Knights of the Golden Circle and the Lincoln assassination

640px-Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863I tinkered around conducting my own deep political research for years, but it wasn’t until I began the study of secret societies that I made any real headway. My big breakthrough was exploring connections between the Sicilian men-of-honor society and the Central Intelligence Agency, two secret societies that plotted to assassinate Fidel Castro. But after JFK called off that murder, the same team his CIA assembled to kill Castro ended up whacking Kennedy. If Congress ever holds a real investigation, this is the reality that will emerge, although I suppose the instigators will be long dead by then.

The masonic-influenced Knights of the Golden Circle was one of the more devious secret societies operating around the time of Lincoln’s assassination. Funny how almost nothing has been written about these Knights, although their existence was well-established before the Civil War. Apparently, the organization grew out of Southern Rights clubs in the South who lusted for more pro-slave territory. These societies financed ships that illegally abducted Africans after the slave trade was officially abolished in 1808. In 1844, the War with Mexico was championed in hopes that country would soon be carved-up into slave states, insuring the balance of power in Congress remained pro-slave.

bickleyIn 1855, a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, named George Bickley organized the Southern Rights movement into the highly secretive Knights of the Golden Circle (K.G.C.), a volunteer militia initially formed for an invasion of Mexico. Eventually, tens of thousands joined, and many came from Northern states. A secret history of the society was written in 1861 and appeared a few years ago online here: https://archive.org/stream/authenticexposit00perri#page/n3/mode/2up

But three years after the Civil War commenced, the K.G.C. was exposed. Some were leading pro-slave “peace movements” while others were acting as spies and dirty tricks operatives for the Confederacy. The Army spent months investigating the K.G.C. and the Judge Advocate General eventually produced an exhaustive report titled: “The Order of American Knights”, alias “The Sons of Liberty:” A Western Conspiracy in Aid of the Southern Rebellion, published by the Union Congressional Committee, Washington D.C., 1864. Among other things, the report identified most of the state leaders in the North and claimed Clement L. Vallindigham was the society’s Supreme Commander. Vallindigham had been a member of Congress from Ohio but lost his seat through gerrymandering. On April 30, 1863, he was convicted by a military tribunal for making seditious statements in support of the Southern cause and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Instead, President Lincoln deported him to the Confederacy as an enemy alien. He became the real man without a country, and perhaps the model on which the fictional story was soon written.

You can read the Congressional report here: https://archive.org/details/reportontheorder02unit

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 6.56.59 AMIsn’t it odd that none of the recent Lincoln biographies or recent films mention K.G.C.?

In the 1930s an amateur historian and chemistry professor in Chicago put forth the theory that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was involved in the Lincoln assassination and played the crucial role in covering up the true origin of the plot.

After Lincoln’s death, Stanton seized all power in Washington D.C. and took charge of the investigation and ran a military court that swiftly hanged some minor players, most of whom were completely innocent. What nobody seems to mention, however, is that Stanton and Vallindigham were the closest of personal friends. Vallindigham, in fact, funded Stanton’s rise in politics. Booth’s induction into the K.G.C. has long been suspected, and Booth could have been receiving instructions from Vallindigham, who had one of the biggest axes to grind against Lincoln. But the ones who seem to have benefited most from the assassination were the leading Radical Republicans, who held the center of gravity on real power, and wanted Lincoln removed because he planned to go easy on the South.

640px-John_SurrattThe transcripts of the trial of the Lincoln assassination alleged conspirators are available online, or you can watch Robert Redford’s excellent film The Conspirator, which focuses on Mary Surratt, who was targeted as the chief patsy and swiftly hanged. Her son John was studying to be a Catholic priest but instead joined Confederate Secret Service and became one of the primary couriers for the Confederacy during the war. He was also involved in the plot to kidnap Lincoln, a plot that involved hundreds of Southern sympathizers and one that was certainly fomented by Colonel John Mosby (The Grey Ghost), although Surratt later claimed to have been acting on his own authority. But when the kidnap plan suddenly shifted to murder, Surratt fled and he remained in hiding for years.

Check out Surratt (above) wearing his Papal Zouave uniform. He was such a devoted Catholic that he volunteered to defend the Papal States during the final years of their existence. Eighteen months after his mother was hanged, however, he was spotted in Egypt and escorted back to America to stand trial still wearing his Papal Zouave uniform. Fortunately, a law had just been passed forbidding further military courts from trying civilians. Because of this glitch,  the government was unable to secure a conviction, and although Surratt freely admitted associations with Booth, he claimed no part of the murder, and the jury believed him.

Since Stanton was head of the investigation and running the country under martial law at the time, one wonders why the K.G.C. and their offshoot “The Sons of Liberty” were never mentioned at the trial. Or why Booth was executed instead of being brought in for interrogation. Or why 18 leaves of Booth’s diary disappeared. I suspect those pages made mention of some of the real conspirators, possibly even Jay Gould. The reason the society and any real evidence was never discussed is obviously because Stanton was railroading patsies.

If I had to make a guess, I’d say the Civil War could have been fomented by European and American business interests that also funded the abolitionist movement from their headquarters in Boston and New York. The founder of Yale’s Order of Skull & Bones was a close associate of terrorist John Brown, who sparked the insane violence. The Boner founder was also heir to the American opium cartel, which meant his family was deeply involved in the shipping industry that had also profiteered immensely off slavery.

First the shipping merchants sold three million slaves to the South as plantation workers, and then a few decades later, told the South it was time to free the slaves. You can understand how that turn of events might upset some who’d invested millions in purchasing slaves. After the war, certain business interests wanted to pillage the South for exploitation, something Lincoln opposed. Killing Lincoln was not in the best interests of the South, but was in the best interest of certain profiteering schemes. After Lincoln’s death, Stanton engaged in a vicious power struggle with President Andrew Johnson, and lost.

AlbertPikeYoungerThere’s another thread to this saga involving Freemasonry. Albert Pike, the most powerful Mason in America, was from Boston, but moved to Arkansas during the war, where he became a general for the Confederacy and organized Native Americans to conduct terror raids on Northern civilians. Just as British and American officers met frequently during the Revolutionary War in Masonic lodges (and sometimes on the eve of battle), it’s safe to assume Masons on both sides of the Civil War held discussions in their temples throughout the war. Freemasonry has always been a refuge for spies, particularly the British sort. Immediately after Lincoln’s death, Pike went from hiding in Canada, to being awarded full masonic honors inside the White House by the deeply masonic President Andrew Johnson, who pardoned Pike for his war crimes and may have even helped erect the statue to him that still stands in Washington. Strange this statue seems untouchable considering Pike’s war crimes.

Consider Stanton was a devoted Freemason and the K.G.C. shows every sign of being a potential masonic spin-off. Also consider the one man brought in to testify against Mary Surratt was a clerk who worked for Stanton at the Department of War. Consider Stanton placed John Frederick Parker as the sole bodyguard for Lincoln that night even though Lincoln had been having nightmares about being assassinated for three nights running and expressed these fears to Stanton and requested additional protection, which was strangely refused. Since Parker had a reputation for visiting brothels, sleeping on duty and drinking heavily, he was an odd choice, unless incompetency was the object. Parker abandoned his post as expected and crossed the street for drink in a tavern. Inside, Booth was imbibing brandy, and would soon stroll across the street carrying a single shot derringer and knife. Consider that Stanton closed every bridge out of Washington immediately after the assassination, save one, which turned out to be the bridge used by Booth to escape. Consider Booth had the military pass code to cross the bridge. Consider the public telegraph lines in Washington went dead for two hours immediately after the assassination, leaving Stanton in control of the only working telegraph line in and out of the city.

Although all the films show Booth jumping to the stage and yelling “sic semper Tyrannis,” in his final diary entries Booth claimed to have shouted those words while firing the fatal bullet, before jumping to the stage.

mjkogd1
Knights of the Golden Circle ceremony

When conducting operations, secret societies often manifest opposing systems by founding terror groups on both sides to capture the twin centers of gravity. Capturing the extremes allows them to place gatekeepers at strategic vantage points. Just as the abolitionist movement had deep pockets (plus the insane John Brown), a complimentary and similarly well-funded, pro-slavery movement was manifested with William Quantrill as their insane terrorist.

Vallandigham lost all influence after the war as ruling Democrats considered him a disruptive influence. On June 16, 1871, he was fatally shot while in conference with some attorneys, whose names have not gone down in history it seems. The story goes he was demonstrating how a former client once accidentally fatally shot himself.

In order to help others navigate these waters, it’s important not to get caught up in the hocus pocus elements of religion, which certainly includes the occult societies. Ceremonies are deployed to bond the group to secrecy, which is why when you are admitted into one of these societies, you typically give permission to be executed should you ever break your vow of silence. One wonders if Vallandigham broke that code.

“Whoever dares our cause reveal, shall test the strength of knightly steel; and when the torture proves too dull, we’ll scrape the brains from out his skull, and place a lamp within the shell, to light his soul from here to hell.” Knights of the Golden Circle oath

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Author: Steven Hager

I'm a writer, journalist, filmmaker and event producer.

2 thoughts on “Knights of the Golden Circle and the Lincoln assassination”

  1. Your fascinating writings on a multitude of topics should be collected and combined in a book that, among other uses, would be the perfect for passengers to read while traveling to and from their destinations.

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