Golden Circle (proposed country)

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Map of the Golden Circle with its possible subdivisions. The rest of the United States is in light/pale-green because the Knights of the Golden Circle originally planned to have the US take over these areas.

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 southern U.S. states secede in their own confederation and invade and annex the area of the golden circle to vastly expand the power of the South.[1]


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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[2] Robert Barnwell Rhett, called by some the "father of secession", said a few days after Lincoln's election: "We will expand, as our growth and civilization shall demand – over Mexico – over the isles of the sea – over the far-off Southern tropics – until we shall establish a great Confederation of Republics – the greatest, freest and most useful the world has ever seen."[3]


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, of the US, and Mexico City and Panama City (and most of those countries' areas).[citation needed]

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  1. ^ Woodward, Colin American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America New York:2011 Penguin Page 207
  2. ^ Simon, John Y. (2006-04-07). "Judge Andrew D. Duff of Egypt". Springhouse Magazine Online. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Official Website, archived link