Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)1 -- Walt Whitman
By 1893, KOL culture was losing its distinctive identity, and was in the process of shaping and fusing with commercial culture. I have warned against calling this "surrender" or "defeat" and, in my final words, I wish to argue that we must view the Knights of Labor as a totality. The KOL ousted Terence Powderly as its national leader in 1893. But neither the emergence of commercial capitalism nor the removal of Powderly mark the end of the KOL; they are signposts for a new phase of KOL history.
That phase remains understudied. Powderly was succeeded by Iowa's James Sovereign, though the immediate power lay with New York DA 49. By 1893, however, control of that body lay with Daniel DeLeon, not anarchists, Lassalleans, or ritualists. DeLeon, like Theodore Cuno a decade earlier, wanted to make the KOL a Marxist organization. When he failed in 1895, DeLeon bolted the Order, and formed his own Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance. According to DeLeon's biographer, the KOL was reduced to seventeen thousand when Marxists quit the Order.2
Such a figure is assuredly too low. Details of the post- 1893 Knights are sketchy; some would say irrelevant. But we know little about the late KOL for the same reason we know little about its early days: It was a secret organization that kept members and alliances veiled from public view. After DeLeon's departure, the organization returned to ritual se-____________________