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 (Spanish: Círculo Dorado) was an unrealized 1850s 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 (1857) increased anti-slavery agitation, it was advocated by the Knights of the Golden Circle that the Southern United States should secede in their own confederation and invade and annex the area of the golden circle to vastly expand the power of the South.[1]

Background[edit]

European colonialism and dependence on slavery had declined more rapidly in some countries than others. The Spanish possessions of Cuba and Puerto Rico and the Empire of Brazil continued to depend on slavery, as did the Southern United States. 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.

Development[edit]

Proponents argued that their proposed Golden Circle would bring together jurisdictions that depended on slavery.[citation needed] In 1854 George W. L. Bickley, a Virginia-born doctor, editor, and adventurer living in Cincinnati, Ohio, formed the Knights of the Golden Circle, a U.S. organization which aimed to promote and help create a Pan-American union of states. 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[by whom?] of anti-Union activities after the American Civil War began (1861).[2] Robert Barnwell Rhett, called by some[who?] 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]

Description[edit]

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, Mexico City, and Panama City.[citation needed]

Representation in media[edit]

  • The alternate history novel Bring the Jubilee and the similarly themed movie C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America explore the results of a Southern victory in the Civil War. Both works posit the Golden Circle as a plan enacted after the war.[4] Both also have the Confederacy take over all of South America rather than the northern portion of the continent.
  • In the Southern Victory Series, the Confederacy's post-war territorial expansion into Latin America amounts only to the purchase of Cuba from Spain and the purchase of Sonora and Chihuahua from the Mexican Empire (for the purposes of constructing a transcontinental railway and establishing a Confederate naval presence in the Pacific).

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  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. ^ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/the-happiest-man-in-the-south/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
  4. ^ C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Official Website, archived link