John T. Chappell was a labor leader who helped guide the Knights of Labor during the organization’s peak in Richmond. He served in the Confederate army and navy during the(1861–1865) and later recounted his wartime experiences in a nonheroic style that focused on the common soldier. While working as a carriage painter after the war Chappell joined both fraternal and labor organizations. By the mid-1880s he emerged as a leader of the Knights of Labor in Richmond. Elected a city alderman in 1886, he and other white allied themselves with African Americans whose interests were increasingly associated with the Knights of Labor. He was also instrumental in opening membership in the Knights’ building association to African Americans. The labor union’s power eventually declined locally and nationally, however, as the Knights divided along lines of race, occupational skill, and religion. Chappell remained with the Knights until the local withdrew from the national organization and became the Socialist Educational Club of Richmond in 1898. Chappell died suddenly of an aneurysm in 1915.