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The Labor enquirer. [volume] : (Denver, Colo.) 1882-1888
Alternative Titles:
  • Kansas City organizer and the labor enquirer
Place of publication:
Denver, Colo.
Geographic coverage:
  • Denver, Denver, Colorado  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Buchanan & Laverty
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Dec. 16, 1882)-v. 8, no. 18 (May 5, 1888).
  • English
  • Colorado--Denver.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205192
  • Denver (Colo.)--Newspapers.
  • "Official organ of D.A. 89, Knights of Labor," Apr. 30, 1887-May 5, 1888.
  • "Official organ of the Rocky Mountain Social League,"--Mar. 19, 1887.
  • "Official organ of the Union Labor Party of Colorado," Apr. 30, 1887-May 5, 1888.
  • Available on microfilm from the Colorado Historical Society.
  • Available on microfilm from The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
sn 83025510
View complete holdings information
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The Labor enquirer. [volume] December 16, 1882 , Image 1


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The Labor Enquirer

The Labor Enquirer printed its first issue on December 16, 1882, in Denver, Colorado stating "We will renew the times of truth and justice,/ condensing a fair, free commonwealth/ Not rash equality, but equal rights." Founded by Joseph R. Buchanan and S. Harry Laverty, the Enquirer began as an eight-page weekly devoted to the interests of the working class who "sustain themselves 'by the [sweat] of the brow.'" The paper published the latest labor news from across the state, as well as nationally and internationally, in addition to "selected miscellany" for fireside reading. It included a "Women's Column" edited by Mrs. A. L. Washburn, which reported items that affected women workers, as well as a column by Anna Fader-Haskell entitled "The Truth—By the Women for the Men."

Throughout its run, the unapologetically socialist Enquirer acted as the official organ of the Knights of Labor, Denver Assembly 89, which for a time published its Preamble and Declaration of Principles in every issue. The paper also was the organ of the Rocky Mountain League and the Union Labor Party of Colorado. The publishers themselves were deeply involved and active in the labor movement and Socialist politics. Buchanan was one of the five national committee men of the Knights of Labor, president of the local Trades Assembly and the Workingmen's County Convention, and a member of the Denver Typographical Union. Laverty was an executive committee member and the secretary-treasurer of the Denver Typographical Union and served on the executive committee of the Trades Assembly.

The Labor Enquirer was constantly plagued by financial problems. In February 1883, Laverty severed his connection with the paper because it did not have sufficient income for two staff. Temporary relief came in the form of Stephen Vinot, who purchased one-half interest in the Enquirer in June 1883, but by March 1884, Buchanan printed that unless he received further assistance, he would be forced to suspend publication. In March 1884, the Peoples Advocate noted, "We know it pained Brother Buchanan to make the announcement, but like many other good, honest brave defenders of people's rights, he was compelled to make the announcement that poverty had overcome him" (printed in The Labor Enquirer).

Buchanan held out until January 1887, when he left the paper in the hands of James J. Callahan. Buchanan still owned the Enquirer for another six months while he began the publication of another paper, the Chicago Enquirer. Reflecting on his time with The Labor Enquirer in 1903, Buchanan wrote in the Freeland Tribune, "During the six years that I owned and edited The Labor Enquirer of Denver I had many ups and downs, with the downs always a little ahead of the score... In those times The Labor Enquirer, which was an advocate for the eight hour day, failed to practice what it preached. Sixteen hours a day was the rule I worked under then."

Callahan was joined by Burnette G. Haskell, who served as the resident editor for about six months. Haskell was formerly associated with the The Truth, published in San Francisco. Under Haskell's editorship, the paper fell afoul of the Knights of Labor, who had once championed the Enquirer, leading to an all-out boycott of the paper. According to an article printed by The Colorado Miner in May 1887, representatives of the Labor Enquirer had engaged in "unseemly" conduct during a visit by the Grand Master Workman T. V. Powderly. The Silver Standard reported that "the Knights of Labor are giving Burnette G. Haskell, editor of the Denver Labor Enquirer, the grand shake for his opposition to and abuse of Mr. Powderly."

Haskell left the Enquirer in September 1887 and the paper did not survive much longer. In February 1888, Callahan notified the directors of the publishing company of his inability to act in the capacity of editor after June 1, 1888. In his last editorial, dated May 5, 1888, he said, "I have not been disappointed by the death of the Enquirer, as the headstones in the graveyard of labor papers are not so scarce." The paper published its last issue the same day, still proclaiming its commitment to supporting not "rash equality, but equal rights."

Provided by: History Colorado