The Knights of the White Camellia was a secret group opposing the carpetbaggers in the U.S. Southern states during the Reconstruction era and beyond. Like most of such groups, it was founded by a Confederate veteran, as veterans represented most of southern white men. Col. Alcibiades DeBlanc founded the group on 22 May 1867 in Franklin, Louisiana. Chapters existed primarily in the southern part of the Deep South. It was similar to and associated with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), as it supported white supremacy and was opposed to Republican government. However, unlike the Klan, which drew much of its membership from lower-class southerners (primarily Confederate veterans), the White Camellia consisted mainly of southerners who were or had been from higher classes, including physicians, newspaper editors, doctors, and officers. They were also usually Confederate veterans, the upper part of antebellum society. Its organizational structure had less unusual names than did the KKK: Members were called Brothers and Knights, and its officials Commanders.
After a Republican paper published its rituals, passwords and signals in late 1868, the organization discussed changes. It began to decline, despite a convention in 1869. The more aggressive people joined the White League or similar paramilitary organizations that organized in the mid-1870s. By 1870 the Knights of the White Camellia had mostly ceased to exist.
In the 1990s, a Klan group based in East Texas adopted the name.
Dictionary of Louisiana Biography vol 1, pg. 222
- Christopher Long, "KNIGHTS OF THE WHITE CAMELLIA", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed 28 June 2010
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.