From the National Archives:
In 1854, before the Civil War started, a self-styled general named George Bickley founded the Knights of the Golden Circle in Cincinnati. This large, well-organized, secret society had many branches, or “castles,” around the country. It also had a constitution, by-laws, an official seal, and secret methods of recognizing fellow members.
The Knights of the Golden Circle wanted to bring into the Union as slave states a “Golden Circle” that included Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean. Toward that end, members twice tried to invade Mexico.
After the Civil War broke out, the Knights of the Golden Circle became the Order of American Knights and later the Sons of Liberty [See this post—Ed.]. They often worked with Confederate Agents based in Canada and with Copperheads–an extreme wing of Northern Democrats who opposed the war, sometimes violently.
[Above] is the calling card of George Bickley, founder of the Knights of the Golden Circle.