Looking for some Labor day facts, or want to learn about the origin of Labor day?
When we think of Labor Day in America, many of us think about having the day off from work or school. Some of us may think about family picnics with some fun Labor day activities like cornhole games or horseshoes . It's also a perfect time for a quick "history road-trip" weekend. Labor day is often a "last hurrah" for summer, before cooler weather sets in. But what is the origin of Labor day, and why do we celebrate it?
It seems as if there is conflicting information about the origin of Labor day. Some say it was Peter J. McGuire who started it, and others say it was Matthew Maguire. Peter McGuire was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and was also a co-founder of the AFL (American Federation of Labor). Matthew Maguire was secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, NJ. He is believed to have proposed the first Labor day holiday in 1882, while he served as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Labor day was started as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The first Labor day wasn't held on a Monday, as is the case with some other holidays that fall on Mondays. The first one was held on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882. It was held in New York City, and it was planned by the Central Labor Union. About 20,000 people marched in New York City to demand an 8 hour workday that year.
As other states and cities started holding Labor day celebrations. New York City workers eventually took an unpaid day off in 1893, and marched for a national Labor day holiday. In 1894, after a nasty labor strike in Pullman, Illinois, and prior to the 1894 election, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making Labor day a national holiday. It was approved on June 28, 1894. President Cleveland wanted to pacify the labor unions and also hoped to get himself re-elected with the signing. He was not re-elected...
(sources: United States Department of Labor and AFL-CIO)
"A mind always employed is always happy.
This is the true secret, the grand recipe,
for felicity." - Thomas Jefferson
"If all the cars in the United States were
placed end to end, it would probably be
Labor Day Weekend." - Doug Larson