Industrial America in the Late 19th Century

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Labor Unions and Strikes
Knights of Labor

The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor began in 1869, attempting to solve labor issues in a nonviolent manner. They believed that the lack of success from previous unions was a result of their unwillingness to unite skilled and unskilled workers. Some of their goals included an eight hour workday, stopping the use of prisoners for labor, and ending child labor. In the beginning, the Knights of Labor did not initially use strikes, but came to accept them as a useful tool as the group became more radical, winning ones at the Union Pacific and the Wabash Railroad. However, their unsuccessful Missouri Pacific Strike and the Haymarket Square Riot caused their influence to diminish. People began to see their demands as radical and equated them with anarchists.
American Federation of Labor

In 1886, Samuel Gompers combined small unions specific to one craft into the American Federation of Labor, which included all skilled workers. He did not unite the entire working class; skilled laborers were in higher demand, and keeping the AF of L exclusive to them gave them more leverage. Knowing that the radical nature of the Knights of Labor led to its downfall, the AF of L chose to keep their demands simple, only asking for higher wages and better working conditions. These changes were unanimously wanted, and kept the organization united, with the AF of L being the biggest labor union up until the Great Depression.

Industrial Workers of the World

The IWW started in Chicago by socialist miners and other groups that did not approve of the AF of L. The IWW was led by William D. Haywood, who had participated in Colorado mine strikes. Eugene Debs, Daniel De Leon, and Mother Jones were...

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...t anarchists put on trial were condemned of conspiracy to murder. Four were hanged, one killed himself, and three were pardoned later. This incident led to the end of the Knights of Labor, which was incorrectly associated with the bomb throwing. It was an all-around bad day.

Works Cited

"American Federation of Labor." Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 03 May 2014
"Andrew Carnegie." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.
"Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)." Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.
"John D. Rockefeller." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.
"J.P. Morgan." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.
"Knights of Labor: An Early Labor Organization." Knights of Labor: An Early Labor Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.
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