THE CLOUD AND THE FIRE

The Knights of the Golden Circle, the name conjures up a concept of Camelot in California, does it not? But the idea of this Camelot was a secret caste with the cutthroat notion of a California bled of color: purified of the bootstrap black, the illiterate greaser, the grinning Chinese, the grim knife wielding Chilean, the grub brown Hawaiian. . . .The Golden Circle is no halo, my friends, but a yellow flashburn of gunfire.
Matthew Christman, Letters from the West — 1862


The Knights of the Golden Circle were the true forefathers of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1862 they set about a plan for the overthrow of California. With their army of white supremacists, they would start in the back country a clandestine and violent war to take over the state. And out of the chaos they would create an apartheid nation that would help destroy the United States of America.

Jason Clay was a San Francisco gambler. The son of a French Army Officer and a Haitian slave, he was living out a lie, passing for white.

Matthew Christman was a reporter for the radically pro-Union newspaper THE AMERICAN FLAG. An opium addict whose family had sent him west in disgrace.

Hetty North was lame and alone. A woman passed over and shunned, yet who silently risked her life every day so the union would not fall.

Their friendship and love story in the rugged back-country of our nation’s youth is a parable on the true nature of democracy, loyalty and sacrifice. What they find, discover in themselves and each other, at that time of insurrection, is the fulfillment of what it means to be a human being.

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