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The Southern States of America
Knights of the White Camelia


This order was formed at New Orleans, La., in May, 1867, and subsequently became the largest of the revolutionary orders called into existence by the misgovernment of reconstruction. Its principal strength was in the Gulf states, farther south than the Ku Klux Klan. The organization was as follows: a Supreme Council for the United States; a Grand Council in each state; a Central Council in each congressional district; and Councils in each county. Each council was divided into circles and groups. The officers of the council were known as commander, lieutenant-commander, sentinel, secretary and treasurer; with the prefixed adjectives, supreme, grand, or eminent, for the officials of the three higher ranks of councils. The members were called "brothers." The objects of the order were, to nullify radical legislation, to reduce the influence of the blacks in politics, to prevent amalgamation of the races, and to defend the white race against radical encroachment. The members swore to vote for no black for office, to observe always a marked distinction between the races, to maintain the social and political superiority of the white race, at the same time protecting the blacks in the privileges rightfully theirs. The constitution forbade the endorsement of any political party by the order. Each member was free to vote as he pleased, subject to his oath always to oppose negroes for office, or those favorable to negro political rights. The order operated also as a body of regulators using such methods as were usually attributed to the Ku Klux Klan. The membership was of a higher order than that of the Klan; the discipline was good and the order never degenerated so badly as the Ku Klux. The effect of its operations was to control the lawless negroes, intimidate and drive from the country the carpet-baggers, and to secure again to the whites control of the State and county governments. These objects accomplished, the order gradually disbanded. Its secrets were well kept and not until recent years was anything definite known of the order. The White Brotherhood and the White League were closely related orders that existed in the same territory a few years after the White Camelia had disintegrated.


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