Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War

Sent: 13 February 2013 21:07
Subject: LSU Press to Release "Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire,
Southern Secession, Civil War"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2013
Contact: Erin Rolfs

LSU Press to Release "Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern
Secession, Civil War"
Book Traces Expansion of Nineteenth-Century Secret Southern Society

Baton Rouge—Based on years of exhaustive and meticulous research, David C.
Keehn’s study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the Knights of the
Golden Circle, a secret southern society that initially sought to establish a
slave-holding empire in the “Golden Circle” region of Mexico, the Caribbean,
and Central America. Keehn reveals the origins, rituals, structure, and complex
history of this mysterious group, including its later involvement in the
secession movement. Members supported southern governors in precipitating
disunion, filled the ranks of the nascent Confederate Army, and organized
rearguard actions during the Civil War.

The Knights of the Golden Circle emerged in 1858 when a secret society formed
by a Cincinnati businessman merged with the pro-expansionist Order of the Lone
Star, which already had 15,000 members. In 1860, during their first attempt to
create the Golden Circle, several thousand Knights assembled in southern Texas
to “colonize” northern Mexico. Due to insufficient resources and organizational
shortfalls, however, that filibuster failed. Later, the Knights shifted their
focus and began pushing for disunion, spearheading prosecession rallies, and
intimidating Unionists in the South.

According to Keehn, the Knights likely carried out a variety of other
clandestine actions before the Civil War, including attempts by insurgents to
take over federal forts in Virginia and North Carolina, and a planned
assassination of Abraham Lincoln as he passed through Baltimore in early 1861
on the way to his inauguration. Once the fighting began, the Knights helped
build the emerging Confederate Army and assisted with the pro-Confederate
Copperhead movement in northern states. With the war all but lost, various
Knights supported one of their members, John Wilkes Booth, in his plot to
assassinate President Lincoln.

Keehn’s fast-paced, engaging narrative demonstrates that the Knights' influence
proved more substantial than historians have traditionally assumed and provides
a new perspective on southern secession and the outbreak of the Civil War.

David C. Keehn is an attorney from Allentown, Pennsylvania, with a history
degree from Gettysburg College and a juris doctorate from the University of

April 15, 2013
328 pages, 6 x 9, 41 halftones
ISBN 978-0-8071-5004-7
Bruce E. Baker
Senior Lecturer in United States History
Royal Holloway, University of London
List Editor, H-SOUTH
Co-Editor, American Nineteenth Century History