I ran across recently an article written about Freemasonry and the Ku Klux Klan in Florida. It’s an interesting article and I will reprint it below with the author’s permission. It follows up on an article I posted Here on The Knights Of The Golden Circle. Be sure to link onto the author’s link to Knights Of The Golden Circle where you can view their first degree.
There is no doubt that the KKK infiltrated Southern Mainstream Freemasonry – more in some states and less in others. It’s a very hard claim to prove as both societies remain mum about their membership. And that’s not to say there wasn’t some infiltration in the North and West also but it was few and far between and didn’t last.
Today we still have the KKK in some Lodges and Grand Lodges mostly in some of the states of the old Confederacy. Every time I make this claim I hear from Brothers who say I found a Black Freemason in Mainstream South Carolina and I found 5 in Texas. Out of 40,000 to 80,000 member Grand Lodges a token half dozen or less of Blacks in these Mainstream Grand Lodges does not prove that these jurisdictions are not racist. While Georgia seems to have opened up a bit led by Gate City Lodge No 2 in Atlanta, I am still looking for my first Black Freemason in Mainstream West Virginia and Arkansas.
What it does go to show is that even in Grand Lodges controlled by White Supremists some local Lodges will raise Black men without retaliation because those in control are afraid of the negative publicity and the threat of civil legal action.
While some of this story employs the SWAG method, the real point to be made is that Freemasonry is radically different across the United States and that in the Beehive’s opinion is not a good thing. The Freemasonry in California is so different from the Freemasonry in West Virginia and the Freemasonry in New York is way different from the Freemasonry in Florida. In a highly mobile society this tends to be very disconcerting to Brothers who relocate.
After reading this article from the Laws of Silence below I hope you will have a better perspective on the subject.
The Sunshine State
In March 2011, I dissed Alex Jones’ The Order of Death documentary (Power, Corruption and Lies) for a variety of reasons, one of which is his claim that Albert Pike, whom Jones calls the leader of world Masonry, founded the KKK. Both claims are demonstrably false.
In the comments that followed, however, Terry Melanson and I discussed the links between Freemasonry, the Knights of the Golden Circle and the KKK. Whether the KGC could be described as “Masonic” is debatable, of course, but I’d have to say it was: three degrees, passwords, grips, hailing signs, etc. Freemasonry was, like it was for so many other groups, the KGC’s model, and membership was not mutually exclusive.
Sad to say, the same is true of the KKK. Whereas the original Klan had no degrees, the second group(now in archive), 1915-1944, had four and the ladies auxiliary, three. Freemasonry influenced its rituals and more than a few Klansmen were drawn from its ranks.
All this exposition is really just a prelude to the following two pictures. I mentioned the first in an April 2011 post about political vandalism, but at the time I’d forgotten the second. I don’t think the pictures prove anything beyond the fact that membership in a Masonic Lodge and the KKK were not mutually exclusive, but it will do little dissuade people from thinking one group was the arm of another.
Roy L. Cook, Klansman and Mason
Meet Roy L. Cook, Klansman and Mason, waving his freak flag high from beyond the grave in Oakdale Cemetery, Deland, Florida.
Ignoring these photos won’t make them go away, best to bring them out into the daylight. Personally I don’t see how one could belong to a group promoting universal fraternity and another white supremacy, but there you have it.
This KKK-sponsored page(now in archive) features a photo of Cook’s Klan headstone, but not the Masonic one; it does, however, feature the stone of Imperial Wizard James Colescott (1897-1950). Colescott led the Klan from 1939-1944. His stone bears the square and compasses. The page also pictures the stone of one Samuel Grady Roper (1891-1951)–with the square and compasses–and says it belongs to yet another Imperial Wizard. Trouble is, the Sam W. Roper (b. 1895) who led the Klan in 1949-1950 died in 1986 (after having retired as second director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation). So, given this blatant error, any info on the site must be weighed accordingly.
The Cook grave is located in Deland, Florida. Colescott died in Coral Gables. Roper, in Gainesville. All of them were contemporaries, Klansmen and finished their days in Florida. Which is not surprising; even a cursory glance at Klan history reveals that Florida has always had a particularly strong, and violent, Klan presence.
Florida, the Sunshine State!
(Gid and I are both Florida natives, we can thus rag on Florida with impunity!)
Phoenixmasonry records on its website the existence of a White Supremacist organization with Masonic influence called Knights of the Golden Circle.
The Knights of the Golden Circle was a Texas-based secret society. Their objective was to create a confederation of slave-holding states in parts of Mexico and the West Indies, extending slavery; the group’s plan thus mirrored the objectives of secession, a cause they actively supported during the Civil War. Legend has it that they hid the fabled confederate gold allegedly sent off for safe keeping as the waning days of the war. Others have linked them to the KKK.
At the link below is a fascinating history of the KGC and the historical context, it is after all subtitled “A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861.” It was written by a member of the order and published in 1861. The rituals and degree structure described in this book clearly indicate the influence of Freemasonry; whether it was founded by men who happened to be Masons is unclear, as Freemasonry is not mentioned in the text. (1)
Knights of Pythias, Brownwood, 1903. Back row center, with his hat removed and held across his left shoulder, is Henry Ford—founder of the Knights of Pythias Command in Brownwood, Texas. Ford was KPs first Chancellor, the county clerk and a local bank owner with two others.
Few people know of the Knights of the Golden Circle and even fewer know about the purpose for which it existed. It is probably the greatest untold story today in the history of the United States. That is unusual because during the last century this very large, powerful, secret and subversive southern organization had such a profound influence and effect over the course of many years that they almost succeeded in changing the course of our history.
It has been said of them that they were one of the deadliest, wealthiest, most secretive and subversive spy and underground organizations in the history of the world. It is known that they operated not only in the United States, but also around the glove for 65 years (1851 to 1916). Also, that the original Ku Klux Klan was their military arm. Some of the finest and craftiest brains in the South helped organize and direct the activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle. The group was heavy on ritual, most of which was borrowed from the Masonic Lodge and later from the Knights of Pythias. Some were also members of the Rosicrucians. Their wealth was due to the huge amount of money, valuables and equipment that they had accumulated for the purpose of restarting the Civil War.
So, you might wonder then if that is true, why haven’t we read about them in our history books or heard them mentioned in our schools before? That is a hard question to answer, but maybe because they were such devout, die-hard, southern rebels, working for a southern cause that was eventually defeated and one that is not popular today. However, the fact remains that since they did exist and were a very large and powerful organization for many years, I think that their story should be known today.
But during the 1800’s, many stories and articles did appear about the Knights of the Golden Circle in many newspapers, magazines and periodicals, before, during, and after the Civil War. But somehow, these stories have been overlooked or purposely omitted from our modern-day history books. So, who were the Knights of the Golden Circle and what was their purpose?
Origins of the Knights of the Golden Circle
Actually, their beginning goes back to a long period before the Civil War when our young nation was reaching out for more territory. They were part of the overall imperialist’s movement to expand out borders westward, even though they had not officially taken on the name of the Knights of the Golden Circle. Then, when the issue of slavery began to divide the sentiments of our country, they started to support the Southern states in trying to keep slavery alive because most of them were Southerners. As the issue of slavery finally divided the Union and the Civil War began, they became ardent supporters of the southern cause. This is when the organization became secret and went underground in their efforts to aid the Confederacy. Since they were considered subversive, that is why they became a secret organization. President Lincoln once referred to their very effective efforts against the North, as a “Fifth Column.” That could have been the origin of the term.
Then, after the war was over, they refused to accept the terms of the southern surrender. They had been working diligently for many years to accomplish their goals and were not about to give them up. They had too much momentum going. Also, they were still bitter over the issue of slavery and of not establishing a Confederate nation independent from the northern states. This is when they went underground with a strongly determined and clandestine, even bizarre, plan to eventually restart the Civil War at a later time.(2)
FURTHER UNDERTAKINGS AND MASONIC INFLUENCE
Shortly before the Civil War began, the state of Texas was the greatest source of this organization’s strength. Texas was home for at least thirty-two K.G.C. castles in twenty-seven counties, including the towns of San Antonio, Marshall, Canton, and Castroville. Evidence suggests that San Antonio may have served as the organization’s national headquarters for a time.
The South began to secede from the Union in January 1861, and in February of that year, seven seceding states ratified the Confederate Constitution and named Jefferson Davis as provisional president. The Knights of the Golden Circle became the first and most powerful ally of the newly-created Confederate States ofAmerica.
Before the Civil War officially started on April 12, 1861, when shots were fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and before Texas had held its election on the secession referendum on February 23, 1861, Texas volunteer forces, which included 150 K.G.C. soldiers under the command of Col. Ben McCulloch, forced the surrender of the federal arsenal at San Antonio that was under the command of Bvt. Maj. Gen. David E. Twiggs on February 15, 1861. Knights of the Golden Circle who were involved in this mission included Capt. Trevanion Teel, Sgt. R. H. Williams, John Robert Baylor, and Sgt. Morgan Wolfe Merrick. Following this quick victory, volunteers who were mostly from K.G.C. companies, forced the surrender of all federal posts between San Antonio and El Paso.
Perhaps the best documentation as to the power and influence of the Knights of the Golden Circle during the Civil War is The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator which was written by John Harrison Surratt and later edited by Dion Haco and published by Frederic A. Brady of New York in 1866. In this journal, Surratt goes into great detail when describing how he was introduced to the K.G.C. in the summer of 1860 by another Knight, John Wilkes Booth, and inducted into this mysterious organization on July 2, 1860, at a castle in Baltimore,Maryland. Surratt describes the elaborate and secret induction ceremony and its rituals and tells that cabinet members, congressmen, judges, actors, and other politicians were in attendance. Maybe the most significant revelation of Surratt’s diary is that the Knights of the Golden Circle began plotting to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in 1860, before Lincoln was even inaugurated in 1861, and continued throughout the Civil War, resulting in President Lincoln’s assassination by fellow Knight Booth on April 14, 1865.
After trying unsuccessfully to peacefully resolve the conflicts between North and South, the Knights of the Golden Circle threw its full support behind the newly-created Confederate States of America and added its trained military men to the Confederate States Army. Several Confederate military groups during the Civil War were composed either totally or in large part of members of the Knights of theGolden Circle. One notable example of K.G.C. military participation in the Civil War included the Confederate’s Western Expansion Movement of 1861 and 1862 led by Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor and Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley.
In 1861 Albert Pike travelled to Indian Territory and negotiated an alliance with Cherokee Chief Stand Watie. Prior to the beginning of hostilities, Pike helped Watie to become a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Watie was also in the K.G.C., and he was later commissioned a colonel in command of the First Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Rifles. In May 1864 Chief Watie was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate States Army making him the only Native American of this rank in the Confederate Army. Watie’s command was to serve under CSA officers Albert Pike, Benjamin McCulloch, Thomas Hindman, and Sterling Price. They fought in engagements in Indian Territory, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri.
One of the most feared organizations of all Confederates, whose members were in large part Knights of the Golden Circle, was what was called Quantrill’s Guerrillas or Quantrill’s Raiders. The Missouri-based band was formed in December 1861 by William Clark Quantrill and originally consisted of only ten men who were determined to right the wrongs done to Missourians by Union occupational soldiers. Their mortal enemies were the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Red Legs who were the plague of Missouri. As the war raged on in Missouri and neighboring states, Quantrill’s band attracted hundreds more men into its ranks. Quantrill’s Guerrillas became an official arm of the Confederate Army after May 1862, when the Confederate Congress approved the Partisan Ranger Act. Other leaders of Quantrill’s Guerrillas included William C. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, David Pool, William Gregg, and George Todd. Some of the major engagements this deadly guerrilla force participated in included the Lawrence, Kansas, raid on August 21, 1863, the battle near Baxter Springs, Kansas, in October 1863, and two battles at and near Centralia in Missouri in September of 1864. The bulk of Quantrill’s band wintered in Grayson County, Texas, from 1861 through 1864. (3)
From “A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861” comes this insight into the rituals of The Knights of the Golden Circle. This entire work is rather lengthy but very revealing and is available in full on Phoenixmasonry.
I will now give you the signs, grips, password, and token of the First Degree of the K. C. G. (Of course a misprint for K. G. C.)
This Dcgree has a name, which I may now give you—it is the ” I,” (Knight of the Iron Hand.) The first great sign of the…
Order is thus made, 7, (Hands open, palms touching and resting on the top or the head, fingers pointed upwards). The answer to this is 8 (open hands touching shoulder where epaulettes are worn ; elbows close to the side).
These are battle-field signs, and are not to be used under ordinary circumstances. The common sign of recognition is 9 (right forefinger drawn across upper lip under nose, as if rubbing). The answer 10, (with forefinger and thumb of left hand take hold of’ left ear).
To gain admission to a Lorking Castle, or the room of any K. G. C., give 11 (one distinct rap) at the door, The Sentinel on duty will then raise the wicket and demand the countersign, which is 12, (SOLDIERS, always lettered except at Castle door.) You will then pass to the center of the room and give the true sign of the K. G. C.; it is 13. (left hand on heart; right hand raised) This will be recognized by a bow from the Captain, when you will at once take your seat. The sign of assent is 14, (both hands up) of dissent 15, (one hand tip) the grip is 16, (press with thumb one inch above second knuckle) the token 17, (Golden Circle encasing block bands closed on scroll : the whole to be the size of a dime)
Every member may wear the sign of his degree.
And now, reader, yon know as much about the signs, grips, tokens, &c., of the Knights of the Golden Circle as they themselves do. We may here remark that the initiation fee for the First Degree is one dollar, for the Second five dollars, for the Third ten.
From the Second or Financial Degree we need give but little.
The following is the closing part of the initiation:
Captain. The head quarters of this organization are at 23, (Monterey) where most of the stores and munitions are deposited. The Financial Head quarters are at —; Col. N. J.Scott is at present Financial Chairman.
KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. 83
Captain. I shall now give you the unwritten parts of this work, and I trust you will be careful in its use. If a general war ensues, we shall dispense with the First Degree, and rely on this and the Third.
Name—18 (True Faith) sign—25 (fore finger and thumb of right hands joined, while with thc rest of the hand upon the right eye is touching with the middle finger,) answer—26 (same with left hand and left eye) password 27 (Monterey) night word of distress-32 (St Mary) response-3I and say 5 (grasp by wrist and say Rio Grande) emblem—28 (gold circle encasing Greek cross, in center of which is star) This is the 29 (key) to our 30 (secret alphabet) use of 33 (K. G. C.) 56 (Gcorge ley) guard sign 28 (gold circle encasing Greek CROSS, in center of which is a star) silence 25 (forefinger and thumb of right hand joined, while with the rest of the hand open the right, eye left is touching on middle finger) on lips; danger—right—same with and now it remains for us to give the Ritual of the Third Degree, which, as being the most importaut, we shall publish almost entire. We have not the time or space for commenting on it now.
Every citizen can judge of it for himself: The Roman Catholics and the foreign born population will see how they are proscribed by this mysterious Order ; this central and guiding power of the secession and disunion party. All will see, too, that the Order declares for a Monarchy, a Limited Monarchy, as they call it, until all their purposes in regard to Mexico shall have been accomplished, and we need not suggest how bricf will be the period within which, if they get their Limited Monarchy, they will make it an Absolute Monarchy.
THIRD or POLITICAL DEGREE OF THE 33 (K. G. C.)— NAMED 57
(Knights Of the Columbian Star)
INSTRUCTIONS: Officers of the Council shall be a Governor and a Secretary. Every 57 (Knight of the Columbian Star) is qualified to act in either capacity.
Qualifications for Membership.
Candidate must be familiar with the work of the two former Degrees ; must have been born in 58 (a Slave State), or if in 59 (a Free State) he must be a citizen; 60 (a Protestant) and 61 (a Slaveholder). A candidate who was horn in 58 (a Slave State) need not be 61 (a Slaveholder) provided he can give 62 (Evidences of character as a Southern man).
Object: To form a council for the 33 (K. G. C.) and to organize 63 (a government) for 2 (Mexico.) No 57 (Knight of the Columbian Star) shall admit, except to a brother 57, that he has this Degree, for reasons that will hereafter appear. Any two 57s84 RITUAL OF THE can confer the degree on others, the oldest 57 acting as Governor.
Although it is pure conjecture one has to wonder whether present day Southern Freemasonry’s objection to recognizing Prince Hall, its insistence on being a White, Christian only Fraternity as exemplified by the recent religious rulings of the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Florida, has a direct correlation in the teachings of The Knights of the Golden Circle and other White Supremacist organizations being passed down from father to son, generation after generation.
The United States of America is like no other nation in the world. There are two diametrically opposed cultures within the US where compromise is not possible. Nothing is more evident to the truth of this statement than to watch the nation during a Presidential election year. Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives are in possession of two different world views. These views translate into two different life styles. The positions held by each side are considered basic life core principles that cannot be changed, diluted or compromised.
There are Liberals and Conservatives in other nations but their belief systems are not ingrained into stone and compromise is not a dirty word. Take Canada to our north. There are many different social, political and religious views in Canada and a diversity of culture in some areas while in others a much more sameness. The differences foster much discussion and debate but seldom WAR! Canadians who are not on the winning side of an issue have more of an attitude of, “Oh well, life goes on.” While here in the sates you will find both sides employing deliberate misinformation, loud ill tempered language leading to a radicalization that can give way to outright violence. Ask yourself when was the last time a Canadian Prime Minister or other prominent political figure was assassinated, or there was even a thwarted assassination attempt? In the United States we can point to the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (where 6 others were killed), the attempt on Ronald Reagan, and the successful assassinations of Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
And this is not a new phenomenon. You can go all the way back to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to see how long this aspect of American Society has been going on. Right from our nation’s inception we were two different worlds joined together. In the beginning there was the small farming, commerce, business and trading North versus the big plantation system of the South practicing self sufficiency and isolationism. There were the slave holders versus the abolitionists.
No other nation suffered such a bitter, protracted Civil War with huge losses of life that left a bitterness that never really healed. Who else in Western Society had a Ku Klux Klan that in its heyday had a larger membership than Freemasonry?
Today we have the Blue States and the Red States. No matter how bad the nominee the Blue States will always vote Democrat and the Red States Republican. That leaves a handful of swing states to decide the Presidential election. Most Presidential elections have a voting spread near a 52% to 48% margin. We are nation still seriously divided.
This division is not just political. If it were it would not be so all persuasive. There is also a social, religious, economic and racial division separating Americans into two different camps. You can make a good case for there being two different American cultures. We might call them the heartland culture versus the cosmopolitan urban culture. It is two life styles that view most every aspect of living from a different, opposing perspective.
The role of government in society
How we dress
What language we use
How we raise our children
The role of religion in society
What is taught in our public schools
Dependence versus personal responsibility
Individualism or collectivism
Parochialism versus centralization
How we regard our military
What social behaviors should be legalized
What should and should not be an entitlement
This all pervasive view of society and our role within in it has bled over into Freemasonry. We have Blue State Freemasonry and Red State Freemasonry. Just like the commerce based North versus the plantation South, Freemasonry has grown into two different versions of the same Fraternity. SOME of the differences are:
Evangelical Christians Secular
Wear religion on sleeve Many unchurched, some use Lodge
As their church
Prayers to Jesus No prayers to Jesus
Only Holy Bible on altar Multiple Holy Books on altar in
Casual dress Formal dress
Christians only Any religion acceptable
No foreigners, non English speaking Any language, any nation
Grand Master supersedes Constitution Grand Master obeys Constitution
Heavy restrictions on who can use Light restrictions on who can use
And rent Lodges And rent Lodges
No alcohol in the building Alcohol permitted some
No handicapped, no employees in No such limitations
Frequent expulsions without Masonic No expulsions without Masonic
Some GL control of private Masonic No GL control of private Masonic
GL owns local Lodge building Local Lodge owns its own building
Caucasians only admitted All races welcome
These and other differences have divided Freemasonry into sometimes warring camps. Our civil government under the Articles of Confederation soon changed into the United States of America under the Constitution and slowly evolved into more centralized control in Washington. From 13 states loosely joined in common cause we transformed ourselves into a united nation where citizens ultimately called themselves Americans.
Freemasonry never evolved like our civil government did. It has remained stuck in the Articles of Confederation stage. Each state Grand Lodge is like a nation unto its own. As the years have gone by the differences have become greater and magnified.
This is not a call for a National Grand Lodge nor a reinventing or remaking of American Freemasonry. But at the same time we must recognize that there is too much strife and discord, too many ill feelings and too much unmasonic conduct within American Freemasonry. Maybe 51 Grand Lodges are too many for the United States, leading to too many differences, too many rivalries with not enough cooperation. Perhaps there might be some voluntary consolidation. Canada with somewhat the same area has much fewer Grand Lodges. Whatever American Freemasonry does voluntarily The Craft must find a way to come together with some commonality, reducing friction and strangling tight control while still permitting states their jurisdictional powers. It must find a way to bridge the gap between a Blue State and a Red State mentality. American Freemasonry needs to become a fraternity, a way of life, which embraces free thinkers as it has in the past, frees up Masonic creativity, and becomes a Craft of principles and virtues not of men.