AN AUTHENTIC EXPOSITION
Origin, Objects and Secret work of the Organization known as the
KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.
(Published by the U. S. National U. C., February 1862.)
The loyal people of the United States have long been aware of the existence in this country and especially in the Southern States, of various secret organizations having for their object the “Americanization” of some of our weaker neighbors beyond the Southern limits of our domain, and the aggrandizement of their leaders and members through the forcible acquisition of the territory, and subversion of the Governments of the Central American States and Mexico. Of this character was the order of the Lone Star, under whose auspices men and means were raised for the Lopez raids upon the Island of Cuba, in the year 1850, and 1851, and for the subsequent forays into the Central American States under the leadership of the "grey-eyed man of destiny," William Walker. These Hostile designs upon the territory of our Southern neighbors having failed, the order fell into disrepute, and its secrets were exposed and burlesqued by the “Sons of Malta.”
This order of the Lone Star, was a branch of that now known as the K. G. C., if indeed it was not identical with it. Probably thousands of our fellows citizens, North and South, who were once familiar with the secret work of the order of the Lone Star, will be able to discern the old landmarks throughout the exposition contained in these pages. We are assured by an intelligent gentleman, once a member of this organization, that in its early history, it had no designs hostile to our Government and people but that its sole object was the acquisition of foreign territory by the force of arms, the introduction of immigrants from the Southern States, who should seize upon and possess the soil, and reduce the natives to the condition of slaves, or expel them from the country at the point of the bayonet.
These grand schemes failed for the time, and the surviving members of this band of land pirates soon found work at home.
Of the K. G. C., a writer in the Continental Monthly, for January, 1862, says:
“This organization which was instituted by John C. Calhoun, William L. Porcher, and others, as far back as 1835, had for its sole object the dissolution of the Union, and the establishment of a Southern Empire. – Empire is the word, not Confederacy or Republic – it was solely by means of its secret, but powerful machinery, that the Southern States were plunged into revolution, in defiance of the will of a majority of their voting population. Nearly every man of influence at the South, (and many a pretended Union man at the North,) is a member of this organization, and sworn, under the penalty of assassination, to labor “in season and out of season, by fair means and by foul, at all times and on all occasions,” for the accomplishment of its object.”
Upon what evidence the above statement in regard to the agency of Messrs. Calhoun and Porcher in the foundation of this organization is made, we know not; but there can be no reasonable doubt that these men, and their associates, did resort to secret and powerful means for the spread of their views, and for the instruction of the public mind of the South in those doctrines of disunion and treason which they originated. Through these means, and especially by the agency of the K. G. C., “the Southern mind has been educated and the Southern heart fired,” persistently and thoroughly, for a long series of years, until the hopes of the arch traitors were in part realized by the inauguration of civil war, on the 12th of April 1861, by that fatal shot for the South, the firing of the first gun at Fort Sumter!
Since the commencement of the internal dissensions in the United States, which culminated in the great rebellion of 1861-2, this treasonable organization has acquired new strength, and become widely disseminated throughout the length and breadth of our land, embracing within its circle many thousands of disloyal men, who are secretly conspiring against the rights and liberties of our people. Men of all grades in society, from the lordly banker and merchant, the eloquent statesman and the ambitious politician, down to the lowest ruffian and assassin who infests the purlieus of our cities, are believed to be connected with this organization; their object being the advancement of their own ends, whatever they may be, even at the sacrifice of our government, our rights, our liberties and even our existence as a great and powerful nation. Indeed, the cardinal object of the conspiracy seems to be the utter destruction of the Great Republic, and the establishment upon its ruins of a military despotism, or of an oligarchy, wherein the rich may lord it over the poor, making the laws which shall govern the “mudsills of society,” and dictating the terms upon which the great mass of the people of this broad land shall be permitted to exist.
There is good reason to believe that the chief seat of the power of the K. G. C. has recently been transferred from the Southern States to Canada, and that it has powerful allies among the mobility, bankers and merchants of England. Having accomplished its great design at the South, by arousing the people to the fighting point, it leaves them in the hands of the military despots, who rule them with a rod of iron, joins hands with our foreign foes, and seeks by the foulest secret means, the overthrow of our liberties. Our foreign enemies are banded together in this infamous league, by tens of thousands, and are vigorously at work, night and day, “at all times and all seasons, by fair means and by foul,” to accomplish the fulfillment of their long cherished hopes, and oft repeated predictions of the downfall of our Republican form of Government, the dismemberment of our Union, and the utter destruction of this last and greatest home of freedom for the oppressed nations of the world.
Men of America! Who love your country with all its glorious memories, and all its bright prospect of future greatness, whose fathers freely shed their blood to secure to you and to your children the blessings of civil and religious liberty, those are facts! And you shall be convinced of them. Your enemies are secretly at work in your very midst, and are in conspiracy with foreign emissaries to deprive you of the blessings which you have ever enjoyed under your paternal Government, and for the maintenance of which you may be compelled yet again to peril your lives and your fortunes. Are you willing that this hellish conspiracy shall be permitted to go on undisturbed until the wicked traitors who are engaged in it shall have accomplished their designs, until you are bound hand and foot, and chained to the car of despotism by fetters that cannot be broken; or will you at once awake to a realization of the impending danger, and by a united effort strangle the monster?
For the purpose of exposing to the world the secret means by which this treasonable order has been so far successful in the accomplishment of its great end, the dismemberment of our Republic, this publication is made. We have no wish, or design, to cause unnecessary alarm, or to arouse the passions; but our leading object is to convince the loyal people of the United States that their liberties are at this moment in greater danger from the secret enemies in their own midst, and the foreign enemies of our institutions who are in league with them, than from the armed hordes who are now in rebellion against the government.
The secrets of the K. G. C. are very carefully guarded, and we are not yet able to reveal to the world all that we could wish; but the work of investigation is in competent and faithful hands, and we hope that we shall be able hereafter to make known all the secret means by which this vile conspiracy is carried on.
The following exposition of the work of the K. G. C., was first published in the columns of the Louisville Journal, in July, 1854. Of its authenticity there can be no doubt. Geo. D. Prentice, Esq., the editor of the Journal, give his “solemn assurance as an editor and as a man,” that the documents from which he derived his information are authentic. He asserts moreover, that he received them from a prominent Knight of the third degree. The genuineness of these documents has never yet been denied by any man whose word can be regarded as valid testimony in the case. Corroborative evidence was furnished in a violent newspaper quarrel, which occurred soon after the first publication was made, in which several “Knights of the 3d Degree” in the city of Louisville, were participants, the question in dispute being as to the authorship of the revelations made to Mr. Prentice. After the warfare had subsided, he informed them that they were all mistaken, and that each one of the parties implicated was equally guiltless.
That the work, in many of its details, has been essentially changed since the first publication of this exposition, we are well aware. But enough remains to convince the loyal people of the United States, that the objects and plans of the K. G. C., are inimical to the best interests of the country, and that this diabolical organization should be exposed in all its enormity, and crushed by the strong arm of power. Since its introduction into the Northwestern States and Canada, the order has adopted a modus operandi materially differing from that herein revealed, and perhaps better suited to its new field of operations. Its most active members are among the noisiest of the pretended friends of the Union; and there is reason to suspect that it has its emissaries in high and confidential positions in civil and military departments of our Government. Its real designs are cloaked under a specious garb of patriotism, and of intense solicitude for the preservation of the Union and for the welfare of our people. The revelations here made should convince the most incredulous that the true objects of the members of this order are of the basest sort; and that they are utterly unscrupulous as to the means by which their ends are to be attained. They are banded together by the most solemn obligations, to obey the orders of their commanders, whatever they may be; and it is evident that human life is held to be of but little value, should it offer an obstacle to the accomplishment of the object sought.
[We omit the exposition published by the Journal, for want of space. – EDS. GAZETTE.]
That the K. G. C. planned the assassination of Mr. LINCOLN, either on his journey to the Capitol, or during the ceremonies of his inauguration, scarcely admits of a doubt. The plot was discovered and revealed to his friends long before his departure from his home for the City of Washington, and was frustrated by the vigilance of his friends and the military precaution of Gen. SCOTT.
Enough has been revealed in regard to this wicked and treacherous organization to convince every man of sane mind that it is dangerous in the extreme; that it seeks the overthrow of our government, the disruption of the great American Union; the seizure, by fraud or by force, of the territory of our southern neighbors, with whom we are at peace, and the acquisition of an immense extent of territory in which slavery shall be made the leading institution, from which the free white laboring man shall be excluded, or in which he shall be reduced to the condition of a serf, and where a Paradise may be established for the exclusive benefit of the effete and bloated aristocracy of South Carolina, and the few despotic masters of the reckless cut-throats and ruffians who compose the rank and file of the K. G. C.
But our task is not yet done. We propose now to give some evidence of the existence and thorough organization of this order among our neighbors of Canada, and among the nobility, aristocracy and moneyed classes in England.
From the first outbreak of the present rebellion the tone of the British Press toward the Government and people of the loyal portion of the United States, has been of the most hostile and ungracious character; and a careful comparison of the articles which have appeared in a majority of the leading British newspapers, with those published in the South, shows unmistakable evidence of identity of origin. All have been dictated in the same spirit, and probably to a great extent by the same parties. In the discussions arising out of the arrest of Slidell and Mason, the similarity of tone and temper was too palpable to be overlooked. The British Press teemed with unfounded slanders upon our Government and people. The public mind of England was inflamed by the publication of the most deliberate falsehoods, wholesale vituperation, and the fullest calumnies, such as could originate nowhere else than in the distempered brains of men who viewed everything from the Secession standpoint, and who were determined to accomplish, so far as was in their paper, the disruption of the Union by means of a foreign war, and the establishment of two separate confederacies within its limits. That a large and powerful interest in England was determined on war with the United States, was perfectly plain. Whence came these indisputable manifestations of hostility towards the United States, in consequence of an affair which every sensible man in England knew could and would be amicably arranged, and adjusted without a resort to arms? Whence came the palpable and wicked falsehoods which were used to inflame the public mind against the only true friends that England ever had upon the face of the globe? Whence came all the insult and vituperation against us, which disgraced the British Press and the British people in the eyes of the civilized world – whence but from the K. G. C. and its allies abroad?
The following letter is from the pen of a gentleman who has had ample opportunity to make himself acquainted with the facts whereof he writes, and who had devoted much time to the investigation of the secret and treacherous designs which he reveals. His language shows him to be an intelligent man. The statement which he makes is corroborated by proof which is within the reach of every man who is conversant with the tone of the British and Southern Press, and who closely watches events as they transpire. This statement should be accepted as positive of the truth of the revelations made, unless disproved by evidence of the most convincing character. Neither the word nor the oath of any member or number of members of the K. G. C. will suffice to refute this evidence of the treasonable character of the conspiracy in which they are engaged:
DEAR SIR. Your note has been received asking for such information as I may have of the objects and working of the secret conclave of traitors in the Northern States, known as the “Knights of the Golden Circle” (K. G. C.) I have devoted considerable time and attention to this organization, and my opportunities have been very rare for gaining information. And here let me say it is the sworn duty of every K. G. C. who is true to his obligation, to deny the existence of the organization, not generally by positive denials, but by heaping ridicule on the idea of such an organization, which implies that all Northern men are not loyal. There is, however, ample and positive proof that the Order of K. G. C. is thoroughly organized in every Northern State, as auxiliary to the Southern rebellion. It assumes various shapes and colors, yet all working under the same system of operations, and all aiming at the same end. – The designation of the “K. G. C.” having become unpopular on account of the known treasonable designs of that Order, is protean in its character, and sails under different cognomens to best effect its purpose – sometimes being the “Peace Party,” the “Union Party,” the “Constitutional Party,” the “Democratic Society,” “Club” or “Association,” the “Mutual Protection;” and, since the “Indiana leak,” as they call it, about the “M. P.’s,” they have chosen “S. P.” or “Self Protection,” as a name. And since you ask for facts only, I may say it is properly a secret political treason party, as its members initiated are all most strictly limited to the known members of one political party.
THE IMMEDIATE OBJECT, is the overthrow of the Government established by our patriot sires, baptized in their life-blood, and handed down to us, to be forever defended and protected, as the best form of government ever given to man. THE ULTIMATE OBJECT, the spoils of Office and the control of the Government, by the party which sustains the efforts of these “knights” of treason. The great majority of the most active leaders are those who have heretofore emoluments of place in the Government, and which to be restored to power. For this purpose they are willing to tear down the old fabric and erect a new one upon its ruins. They have some definite plans of operation, and forming a strong network of treason around the Union, well calculated to draw in many true men, to be used by them unawares in carrying out their plots. I will refer briefly to a few of the means they use:
1. THEY WISH TO PROLONG THE WAR hoping that something may turn up to get their Southern rebel friends out of their position, without being made to acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution and the Union. They hope and work for a foreign war, to make that a pretext for stopping the domestic strife, and uniting against a common foe. They are for prolonging the war also, for the purpose of tiring the patience of the country, while they can make a public sentiment ready to “compromise” with armed rebellion – to do anything honorable or dishonorable to stop the war. To do this they appeal to the pockets of the people with exaggerated pictures of enormous taxes, and virtually say, that because it costs money to maintain the Union, we ought to surrender at discretion to the demand of those who have taken up arms in rebellion against it.
2. THEY WORK BY TREACHERY. – Having first opposed the Government in asserting any authority to enforce the laws and maintain the Union and the Constitution, and done what they could to encourage the outbreak by tendering Northern sympathy and support in advance, they are now seeking to assist their friends in the Southern army, by getting themselves into positions to betray the Union cause for their benefit. In the month of August last, immediately after the disaster of Bull Run, they marked out a new programme, and sent messengers through all the loyal States to give their friends – the K. G. C., the CUE for putting their new plan into extensive operation. The treachery of their men at the head of a column of the Federal army, who turned the tide of battle against us at Bull Run, worked so well, that they determined at once, during the reorganization of our army, to fill it with their own men for similar future operations. “Castles” were forthwith organized in all the States. Those who had been vomiting treason among their loyal neighbors, to the full extent that public sentiment would tolerate, now very suddenly and mysteriously became seemingly loyal and patriotic, and are anxious for places to draw their swords in defense of the Union, and measure them with its rebellious foes. They wanted to be decorated with epaulets. They would serve as captains and from that up to Colonels of Regiments, Brigadier and Major Generals. They wound a network of influence around Congress and the “powers that be,” to maintain men in the Departments, and to get others in, especially in the War Department – who were shining lights in the “Castles” of the K. G. C., for the avowed and express purpose of aiding the enemy by treacherously watching, and conveying the secrets of the Government to the rebel army. – Men were selected in the States, and sent hundreds of miles to Washington, with strong influences to back them, for this purpose. Better to carry out their project, they adroitly raised the “No Party” cry, and by professing the most exalted and devoted loyalty, claimed the best places in which to betray the Union cause, for those who were trusted “Knights” – thus secretly plotting reason against the very cause that was to feed and clothe them! Among the K. G. C. of the Third Degree they freely calculate their prospects of success from the “treachery” of Federal officers, and especially of officers in the Union army, who, if occasion presents, are to disobey orders, and screen themselves behind flimsy excuses for allowing the enemy to escape, when by acting in good faith, they might be defeated. They point to the singular escape of Floyd and his crew in Western Virginia, after Rosecrans had so decoyed them into a position, that he was certain to bag the whole command, if orders had been executed by his subordinates. At the time of the Ball’s Bluff disaster they also gave knowing winks to indicate that it was the fulfillment of a chapter in their programme to disgust and dishearten the loyal North, discourage any advance movements, and encourage the rebel army with the report of victory. They claim a large number of officers of Companies, Regiments, and Brigades, and Divisions, secretly to be in their interests, and even have the audacity to whisper that Gen. McClellan understands their programme, and is not unfriendly to working up to it. They claim, also, a goodly number of friends and brethren in the officers of the Navy. They deprecate the appointment of Stanton to the administration of the War Department, and regret that he is not one of their mystical number. They fear that all the influences they can throw around him will not induce him to bend his policy to favor their projects; they are ever on the alert, and will make a concerted effort, by pretended confidence and flattery, to weave an influence around him that will partially capture him, and control his policy They acknowledge their faint hopes, however, of being able either to induce him to become a “Knight,” or to lure him into their plausible scheme for the future control of the spoils of Government.
3. PEACE CONVENTION AND NEW CONSTITUTION. – Another mode of arriving at their object, is a National Peace or Compromise Convention, is to be held when all thing are prepared. The schedule is to call a convention of all the States, North and South, to arrive at an understanding, and compromise the difficulty upon a basis already fixed. The basis is the Jeff. Davis Constitution of the Southern Confederacy – conceding and adopting some of its features, and yielding some of the important ones in our present instrument, as a “compromise.” The main features of the compromise will be a constitutional recognition, guaranty, and protection of Slavery in the States and Territories, without distinction. In the meantime, the country being tired and sick of war and taxes, they expect to manufacture a public opinion that will adopt their scheme. To give popular strength to this “convention,” there is to be a most earnest and persistent effort to carry every local and State election this year against the administration, or War and Union party – so that it will appear that the country has changed, and is against the further prosecution of the war for the supremacy of the old Union and the old Constitution as it is; and that the party calling the “National Peace Convention” are the majority or dominant party, and represent the public will. Further to facilitate party success at the polls, and cover up or draw attention from their own treasonable plotting against the Government, they are to join in a united and harmonious howl of “ABOLITIONIST” against all loyal men who sustain the Administration and the war to crush the rebellion; for the purpose of trying to identify and stigmatize them with the sins, and the long odious (in the North) doctrines and sentiments promulgated by a band of fanatical disunionists headed by Garrison and Wendell Phillips – claiming that all whom they chose to call “Abolitionists,” including the whole party that elected the administration, and all who sustain it in the prosecution of the war, are equally “traitors” with those who are in arms against the Union; and if the life of a Southern man, caught in the overt act, is sacrificed, the life of an “Abolitionist” should balance the account. While none but Southern men are in arms to overthrow the Government, the responsibility of the war is to be persistently charged upon the loyal North, which should be the first to offer terms of “peace” and “compromise.” By throwing every obstacle in the way of the Government, added to secret treason, they hope to give plausibility, among the weak-minded, that whenever the control of the nation passes from their hands the country will get into trouble, and that the only party capable of governing the country is the one they lead – that peace and prosperity cannot return until they are restored to power. “Look at the country in a civil war in less than three months after the change of rulers,” they say, with exulting triumph. No means are to be left untried to “divide and conquer” the war party at the polls. They have a systematic plan to discredit the Government in the eyes of the people. They cry aloud about frauds, while they are busily employed seeking contracts for the very purpose of defrauding the Government, to give coloring to their charges! If they cannot get original contracts, they seek sub-contracts from the friends of the Union, that the odium of their own dishonesty may fall on the shoulders of the War party. They boast of having already used these tactics to great effect. Doubting the ability of the Government to pay its liabilities, with a view of depreciating the public Securities and Treasury notes, the withdrawal of public confidence, and cutting off the supplies to carry on the war, is another favorite scheme. It is seriously discussed in the “castle” meetings, whether they will not utterly refuse to pay the war tax, which they think will not only embarrass the Government, but create a great public excitement that may demand the discontinuance of further resistance to the rebellion.
The demand for the exchange of prisoners, upon the terms dictated by Jeff. Davis, was an effort for the recognition of the “Confederacy,” and to save the necks of the ringleaders of the treason when they are eventually caught (as they expect to be,) by claiming to be “prisoners of war” – “belligerents” – instead of traitors to their Government. And when the war is over – whether the Union is re-established on its old basis, or upon the projected Jeff. Davis Compromise-Constitution – the K. G. C. party are to assume all the credit of ending the conflict through their influence, and of having been the special friends of the rebels during their rebellion, and thereby claim their political affinities and support in a consolidated party for the future control of the nation. They will divide and distract the Union party by a hypocritical support and flattery of the President and his policy, to create distrust in the minds of the real friends of the Administration that it is not true to, and is about to abandon the party and the principles upon which it was raised to power. In short, the schemes of the K. G. C. to overthrow the government, embrace the whole catalogue of strategy known to corrupt politicians.
4. FOREIGN INFLUENCE. – The K. G. C. are known to each other by secret signs and words. They seldom trust any documents to the mails, but keep messengers constantly in the field, carrying information from one “Castle” (or “Club,” “Lodge,” Society,” &c.,) to another. (The term “Castle” is the proper designation of the place where “Knights” congregate to concoct treason.) There is the most perfect and uninterrupted communication between the South and England through this order. Their principle avenue is through the Canadas, where they have numerous “Castles” and co-workers, as well as in Europe. There are numerous Southerners located in Canada, as connecting links in the agency, and several of the employees of the Provincial railroads connecting with the States are the active agents and “messengers” of the secret treason against the Government. At both ends of the Grand Trunk, the Great Western, the Buffalo & Lake Huron roads, these agents are busy, but mostly so on the Grand Trunk and the connecting lines into Vermont. Several of the representatives of large British capitalists residing in Canada are known to be most active operators and sympathizers. The Donneganna and St. Lawrence hotels at Montreal are the resorts of Southern rebels, where they are met and treated with great kindness and cordiality; also, at Quebec, Toronto, Hamilton, &c. The K. G. C. claim to own, or have a controlling interest in nearly every leading newspaper in the Canadas. In Canada, as in England, this organization, and sympathy with the rebellion, is confined to the feudal, aristocratic, and what they claim to be the ruling classes, viz: these “born to rule by royal prerogative.” They dread the influence of Republican America; they consider her a rival power, dangerous to the extension of their own lease of monarchial rule, and are ready to seize upon the first favorable opportunity to assist in her overthrow – and thus demonstrate to their own subjects, already restless, if not clamorous, for many “reforms” approximating to our young Government, that the “model Republic” is a failure; that Democracy cannot constitute a permanent government; that nothing short of monarchical, or strong central government, can withstand the shock of ages. The overthrow, or division and disruption of our government, would be pointed to as a fulfillment of the long-heralded prophecies of monarchists. The active and adroit diplomacy of the rebel States, through their ablest men, knew well where to secure a strong foothold in Europe, and they struck with success. They sought the association of aristocracy and capital, as the strong point to be gained, and hence to a large extent, have secured the tone of the aristocratic press without striking the responsive chord in the hearts of the great mass of the European people – the working and tax-paying classes, whose representatives are “reformers” – those who turn a listening ear to the musical strains of liberty and equality which float to them from across the Atlantic, and cause the inquiry why they cannot enjoy the same blessing without risking a perilous voyage from their native land to the New World, where all are “sovereigns,” and the rulers only the subjects and servants. The K. G. C. never seem to lack money to send messengers on long journeys, and keep them constantly in the field, or do anything else they deem important. This gives color to their claim that the European associated aristocracy are secretly furnishing large sums of money to second the base objects of the Southern rebellion. I have no doubt of it.
5. THE LAST RESORT — CIVIL WAR — ASSASSINATION! — But the most damnable and atrocious part of this dark plot is yet to be told, and if it does not arouse the languid patriotic blood now resting in security to stand united against the working of this foul treason, then, indeed, our liberties are in danger. The K. G. C, through this secret organization, have the blood-thirsty scheme of assassinating Northern Union men, and creating anarchy and civil war in the North, as a means of ending resistance to the rebellion! Believing that other means will fail, they are already privately armed and arming for the conflict.
I have before stated as a part of the programme, that all Northern Union men who voted for Lincoln, or sustain the Government in a vigorous prosecution of the war to crush out the rebellion, are to be branded “ABOLITIONISTS,” ergo “traitors,” equally guilty with Jeff. Davis and his crew, because Garrison and Wendell Phillips and other fanatical Abolitionists, have been notorious and ignominious as disunionists. “Let the Northern Abolition traitors and Southern Rebel leaders be hung up together, if at all,” is now the watchword. – “Let them perish in equal numbers, as the authors of the war.” – “The Abolitionists of the North must first be put down before the War can come to an end.” The danger of a Northern uprising against the Government, if the war is not speedily brought to a close.”
“We are fighting our own brethren.” “We are willing to compromise, but the Abolitionist will not.” “The people will rise and fight before they will pay taxes to keep our soldiers killing our brothers in the South.” “The Abolitionists are worse traitors, and more to blame than the South.” – “The Abolitionists must be cleaned out, and then we can have peace.” “The people must rise and hang the Abolitionists at the same time the army put down the rebellion South.”
“Blood must flow in the North, as well as the South, before we get rid of the worst traitors to the Union.” “Abolitionists must be put in Fort Warren as well as Southern men, if you want peace.” These and numerous other similar dark and blood-foreboding expressions that may be heard in talking with high “Knights,” only go to fully corroborate the written evidence now before me, of a blood-thirsty plot to assassinate Union men to “secure the success of the South.” I have seen and read the special dispatches of high “Knights,” sent from one castle to the high officials of another in which the whole programme of operations and the means to be used were elaborately laid down and commented upon, in which it is always distinctly stated that the only way to success in the North, is to secure the success of the South by a concerted action throughout the North, that the country must be tired and worried out with taxes and the horrors of a war, until a pretense is given to warrant a Northern civil war, and an uprising against the “Abolitionists,” as the cause of the beginning and continuance of the conflict. Then the private arms are to be used. Each K. G. C. is pledged to arm himself with a long knife and a revolving pistol. They are also provided with a small dark pocket or police lamps. One dispatch to a high functionary, stated that if secrecy and success attended the project – and he had no doubt on that score – it would prove a second Sicilian Vesper, which has referenced also to some of the test words of recognition. “Are you going to Vespers?” – “Are you ready for Vespers?” is the sly way of asking each other if they are “armed” and “ready;” and also of asking a stranger if he is a K. G. C. – or if in a mixed crowd, any conversation in which the word “Vespers” is used indicates membership which leads to further tests.
I have heard the more desperate openly state that if this war is not closed in less than four months, “Abolition” blood would flow in every Northern city. I am not permitted to go more into detail at this time. I have given you but a faint outline of the plot, and the means to be used to overthrow the old Ship of State. When it culminates into the assassination of Union men in the peaceful, loyal North, by a band of secretly organized traitors – when the bell shall toll for another Sicilian Vespers – when traitors shall shout their songs of rebellion as the signal for the Grand Carnival of Treason to commence, with one side secretly armed for the conflict – then the country will inquire with amazement, whether the events of March 30, 1282 are yet to have their counterpart here, in the year 1862, for no other crime than being loyal to the Government, and wishing to put down the most wicked and causeless rebellion that ever existed! Then, perhaps, the Government will be aroused to the importance of not harboring vipers in its bosom to sting its very life-blood – then the loyal people will rise in their might and protect their own liberties, and woe to be unto those who have their lot cast with the K. G. C., or have followed their leadership.
These are startling developments, and will be vigorously hooted down by every K. G. C. who is true to his obligations. Let it be so for the present. There are some among them who have yet an inkling of patriotism left, and cannot, and will not be bound to this wicked conspiracy. It is to this source that you are indebted for the facts above stated – facts, which I will say to you, may be most implicitly relied upon, and the time will arrive when what I have stated will be verified, and much of the same character added to it. At some future time, developments will be made that will satisfy you that I am no alarmist, and men high in the confidence of the people will be so connected with this secret treason, that the country will despise their memory. In the mean time, let every loyal man, wherever he is, be watchful and vigilant for the signs that I have indicated, to the identify and mark the sure enemies of the Union, and in most cases the sure trade-marks of the K. G. C. Their emissaries are busy and on the move. The organization is extensive, penetrating the back woods and the plains. In many cases, in remote places, one, two, or three trusted members, are all who are entrusted with the secrets, but they are busy in making and controlling opinion – in educating their partisans up to the proper point. The New York “Caucasian” newspaper, sustained by a private fund of the order, is a special organ of the “Castles.” The principal headquarters in the North, are Philadelphia, New York City, and Cincinnati. They have a large number of small newspaper editors in their secrets, some of which have to be checked occasionally for too plain talk. * *
I have extended this communication to a far greater length than I had intended, but I could not well make it shorter and do the subject justice. I submit it for your consideration, believing that you will discover many things in your State and vicinity to corroborate what I have said. The Work of the K. G. C., as used here, is revised and changed from that used six months ago in the Southern States. – In the first degree but little of its real character is divulged. It is simply represented as a “Society to oppose Abolitionists.” Little by little the candidate is let into the vortex of treason. I earnestly warn all good men against taking the first step.
Yours very truly, for the whole Union.
Fellow Citizens – Loyal Union-loving men of the United States! What think you of these things? We have proved, upon testimony which you cannot reasonably doubt, the presence in your very midst, of a deadly conspiracy, which threatens your liberties, your rights as citizens, and even the existence of that Union which you so highly prize. And yet the half has not been told. There are other secrets of the K. G. C. yet to be revealed. Those secrets are in the possession of those whose duty it is, and who have the power to punish the traitors who compose the organization; and if they do not perform that duty, we intend to make further disclosures. For the present we must forbear.
That foul disease which traitors, thirty years ago, fastened upon the body politic, has grown to the proportions of a cancer of the most dangerous character. It must be eradicated, or you will yet have occasion to mourn over the wreck of all your long cherish[ed] hopes of your country’s greatness and glory. Traitors at home, leagued with enemies abroad, even now present the knife at the heart of your bleeding country. – Corruption, rank and poisonous, faithlessness and treachery in high places, disregard of the most sacred obligations of man to his fellow man and his God have born their legitimate fruits. Treason stalks unblushingly through the land. Artful intriguing politicians and unprincipled demagogues have brought your noble government to the verge of destruction.
Your patriotic, fathers through much of personal suffering, and untold sacrifices of blood and treasure, laid broad and deep, cemented in blood and baptized in tears, the foundations of this glorious fabric of free government, fondly cherishing the hope that it would stand to remotest ages, an asylum for the oppressed of all nations, a beacon to the weary victims of tyranny, and terror to the despotism of the Old World. This priceless legacy must be preserved. We cannot believe that you will prove recreant to your country, to posterity and to God. We believe that the blood and treasure so freely expended in the suppression of the atrocious rebellion now rapidly reeling to its final doom, will bear yet more fruit – that you are ready yet again, if need be, to offer your lives and all that you possess, for the preservation of your Government, and for its establishment upon a basis so solid that it shall stand as a monument of human wisdom, and as the great bulwark of Christianity, Civilization and true Liberty, until time shall be no more!
– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 12, 1862, p. 2