Victoria's Sons and Daughters?
In 1889, the Journal of United Labor unveiled a plan to increase its circulation by 25,000 and attract new workers to the Order. Faced with a declining membership precipitated by savage attacks from employers and other labor organizations, the 1889 KOL was badly in need of a boost. But the campaign announced by the JUL was unorthodox, to say the least. Rather than appealing to working-class solidarity, educating laborers on the benefits of joining the KOL, or proclaiming any new initiatives, the editors trumpeted the forthcoming serialization of a "thrilling" novel, W. H. Little serialized novel "Lever and Throttle." As an added inducement, the editors offered a gold watch to the Knight who solicited the most new subscriptions1 (Fig. 9).
The JUL ran Little's novel and appended letters from locals that claimed miraculous rejuvenation. One correspondent claimed his local shrank to five members until he ordered twenty-five copies of the JUL and distributed them. Soon, extra copies were needed, and in a matter of weeks, membership in the newly thriving assembly more than quadrupled.2 If the letters are genuine -- and the lack of signatures or postmarks on some make them suspect -- Little's story worked miracles inside the KOL. To revive sagging KOL fortunes, "Lever and Throttle" must have been a powerful novel indeed.
But what does the modern reader find? Little's story was set in backwoods New York in 1872, a time in which the KOL was a secret fraternal order confined to Philadelphia. The story revolves around railroad swill-____________________