A preview of David C. Keehn’s book, Knights of the Golden Circle (Louisiana State University Press, 2013), has one George Bickley as the originator for the KGC, calling the “mystic order” Bickley’s “brainchild.”
Yet Ersjdamoo believes the KGC originated with one John C. Calhoun (image above), Vice President under Andrew Jackson. A Masonic “grand sign of distress” later came to light during a Civil War military trial delving into a “great northwestern conspiracy”: To raise the right hand and call out “Ocoon” three times, which is alleged to be “made up of the name Calhoun, whose name is mentioned with great reverence.”  Who else can this Calhoun be, except John C. Calhoun?
Keehn (op. cit.) has John Wilkes Booth as being initiated into the KGC in 1859 and eventually becoming “a prominent leader in the Knights.” The KGC also played a significant role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Keehn equates the KGC with Giuseppe Mazzini’s “Young Italy”, another secret society. Rogue KGC members claimed that even President James Buchanan belonged to their organization. “Verifying claims regarding the Knights is sometimes difficult. They were, after all, a secret society, particularly at the upper level at which policy was established and where communications were generally oral.” 
A pamphlet written in 1862 claimed the KGC “was instituted by John C. Calhoun, William L. Porcher, and others as far back as 1835, [and] had for its sole object the dissolution of the Union, and the establishment of a Southern Empire…”  The KGC was “an old Southern institution” which had been “infused with life” wrote I. Winslow Ayer, M.D. in 1865.  George Bickley may have been just a front man hiding the true power and origins of the secret society.
John C. Calhoun is said to have had a spot on the back of his hand. This dark spot was reportedly received in an uncanny manner. 
Calhoun and associates, in 1832, verged upon Southern secession. November 24, 1832 was scheduled for a special convention in Columbia, South Carolina. Late in October 1832, Calhoun retired to his room “to pen the article, or forge the wedge, that was to divide the Union of the States.” 
John C. Calhoun himself later recalled how “While sitting at the table, having taken the precaution to lock my door, to prevent the possibility of being annoyed, I thought I heard it softly open. I was then engaged in writing the ordinance to be read at the meeting to be held at Columbia, South Carolina, the next month. My back was towards the door, and being engaged in deep thought, I did not turn round again. A noise struck my ear like the agitation of flowing robes. I looked around, and behold a tall figure stood erect. A death-like fluttering seized my heart; my nerves gave way; my sinews became weak and soft like flesh; my entire frame became unstrung, and trembled, as by instinct, for its own preservation.” 
Frightened to death, Calhoun finally dared to open his eyes. Thereupon he beheld “an officer, wearing the uniform of the Continental army standing by my table, and, as it were, his eyes fixed upon my manuscript. He gradually raised his eyes from the paper, and looked earnestly into mine. I returned the gaze as well as I could. We remained motionless for thirty seconds, when all at once I felt a chilly sensation of awe pass through me. I spoke, without effort, these words, and I never shall forget them: It is the features of the immortal Washington; thou hast come from the realms of the dead. For what hast thou come, O hero of the Revolution?” 
According to Calhoun, the spectre replied, “John Caldwell Calhoun, desist. South Carolina produced one of the greatest martyrs to liberty, in the person of Hayne, and let it not be written on her history that she also gave birth to the blackest traitor recorded in the annals of time. Look only to an everlasting union of the States.” 
The ghost of George Washington then grabbed Calhoun’s right hand and pressed down its thumb, saying, “Across the articles of dissolution, stretched the skeleton of Hayne, and on the back of your hand will a black spot be visible through the remainder of your life.” 
In later years, when Calhoun would get worked up over his secession schemes, “he invariably fell to rubbing the black spot on his hand, as though it annoyed him.” 
——- Sources ——-
 Ayer, I. Winslow, M.D. The Great Northwestern Conspiracy in All Its Startling Details. Chicago: Rounds & James Printers, 1865
 Knights of the Golden Circle, by David C. Keehn. Louisiana State University Press, 2013
 “K.G.C.: An authentic exposition of the origin, objects, and secret work of the organization known as the Knights of the Golden Circle”. 1862.
 The Great Northwestern Conspiracy in All Its Startling Details, by I. Winslow Ayer, M.D. Chicago: Rounds & James Printers, 1865
 History of the Plots and Crimes of the Great Conspiracy to Overthrow Liberty in America, by John Smith Dye. New York: Published by the author, 1866.