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DISCOVER to Ogden.” By 1884, he had not only been elected to represent Colorado at the national K.O.L. convention, but he had also been chosen to serve on the executive board, representing all outposts west of the Mississippi River and working alongside the K.O.L. Master Workman (elected leader) Terence V. Powderly. Part of the key to Joseph’s leadership success involved his even-handedness in approaching strikes; he developed a test with two questions, “Is it just?” and “Do we have an even chance to win?” In other words, a strike would be considered as the last means of defense for workers’ rights. He writes in his autobiography: “The agitator isn’t always an advocate of strikes. He has sometimes to exert his influence to prevent a strike which his judgment tells him would be unwise. It may sound like mixing terms to say so, but it is a truth that the most difficult tasks performed by the labor agitators are their ‘agitations’ in the interest of peace—their efforts to prevent strikes. The man who is always in favor of a strike as soon as one is suggested… soon finds his influence as a leader gone, and thereafter he may go off and agitate by himself.” Ironically, strikes led to Buchanan’s prominence as one of the leading voices of the national labor movement. He was asked to head a strike of Union Pacific Railway shopmen in Colorado

against wage cuts, and he orchestrated it from a local to national strike within 36 hours, conducting the first successful strike against a major railroad company in only 4 days—he later unionized all important points on the Union Pacific system in less than a month. In 1885, he had overseen two more successful strikes against capitalist Jay Gould’s Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railroad and the Wabash railroad, which included a trip back to his hometown of Hannibal to fortify the workers. The success of these strikes greatly influenced the tripling of membership in the Knights of Labor within only 3 years. Incidentally, strikes conducted in the 1880s carried a bit more danger than the organized protests of today. A capitalist or “boss” as the target of a strike would often resort to tactics used to physically threaten workers, whether it be in employing “boilermakers” or hoodlums to break up lines or provoke union leaders into fights, or in calling for a state militia (as in the mining strike of Leadville) to clear the streets. Buchanan was once accused by the Rocky Mountain News of encouraging violence during the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad strike because some demonstrators had used small-scale explosives to damage workhouse buildings and an engine; as a result, the paper had incited threats of a lynch mob to get Buchanan if another explosion occurred. The irony was that detectives hired by the railroad had been planting the devices, then blaming the damage on the strikers. In contrast, Joseph later

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