was almost wholly settled, up to the Civil war, from the older slave states. And while some of these people moved out of the slave states to get away from slavery very many sympathized with the southern people. It was not to be expected therefore to find the south half of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois enthusiastic for the prosecution of the war. It was easy for the secessionists to come out of the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia and find in Southern Illinois enthusiastic sympathizers.
The first two years of the war were not successfully prosecuted. P 318
Beyond the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, and the victory of Pittsburg Landing, the government had no substantial fruit as the result of the war. This accounts for Illinois going Democratic in the fall of 1862. The issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation alienated from the support of the government many good citizens and influential leaders. Now while these good citizens could not openly oppose the prosecution of the war, they desired in some way to exert an influence looking toward the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of "peace at any price." To meet the need of organized effort there was brought forward semi-military secret societies that assumed a number of names. The first organization was known as the Circle of Honor. Later the name changed to Knights of the Golden Circle, and still later to the Order of American Knights, and finally to the Order of Sons of Liberty.
It was the Knights of the Golden Circle mainly which was organized in Southern Illinois, and later the order was known as the Sons of Liberty. Quite a little of the information furnished the government relative to this organization was obtained by Felix G. Stidger, a United States government secret service agent, who was in 1864 grand secretary of the order of Sons of Liberty in the state of Kentucky. Mr. Stidger made a full report to the secret service department of the government and it is incorporated in the report of Judge Advocate General J. Holt, to the department of war on October 8, 1864. In addition to this government report Mr. Stidger, in 1903, after the passions of the war had subsided, wrote a full and complete history of his connection with the order. The organization was as follows: (1) A supreme council, whose officers were supreme commander, secretary of state, and a treasurer. (2) A grand council, whose officers were a grand commander, deputy grand commander, grand secretary, and grand treasurer. (3) County parent temples: the officers were commander, secretary, and treasurer. There was a military, department in connection with the organization. The supreme commander was commander in chief; grand commanders were commanders of the forces of their respective states. There were four major generals for a state, and each congressional district was under a brigadier general. The county was under a colonel, and the forces of a township were under a captain. The writer remembers very distinctly as a school boy, being in the home of a schoolmate when an older brother of the schoolmate arrived from Alton with a one-horse buggy full of revolvers. They were encased in black leather with belt attached. It was a great privilege of the two boys to take the revolvers from the buggy and assist in carrying them into the house. He remembers also that one of the "Knights" was later captured by soldiers and lodged in a prison at Springfield along with five other brothers. Here the "Knight" died and the body was returned to the home for burial. We all went to the funeral and as we trudged along the side of the procession, the "Knights" to the number of thirty or more rode with military order behind the hearse, their revolvers in their black leather cases buckled to their waists.
It is now half a century since those troublous times, and it is with difficulty that one can get first hand information concerning the organization known as the Knights of the Golden Circle. Personal correspondence with responsible people in the several counties has revealed the fact that the order was in a flourishing condition in most of the counties in southern Illinois. We append a few of these replies, omitting names. P 319
Saline county: "The order existed here during the Civil war. Members were not numerous, and while threats of violence were made against strong union men, they lacked the leadership and courage to put their threats into execution. These Knights went to the home of a Mr. Jobe, a discharged soldier, to order him to leave the country. He was sick in bed, but calling for his gun he told them to come into his house at their peril. At this day most of the members of this order are either dead or ashamed they ever belonged to it. In either ease one can not get personal information. Judge Duff, who was arrested in Marion in the fall of 1862, was held as a prisoner in Washington for three months. In March, 1863, while holding court in Harrisburg he delivered a great tirade on "Arbitrary Arrest by the Federal Government." That was "Black Monday" for loyal union men of Saline county. The Union League was organized in Saline county in several places, and its influence had a salutary effect upon Copperheadism."
Cumberland county: "The Knights of the Golden Circle was organized in this county, but it is difficult to get reliable information."
Richland county: "Those who sympathized with the south were mustering in different sections of the county, and even made an attempt to raid the provost-marshal's office in Olney, to get the draft papers. Colonel O`Kane, who was provost-marshal, wired Governor Dick Yates, and a company of soldiers were sent to protect the office and restore order generally."
Crawford county: "While teaching at `Big Brick' (District No. 58), some years ago, I was told that the forty acres on which the school house is located, a beautiful level piece of land, was used as a drill ground by the Knights of the Golden Circle during the war. There were those who watched them from a distance on moonlight nights."
Monroe county: "Yes, there were Knights of the Golden Circle in this county, but I know nothing about them except they were rebels at heart and secret enemies of the flag.
Pope county: "I did not know of any in this county. I knew of Golden Circles in Kentucky. Its purpose was to oppose the Union.
Members of this order abused union men who would not join them. Families of unionists who went to war were ill treated by this order."
Wabash county: "Yes, the Knights of the Golden Circle was organized in this county. There was lots of them. The purpose of them was to preserve the peace in their vicinity, and protect their homes, let the invasion come from any source or place. They did not want to go to the war unless drafted, and then they had secret signs that might save them from death, if they were taken prisoners in the war. It was not of much use here, as we had no trouble in our county. I probably know something about it, for I organized about two hundred of them in our county (he probably means 200 members), and Lawrence county. We never did any harm to anybody, and when the war was over, the organization died a natural death."
Perry county: "Yes, the Golden Circle was organized in Perry county. Some of the members lived in Tamaroa."
Richland county: "No. Richland county was loyal to the union. However, lust across in Edwards to the south, and in Jasper at the north, they had this order. Its object was to discourage enlistments, aid and abetting the south. The Union League was for exactly the opposite purpose. There was never a draft on Richland. She was P 320 always ahead on her quota. Company E, Eleventh Missouri Volunteer Infantry was the result of the worked-off surplus from this county. Just across in Edwards county the enlistments were few, as they were descendants of southern families, and were in sympathy with their cause. A draft was run on this precinct (in Edwards county) and as the office of Provost-Marshal O`Kane was in Olney and as he held the list of names drawn, it was the plan of the Knights to move upon Olney, seize the list, and burn it, destroying Olney if necessary to· accomplish their plans. The Jasper Knights were to march from the north and assist. Perhaps, sometime late in the fall of `64, they astonished the citizens of the county by riding in squads bearing arms, and near 0lney they had assembled. The Union Leaguers occupied the town and the unarmed citizens were supplied from the hardware stores as the report had gone out that the city was to be burned. When all was in readiness, the sheriff went out to the Knights and commanded them to disband and to return to their respective homes or he would be compelled to scatter them by force of arms. Sentinels and pickets were stationed and no one could enter Olney that night without the password. The Knights began to disperse and long before morning were gone. This is the nearest we came of having trouble during the existence of the Knights of the Golden Circle."
Effingham county: "There were no Knights of the Golden Circle in this county, but in our neighboring county of Marion a certain prominent judge was said to be high priest in that order."..."
EXCERPT: "In the spring of 1860, the enterprising and opportunistic George W. l. Bickley embarked on a tour of the southern united states to recruit members for his secret society, the Knights of the Golden circle. Bickley had formed the KGc in the mid-1850s to extend southern interests (i.e., slavery) to a “Golden circle” of territories that included mexico, central america, parts of south america, and the caribbean. He visited several cities in march 1860, signing up recruits and gathering money to invade mexico. in early april, however, disgruntled “Knights” in New orleans denounced Bickley as a fraud and imposter. Bickley continued to solicit support and funds for his schemes but changed his focus after the election of 1860 brought abraham lincoln to the White House. instead of colonizing mexico, the KGc would defend southern rights against Yankee interference.
Bickley never realized his grand dreams, but enough men joined units of the Knights of the Golden circle that the threat to the union seemed imminent in the minds of some Northerners. claims of tens of thousands of members in midwestern states—notably indiana, illinois, and ohio—stirred fears of conspiracies against the republican government. The die for the seal of the Knights of the Golden circle came into the hands of the u.s. army when Bickley was arrested in tennessee in July 1863. although he tried to tell the arresting officers that he had no connection with the KGc, the contents of his trunk proved otherwise. along with this seal the army found several other documents relating to the Knights, including a copy of the Rules, Regulations and Principles of the Knights of the Golden Circle; a calling card for “Gen. Geo. Bickley” bearing the confederate flag and the letters “K.G.c.”; and another card that listed the secret signs of recognition known by Knights."
Monday, February 20, 2012
Again the KGC are used as a plot device along with the ususal suspects.
Excerpt: “The Lieber Code of April 24, 1863, also known as Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, General Order No 100, or Lieber Instruction signed by President Abraham Lincoln."
Excerpt: "Rothschild’s have long since been infamous for renting, leasing or otherwise employing military armies to provide the strong arm tactics needed to complete whatever task is at hand, which may or may not include world domination through control of the worlds’ wealth. One would have to follow the Trilateral Commission, The Bilderbergs, the Council on Foreign Relations, The Knights of the Golden Circle, Knights of Columbus, Knights of The Golden Fleece, Knights of Malta,Masons, Skull & Bones, The Illuminati and other not so secret anymore societies for the rest of the story."
Monday, February 13, 2012
By: Lina Gardiner
Guest Blog Featuring Lina Gardiner
Sunday, February 12, 2012
"Since I started writing, I watch for signs of what the next trend for books might be."......"My newly released book, 'What She Doesn’t Know', is about an olde worlde society that hides and protects relics in North America; an offshoot of Knights Templar, perhaps. Pure fiction, right? That’s what I thought too, until a few weeks ago when I watched Brad Meltzer’s Decoded television series about the Knights of the Golden Circle, and current day treasure hunters finding hidden codes and even treasure buried in secretly marked places. Not something I was aware of when I wrote my book. But I love the fact that the mystery I’ve created in my fictional work might even mirror something that is still going on in North America today."
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Amazing Lincoln Assasination Breakthrough?
From Brian Redmanhttp://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~wbova/fn/history/lincoln_02.htm
[Baker] did say some things which made me wonder. When I came into the room he had a stack of books by his bed and he had one open and was making marks in it. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I'm writing my memoirs." I asked him [again,] to make sure that I had heard him right and he said it over again. Then I said, "But, General, them books is already wrote." And he said, "Right, they are going to have to get up early to get ahead of old Lafe Baker." And then he laughed. I picked up one of the books and looked at it, and I saw that he was writing cipher in it.
=1= I am constantly being followed. They are professionals. I cannot fool them. In new Rome there walked three men, a Judas, a Brutus and a spy. Each planned that he should be the king when Abraham should die. One trusted not the other but they went on for that day, waiting for that final moment when, with pistol in his hand, one of the sons of Brutus could sneak behind that cursed man and put a bullet in his brain and lay his clumsey [sic] corpse away. As the fallen man lay dying, Judas came and paid respects to one he hated, and when at last he saw him die, he said, "Now the ages have him and the nation now have I." But, alas, fate would have it Judas slowly fell from grace, and with him went Brutus down to their proper place. But lest one is left to wonder what happened to the spy, I can safely tell you this, it was I. -- Lafayette C. Baker
=2= It was on the tenth of April, sixty-five, when I first knew that the plan was in action. Ecert [Major Thomas T. Eckert, in charge of military telegraph headquarters at the War Department] had made all the contacts, the deed to be done on the fourteenth. I did not know the identity of the assassin, but I knew most all else when I approached E.S. [Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War] about it. He at once acted surprised and disbelieving. Later he said: "You are a party to it too. Let us wait and see what comes of it and then we will know better how to act in the matter." I soon discovered what he meant that I was a party to it when the following day I was shown a document that I knew to be a forgery but a clever one, which made it appear that I had been in charge of a plot to kidnap the President, the Vice-President being the instigator. Then I became a party to that deed even though I did not care to. On the thirteenth he discovered that the President had ordered that the Legislature of Virginia be allowed to assemble to withdraw that state's troops from action against the U.S. He [Stanton] fermented immediately into an insane tyrade [sic]. Then for the first time I realised his mental disunity and his insane and fanatical hatred for the President. There are few in the War Department that respect the President or his strategy, but there are not many who would countermand an order that the President had given. However, during that insane moment, he sent a telegram to Gen. Weitzel countermanding the President's order of the twelfth. Then he laughed in a most spine chilling manner and said: "If he would to know who recinded [sic] his order we will let Lucifer tell him. Be off, Tom, and see to the arrangements. There can be no mistakes." This is the first that I knew that he was the one responsible for the assassination plot. Always before I thought that either he did not trust me, for he really trusted no one, or he was protecting someone until it was to his benefit to expose them. But now I know the truth and it frightens me no end. I fear that somehow I may become the sacrificial goat. There were at least eleven members of Congress involved in the plot, no less than twelve Army officers, three Naval officers and at least twenty four civilians, of which one was a governor of a loyal state. Five were bankers of great repute, three were nationally known newspapermen and eleven were industrialists of great repute and wealth. There were probably more that I know nothing of. The names of these known conspirators is presented without comment or notation in Vol one of this series. Eighty-five thousand dollars was contributed by the named persons to pay for the deed. Only eight persons knew the details of the plot and the identity of the others. I fear for my life, L.C.B. [Lafayette C. Baker]
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Secret Web Of Profiteers, Politicians, And Booth Conspirators That Led To Lincoln's Death
(Conspiracy Nation) -- Dark Union (Hoboken: Wiley & Sons, 2003. ISBN: 0-471-26481-4) by Leonard F. Guttridge and Ray A. Neff is the best book yet explaining what really was behind the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865.
Guttridge is an historian and author of several books. Neff is an Emeritus Professor at Indiana State University. Archival material upon which Dark Union is based is available to scholars at Indiana State University's Cunningham Memorial Library.
Neff is well-known to Lincoln conspiracy students as the scholar who first discovered Colonel Lafayette Baker's coded messages in an old copy of Colburn's United Service Magazine and Military Journal. Baker, head of the Union's National Detective Police (NDP, the FBI of its day), knew plenty but feared for his life. So, he cautiously revealed what he knew, shortly before he died from apparent arsenic poisoning. Conspiracy Nation previously covered Neff's circa 1957 find in Ray Neff Discovers Coded Messages. (http://www.shout.net/~bigred/Neff.htm)
Readers may be familiar with the system of fiat money, known as "Greenbacks", inaugurated during Lincoln's presidency. According to a hard-to-obtain book, Lincoln: Money Martyred (Omni Publications, first published in 1935; latest reprint 1989), Lincoln and his Treasury Secretary tried to obtain loans from New York bankers to finance the Union war effort. Terms offered for the loans were a usurious 24 to 36 percent interest. Indignant, Lincoln refused the loans. Pondering what to do, the president reportedly was advised by a close friend to get Congress to authorize the printing of "legal tender" treasury notes -- greenbacks. There is some debate over whether the greenbacks worked as reliable money. The author of Lincoln: Money Martyred claims they did, until Congress tacked on an "exception clause" rendering greenbacks "Good for all debts both public and private except duty on imports and interest on government debts." The exception clause "put the government in the light of refusing its own money for duty on imports, and gave the bankers an excuse to refuse or discount [greenbacks], which they promptly did, 30 percent..." (Lincoln: Money Martyred)
The issue of whether greenbacks (issued by the government and not by the later, so-called "Federal" Reserve) were or could have been viable is hotly debated. Whatever the case, the authors of Dark Union portray the Union as going bankrupt and in desperate need of gold. To get the needed gold, Lincoln was forced to allow secret trading of Confederate cotton, "trading with the enemy": a triangle of trade involving the South, Northern speculators, and Europe.
"But in early 1865 Lincoln began to vacillate in regard to trading with the enemy, which, along with the imminent end of the hostilities, threatened the huge profits at stake." (Dark Union) The aspect of an imminent end of hostilities threatening huge business profits suggests a theme developed by author Otto Eisenschmil: that Union victory may have been purposefully botched for years.
Also motivating Lincoln's assassination was his planned policy to go easy on the defeated Confederacy. This flew in the face of members of his own Republican Party favoring harsh treatment toward the defeated South, and of business types eager to profit from "Reconstruction."
Barely mentioned by the authors of Dark Union are the "Copperheads", renegade Democrats operating a secret society called the Knights of the Golden Circle. The power of this clandestine organization is admirably described in Shadow of the Sentinel by Warren Getler and Bob Brewer. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN: 0-7432-1968-6)
Fleshing out the little-known history of Civil War intrigue is the book, Come Retribution, which offers a scholarly look at the Confederate Secret Service. (by William A. Tidwell. University Press of Mississippi, 1988)
Bottom line: many covert forces were at work during the Civil War, and information about them has only slowly been coming to light.
Odds and Ends
Among the interesting pieces of information in Dark Union
Wall Street operated its own, private telegraph network which gave speculators (insiders) advance knowledge about war-time events.
During the Civil War, southern cotton sold, in Europe, for six times its usual price, payable in gold.
The notorious Dahlgren Raid apparently was originated by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.
Mary Lincoln's indebtedness due to her shopping sprees gave mega-merchant A.T. Stewart extraordinary influence.
Presence or lack of cotton exports directly influenced the nation's gold supply; more gold available strengthened the greenback by a sort of par: less gold meant more greenbacks needed to buy gold and vice-versa.
The war dragged on perhaps because an early end would have left Northeners less embittered and more inclined to go easy on the South. This would have damaged rapacious businessmen's "Reconstruction" schemes.
Mexico was the favored choice for postwar Confederate headquarters (this ties in with Knights of the Golden Circle info contained in Shadow of the Sentinel (op. cit.)
As in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, so too following the Lincoln assassination: a limited view of what had actually happened was quickly foisted upon the public.
Robert Lincoln, son of the murdered president, caused many of his father's papers to be removed to Chicago, where some of them were soon thereafter destroyed.
Following the Civil War, the National Detective Police (NDP) ceased to exist. Most NDP agents migrated to the "United States Detective Service" a "private agency controlled by God knows who," according to Lafayette Baker's protege Andrew Potter.
A secret investigation of events surrounding the Lincoln assassination was almost certainly conducted by the government during the 1870s.
This One Mad Act, by Izola Forrester, who claimed to be Booth's granddaughter, presents persuasive evidence that Lincoln's assassin did not die weeks after that sad event but survived many years thereafter. Forrester has the assassin eventually residing in Ceylon. So too do the authors of Dark Union prove the likelihood of Booth's survival and seclusion in Ceylon. (Noteworthy is that Shay McNeal, author of The Secret Plot To Save The Tsar, demonstrates that the Romanovs also were secluded in Ceylon following their supposed assassination by the Bolsheviks.)
The authors of Dark Union also present a photo credibly that of John Wilkes Booth taken in 1873, eight years after his supposed death. It appears that Booth exchanged identities with a British man, John B. Wilkes, to facilitate his seclusion. It also appears that the U.S. government had no wish to reclaim the real Booth, due to the embarrassment to its credibility that would cause as well as for fear that Booth would implicate others, those truly complicit in Lincoln's death.
... "Today," complain the authors, "as always, there are too many people who have a vested interest in preserving a standard version of history. Instead of welcoming new discoveries, as genuine historians should, they ignore or even try to suppress fresh evidence that tends to contradict conventional accounts."
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives
Golden Circle, Dark Plot
By THE STAFF OF THE INDIANA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY
January 30, 2012
Photo: Harper's Weekly
It was suspected that Morgan's Raid--as pictured in this illustration from the August 15, 1863 edition of Harper's Weekly--was timed to coincide with an uprising of the Knights of the Golden Circle
During the Civil War, rumors flew in Indiana, as they did elsewhere in the North, that certain parts of the state were full of Copperheads–Southern sympathizers who, it was widely believed, were not only opposed to the president and the war but who were actively working for the defeat of the Union.
Letters and memoirs, as well as official documents from the period, have proven that there were indeed many Copperheads in Indiana. More disputed, however, is whether any of these Southern sympathizers took their disagreement further into plans for the violent overthrow of the state government—plans that were said to be hatched in secret meetings of a society known as the Knights of the Golden Circle.
The Knights of the Golden Circle had been organized in the late 1850s and were said to be dedicated to preserving the slave states and to establishing a new slave empire in Mexico. By 1863, Indiana Governor Oliver Morton was convinced that these secret societies were forming in his state. Morton accused the state’s anti-war Democrats, who opposed many of Lincoln’s policies and still favored reconciliation with the South, of trying to set up a “Northwest Confederacy” in Indiana. Morton and other Republicans blamed the Knights for aiding and encouraging deserters and for a lag in the recruitment of volunteers. Morton also suspected that Morgan’s Raid had been planned “to coincide with an uprising of the Golden Circle” .
Was Morton correct, or were his charges a combination of war-time paranoia and convenient politics? Beginning in the 1960s, historian Frank Klement wrote books and articles claiming that the Knights were almost entirely a fiction. More recently, historian Jennifer Weber, who has studied the Copperheads across the North, says that historians “cannot dismiss” the sizable correspondence that proposes violent action against Northern interests. One story that may give support to Weber, and to Morton’s claims from the 1860s, comes from Florence L. Grayston, of Huntington, Indiana.
In the 1940s, Grayston wrote about a story her father had told her from his own childhood. One night a group of men came to the door asking for his father, a local doctor. The doctor was blindfolded by the men and put into their wagon. He later told the story of the night’s events to his sons. After a long drive, they arrived at a barn where two masked men lay injured—one had a broken leg and the other had been shot in the hip. The doctor attended his patients, being warned several times to tell no-one of what had occurred.
Later, in relating the story to his sons, the doctor told them that he had recognized at least one of the wounded men and others in the group as local acquaintances and friends and as members of the Knights of the Golden Circle. He remarked that “if the roll of membership of the Knights should ever be published many people might be surprised.” Florence Grayston recounted that her father would be “covered with goose pimples” when he told the story to her and that she, in turn, had “cold shivers down my spine” whenever she heard about the Knights.
We will never be certain as to whether Florence’s grandfather had an encounter with the Knights, but historians are increasingly convinced that there were Hoosiers among their membership, plotting to overthrow Indiana Governor Morton and Abraham Lincoln.
A Moment of Indiana History is a production of WFIU Public Radio in partnership with the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Research support comes from Indiana Magazine of History published by the Indiana University Department of History.
IMH Source Articles:
Frank L. Klement, “Carrington and the Golden Circle Legend in Indiana during the Civil War,” Indiana Magazine of History 61 (Mar. 1965)
Florence L. Grayston, “Lambdin P. Milligan—A Knight of the Golden Circle,” Indiana Magazine of History 43 (Dec. 1947): 379-391.
Excerpt: "With the onset of the Civil War in 1861, Pekin was divided between the pro-slavery element, who favored the Confederacy, and the abolitionist and pro-Union element. In the early days of the war, the secessionist organization known as the “Knights of the Golden Circle” (which was something of a precursor to the Ku Klux Klan), boldly worked in support of secession and slavery. The Centenary says the Knights were “aggressive and unprincipled,” and “those who believed in the Union spoke often in whispers in Pekin streets and were wary and often afraid.”
Read the article in its entirety:
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives
Monday, February 6, 2012
It is listed as a Free Market Paradise and while it tout's a strong economy its leading cause of death is exposure even though it was founded only a couple of days ago!
NationStates is a nation building sim game created by Max Barry and based loosely on his novel Jennifer Government. http://www.nationstates.net
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives
Saturday, February 4, 2012
It was founded January 11th, 2012.
(Confederates and Copperheads follow the links below.)
HEADS UP: This is a Christian Crusader themed group and if of another religion there are plenty of organisations elsewhere. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) is a pro-Dixie, pro-Confederate fraternal membership and secret society consisting of small groups of members in voluntary association.
The KGC was originally organized July 4, 1854, at Lexington, Kentucky, with five members. By 1860 there were clubs everywhere below the Mason-Dixon line. Evidence shows the order had clubs in nearly every Dixie state. More than twenty organizations could be located in Texas alone.
"This section of the country is filled with members of this mysterious organization, and their camp fires are increased every night by new parties arriving during the day. The road is dusty with their constant movement, and from this place to Goliad it is said there is a continuous caravan of them, coming in small parties and large parties, on horseback and in wagons, armed and unarmed, with money and without it." --C.A. Bridges
To become a Knight Defender of Knights of the Golden Circle (KntD) and this secret society one should be prepared to show an even temperament, leave off cursing, do personal research in quest of Christian truths and promote the Order for the same said purposes. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org It's a secret order. Please do not list name, address and telephone number in forum postings. The KGC is not a Masonic organisation. Please visit the KGC Home page. (Posts made on this forum are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Knights of the Golden Circle.) --
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives
Mark A. Lause.
A Secret Society History of the Civil War
University of Illinois Press, 2011
The influence of Freemasonry on American Independence is fairly well-known (e.g. from Baigent and Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge, which formed the basis for Dan Brown’s latest novel), but not much has been published, at least in Britain, about the involvement of secret societies in the American Civil War. This book is not entirely easy to read, because, for one thing, it is assumed that the reader will know a lot about the American Civil War already, which is not true of the average Briton, and there were a bewildering number of political movements flourishing at the time, even before one gets to the secret societies.
The latter were generally organised on quasi-masonic grounds, but espoused between them the whole spectrum of contemporary political views (in contrast to the Freemasons themselves, who were and remain avowedly apolitical). At the outset we are told of the initiation ceremonies of the Brotherhood of the Union, at which a costumed herald announced “Behold the enemies of mankind!” Curtains then parted to reveal a table covered with scarlet on which were a Gospel and a copy of the Declaration of Independence, but then those present “expressed their contempt for the ethics of the Gospel and the values of the Declaration.” Apparently they were not, as would seem at first sight, unpatriotic, but thought that the constitution needed radical reform.
The John Brown League, founded after the execution of their eponymous hero in 1859, required their members to take an oath to devote their lives to the destruction of American Slavery: “Although it had officers, grips, signs, and obligations like a fraternal order, it was a paramilitary secret society . . . short-lived, it represented a considerable step toward the professionalization of revolutionary politics in America.”
At that time, the federal Fugitive Slave Law required that runaway slaves must be returned to whence they came, even if they fled to northern states that themselves had no slavery. The only way they could get to safety was to go all the way to Canada. In this they were aided by such societies as the African-American Mysteries, the Order of the Men of Oppression. Certain signs and passwords were used in the course of escape, so that an applicant might say “Cross” to which the counterword was “Over”, followed by a "seemingly meaningless exchange about travel” to “a place called Safety”. Or, the fugitive could inquire with a sign, “pulling the knuckle of the right forefinger over the knuckle of the same finger on the left hand. The answer was to reverse the fingers as described.” It was said that tens of thousands were helped to escape the United States by these societies.
One paradox of writing about secret societies is that, of course, if they were really secret, then nothing could be known about them, indeed there may well have been such societies whose very names are lost to history. This may explain why Lause has so little to say about, for instance, the “ultra-feminist Order of Patriarchs”, of which all he tells is the obvious remark that it was “oddly named”, and that it was followed by the Sacred Order of Unionists A great exception is the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC for short), who although nominally secret were much given to making public pronouncements about what they were doing and planning, so that there comes a different problem, that is, how much of what they said about themselves was true.
The founder, George Bickley, claimed to have been born in Russell County, Virginia, in 1823, yet, on other occasions, in Boone County, Indiana, or in 1819. He would say that he saw “his little brother and sister murdered by blacks during a servile insurrection, urged on by Abolitionists,” in 1831, which the surviving family records show was not true. He boasted that he had studied medicine and Baltimore, and surgery in London, for neither of which is there any evidence. In 1846 he allegedly fought against both the Mexicans and the Seminole Indians, though an extant letter locates him Florida at that time.
Returning at last to Russell County, he practised phrenology, the since discredited art of deducing personality from the bumps on the head, and helped found the first Masonic lodge in the community. About 1852 he moved to Ohio, and told people that he had retired from practising medicine. He was able to marry a rich widow. In March 1853 he delivered a ‘major address’ to the Grand Circle of Ohio, Brotherhood of the Union, in which he had become prominent.
Eventually, Bickley presided over the foundation of the Knights of Golden Circle, at some time in the 1850s – the exact date, needless to say, being obscured. The name derived from a term used by southern politicians to mean a hypothetical territory to be formed “by extending the United States west and south into Mexico, then east along the Yucatán, and up through Cuba.” Sometimes, Bickley would assert that it was a North American branch of a venerable and widespread Mexican order, Los Caballeros del Circulo de Oro.” Though the details of their initiations do not seem to be known in detail, it included an oath to “do all I can” to keep “Negro, mulatto, Indian or mixed blood” people from obtaining citizenship, and to prevent any Roman Catholic for taking public office. In religion, Bickley espoused “what later Protestants would call Fundamentalism.” Naturally, they were for the Southern Confederacy.
Politically, the KGC were said to have been continuation of the Know-Nothing party, who had unsuccessfully campaigned for the re-election of Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth president of the United States (1850-53, he installed the first bathroom in the White House) – it is understandable that they had little success under that name. Originally it was stated that their intention was to raise a company of men who would travel the country “giving exhibitions of the uniform and drill of the troops of all nations”, but, although there were plenty of ‘interested’ men, few if any could afford the $600 that Bickley demanded in advance from anyone who wished to join. Since his intention was not only to put on a show, but to invade Central America, he decided to reform it as a secret society, which he thought would produce a handsome income from (presumably more modest) initiation fees.
In June 1861 the Louisville Journal related how the Town Guard in Harrodsburg, investigating noises from an old shooting gallery, stumbled onto “an assembly of Knights of the Golden Circle in masks!” A guard knocked away the disguise of one of them, “and a lawyer and secessionist stood forth.” This is a little too reminiscent of fiction to be believable.
What the Knights of the Golden Circle actually achieved, apart from publicity, is unclear. They announced that they were going to invade Mexico, partly in order to seize the wealth of the Romish church there, but never did. The group ultimately “became largely a victim of its own self-promotion”, as from early 1862 there were arrests and trials for alleged involvement.
Bickley died in 1867, and it appeared that his organisation had died with him. Instead, “Secessionist sympathizers, as well as antiwar Northern Democrats – the “Copperheads” – tried to form local secret societies, under the name of the Mutual Protection society, the Circle of Honor, or the Circle or Knights of the Mighty Host. Kentucky and Tennessee had a Night-Hawk Association.” An obscure man named Emile Longuemare founded the Order of American Knights, with an inner circle called the Sons of Liberty, “which may be the same association identified with the Copperheads.”
But shortly afterwards the Knights of the Golden Circle reformed, in Kentucky and Tennessee, as “the Greek for circle – Kuklos – with the alliterative addition of Klan”, under which name they have of course survived ever since. The name was later modified to the Ku Klux Klan, either because most of its members were only semi-literate, or because this was believed to be the sound made by the cocking of a rifle. In view of their continued anti-Catholic stance, it is ironic that their dress is derived from that worn by Catholic penitents. -- Gareth J. Medway.
The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives