The Knights of Labour

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  • Created by: Ally
  • Created on: 20-04-13 16:23

Knights of Labour - 1869

  • KOL was founded in 1869 by Uriah Smith Stephens and achieved some initial success, particularly after it attracted a number of memberships of  the National Labour Union following its demise.
  • When Terence V. Powederly became leader of KOL in 1879. The intentions of the organisation became to unite skilled and unskilled labour and to remove the barriers of racial and origin imposed by exisiting local labour associations.
  • Women were also welcomed into the KOL.
  • Powderly rejected the idea of using strikes to encourage change; he instead preferred to seek to reform legislation to establish worker's rights and improve working conditions.
  • By 1881, membership had only grown to 20,000.
  • However, the Wabash Railroad strike forced Powderly to abandon is earlier principles as their union's existence was being threatened -> the strike stopped Gould's (owner) anti union campaign and this success rose KOL's membership to 700,000 in 1886. Which importantly included, 10,000 women and 50,000 African Americans.
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  • However, KOL's members and support decreased after the Haymarket Affair in 1886 where workers and police were killed due to a bomb during the strikes. By the 1890s membership was down to 100,000. 
  • KOL was frustrating close to worker solidarity.
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