Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The History Of Labor Day

Construction, Worker, Concrete Yesterday was Labor Day, a day most of us get off but not everyone.  I grew up thinking of it as another holiday from school in my early years and work in later years but I never once thought about its meaning.

Labor Day is always the first Monday in September.  Its never been renamed and/or moved and can be counted on no matter what.

It turns out, the holiday came about in the late 19th century as a way to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of the American Worker.  It was started by the labor movement in the 1800's but caught on to become a recognized federal holiday in 1894.

Just think about this!  Not even two decades after the Civil War ended, the idea of a workingman's holiday spread across the land.  Remember, most people including children worked long hours in poor conditions with little pay.  On September 2, 1882, 10,000 workers choose to take off of work without pay and marched from City Hall to Union Square.  This is recognized as the first Labor Day Parade.

The idea spread across the nation and the world.  Over the next 12 years, various state created their own Labor Day until the federal government followed suite and declared it a federal holiday in 1894.  To be precise, the first bill to recognize it as a holiday was proposed to the New York state legislature but it was recognized first by the Oregon legislature on February 21, 1887.  By 1894, 23 states passed bills and on June 28th Congress passed their bill.  Remember 23 is about half of the recognized states.  Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska were not yet states at the point in time.

Most other countries in the world recognize May first as the International Workers Day but this date was chosen after a very bloody and violent clash between workers and police/soldiers in Chicago resulting in multiple deaths.  Workers were protesting long hours, requesting 8 hour work days but the peaceful demonstration erupted into a violent encounter when a bomb was thrown at the police.

After the event, the Union leaders and members of the Socialist party declared May 1st as International Workers Day, the day most other countries celebrate.  In 1894, when the president and others were preparing to make Labor Day an officially recognized holiday, they wanted a different date due to the violent associates with the International Workers Day so they chose the first Monday of September.

I hope you had a great Labor Day and enjoyed your three day weekend.