Robert D. Layton (1847?-1909) was born in Pennsylvania. A Civil War veteran, toolmaker, and railroad worker, he joined the Knights of Labor in 1873, servedas financial secretary and district masterworkman of Pittsburgh District Assembly 3, and as grand secretary of the KOL from 1881-1883. Around that time Layton became an insurance salesman and later served on the U.S. Immigration Commission during the administration of Benjamin Harrison, for whom he campaigned inthe 1888 presidential election.

Robert Howard (1845-1902) a spinner and union organizer in Lancashire, England, immigrated to the U.S. in 1873. In 1878 he became secretary of the Fall River Mule Spinners' Association, and served until 1897. At the same time he helped organize the Amalgamated Mule Spinners' Association (which he led from 1878 to 1887), and the National Cotton Mule Spinners' Association. Active in the campaign for 8-hour legislation, Howard was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1880 and the Massachusetts Senate in 1886. He was also active in the Knights of Labor and the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. In the mid-1890s he led the AFL's campaign to organize southern textile workers.

Jay Gould (1836-92) was a speculator whose manipulation of the gold market helped to precipate an economic panic in 1873. His holdings in the railroad and telegraph industries involved him in some of the most notable strikes of the 1880s, particularly the telegraphers stike of 1883 and the Southwest railroad strike of 1886.