Constitution of the Knights of Labor (1878)
The recent alarming development and aggression of aggregated wealth
which, unless checked, will invariably lead to the pauperization and
hopeless degradation of the toiling masses, render it imperative, if we
desire to enjoy the blessings of life, that a check should be placed
upon its power and upon unjust accumulation, and a system adopted which
will secure to the laborer the fruits of his toil; and as this
much-desired object can only be accomplished by the thorough
unification of labor, and the united efforts of those who obey the
divine injunction that “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,”
we have formed the [Knights of Labor] with a view of securing the
organization and direction, by cooperative effort, of the power of the
industrial classes; and we submit to the world the objects sought to be
accomplished by our organization, calling upon all who believe in
securing “the greatest good to the greatest number” to aid and assist
I. To bring within the folds of organization every department of
productive industry, making knowledge a standpoint for action, and
industrial and moral worth, not wealth, the true standard of individual
and national greatness.
II. To secure to the toilers a proper share of the wealth that they
create; more of the leisure that rightfully belongs to them; more
societary advantages; more of the benefits, privileges, and emoluments
of the world. . . .
IV. The establishment of cooperative institutions, productive and
V. The reserving of the public lands—the heritage of the people—for the
actual settler; —not another acre for railroads or speculators.
VI. The abrogation of all laws that do not bear equally upon capital
and labor. . . .
X. The substitution of arbitration for strikes, whenever and wherever
employers and employes [sic] are willing to meet on equitable grounds.
XI. The prohibition of employment of children in workshops, mines and
factories before attaining their fourteenth year. . . .
XIII. To secure for both sexes equal pay for equal work.
XIV. The reduction of the hours of labor to eight per day. . . It is
intended by the Knights of Labor to supersede the wage system by a
system of industrial cooperation, productive and distributive.
From Major Problems in American
History, pp. 72-3