The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Some Letters Coaceriay the kl(nigts of the
older Circle in texas, 1860-1861
JIMMIE HICKS
THE 1850's WERE a decade of sectional conflicts, agitation
over slavery expansion, and various schemes to find new
lands for American settlement. Of these schemes, a most
fantastic and colorful one was the Knights of the Golden
Circle, founded by a Cincinnati physician, George William Lamb
Bickley. Although Bickley claimed to have organized the group
in 1854, it was not until 1859 that active work was begun in the
South. The generally held view of the organization's purpose was
the creation of a huge slavery empire composed of the slave
holding States of the United States, Mexico, Central America,
the West Indies, and the northern part of South America. This
great slave holding empire would either be a part of the United
States or a separate nation depending on Northern sentiment.
As sectional feeling increased, however, the organization em-
phasized more its duty to protect the institution of slavery in
the Southern States.
The leader, George W. L. Bickley, called "General" by his
followers and admirers, spent most of 186o in organizing local
chapters, called castles, in the lower South. In the fall of that
election year he came to Texas. He arrived in Galveston on
October io and proceeded to go about the state speaking and
organizing new castles. There was some talk of an expedition
to invade Mexico, and while some men did gather in lower
Texas, there was no attempt to cross the Rio Grande. George
Bickley continued his organizational work until late in 186o or
iTwo scholarly articles dealing with this organization are: C. A. Bridges, "The
Knights of the Golden Circle: A Filibustering Fantasy," Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, XLIV, 287-302; and Ollinger Crenshaw, "The Knights of the Golden
Circle: The Career of George Bickley," American Historical Review, XLVII, 23-50.
These writers give no evidence in their articles of having seen the letters reprinted
here.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed April 24, 2014.