Cornelus Cotter Letter, 1882


Terence V. Powderly

This document shows that Knights of Labor assemblies varied by place and time. The previous letter, from James Bishop to Terence Powderly, was a short, to-the-point letter written in the midst of clearly difficult circumstances plaguing striking miners in Maryland. This letter, also from a district assembly member representing a coal mining community, conveys a different tone than James Bishop's letter.


Letter to Terence V. Powderly, April 3, 1882


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • Note the date this letter was written, 1882. How might circumstances for the Knights have been different in 1882 than in 1878, when the Bishops' pastoral letter was written?
  • How would you characterize the tone of the letter? How did Cornelius Cotter view obstacles facing his District Assembly?
  • According to Cotter, how would the Osceola Mills coal miners be affected by a strike?
  • In the "P.S." section Cotter informs Powderly of the attitude of members of the area's Catholic Church toward the Knights.  Describe the difference in views between that of Bishop Mullen of Erie and Father Lynch of Osceola?