I 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 assembled to kill Castro ended up killing 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.
In 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. He was 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
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 hung some minor players. What nobody seems to mention, however, is that Stanton and Vallindigham were very close personal friends, and that Vallindigham funded Stanton’s rise in politics. Booth’s induction into the K.G.C. has been suspected, and Booth could have been receiving instructions from Vallindigham, who had one of the biggest axes to grind against Lincoln. But the one who benefited most from the murder was Stanton.
The transcripts of the trial are available online, or you can watch Robert Redford’s excellent film The Conspirator, which focuses on Mary Surratt, who was targeted as a patsy and swiftly hanged. Her son John was studying to be a Catholic priest but instead joined Confederate Secret Service. He became one of the primary couriers for the Confederacy during the war, and was involved in the plot to kidnap Lincoln so he could be traded for Confederate prisoners of war, a plot that involved hundreds of Southern sympathizers and a plot that was certainly fomented by Colonel John Mosby, although Surratt later claimed to have been acting on his own authority. But when the kidnap plan suddenly shifted to murder, Surratt fled to Canada, where he remained in hiding while his mother was tried and hung as one of the chief patsies.
Check out Surratt (left) wearing his Papal Zouave uniform. Surratt was such a devoted Catholic 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 for Surratt, a law had just been passed forbidding military courts from trying civilians so the government was unable to secure his conviction, although Surratt freely admitted associations with Booth, he claimed no part of the murder and most of 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, why Booth was executed instead of being brought in for interrogation, and why 18 leaves of Booth’s diary disappeared. I suspect those pages made mention of some of the real conspirators. The size and reach of the K.G.C. was likely greatly exaggerated, but the main reason they weren’t discussed is because Stanton was trying to hang a few patsies to close down the investigations as quickly as possible.
If I had to make a guess, I’d say the Civil War may have 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 helped spark the war, and he was also heir to the Russell opium fortune, which meant his family was deeply involved in a shipping industry that had profiteered mightily off slavery. First they sold 3 million slaves to the South, then a few decades later, they told they South it was time to free them all. You can see how this might have upset those who’d invested millions in purchasing slaves. After the war, certain business interests wanted to pillage the South for exploitation, something Lincoln was opposed to. 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.
There’s another thread to this saga that involves 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 a 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. Immediately after Lincoln’s death, Pike went from hiding out 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 helped erect a statue to him in Washington.
Consider that Stanton was a devoted Freemason and the K.G.C. shows every sign of being a 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 fateful 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. Since Parker had a reputation for visiting brothels, sleeping on duty and drinking heavily, he seems like an odd choice to protect the president. Parker abandoned his post and went across the street for drink in a tavern where Booth was also seen imbibing before he strolled across the street to execute the undefended president, carrying only a single shot derringer. 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. 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 and before jumping to the stage.
When conducting operations on a national/international levels, secret societies can manifest dialectical systems, and by founding terror groups, they capture centers of energy and place gatekeepers at key strategic positions in coming conflicts. Just as the abolitionist movement had deep pockets plus the insane John Brown on its side, a complimentary and similarly violent pro-slavery movement may have been manifested so the coming clash of cultures could be mined for profit. William Quantrill would be the insane terrorist on the flip side. I sense this may be the way some secret societies have played games for centuries.
And on a final note: 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.