Knights of Labor Local Assembly 1562 (LA 1562)

LA 1562

LA 1562

In Brooklyn in mid-1880 a local assembly of the Knights of Labor, LA 1562, was established which would later become a notorious component of the story of the rise and fall of the organization. It was a ‘mixed’ branch not constrained to any one craft.

Established by William Horan, a hard-line ritualist and advocate of secrecy, its early membership included Theodore Cuno and Matthew Maguire. The Advance Labor Club was established as its pseudonymous public face, even after the Order removed the requirement for secrecy in 1882. Amongst its members were trade unionists, socialists of different ilks, and Greenbackers, and any combination of these. While both notorious and influential, its membership was relatively small, possibly around 60. The members of LA 1562 also sought, though with no great success, to establish other assemblies in New York.

The founding members of the LA were also major players within other New York radical and Labor organizations. Notable amongst these in 1880-2 was the Spread the Light Club but, initially at least, the purposes, structures and membership of the two organizations were clearly delineated.

LA 1562 quickly became an important antagonist of the leader of the Knights, Terence Powderly, as he tried to grow and modernize the organization during 1881 and 1882. Principally through its traditionalists, including William Horan, and its Marxists – Theodore Cuno and later Peter J McGuire, it sought to undermine Powderly and the national leadership. It was eventually suspended in 1882, but came under the patronage of New York’s recently established District Assembly (DA) 49. Eventually, as the fight developed within the Knights, LA 1562 was restored but its founders moved on. It remained, alongside its partner, the Advance Labor Club, in existence until the early 20th century.

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