Chronology

This Chronology offers a list of selected dates related to the Knights of Labor website.

  • 1607
    • Upon founding Jamestown colony, English planters realize that they will need more laborers if the colony is going to thrive
  • 1619
    • Slaves from Africa first introduced in the American colonies
  • 1648
    • Boston shoemakers and coopers form guilds
  • 1663
    • Maryland indentured servants strike
  • 1676
    • Nathaniel Bacon's Rebellion of servants and slaves occurs in Virginia
  • 1724
    • Carpenters Company of Philadelphia chartered to assist carpenters' instruction and well-being
  • 1739
    • Stono Rebellion of slaves occurs in South Carolina
  • 1765
    • Artisans and laborers in Sons of Liberty protest oppressive British taxes
      --First society of working women organized as an auxiliary of the Sons of Liberty and called Daughters of Liberty
  • 1768
    • New York journeymen tailors protest wage reductions in the earliest recorded strike
  • 1770
    • British troops kill five dockworkers in Boston Massacre
  • 1775
    • United Company of Philadelphia for Promoting American Manufacturing employs 400 women under one roof, pointing toward industrialization
  • 1776
    • Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is published. It promotes laissez-faire economics and individualism, yet opposes monopolies and mercantilism
  • 1778
    • New York City journeymen printers unite and gain an increase in wages, disbanding soon after
  • 1785
    • New York City shoemakers strike for three weeks
  • 1790
    • First textile mill established by Samuel Slater in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • 1791
    • Philadelphia carpenters strike for a 10 hour day and overtime pay; they are unsuccessful
  • 1792
    • Philadelphia shoemakers form the first local craft union for collective bargaining, disbanding in a year
  • 1793
    • Cotton gin invented, making cotton production easier and extending the life of slavery in the U.S.
  • 1797
    • Philadelphia carpenters go on strike
  • 1800
    • Gabriel Prosser launches an unsuccessful slave rebellion in Virginia
  • 1808
    • Federal law prohibits importation of slaves to the U.S.
  • 1814
    • Power loom invented, making textile factories possible
  • 1824
    • First reported strike by women workers as they join male weavers in protest of wage reduction and extension of workday in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • 1827
    • The first city-wide labor council forms in Philadelphia, the Mechanics Union of Trade Associations
  • 1828
    • Workingmen's Party forms in Philadelphia; in 1829 the Workingmen's Party of New York is organized
  • 1831
    • Publication of The Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison marks the beginnings of the abolitionist movement
      --Nat Turner's slave rebellion occurs in Virginia
  • 1834
    • Factory Girls' Association strikes over wage cuts and working conditions in Lowell, Massachusetts
  • 1836
    • Convention of mechanics, farmers, and workingmen meet in Utica, New York to address issues affecting labor
  • 1842
    • In Commonwealth vs. Hunt the Massachusetts supreme court rules that labor unions are not illegal conspiracies
      --Connecticut and Massachusetts pass laws prohibiting children to work more than 10 hours a day
  • 1847
    • New Hampshire is the first state to make the 10 hour workday the legal one
  • 1848
    • Pennsylvania passes a law making 12 years old the minimum age for workers in commercial occupations
  • 1860
    • Abraham Lincoln, in support of New England shoemakers, says "Thank God we have a system of labor where there can be a strike"
  • 1863
    • Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in southern states occupied by Union forces during the Civil War
  • 1865
    • Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution bans slavery in the U.S.
  • 1866
    • National Labor Union established
  • 1867
    • Knights of the Order of St. Crispin Founded
      --General strike of Chicago trade unions demanding an 8 hour workday occurs
  • 1868
    • First 8 hour workday passed; it applies only to laborers, mechanics, and workmen employed by the government
      --First state labor bureau established in Massachusetts
  • 1869
    • Knights of Labor founded in Philadelphia by Uriah Stephens. Women and Blacks allowed membership
      --First Black National Labor Union founded in Washington DC
      --First National women's union, the Daughter's of St. Crispin, hold their convention in Lynn, Massachusetts
  • 1870
    • First written contract between coal miners and coal mine operators is signed
  • 1873
    • Economic panic followed by a depression causes most national unions to dissolve
  • 1876
    • Several member of the radical labor organization, the Molly Maguires, are convicted for murders in Pennsylvania, 19 will be hanged
  • 1877
    • National uprising of railroad workers cripples the nation
  • 1882
    • First Labor Day Celebration takes place in New York City
  • 1884
    • First all-female local of the Knights of Labor established
  • 1885
    • Successful strike by the Knights of Labor on Gould's southwestern rail system takes place
  • 1885-86
    • Knights of Labor reach the height of their influence
  • 1886
    • The American Federation of Labor is established in Columbus, Ohio. Samuel Gompers is the union's first president
      -- Violence erupts after an explosion during a rally supporting the 8 hour workday in Chicago's Haymarket Square
  • 1887
    • Gibbons memorial defending the Knights of Labor goes to Rome
      --Seven are charged with bombing Haymarket Square in 1886. 5 are later executed
  • 1892
    • Iron and steel workers are defeated in a lockout at Homestead, Pennsylvania
  • 1900
    • International Ladies Garment Workers Union founded
  • 1903
    • Department of Commerce and Labor founded

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