Original Document
Original Document
John M. Davis, "A Defense of the Knights of Labor," 1875.

When men cannot assert their rights and resist a wrong perpetrated by an employer, for fear of discharge, it is time to revise some plan for the better protection of our labor. When men are persecuted for unionism, when they are robbed of the true value of their labor, when they feel it unsafe to speak in their interest, it is time to look farther and deeper for some means of defense. When monopolies become stronger than the law, when legislatures become the servants of monopolies, when corporations can successfully bid defiance to public good and trample on individual rights it is time for the people to come together to erect defenses for personal rights and public safety.

When the commercial interests combine to exact the greatest share of profits of labor and give labor the least, even to the verge of starvation, when all attempts of labor to openly oppose and defeat the efforts of these combinations are made the pretext for still further oppression and persecution, it is time for the people to unite together for their individual and common safety. . These considerations have prompted men in all trades to recourse to secret organization, not for wrong doing, but to bring about a better state of affairs.

We have noticed from time to time the growth of one of the most powerful of these orders. It is especially deserving of notice and confidence as being exclusively composed of workingmen. Its numbers and the harmony and unity produced entitle it to our attention. It is rapidly extending and will, ere long, number its hundreds of thousands, all guided by one common impulse, and for one common end. It numbers in its ranks our best men. In it all are equal. In it all are heard, respected and benefited. We learn that it is rapidly becoming a national organization. Cost of membership is little, to let in all good men. If ever an order turned bad men into good ones this one does. If there is a spark of manhood in a man this order will kindle it into a flame of genial warmth for all who toil. We are glad to see the spread of this order. Its objects are noble and holy. It makes every in it purer and better. It widens his comprehension, lifts his conceptions, widens his understanding, deepens his affections and ennobles his whole nature. The order is moving westward. It has a solid footing in Pittsburgh, at which place officers are receiving applications for its extension further west. All enquiries receive proper attention, but from the nature of the order the replies cannot be as full as some would like. To such we say enter the holy of holies and know all."

Credit: John M. Davis, "A Defense of the Knights of Labor," National Labor Tribune of Pittsburgh, April 24, 1875.
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