Knights of St. Crispin

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The Order of the Knights of St. Crispin was an American labor union comprised of shoeworkers in New York, Massachusetts and neighboring states. Founded in 1867 it claimed 50,000 members by 1870, by far the largest union in the country. But it was poorly organized and soon declined. They fought encroachments of machinery and unskilled labor on autonomy of skilled shoeworkers. One provision in the Crispin constitution explicitly sought to limit the entry of "green hands" into the trade. But that failed because the new machines could be operated by semi-skilled workers and produce more shoes than hand sewing.


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