Monday, August 29, 2022

Knights of the Golden Circle: The Secret Society, Southern Succession, and the Civil War


Knights of the Golden Circle secret societies freemasonry slavery confederacy assassinations Abraham Lincoln John Wilkes Booth conspiracy history

The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) was a secret society founded in 1854 by American George W. L. Bickley, the objective of which was to create a new country, known as the Golden Circle (Spanish: Círculo Dorado), where slavery would be legal. The country would have been centered in Havana and would have consisted of the Southern United States and a "golden circle" of territories in Mexico (which was to be divided into 25 new slave states), Central America, northern parts of South America, and Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and most other islands in the Caribbean, about 2,400 miles (3,900 km) in diameter.

Originally, the KGC advocated that the new territories should be annexed by the United States, in order to vastly increase the number of slave states and thus the power of the slave-holding Southern upper classes. In response to the increased anti-slavery agitation that followed the Dred Scott decision (1857) the Knights changed their position: the Southern United States should secede, forming their own confederation, and then invade and annex the area of the Golden Circle to vastly expand the power of the South. In the United States, the new country's northern border would roughly coincide with the Mason–Dixon line, and within it were included such cities as Washington D.C., St. Louis, Mexico City, and Panama City.

The KGC's proposal grew out of previous unsuccessful proposals to annex Cuba (Ostend Manifesto), parts of Central America (Filibuster War), and all of Mexico (All of Mexico Movement). In Cuba, the issue was complicated by the desire of many in the colony for independence from Spain.[citation needed] Mexico and Central America had no interest in being part of the United States.

As abolitionism in the United States grew in opposition to slavery, the KGC members proposed a separate confederation of slave states, with U.S. states south of the Mason-Dixon line to secede and to align with other slave states to be formed from the "golden circle". In either case, the goal was to increase the power of the Southern slave-holding upper class to such a degree that it could never be dislodged.

During the American Civil War, some Southern sympathizers in the Union or Northern states, such as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, were accused of belonging to the Knights of the Golden Circle, and in some cases, such as that of Lambdin P. Milligan, they were imprisoned for their activities.

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