During the United States Civil War, a secret organization of Southern sympathizers from the North was formed and called the Knights of the Golden Circle. Like many secret brotherhoods, it featured elaboraterituals. The organization was established in 1854 by Dr. W.L. Bickley in Cincinnati, Ohio. Local branches were known as castles, and their main goal was to colonize northern Mexico. This would expand proslavery interests. The brotherhood hoped to set up a slave empire encompassing the United States, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America, which explains the name Golden Circle.
Two attempts to seize Mexico failed. When the war actually broke out, the group’s attention shifted to supporting the Southern government. Membership was always small and spread from New York to California.