%534. Labor Organizations; the Knights of Labor.%—Trades unions existed in our country before the Constitution; but it was at the time of the great industrial development during and after the war, that the era of unions opened. At first that of each trade had no connection with that of any other. But in 1869 an effort was made to unite all workingmen on the broad basis of labor, and “The Noble Order of Knights of Labor” was founded. For a while it was a secret order; but in 1878 a declaration of principles was made, which began with the statement that the alarming development and aggressiveness of great capitalists and corporations, unless checked, “would degrade the toiling masses,” and announced that the only way to check this evil was to unite “all laborers into one great body.” The knights were in favor of
1. The creation of bureaus of labor for the collection and spread of information.
2. Arbitration between employers and employed.
3. Government ownership of telegraphs, telephones, railroads.
4. The reduction of the working day to eight hours.
They were opposed
1. To the hiring out of convict labor.
2. To the importation of foreign labor under contract.
3. To interest-bearing government bonds, and in favor of a national currency issued directly to the people without the intervention of banks.
%535. The Workingman in Politics%.—As these ends could be secured only by legislation, they very quickly became political issues and brought up a new set of economic questions for settlement. From 1865 to 1870 the matters of public concern were the reconstruction measures and the public debt. From 1870 to 1878 they were currency questions, civil service reform, and land grants to railroads. From 1878 to 1888 almost every one of them was in some way directly connected with labor.
1. Great inventions founded and developed new industries.
2. These in turn expanded the ranks of labor, and led to the rise of corporations and labor organizations, and a demand for a long series of reforms.
POLITICS SINCE 1880
%536. Candidates in 1880.%—The campaign of 1880 was opened by the meeting of the Republican national convention at Chicago, where a long and desperate effort was made to nominate General Grant for a third term. But James Abram Garfield and Chester A. Arthur were finally chosen. The platform called for national aid to state education, for protection to American labor, for the suppression of polygamy in Utah, for “a thorough, radical, and complete” reform of the civil service, and for no more land grants to railroads or corporations.
The Greenback-Labor party nominated James B. Weaver and B.J. Chambers, and declared