Knights of Labor

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  • Founded in 1869 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by a tailor named Uriah Stephens, the Knights of Labor was the largest labor organization encompassing a variety of trades, skills, crafts, and industries in the United States until the rise of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) between 1886 and 1898. First called the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, it was patterned on the rituals of the Odd Fellows, Masons, Woodmen, and other fraternal organizations popular in North America at the time. Secrecy offered protection, as employers freely fired and blacklisted workers for organizing activity. Officers were given titles such as venerable sage, master workman, worthy foreman, worthy inspector, and unknown knight. By 1875 five more assemblies organized in the Philadelphia area representing ships’ ...

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