Knights of the Golden Circle

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How the KGC built its enormous treasure reserves after the War

Posted by Jay Longley on April 13, 2018 at 9:15 PM

The following is part of my reply to a friend who asked for my thoughts on this passage.

~Jay~

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I've thought about this passage a lot over the past day. We know that the KGC in the North were often called "Copperheads" so I've considered the possibility that the copperhead was the snake he was thinking of rather than the foreign cobra but I don't know that for a fact.

The O.R. is full of reports saying how successful the KGC was at causing thousands of men to desert from the Federal ranks, especially in Missouri so the author is right on the money in that statement. Since the author wasn't a Knight, he wrongly assumed, in my opinion, that the Knights hid their badges out of shame. The KGC didn't, of course, display them proudly because they were trying to recruit deserters and the Union officers were very well aware that this was happening so they would have immediately punished anyone caught encouraging desertion.

I don't believe that the KGC was hoarding treasure to fight another civil war unless, of course, that became necessary and it didn't. They soon learned that they could build up their treasury (concealed in various depositories around the country) without having to rely on outlawed slavery. In the years following Reconstruction (beginning in the 1870s) the Knights of the Golden Circle set up some of their most trusted members into highly profitable businesses of their own like banks, general stores, livery stables, bootlegging, counterfeiting, and even bank and train-robbing. In turn, these new business owners contributed up to 50% of their profits back to the KGC treasury. (Roy Roush) Rather than "depositing" these funds into the treasury in the form of paper notes, which would of course deteriorate in a few years, they converted these profits to gold and silver which could always be used in the future, either as currency or in trading with foreign countries. This also served to weaken the Federal economy, whose monetary system was based on precious metals, while strengthening the economy of the South. As we all know, the South prospered in the years following Reconstruction. What we all don't know is that the Knights of the Golden Circle was responsible, for the most part, in that prosperity.

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