Grand Master Workman

Grand Master Workman

by Craig Phelan
     
 

The Noble Order of the Knights of Labor was the most ambitious and significant labor organization of the Gilded Age. As the charismatic leader of this group, Terence Powderly was America's first nationally known labor leader, the first to achieve a high degree of recognition from working people, industrialists, and politicians across the continent. To most

Overview

The Noble Order of the Knights of Labor was the most ambitious and significant labor organization of the Gilded Age. As the charismatic leader of this group, Terence Powderly was America's first nationally known labor leader, the first to achieve a high degree of recognition from working people, industrialists, and politicians across the continent. To most Americans, Powderly was the Knights of Labor. Based on an exhaustive examination of Powderly's voluminous correspondence, this book offers a critical analysis of Powderly's efforts to oversee the most spectacular experiment in class-wide solidarity ever undertaken.

Phelan paints a sympathetic and probing portrait of a complex figure caught up in the whirlwind of local and national events. He details the challenges and pressures of labor leadership at a time when industrialization was convulsing the nation, and when the labor movement was struggling to build a viable national institution capable of creating a more egalitarian society. The national focus of this study helps to synthesize the numerous community studies written on the Knights in recent years and offers fresh perspectives on the ultimate meaning of the organization. It is the first detailed examination of the Knights' leadership since the Powderly and Hayes Papers have become available.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A reappraisal of the career of Terence Powderly, charismatic leader of the Knights of Labor in the late 19th century. Idolized by his followers, Powderly was later seen by labor historians as arrogant and inept and the Knights as hopelessly utopian. Phelan (American studies, U. of Wales-Swansea) recovers Powderly's role as inspired head of a communitarian, working class movement with radical populist ideas, emphasizing the history of the Knights of Labor, Powderly's role in it, and the Knights place in the social, political, and economic scene of the day. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313309489
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/30/2000
Series:
Contributions in Labor Studies Series
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)

Meet the Author

CRAIG PHELAN is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Wales, Swansea. His other works include Divided Loyalties: the Public and Private Life of Labor Leader John Mitchell (1994) and William Green: Biography of a Labor Leader (1989).

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