Knights of the White Camelia
The Knights of the White Camelia was an American political terrorist organization that operated in the southern United States in the 19th century, similar to and associated with the Ku Klux Klan, supporting white supremacy and opposing freedmen's rights.
Like most white supremacist terrorist organizations founded after the American Civil War, the Knights of the White Camelia was founded by a Confederate army veteran. Former Confederate colonel Alcibiades DeBlanc founded the group on May 22, 1867 in Franklin, Louisiana. Chapters existed primarily in the southern part of the Deep South. However, unlike the Klan, which drew much of its membership from lower-class southerners (primarily Confederate veterans), the White Camelia consisted mainly of upper class southerners, including physicians, landowners, newspaper editors, doctors, and officers. They were also usually Confederate veterans, the upper part of antebellum society. Its organizational structure had less unusual names than did the Ku Klux Klan. It began to decline, despite a convention in 1869. The more aggressive people joined the White League or similar paramilitary organizations that organized in the mid-1870s. By 1870, the original Knights of the White Camelia had mostly ceased to exist. Among its members was Louisiana Judge Taylor Beattie, who led the Thibodaux massacre of 1887.
Earlier, David Theophilus Stafford of Alexandria, prior to his election as sheriff of Rapides Parish, was a member of the Knights. He joined the Citizens League and was at Canal Street during unrest there on September 14, 1874.
In 1939, Time reported that the West Virginian anti-Semite George E. Deatherage was describing himself as the "national commander of the Knights of the White Camellia". In the 1990s, a Ku Klux Klan group based in eastern Texas adopted the name. According to the book Soldiers of God, the new age White Camelia has a strong influence in Vidor, Texas. Ever since the return of the White Camelia name, so-called "White Camelia" (sometimes spelled Kamelia) Klan groups have also emerged in Louisiana and Florida.
- Christopher Long, "KNIGHTS OF THE WHITE CAMELLIA", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed 28 June 2010
- "David Theophilus Stafford". Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
- Dictionary of Louisiana Biography vol 1, pg. 222
- Dictionary of Louisiana Biography vol 2, pg. 1-760-805-7018