Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Powderly Will Go to Paris: The Paris Exposition 1889 and the Knights of Labor

  • Steven Parfitt (a1)

Abstract

This article deals with one of the many neglected chapters of the global history of the Knights of Labor: the events that led the Knights to participate in one of the great international events of the age, the Paris Exposition of 1889, and their attempts to found their assemblies, as they called their branches, on French soil. Drawing on voluminous correspondence between the leaders of the Knights of Labor and their enthusiasts in France, and on the Order's own journal and the proceedings of its conventions, this article analyzes the reasons why the Knights failed to capitalize on their participation in the Exposition, illustrates many of the failings of leadership and organization that afflicted the Order both at home and abroad, and demonstrates some of the problems and potential solutions that faced French labor activists at the end of the nineteenth century.

Copyright

References

Hide All

NOTES

1. Godineau, Laure, “L’économie sociale à l'Exposition universelle de 1889,” Le Mouvement Social 149 (1989): 71.

2. Rogers, Daniel T., Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, 1998), esp. Introduction.

3. Justice, September 21, 1889.

4. Commons, John, History of Labor in the United States: Volume 2, 1860–1896 (New York, 1936); Perlman, Selig, A Theory of the Labor Movement (New York, 1928); Hoxie, Robert F., Trade Unionism in the United States (New York, 1924); Grob, Gerald, Workers and Utopia: A Study of Ideological Change in the American Labor Movement, 1865–1900 (Chicago, 1969).

5. Ware, Norman, The Labor Movement in the United States, 1860–1895: A Study in Democracy, 2nd ed. (New York, 1964).

6. Examples of this scholarship include Fink, Leon, Workingmen's Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics (Urbana, 1983); Oestreicher, Richard J., Solidarity and Fragmentation: Working People and Class Consciousness in Detroit, 1875–1900 (Urbana, 1986); Laurie, Bruce, Artisans into Workers: Labor in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 1989).

7. See, for instance, Case, Theresa, The Great Southwest Railroad Strike and Free Labor (College Station, TX, 2010).

8. Work on the Knights outside North America includes Belgium, Watillon, Leon, The Knights of Labor in Belgium (Los Angeles, 1959); France, Dommanget, Maurice, La chevalerie du travail française, 1893–1911 (Lausanne, 1967); Britain and Ireland, Pelling, Henry, “The Knights of Labor in Britain, 1880–1901,” The Economic History Review 9 (1956): 313–31; Bean, R., “A Note on the Knights of Labor in Liverpool,” Labor History 13 (1972): 6878 ; Young, James D., “Changing Images of American Democracy and the Scottish Labor Movement,” International Review of Social History 18 (1973): 6989 ; Boyle, John W., The Irish Labor Movement in the Nineteenth Century (Washington, DC, 1988); Australia, Churchward, L. G., “The American Influence on the Australian Labor Movement,” Historical Studies: Australia and New Zealand 5 (1953): 258–77; Bob James, “The Knights of Labor and Their Context,” www.takver.com/history/secsoc02.htm; Scates, Bruce, “‘Wobblers’: Single Taxers in the Labor Movement, Melbourne 1889–1899,” Historical Studies 21 (1984): 174196 ; Scates, Bruce, “‘Millenium or Pandemonium?’: Radicalism in the Labor Movement, Sydney, 1889–1899,” Labor History 50 (1986): 7296 ; New Zealand, Weir, Robert, Knights Down Under: The Knights of Labor in New Zealand (Newcastle, 2009); Roth, H., “American Influences on the New Zealand Labor Movement,” Australian Historical Studies 9 (1961): 413–20; Roth, H., “The Distribution of New Zealand Radicalism: 1890–1957,” New Zealand Geographer 15 (1959): 7683 ; South Africa, Turrell, Robert, Capital and Labor on the Kimberley Diamond Fields (Cambridge, 1987); Jack, and Simons, Ray, Class and Colour in South Africa, 1850–1950 (London, 1969).

9. The only accounts of the Knights as a global Order include Weir, Knights Down Under; Parfitt, Steven, “The First-and-a-Half International: The Knights of Labor and the History of International Labor Organizations in the Nineteenth Century,” Labor History Review 80 (2015): 135–67; Parfitt, , “Brotherhood from a Distance: Americanization and the Internationalism of the Knights of Labor,” International Review of Social History 58 (2013): 463–91; Parfitt, , Knights Across the Atlantic: The Knights of Labor in Britain and Ireland (Liverpool, 2017).

10. See, for instance, van der Linden, Marcel, Transnational Labor History: Explorations (Aldershot, 2003); Kirk, Neville, Comrades and Cousins: Globalization, Workers, and Labor Movements in Britain, the USA, and Australia from the 1880s to 1914 (London, 2003); Fink, Leon, ed., Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History (Oxford, 2011); Fink, Leon, The Long Gilded Age: American Capitalism and the Lessons of a New World Order (Philadelphia, 2015).

11. For the story of LA300 and the Universal Federation, see Parfitt, “Brotherhood From a Distance”; Watillon, Knights in Belgium, 7–8; Fones-Wolf, Ken, “Immigrants, Labor and Capital in a Transnational Context: Belgian Glass Workers in America, 1880–1925,” Journal of American Ethnic History 21 (2002): 62; Pelling, “Knights in Britain,” 313–20.

12. Watillon, Knights in Belgium, 21–29.

13. Ware, Labor Movement in the United States, 73–102; Chicago Daily Tribune, June 5, 1887.

14. Perrier, Hubert, Collomp, Catherine, Cordillot, Michel, and Debouzy, Marianne, “The ‘Social Revolution’ in America? European Reactions to the ‘Great Upheaval’ and to theHaymarket Affair,” International Labor and Working-Class History 29 (1986): 3852 .

15. Quoted in Laslett, John, “Haymarket, Henry George, and the Labor Upsurge in Britain and America during the Late 1880s,” International Labor and Working-Class History 29 (1986): 69.

16. Engels, Friedrich, “Preface to the American Edition,” The Condition of the Working Class in England (New York, 1887).

17. Marx, Eleanor and Aveling, Edward, The Working-Class Movement in America (London, 1891). Found at http://www.marxists.org/archive/eleanor-marx/works/wcia.htm

18. Engels, “Preface to the American Edition.”

19. Journal of United Labor (hereafter JUL), October 1, 1887.

20. See Watillon, Knights in Belgium, and Pelling, “Knights in Britain.”

21. An example of each includes Young, “Changing Images,” 84–85; The Times, November 15, 1886; Sunderland Daily Echo, February 11, 1890.

22. The Times, June 29, 1886.

23. Maysville Daily Evening Bulletin, July 17, 1886.

24. JUL, September 6, 1888.

25. Maurice to Powderly, October 30, 1888, Box 48, Terence Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America History Research Center and University Archives (hereafter cited as TPP).

26. Charlot, A., “Les Chevailers du Travil,” Revue Générale 46 (1887): 9597 .

27. Louis Voisson to Powderly, undated 1886, Box 28, TPP.

28. JUL, February 25, 1888.

29. Stuart, Robert, Marxism at Work: Ideology, Class, and French Socialism during the Third Republic (Cambridge, 1992), 208209 ; Moss, Bernard H., The Origins of the French Labor Movement, 1830–1914: The Socialism of Skilled Workers (Berkeley, 1976), 96; Loubère, Leo, “The French Left Wing Radicals: Their Economic and Social Programme Since 1870,” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 26 (1967): 207.

30. Dreyfus, Michel, Histoire de la CGT (Bruxelles, 1995), 26.

31. Ibid., 22.

32. Maitron, Jean, ed., Dictionnaire biographique du movement ouvrier français, 1871–1914, XV (Paris, 1964–1997), 306.

33. JUL, January 24 and March 21, 1889; Weir, Knights Down Under, 217.

34. Moss, Origins of the Labor Movement, 96; Maitron, Dictionnaire biographique, XI, 314–15.

35. JUL, October 25, 1888.

36. JUL, August 16, 1888.

37. JUL, August 9, 1888.

38. JUL, February 25, 1888.

39. Halpern, Avner, The Democratisation of France, 1840–1901: Sociabilité, Freemasonry and Radicalism (London, 1999), 317.

40. Stuart, Marxism at Work, 210.

41. Ansell, Christopher, Schism and Solidarity in Social Movements: The Politics of Labor in the French Third Republic (Cambridge, 2001), 75.

42. Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Knights of Labor (hereafter Proceedings of the GA), (Philadelphia, 1888), 1920 .

43. F. Veyssier to Powderly and Hayes, February 22, 1889, Box 41, TPP.

44. Powderly to Maurice, March 7, 1889, Box 41, TPP.

45. Godineau, “L’économie sociale,” 72–74.

46. Victor Delahaye to Powderly, September 8, 1887, Box 36, TPP.

47. JUL, November 22, 1888.

48. JUL, November 8, 1888.

49. Proceedings of the GA (1888), 19–20, 67.

50. New York Sun, November 25, 1888.

51. JUL, February 21, 1889.

52. JUL, February 28, 1889.

53. Maurice to Powderly, February 18, 1889, Box 41, TPP; Maurice to Powderly, June 4, 1889, Box 54, TPP.

54. JUL, May 9, 1889.

55. Birdsall, William C., “The Problem of Structure in the Knights of Labor,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 6 (1953): 532–46; Weir, Knights Unhorsed, 97.

56. Directors Scripps League to Powderly, May 15, 1889, Box 53, TPP.

57. Scripps League to Powderly, undated June 1889, Box 54, TPP; Hugh Cavanaugh to Powderly, undated 1889, Box 57, TPP.

58. JUL, May 30, 1889. This story became a newsworthy item in Britain, where two of the leading radical newspapers featured it. (Reynolds’ Newspaper, July 21, 1889; Commonweal, August 3, 1889).

59. F. Veyssier to Maurice, July 30, 1889, Box 55, TPP.

60. Ibid.; JUL, March 14 and May 9, 1889.

61. F. Veyssier to Powderly, November 30, 1888, Box 49, TPP.

62. C. Deville to Hayes, July 28, 1889, Box 54, TPP.

63. Examples of promises to each of them include Alberte Delwarte to Hayes, May 20, 1889, Box 54, TPP; Chicago Daily Tribune, September 3, 1887; Powderly to Jesse Chapman, February 8, 1889, Box 99, TPP.

64. Weir, Knights Unhorsed, 63–69.

65. Ibid., 165.

66. Powderly to Maurice, June 1, 1889, Box 42, TPP.

67. Powderly to F. Veyssier, July 15, 1889, Box 54, TPP.

68. His poor health is chronicled in Craig Phelan, Grand Master Workman: Terence Powderly and the Knights of Labor (Westport, CT, 2000), esp. 11, 49, 9, 154, 181, 252.

69. Powderly to F. Veyssier, July 15, 1889, Box 54, TPP.

70. Barry's dispatches to the Journal include JUL, August 15, September 5, September 19, September 26, and October 3, 1889.

71. JUL, September 19, 1889.

72. Weir, Knights Unhorsed, 152–53.

73. F. Veyssier to Powderly, September 20, 1889, Box 56, TPP.

74. C. Deville to Hayes, July 28, 1889, Box 54, TPP. “Brother Chapman” referred to Jesse Chapman, one of the leading figures in the Order's assemblies around Birmingham (England).

75. F. Veyssier to Maurice, July 30, 1889, Box 55, TPP; C. Deville to Hayes, July 28, 1889, Box 54, TPP.

76. F. Veyssier to Powderly, August 9, 1889, Box 55, TPP.

77. Powderly to F. Veyssier, August 27, 1889, Box 101, TPP.

78. Weir, Robert, Knights Unhorsed: Internal Conflict in a Gilded Age Social Movement (Michigan, 2000), 101102 .

79. Leikin, S.B., The Practical Utopians: American Workers and the Cooperative Movement in the Gilded Age (Detroit, 2005), 6667 .

80. Weir, Knights Unhorsed, 171.

81. F. Veyssier to Powderly, February 28, 1890, Box 59, TPP.

82. F. Veyssier to Powderly, September 20, 1889, Box 56, TPP.

83. Maurice to Powderly, March 26, 1889, Box 51, TPP; Powderly to Maurice, December 29, 1888, Box 99, TPP.

84. Powderly to Maurice, June 19, 1889, Box 101, TPP; Hayes to Powderly, May 31, 1889, Box 53, TPP.

85. Proceedings of the GA (1889), 9; New York Sun, November 25, 1888.

86. Weir, Knights Unhorsed, chapter 6.

87. The Times, July 22, 1889.

88. Justice, July 27, 1889.

89. JUL, November 14, 1889.

90. An example sent to the Knights: Chicago World's Fair to Powderly, June 12, 1891, Box 67, TPP.

91. New York World, September 2, 1889.

92. Chicago World's Fair to Powderly, December 9, 1891, Box 70, TPP.

93. For three examples of this correspondence, see H. Bearnaise to Powderly, May 28, 1892, Box 72, TPP; Lyon to Powderly, September 22, 1892, Box 74, TPP; de Boyue to Powderly, January 5, 1893, Box 75, TPP; Count Theodore de Leusse to Powderly, December 22, 1893, Box 83 TPP. For the article in 1899: Jannet, P., “Les Chevaliers du Travail,” Musée social 6 (1899): 305–49.

94. A.F. Parmentier to Powderly, February 2, 1894, Box 84, TPP.

95. Dommanget, La Chevalerie de Travail.

96. Jannet, “Les Chevaliers du Travail,” 305–306.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Powderly Will Go to Paris: The Paris Exposition 1889 and the Knights of Labor

  • Steven Parfitt (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.