Knights of the Golden Circle


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Knights of the Golden Circle, the name of an organization founded for the overthrow of the government of the United States. It was a secret society, and was first organized for action in the slave-labor States. The members were pledged to assist in the accomplishment of the designs of those who were intent upon the establishment of an empire within the limits of the Golden Circle. It was the soul of the filibustering movements in Central America and Cuba from 1850 to 1857; and, when these failed, the knights concentrated their energies for the accomplishment of their prime object —the destruction of the Union and the perpetuation of slavery. The subordinate organizations were called " castles." When the secession movement began, these knights became specially active in Texas.

Draft Riots

New York Draft Riots Orchestrated by the Knights of the Golden Circle

When the disloyal peace faction made its appearance in the North, an alliance between the leading members of it and the Knights of the Golden Circle was formed, and the " order " became very numerous and formidable in some of the freelabor States, especially in the West. The late Benson J. Lossing, in New Orleans, in April, 1861, heard a New York journalist tell a group of Confederates that he belonged to a secret order in that city, 50,000 strong, who would sooner fight for the South than for the North. An army chaplain was told by a Confederate officer, just before the draft riot in New York, " You will be surprised at the number of friends we have in your very midst; friends who, when the time comes, will destroy your railroads, your telegraph wires, your government stores and property, and thus facilitate the glorious invasion [Robert E. Lee's] now breaking you in pieces." At about that time the knights in the West held a meeting at Springfield, Ill. (June 10, 1863), when it was resolved to make the draft a pretext for revolution, and measures were accordingly adopted. It was arranged that New York should take the initiative. The plan was for each State to assume its " independent sovereignty." Morgan's raid in Indiana and Ohio was a part of the plan of that revolution. It was supposed that the Knights of the Golden Circle and the members of the peace faction would rise and join him by thousands; but in this he was mistaken.

Morgan's Ohio Raid - Potentially Orchestrated by the Knights of the Golden Circle




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