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Born near Long Grove, Illinois, Knopf attended the public schools. During the Civil War enlisted in Company I, 147th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and served until the regiment was mustered out in Savannah, Georgia. He moved to Chicago in 1866 and attended Bryant and Stratton's College for one year. He engaged in the teaming business until 1884, when he was appointed chief deputy coroner and served eight years. He served as member of the Illinois State senate from 1886 to 1894. He served as clerk of Cook County from 1894 to 1902. He served as delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1896 and as a member of the State Republican central committee.
Knopf was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-eighth, Fifty-ninth, and Sixtieth Congresses (March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1909). He served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury (Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth Congresses).
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.