A Brief History of Labor Day
Happy Labor Day
On the first Monday of September every year workers across the United States celebrate Labor Day. Labor Day was created by the labor movement and its purpose is to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American works. Labor Day is a tribute the contributions of American workers to America’s prosperity.
The Founder of Labor Day
There is some dispute as to who is the official founder of Labor Day. Some credit Peter McGuire as the founder of Labor Day. Peter McGuire was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. McGuire was the first to suggest a day to honor hard working Americans.
Others credit the founding of Labor Day to Matthew Maguire. Maguire was a secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Patterson, New Jersey. Maguire proposed the Labor Day holiday in 1882 while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. The Union adopted a Labor Day proposed and planned a demonstration and picnic.
The First Labor Day
The first recorded Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882. This day was spurred about by the Central Labor Union and supported by President Grover Cleveland. Creating peace with workers was a priority of the Cleveland Administration in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike where workers were killed by US soldiers during a strike. In 1884 the first Monday of September was chosen as the official date of the holiday. Shortly thereafter other cities followed suit and by 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in most of the industrial cities of the county.
Labor Day Legislation
As the Labor Day movement grew through union support, the holiday became more and more popular. The first government legislation to recognize Labor Day came in 1885 and 1886 in New York. However, the first official “law” dedicating Labor Day came in Oregon in 1887. Later that same year Colorado, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts passed similar laws. In 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal federal holiday in DC and the territories. A Nationwide Holiday
Celebrating Labor Day.
The first Labor Day celebrations were marked with parades and speeches supporting workers rights. Today, Labor Day parades can found all over the country. But for most Americans, Labor Day is a day off of work that is spent with family and friends. Perhaps the first proposals did not intend Labor Day to be spent in backyards in front of barbeques, but is there really any better way to spend a hard earned day off?
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