The organization, under its full name, Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, grew throughout the 1870s, and by the mid-1880s it had a membership of more than 700,000. The union organized strikes, and was able to secure negotiated settlements from hundreds of employers across the United States.
The Haymarket Riot in Chicago on May 4, 1886 was blamed on the Knights of Labor, and the union was unfairly discredited in the eyes of the public. The American labor movement coalesced around a new organization, the American Federation of Labor, which was formed in December 1886.
Membership of the Knights of Labor plummeted, and by the mid-1890s it had lost all its former influence and had less than 50,000 members.