Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 28. The Knights of Labor

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXI. Political Writing Since 1850

§ 28. The Knights of Labor

In the meantime, whatever complacency the average man of business between 1875 and 1890 possessed was rudely shaken by three phenomena: the rapid organization of labour, the trust movement, and the disfranchisement of the negro. The Knights of Labour, the first extensive labour organization in the United States, disturbed the balance of American temper. Said Francis Walker, the economist: “Rarely has the sceptical, practical, compromising spirit of our people, which leads them to avoid extremes, to distrust large expectations and to take all they can get, ‘down,’ for anything they have in hand, however promising, so far lost control of our acts and thoughts and feelings.” The nascent consciousness of labour was well reflected in Powderley’s Thirty Years of Labour, the author being official head of the Knights.