In the mid-19th century, the United States was a tumultuous melting pot that was only waiting to explode. The political differences of the North and South became too apparent to be overlooked, and both sides were preparing for a full-fledged conflict. During that time, the Confederate South spawned several radical organizations that were known for their ruthlessness and hate-inspired violence.
The “Knights of the Golden Circle” was founded as a paramilitary organization in the 1850’s. Its members were mostly men from the American South who supported the political ideals of the Confederacy. In fact, the Knights of the Golden Circle were far more radical than the average supporters of the Confederacy at the time.
The members of the organization were infuriated by the increase of abolitionism in the United States, and they wanted to preserve the awful culture of slavery. Their main political goal was the annex of the so-called “golden circle” to the United States. The “golden circle” would consist of Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean, and these territories would serve the United States as slave states.
Some contemporary historians suggest that Jesse James, the famous outlaw, and John Wilkes Booth, the notorious assassinator of the abolitionist President Abraham Lincoln, were members of the organization. Since both men were outspoken pro-Confederates and known for their extreme and violent behavior, their alleged involvement with the Knights of the Golden Circle is highly presumable.
Before the American Civil War, the organization included members from several Southern states and used political propaganda for the spread of its ideology.
During the war, the members of the Knights of the Golden Circle conducted paramilitary actions to support the Confederate Army and supported a Confederate colonel named John Baylor in his temporary occupation of the territory of southern New Mexico.
After the Civil War, the organization was outlawed, and many of its members were tried and imprisoned. However, the Knights of the Golden Circle continued to exist as a secret society, and its members continued committing violent hate crimes. In the early 1870’s, authorities from several states of the South reported that all remnants of the organization were eradicated, but some fringe historians claim that the secret society continued to exist well into the 20th century.
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Its members allegedly accumulated a pile of gold and were planning on using it to finance a second Civil War. Although these speculations were never confirmed, groups of enthusiast from all over the United States organize search parties to look for the lost riches of the Knights of the Golden Circle.