A Brief Look at Terrence Vincent Powderly

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Terence Vincent Powderly was born to Irish immigrants in Carbondale, Pennsylvania on January 22, 1849. Powderly spent his childhood growing up in Pennsylvania and attending school until he began working for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad at the early age of 13, his educational career then ended. A few short years later, at the age of 17, Powderly become a machinist and pursued that line of work for eleven years. In 1871 Powderly joined the Machinists’ and Blacksmith’s Union and a year later was appointed the organization’s president. A few years later in 1874 Powderly joined another secretive organization named the Knights of Labor. He quickly progressed into a leadership role as Corresponding Secretary. In February of 1878 Powderly was elected for his first of three terms as Mayor of Scranton. A few months later, in 1879, he was elected the union’s highest leadership position, Grand Master Workman, until 1883 when he was titled General Master Workman of the Knights of Labor. During his time as serving on leadership with the Knights of Labor, Powderly helped to increase the organization’s membership from around 80,000 members to 700,000 members in one year. During his role as General Master Workman, he made a drastic impact on the “power of labor in the United States”2 by his passion for the working class and the union. Powderly was a pro-labor activist whom supported six, eight-hour workdays a week that resulted in just pay. He believed that Sunday should be

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