DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], April 6, 1860, p. 2, c. 3
Knights of the Golden Circle.—This organization, whose sole aim at presents seems the invasion of Mexico and assists in the establishment of a new government, has caused some interest, especially among the young men of the city, many of whom are unemployed.—They have formed an association, and for some time past have been engaged in drilling and perfecting themselves in the use of arms, at their rooms, corner of Baltimore and Holiday streets. There are nearly one thousand signatures to the muster roll, some of whom are of very respectable families. The companies are being drilled by experienced officers, who have done service in the United States army, and the membership are quite sanguine in leaving this port in two or three weeks, unmolested by the Government. They do not intend arming themselves until they get beyond the jurisdiction of the United States.—Baltimore American.
DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], April 13, 1860, p. 2, c. 5
Knights of the Golden Circle.—The St. Joseph papers say that several hundred Knights of the Golden Circle from Kansas and Nebraska, had arrived there, and would be prepared to start soon for Mexico.
DAILY GAZETTE & COMET [BATON ROUGE, LA], October 12, 1860, p. 2, c. 2
An Expedition Come to Nothing.
The Galveston Civilian is responsible for the following piece of information. The Knights of the Golden Circle, who have been so far benightened [” Involved in intellectual or moral darkness”] as to march to Western Texas, have concluded that they have had about as near a view of the elephant as would pay.
The Corpus Christi Ranchero says:
“The last detachment of Knights of the Golden Circle that arrived here instead of going farther towards the “seat of war,” left, we understand, for their respective homes. those who went to the Banquette, came back here and did likewise; and as they performed the trip into the country and back on foot, will satisfy the Civilian they did not carry bridles with them.
“This morning another party of K. G. C., from the States, arrived here. There must be mismanagement on the part of the leaders, or else a concentration of force would be better understood.”
Young men at a distance should be cautious how they enter upon quixotic and desperate expeditions of this kind. The whole scheme, in the present state of affairs, is chimercal [illusory] and dangerous in the extreme.
ALAMO EXPRESS [San Antonio, TX], November 5, 1860, p. 1, c. 4
The “K. G. C.”
Below we give from the Austin “Southern Intelligencer” an account of the speech of Gen. Bickley which meets the necessity of the case so well that we transfer it to our columns instead of going into a review of the speech as reported in the Herald.
[“] The following placard was displayed in our city on last Wednesday:
K. G. C.
Gen. Geo. Bickley, President of the American Legion of K. G. C. will address the citizens of Austin on the character and aim of the Knights of the Golden Circle, at the Hall over Darden and Maynard’s, this (Wednesday) evening at 7½ o’clock. The public is respectfully invited to attend.
As our people are not much given to running after sights [except the circus,] and would not be humbugged even by the Biological, Odological Dr. Hale, the notice of itself would have excited but little attention in these speaking days, but for the circulation of a pamphlet by the orator, who is understood to be the President of the “K. G. C.”
This pamphlet produced some excitement among a number of our citizens, who otherwise would not have attended the meeting. Among the passages which look to the political aspect of the thing, we copy the following:
“The Knights of the Golden Circle constitute a powerful military organizations [sic], as a nuceleus [sic] around which to hang such political considerations as will, if well managed, lead to the disenthrallment of the cotton States from the oppressive majority of the manufacturing and commercial interests of the North.”
“The great West was being rapidly settled by Europeans who arrived in our country with deep rooted pejudices [sic] against slavery, until the anti-slavery party was no longer confined to the manufacturing districts of New England, but like some fatal epidemic, it has spread over the whole North and West.”
“The Republican or Northern party is abolitionized—the Southern party is gong rapidly to secession. All parties in the North are free-soil; all parties in the South are constitutionalists, and when the provisions of that instrument are violated, then our people are secessionists. It is quite true that there are many pro-slavery men in the North—men who have stood by us [illegible] there are men in the south who are in favor of the Union [illegible]—men who to preserve the Union, would give up the slave institutions of the Southern States, and re-enact the farce and folly of Jamaican Emancipation.”
“It is then clear that the acquisition of Southern territory by the Federal Government is a dangerous experiment, and not to be countenanced for one moment.”
“Northern men have been called to edit our papers and Northern women to educate and train our daughters. The one propagates abolitionism by insidious clippings of abolition arguments, and weak comments thereof; the other, while their conduct is, so far as we have observed in the main, irreproachable, by constantly reminding the child of our duty to be kind and affable, and that we are all the work of the Creator, and of one race, so impress the child’s mind that by the time it arrives at maturity it is already abolitionized.”
“The third division or degree is also divided into two classes, the “Foreign and Home Councils.” This is the political or governing division. The “Home Council” is one of pure advisement, and takes no active steps. It is unknown to the public or the first division of the K. G. C., and intended to guard us against infractions of the law. Like other “Home” classes it enjoys advantages known only to the order. The Foreign Council is divided into ten departments, representing respectively the interests of agriculture, education, manufacture, finance, police, war, navigation, law and foreign relations. Also from the “Foreign Council” there is selected three classes as a high court of appeals and entrusted with the making laws for the government of the K. G. C. These classes represent respectively the interests of capital, manufacturing and mining interests, and the interests of commerce [?] and agriculture.
“Our people must present an unbroken front—no division should now be tolerated. The old party issues should be forgotten, and we should have but one Electoral Ticket in the South, and that should be for a representative man. We now need men who will step boldly out and declare themselves either for or against us. The disposition to “shirk” the question and issue is ill-adapted to the dangers which now threaten us. Let us know our friends and our enemies.”
“There is a mercantile objection, [illegible] that the K. G. C. will not “pay.” To this objection we refer to the history of the Hudson’s Bay and East India Companies.—The K. G. C. is precisely such an association as those, and as they won empires for Great Britain, so may the K. G. C. for a Southern Confederacy.”
“It would make the South strong in or powerful out of the Union.”
“Let the people go to work in earnest and the South will soon be mistress of her own interests and destiny. Put off this crisis another term and we are lost. The border States are slipping from our grasp, and unless the people are aroused to a full sense of their danger, the Southern Confederacy will embrace only the cotton States.” [“]
We have made our quotations this extensive because it saves the necessity of a full report of the speech, which was in sentiment to all extents and purposes the same.
It is true the speaker began by denying all political objects and purposes; and he patriotically advised the election of Breckinridge, Douglas or Bell, if either could defeat Lincoln.—He disavowed disunion objects—and yet he insisted that there are but two parties—a Northern and Southern party; and he sought to teach that there should be but these sectional parties and to doubt the patriotism of all who thought differently. He regarded it as a foregone conclusion, that if Lincoln was elected, resistance would surely follow, and the “K. G. C.” would become the rallying army for the Southern disunionist.
He read the first and second degrees of the order, but not the third. As the first degree swears “allegiance to the order, &c., and the speaker invited any one not satisfied to ask questions, Judge Paschal, [Union elector] rose and said: “I am not satisfied with the oath, and I wish to inquire, whether the “Allegiance” which you swear rises above or in subordination to the Constitution and the laws of the United States and of the respective States, where the members of the order may be?” The speaker said “yes” and to prove it he read from the first degree which says:
4. “You do each swear to obey the laws of the United States provided the same are consistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States and the States in which you live; that you will do no act of which an American citizen should be ashamed?”
Judge Paschal said:
“Do the members of the order assume to themselves to determine the constitutionality of the laws of Congress and to resist them, or do they refer that question to the lawful tribunals of the land?” Gen. Bickley said: “As citizens we do judge of the constitutionality of laws, and act accordingly.” At this answer, most theatrically expressed, the leading Breckinridge State officers present, applauded vociferously, as indeed they did at every sentiment of a revolutionary character.
The speaker then proceeded to give the Mexican view of the subject which he denied was filibusterism; but only a decent way of getting hold of the country, by some kind of conquest, and the bringing it into the United States, or else adding it to the Southern Confederacy. The plan was certainly more ornamental than practical. And the denial of Filibusterism was as little convincing as the denial that the thing is being used as a political engine.
But upon this part of the speech we have no criticism at present.
In the course of the remarks, frequent reference was made to the order being a “police regulation.” When through, Judge Paschal took the stand and read the last paragraph in the pamphlet, in these words:
“The people must begin to examine the state of the nation, and determine on a line of policy united to the exigencies of the times. If the K. G. C. shall succeed we shall hear no more of the disunion, and, if so, it will be a secession of the North—not the South. We shall stand by the Constitution and the Government that will see that every provision thereof is religiously obeyed. Outside of all other considerations, the South ought to support and extend the K. G. C. organization and Domestic Police system—and [illegible] nucleus for her military system. That we [much of rest of column illegible]
Judge Paschal then said: “I have understood that it has been said that the order acts as spies upon travelers, and even marks baggage, and that baggage has come marked to this city as suspicious. Is this so?”
Gen. Bickley—”It is.”
Judge Paschal—”I wish to know if the Mexico which you may find in the District of Columbia, points to the contingency of the Presidential election, and if the order stands ready to obey Southern Governors and to raise the standard of rebellion, if they are not satisfied with the “Presidential election?” Gen. Bickley made quite a flourish of trumpets, and was understood to answer in the affirmative.
Gen. Bickley then said he wished to ask Judge P. a question. But instead thereof, he went into some declamation about the duty of citizens to obey their Governors; stated that Gov. Pettus of Mississippi and other Southern Governors were members of the order, and would act if Lincoln should be elected. He said that should he (B.) be in Texas, and Gov. Houston call for his services, his “tried sword” would be drawn, to march to the District of Columbia, or wherever else the Gov. Might command. Or should he be in Virginia, as little as he liked Gov. Letcher, he would march at his command. And he knew that Virginia would not submit, &c.
As to the “baggage searching,” the spotting of men,” &c., he said there ought to have been such an order thirty years ago; that people were welcome to search Bickley’s baggage, and no sound man should object to it. It was intended for the nutmeg men, the Yankee pedlers, and such suspicious characters. His question was: “Did any one object to these sentiments, objects and practices.”
Judge Paschall said: “This is not the place to express my full sentiments in regard to all I have heard to-night. It is the meeting of a man, who says he has expended six years and thousands of dollars in the cause. Great as I think his errors, I would speak of him with respect and courtesy.
But to the avowal that the order is a secret police; accustomed to denounce individuals; working by secret means, (as dangerous to the innocent as the guilty;_ that it marks baggage, and sends forward its suspicions with the unsuspecting traveler, that it is a secret order which undertakes to pass upon the soundness of Southern citizens, having a common interest in the subject of slavery—I say that it is the institution of the order or Robespiere, which will plunge us into a sea of revolution worse than the bloodiest days of France. It cannot, it will not be tolerated.” He then briefly pointed out some of the consequences.
And he continued: “You all know that I never belonged to any secret order, and therefore I may overrate the dangers of secret higher law and political orders. I denounced the know-nothing order, because I saw in it a government and degrees, which taught an habitual disregard of the constitution in favor of the freedom of religion and the eligibility of all free white citizens of the United States to office. But here is an order which goes many steps further. It is “military, financial and political;” and its purposes by secret means, to attain its ends. It arrays itself with the misguided partizans who threaten to overthrow the government, should they not elect their candidate! And it proposes, by secret means, to proscribe all who will not fall into their revolutionary purposes. It is then a secret political agency, and one which establishes a police above the laws, which are sufficient for every emergency.
As to the sentiment that it is the duty to obey the governor, even should he raise the standard of rebellion. I have no language strong enough for it. Revolutions must be the work of the people. We elect governors to see that the laws are executed; not to inaugurate revolution. When the public voice is to be tested on such a subject, the question must be submitted to ever[y] voter; because each of them has an interest as high as the governor himself. Much as I love the Governor of Texas; highly as I honor his judgment and patriotism, yet I declare, that should he usurp the power of calling for soldiers to resist the constitution, laws and lawful authority of the United States, I would denounce him as a traitor to his oath. But I fear no such consequences.—Houston will never lead a rebellion; nor do I believe that any governor will take any such responsibility. Evils exist, dangers threaten, but to the people belong the questions of life, liberty, property and honor. All appeals to their judgments and passions, should be open and public. All plottings and cabals will be met by counter plots, until if continued you will have civil war at home and in our very streets. Improvident men are now [most of rest of column illegible]
lowered by the temper of the crowd.—There were however, some repetitions of the necessity of purely “northern and southern parties,” and of fight and fury, whereat a few of the intense Yanceyites applauded with diminished enthusiasm.
We give this brief report to the public. We trust that Gen. Bickley will publish the entire speeches. We would hold no political party responsible for this secret order; but trust that all parties will disavow it as a secret political engine. In its secrecy, in its police espionage and its avowed southern confederacy disunionism, we see nothing but mischief. We trust its strength and the character of those who compose it are not fairly represented by its advocates. Secrecy in political movements, is not to be tolerated among a people who rely upon an enlightened public opinion.
Gen. Bickley said, that he could not speak for Austin, he could for Texas. We call upon every Texas editor and Texas speaker and candidate to speak for themselves. Judge Paschal has spoken the sentiments of this community, with a few uninfluential exceptions. He stands by the constitution and the laws against all mobs, higher lawism and secret espionage. And our citizens should be proud, that they had a man bold enough to speak in the right time, the right tone and temper towards men, who, however pure their motives might be, are certainly upon a most dangerous road. Let us have no political secret conclaves—no reign of terror—but let all political subjects be openly and boldly discussed.
We are glad to learn that the expose of the mysterious K. G. C., was not pleasing to some of the more moderate followers of the bolters, (the extremists had hoped to make a good thing of it.) Yesterday morning a large showbill was posted, giving notice that M. R. Reagan, Esq., would address the unterrified at the same place last night. It was whispered around, that Morris would “show up” the new secret political order, and prove it to be “a Bell and Everett trick.” The editor attended, and found Gen. Bickley there, with his aids Col. Groiner and Maj. Bickley. Our friend Morris spoke to the great satisfaction of the organizers, and really got off some patriotic sentiments, such as a willingness to die for the country, and the declaration that “to spot a man in this country is to hang him to the first black oak.” But there was so much of the warp and woof of “the fire the southern heart, and precipitate the Cotton States into a revolution—campaign orators, that Gen. Bickley mistook him for “one of ’em,” and gave the sign, and after the speech, claimed him, and commenced reading the degrees. It was a rich meeting, and we heard a wag say, that if the Breckinridge orator came there to “show up” the K. G. C.’s he did it after the fashion of Archie [illegible] a story of the Belle who went to the Kentucky quarter-race, to see Bob Easly’s new importation of the animal of the tribe which the queer cursing old Balaam road. The secrecy is too good a thing for the Yanceyites to shake off with such delicate jerks. They must put on the power which old Doddy Biggs employed upon the opossum, which would not let go when every foothold was broken. The K. G. C. will stick to them by the tail unless there is a hard shake.
ALAMO EXPRESS [San Antonio, TX], November 5, 1861, p. 3, c. 1