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The Knoxville independent. [volume] : (Knoxville, Tenn.) 1894-current
Place of publication:
Knoxville, Tenn.
Geographic coverage:
  • Knoxville, Knox, Tennessee  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Geo. W. Ford
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 18, 1894)-
  • English
  • Knox County (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Knoxville (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Tennessee--Knox County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215247
  • Tennessee--Knoxville.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206442
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 85042907
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The Knoxville independent. [volume] May 20, 1911 , Image 1


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The Knoxville Independent

In 1894, George W. Ford established the Knoxville Independent, a weekly newspaper in Tennessee dedicated to the cause of organized labor. Ford acted as editor and publisher of the newspaper, which he published from Gay Street in downtown Knoxville on Sundays. The Independent circulated for an annual subscription rate of one dollar and for a single-issue rate of two cents. Ford did not rely on circulation alone to fund the newspaper; advertisements from local, regional, and national businesses also brought in revenue.

The activist newspaper was a member of the American Labor Press Association and advocated for the rights of workers in the area's mines, mills, and factories. The Independent supported in particular the interests of the Central Labor Union and the United Mine Workers of America, District 19. In 1903, for instance, it joined with the Federal Labor Union No. 7295 to advocate on behalf of workers at Knoxville's Woolen Mills. The Independent also encouraged a boycott of the mill until employees' working conditions and wages were improved. On March 19, a deal was reached among all parties, and the union lifted the boycott.

As editor of the Independent, Ford published the following mottos below the banner on its front page: "Devoted to the interests of the common people" and "Equal rights to all, special privileges to none." And on the editorial page, Ford prominently quoted Abraham Lincoln each week: "No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty, none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned."

One of the leading voices of the labor movement in East Tennessee, Ford continued to champion the cause of organized labor throughout his tenure at the newspaper, publishing regular accounts of local, state, regional, and national labor and union news. For instance, on the front page of the May 20, 1911 issue of the Knoxville Independent Ford reported that Samuel Gompers, the president of the American Federation of Labor, had been released from jail following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn his sentence in the Gompers v. Buck's Stove and Range Co. case, after which Gompers had been imprisoned for publishing a boycott list. (Other news such as the activities of local labor organizations and the trust busting efforts by the government against Standard Oil filled the Independent's interior.) Although primarily devoted to the interests of the organized labor, the paper did publish general news, and also purchased content from national newspaper syndicates.

The Knoxville Independent continued to be published for several more decades, although the exact date of the paper's demise is unclear.

Provided by: University of Tennessee