Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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KNIGHTS OF THE ORDER OF ST. CRISPIN. The workmen employed in the manufacture of boots and shoes numbered more than a hundred thousand when Newell Daniels, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, projected the organization of a trades union, designed, among other things, to secure good wages, and to prevent the increase of the number of workmen beyond the needs of the community. The first lodge of this order was organized in Milwaukee, March 1, 1867, and was composed of English-speaking members exclusively. Another lodge, composed of Germans, was immediately organized in the same city. After this, the order spread with great rapidity over the United States and Canada. In 1869 it numbered 83,000 members. It consisted, 1, of the international grand lodge, which perfected its organization in 1868 at Rochester, New York; 2, of state (or province) grand lodges, of which as many as eighteen were formed; and 3, of subordinate lodges, which were formed in almost every city or town in which boots and shoes were made to any considerable extent. Grand lodges were established in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky, California and Louisiana, and in Ontario and New Brunswick. In 1870 the grand lodge of Massachusetts was incorporated by the legislature; and in the case of Snow vs. Wheeler (113 Mass Rep. 179), the supreme judicial court of that state decided that a lodge could maintain a suit in equity for its funds against persons having such funds in their possession; although it had decided, in the case of Walker vs Cronin (107 Mass Rep, 159), that an action could be maintained for damages sustained by an employer by reason of a combination to prevent men from continuing in his employ. This order was not long in existence. Conflicts of jurisdiction arose between the international lodge and the grand lodges, and, in addition to the difficulties incident to trades unions in general, special difficulties arose from the diversity of the elements that composed this order, and from the greatness of the number of its members. The last meeting of the international lodge was held in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1873, soon after which the order became extinct. It was partially revived in 1876, and participated in the strikes of 1877 and 1878; but by the close of 1878 it had passed out of existence. The Daughters of St. Crispin were a female branch of the order, which flourished in the eastern, middle and western states in 1870 and 1871, but soon collapsed. Unlike many other trades unions, this order sought for the improvement of that great mass of laborers who are below themselves. Having the ten-hour system among themselves, by custom, without the aid of law, they nevertheless gave a zealous support to the agitation for a ten-hour law for cotton and woolen manufactories; and it was largely through their action that the Massachusetts legislature was induced to enact the ten-hour law of 1874.

C. C.

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