Ep 27: The KGC: An American Conspiracy (Part 1)


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America in the mid-nineteenth century was still a very young nation in the process of finding its own identity, its states not yet fully or harmoniously united. Differing ideas on what methods of production and government its inhabitants should employ were fomenting into a house divided and would lead to one of the bloodiest and devastating civil wars any country could experience. Leading up to America’s Civil War, various factions were coalescing into numerous political parties and regional movements, with ideological lines drawn largely on the issue of slavery. The struggle for America’s southern states’ self-determination gave rise to a secret society known as the Knights of the Golden Circle, whose members were determined to gain power, wealth and influence for their cause either within the Union, or if necessary as their own autonomous territory. The birth of the United States as a nation would indeed be a painful and traumatic experience, the pangs of which would be felt and remembered to this day, and the hopes for the rise of the South kept alive perhaps more than the average American knows.

Tonight’s Quote:

“No matter what secrets may be given to me by a 57, if given as the secret of a 57 and because I am one, I will hold the same sacredly in my own knowledge, and never re-communicate it, even to a 57, unless authorized so to do by the brother whose secret it is.”

– KGC Initiation rites for their 3rd degree, within which membership was kept from all other members of the organization. (Published anonymously in 1861)

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Episode 027 – “Knights of the Golden Circle” Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle. Copyright Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess 2015, All Rights Reserved.


1) Cover of the book, “An Authentic Exposition of the Knights of the Golden Circle, or A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861, by a Member of the Order”; 2) George W.L. Bickley, considered the main founder of the K.G.C.; 3) Possible seal of the Knights of the Golden Circle; 4) Illustration of filibuster John A. Quitman, by Alonzo Chappel, courtesy of www.alonzochappel.org ; 5) Clement Vallandigham; 6) William Walker; 7) Portrait of Albert Pike, taken by famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady; 8) Robert Rhett, considered “The Father of Secession;” 9) Benjamin McCulloch; 10) Illustration of a secret K.G.C. ceremony