Expose of the Knights of the Golden Circle - Member Knight

Chapter X.
A Call to Preserve the Union

What the K.G.C. intend to do with their Government should they succeed in their Designs—the Renewal of the Slave Trade—the Reasons why nothing is said of Slave Trade now—the Establishment of an Aristocracy—the War of 1861—Northern depreciation of Southern Strength.

Having traced the movements of the S.R.C from 1834 to 1855, and having considered its metamorphosis, at the latter period, into the K.G.C., and its subsequent movements in the political arena up to the present day, I will now lay before the reader's mind the anticipations of the secessionists in the future.

In the first place, the Knights have, by no means, forgotten their original pet idea of slave stealing. This was the substratum upon which their mud-sills were laid in the beginning, and, although obscured by the foam of the secession cauldron for the present, will be brought out in full relief, in case the secessionists succeed in the establishment of a new government. Every member of the Inner Temple of the K.G.C. is an advocate of the slave trade, and so soon as opportunity is afforded, will make zealous, persistent efforts for its re-establishment. The castle was divided into an Outer and Inner Temple, in the first place, in order that there might be, in the former, a place of rendezvous for secessionists, whether for or against the foreign black traffic, and in the latter a place of refuge for the known and proved friends of the slave piracy. Whenever you come in contact with an Inner Templar, and broach the subject of the foreign traffic, he talks to you in the following style:

"We who have made the subject of slavery a study, know that it is an institution which must be either on the increase or decrease that it must either continue to grow in extent and power, or ultimately become extinct. We already have more territory than we have boys to cultivate it in the proper manner. Ihere are thousands of acres of the very best of cotton land in many of the Gulf States untouched. The Border Slave State supply of negroes has never been anything like equal to the Cotton state demand. But further, we intend to have Cuba, Mexico and certain portions of Central America; and, consequently, there will be a great increase in the demand for slaves. How are we to get them otherwise than by a resort to Africa? By going there, we can get them much cheaper, and in greater quantities, than we can in any part of the United States.

"Besides this, we can procure better slaves in Africa than we can in America, the niggers we get in the Border Slave States are generally very inferior as servants, and especially so as field-hands. Many of them are, in consequence of their large admixture of Anglo-Saxon blood lazy, stubborn, and insubordinate. They are, also, shorter lived than the genuine African, and cannot endure the labor of the cotton fields as he does. So far as the moral part of the negro traffic is concerned, there certainly is less sin in buying and selling the genuine Guinea kinky-head than there is in trading in those of their American descendants, whose veins contain much of our own blood, if there be any sin in it at all."

These are the arguments that the Inner Templars present in favor of its re-establishment; and if the institution of slavery be right or if it be even tolerable in a republic, they are unanswerable. I have cited them to show the tendency ot the anticipated Southern Government, and to prove that, should they once cut loose from the United States, the fire-eaters will never rest easy until they have renewed the slave piracy.

Perhaps it will here be asked, why the Montgomery Congress voted so largely against the introduction of this doctrine into the Confederate Constitution, if they really endorsed it? The following are the reasons: First, they knew the Border Slave States, whose main dependence was the Southern negro-market, never could be induced to ratify a constitution which allowed of the African slave trade. Second, they were convinced that it would be folly to hope to secure the sympathy of any European power under such circumstances. In their then weak condition they knew that to renew the foreign traffic would be to shut out all hope of the successful attainment of their designs. But no sooner will their government be established, than all their energies will be turned to that end.

In the second place, the leaders of this rebellion have never anticipated, what many persons have supposed they did, the establishment of a government composed exclusively of the southern States. They know full well that such a government could not long exist. It has been their intention, from the beginning, to secure the annexation of all the great Middle and Northwestern States, or, at least, a great portion of them. Without the co-operation of those Northern States which lie along the lower Ohio and Mississippi, their produce trade would be seriously impaired, and likely to be suspended at any time. Of the Southern and Northwestern States they intended to form what they term a limited aristocracy—a government which has been, for years, considered by the nabobs of the South as far better and more permanent than a republic.

Many of the leading citizens of the South have told me that they had regarded the present form of the American Government as a failure, for a long time; that it had, almost from the very beginning, manifested a great lack of power and efficiency. This idea may truly seem strange, when it is remembered that Thomas Jefferson, a Southern man, was the father of Democracy; that he, with almost all the Southern statesmen of his time, waged an uncompromising war against the more centralizing doctrines of Federalism; and that, from his day to 1856, the stronghold of Democracy has been the South.

The aristocracy alluded to is to be governed by a dictator, who may hold his office for life, unless deposed by the Congress. None but the wealthy are to be allowed a vote, and no one who is not known to have large interests in slave property is to be allowed to hold any office; and none but the most genuine of the chivalry are to be allowed a seat in the Confederate Parliament. These latter, when proved and chosen, are, like the dictator, to be allowed to continue in office for life, and when they die, their successors are to be chosen from among their descendants. In short, the intention of the secessionists is to have a more powerful monarchy than that of England. The steps toward its consummation are, however, to be gradual. By thus wresting the power of the government from the people, and placing it in the hands of the aristocracy, they could re-open the slave-trade, and carry on aggressive and acquisitive wars to any desirable extent.

What change may have been effected in the designs of the K.G.C. since the unanimous uprising of all the Free States, and the apparent division in many of the Border Slave States, I know not, but certain I am that they still contemplate the establishment of a government vastly more centralized than the one wo now live under. Without the constant aid of a standing army and an efficient navy, no power composed of Slave States can, for a day, maintain itself.

Thus it will be seen that the present revolution is not only intended to sunder the bonds that bind the Union together, but to prove the experiment of self-government a failure, and to crush at once, and forever, the last remaining hope of freedom to the world. The military discipline so strictly enforced in the "Articles of War" promulgated by the "American Legion" of the K.G.C., has strict reference to the continual use which is to be made of it hereafter. No candidate is admitted into the Order without he declares, most emphatically, that he will "strictly observe" these "Articles of War, as promulgated by the Legion."

The question now to be asked by every true American citizen is—Shall I, while life remains, submit to the establishment of a power which has for its sole object the destruction of that liberty which cost the Revolutionary fathers their fortunes and their lives?

The American Government is now threatened by an enemy far more dangerous than any it has hitherto contended with. All the foreign powers of the world combined would not be so much to be dreaded as the internal foe we now have to contend with. There is, therefore, no time to be spent in foolish, timid regrets; no hours to be wasted in deploring the "condition of the country," but every moment and every power is to be unreservedly driven to the most vigorous action.

The man who does not prefer death to the loss of his liberty and the destruction of the institutions of such a country as ours, is unworthy the name and privileges of an American citizen, and unfit for any other society than that of South Carolina. I have no patience with those persons who are always regretting this war, and longing for peace. The war is one of the greatest of necessities, and no permanent peace can be rationally hoped for but through the successful use of the rifles and bayonets of the United States troops. The man who cannot see this is either a fool or a cowardly traitor. The idea advanced by a few that it would be better to "let the South alone" than to shed the blood of our brethren, or sacrifice our own lives and fortunes, if it be honestly declared, can come from none other than the most ignorant and short-sighted of men.

Let us suppose, for a moment, that the South were "let alone;" all the lower Mississippi commerce is under its supreme control; the Southern aristocracy can exact just such duties of us as they please, and we must submit, or else be involved in a fight; the K.G.C. can carry forward their acquisitive wars southwardly, and re-open the slave trade, and we dare not open our mouths; and, worst of all, we will ever be regarded by them as the most contemptible cowards in the world. This is already the case, to a very considerable extent; and no hope need be indulged of securing even ordinary respect among them but by administering to them such a chastisement as shall make them remember us.

The present revolution cannot be more productive of suffering and privations than the first, one was. Our fathers began the war for their liberties with an empty treasury, few men, few arms, and scarcely any navy at all. We, on the other hand, have a full treasury, a large surplus of men, more provisions than we can consume, plenty of arms, and can soon have an efficient navy. Who, then, shall stand back and cry "peace," or counsel inactivity and delay in this, our day of peril?

As to the shedding of "brother's blood," I have this to say; he who lifts his traitorous arm to strike at the American government, he he brother or stranger, is justly deserving of death, and no tears should be shed over his grave. If every man, women, and child in the South has to die, it were far better than to allow the union of these states to be destroyed. The dissolution of the American Union is the destruction of the whole North American continent. The idea of the existence of two governments in this country, so opposite to each other as those which would result from a division of the Northern from the Southern sections, is the most nonsensical of all absurdities, and can only be conceived in the brain of a political idiot. The man who has heretofore enjoyed the benefits of the best government on earth, and who now seeks to destroy it by making war upon it, is worse than any foreign enemy.

The political aristocrats of the South, although now pretending to the world that they only wish to be "let alone," are really aiming at the subjugation of the North. Nearly ever since the birth of the republic, they have had almost complete control of it, and are now stung to the quick by the consciousness that the Northern States have at last shown a disposition to take a hand in its management. The politicians of the South have always believed that the people of the Free States were "too ignorant, cowardly, and selfish" to have a controlling voice in the halls of legislation. They have so long fostered this idea that they have, finally, come to the conclusion that all that is groveling and degrading in human nature belongs to the North. Whereas, on the other hand, all that is ennobling and great is indigenous to the South. They "have all the talent, bravery, and generosity;" we have all the ignorance, cowardice, and selfishness. To use a Hoosier phrase, a sound thrashing is really the only thing that can ever induce the fire-eaters to correct these views, and the sooner it is administered the better.

The Southern people never had a proper appreciation of our superior industrial and educational institutions. Their descendancy from "noble" stock, their inheritance of "sacred" relics, and their absolvence from all kinds of labor have, in their estimation, elevated them far above the "menials" of the North, and given them a rightful claim to the management of this government. Northern courage and Northern bayonets will remove these false notions—nothing else will.

For years the people of the Free States have, for the sake of preserving peace with their brethren of the South, humbled themselves in the very dust before the altar of slavery, and displayed a subserviency which is even sickening to contemplate. No wonder they concluded that one Southern man could whip from five to a dozen Northerners, when, with a population hardly one-fifth as great as ours, they have had almost the entire control of the government from its infancy up. Let us redeem our character, and establish our just claims, at every hazard.