Golden Circle (proposed country)
The Golden Circle was an unrealized proposal by the Knights of the Golden Circle to expand the number of slave states. It envisioned the annexation of several areas--Mexico, Central America, northern South America, Cuba, and the rest of the Caribbean into the United States in order to vastly increase the number of slave states (it was proposed that Mexico alone be divided into 25 new slave states) and thus the power of the slave holding Southern upper classes. After the Dred Scott Decision increased anti-slavery agitation, it was advocated by the Knights of the Golden Circle that the Southern States secede in their own confederation and invade and annex the area of the golden circle to vastly expand the power of the South.
European colonialism and dependence on slavery had declined more rapidly in some countries than others. The Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the Brazilian Empire continued to depend on slavery, as did the American South. In the years prior to the American Civil War, the rise of support for abolition of slavery was one of several divisive issues in the United States. The slave population there had continued to grow due to natural increase even after the ban on international trade. It was concentrated in the Deep South, on large plantations devoted to the commodity crops of cotton and sugar cane, but it was the basis of agricultural and other labor throughout the southern states.
Organizers[who?] argued that the Golden Circle would bring together jurisdictions that depended on slavery. The Knights of the Golden Circle was the U.S. organization formed to promote and help create the Pan-American union of states. It was organized in 1854 by George W. L. Bickley, a Virginia-born doctor, editor, and adventurer living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Membership increased slowly until 1859 and reached its height in 1860. The membership, scattered from New York to California and into Latin America, was never large. Some Knights of the Golden Circle active in northern states, such as Illinois, were accused of anti-Union activities after the Civil War began.
The Golden Circle was to be centered in Havana and was 2,400 miles (3,900 km) in diameter. It included northern South America, most of Mexico, all of Central America, Cuba, Haiti/Dominican Republic, most other Caribbean islands, and the American South. In the United States, the circle's northern border roughly coincided with the Mason-Dixon line, and within it were included such cities as Washington D.C., St. Louis, and Pittsburgh of the US, and Mexico City and Panama City (and most of those countries' areas).
The balance of power between the northern and southern U.S. states was threatened by the proposed Golden Circle. Federalists feared that a new Caribbean-centered coalition would align the new Latin American states with the slave states in the US. This would tilt the balance of power southward and weaken U.S. federalism in favor of the Pan-American confederalist union. Those Americans in favor of the Gold Circle believed that an alignment with the remaining slaveholding Caribbean territories would reinforce their political strength.
After the civil war, many Americans from the South moved their slave-based operations to Cuba and Brazil (see Confederados), where slavery remained legal into the 1880s. Other American adventurists in Latin America repeated some elements of the Golden Circle. William Walker was the most successful of the individuals who tried to build a Latin American empire.
Representation in media
- The alternative history movie C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America explores the results of a Southern victory in the Civil War. It posits the Golden Circle as a plan enacted after the war.
- All of Mexico Movement
- American imperialism
- Antebellum South
- Manifest Destiny
- Republic of Sonora
- Slavery in the United States
- May, Robert E. (1973). The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-0051-X.
- An Authentic Exposition of the “K.G.C.” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” or, A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861, by A Member of the Order (Indianapolis, Indiana: C. O. Perrine, Publisher, 1861).
- Donald S. Frazier, Blood & Treasure: Confederate Empire in the Southwest (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996).
- Warren Getler and Bob Brewer, Rebel Gold: One Man’s Quest to Crack the Code Behind the Secret Treasure of the Confederacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004).
- Dion Haco, ed., The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator (New York: Frederic A. Brady, Publisher, 1866).
- Joseph Holt, Report of the Judge Advocate General on “The Order of American Knights,” alias “The Sons of Liberty.” A Western Conspiracy in aid of the Southern Rebellion (Washington, D.C.: Union Congressional Committee, 1864).
- James D. Horan, Confederate Agent: A Discovery in History (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1954).
- Jesse Lee James, Jesse James and the Lost Cause (New York: Pageant Press, 1961).
- K.G.C., Records of the KGC Convention, 1860, Raleigh, N.C., Gun Show on the Net Website
- Woodward, Colin American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America New York:2011 Penguin Page 207
- Simon, John Y. (2006-04-07). "Judge Andrew D. Duff of Egypt". Springhouse Magazine Online. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Official Website, archived link