Knights of the Golden Circle
|Knights of the Golden Circle|
Four symbols of the K.G.C., according to the 1861 "Authentic Exposition"
|Founder||George W. L. Bickley|
The Knights of the Golden Circle (K.G.C.) was an American fraternal (and later clandestine) society and paramilitary group, reputedly founded by George W. L. Bickley and others at Lexington, Kentucky on the 4th of July 1854 (with the first Castle being established in Cincinnati that same year), that sought to increase the political authority of the slave-holding class within American society, first through the promotion of aggressive territorial expansion and the establishment of new pro-slavery states, toward which end it engaged on two occasions in attempts to invade Mexico, and ultimately by supporting the secessionist Confederate States of America, including engagement in acts of sabotage against the United States. During the American Civil War, Northern state members of the K.G.C. splintered and formed new clandestine organisations for the purpose of subverting the efforts of the Union, including the Order of American Knights and the Order of the Sons of Liberty.
Following the defeat of the Confederacy, some have reported that the K.G.C. continued to operate underground as a grand conspiracy, holding it responsible for the activities of, among others, the James-Younger Gang, believing that the Knights were hoarding stolen gold and money in secret caches for the purpose of funding a Second Civil War and the establishment of a new empire, with the ultimate goal being the conquest of states and territories in a "Golden Circle," including the former C.S.A., Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Colombia, and the Caribbean (including Haiti and Cuba).
- An Authentic Exposition of the "K.G.C.", "Knights of the Golden Circle": Or, A History of Secession From 1834 to 1861, Indianapolis: C.O. Perrine, 1861, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010944006
- K.G.C.: An Authentic Exposition of the Origin, Objects, And Secret Work of the Organization Known as the Knights of the Golden Circle, The U. S. National U. C., 1862, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002634284
- Wright, Edmund (1864), Narrative of Edmund Wright: His Adventures With and Escape From the Knights of the Golden Circle, Cincinnati: J. R. Hawley, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100692158
- Stidger, Felix Grundy (1903), Treason History of the Order of Sons of Liberty, Formerly Circle of Honor, Succeeded by Knights of the Golden Circle, Afterward Order of American Knights. The Most Gigantic Treasonable Conspiracy the World Has Ever Known., Chicago: The Author, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000603367
- Fesler, Mayo (September 1918), "Political Societies in the North during the Civil War: Origin of the Knights of the Golden Circle", Indiana Magazine of History 14 (3): 185-224, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3614918;view=1up;seq=199
- Schrader, Del (1975), Jesse James Was One of His Names, Arcadia, CA: Santa Anita Press
- Keehn, David C. (2013), Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War, Baton Rouge: LSU Press