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Happy Labor Day everyone. Today i’m diverging from my usual subject matter to talk about the history behind this holiday which for many marks the unofficial end of the summer season. I hope you enjoy the history lesson.
Do you know the history of Labor Day? Let’s find out
From the Wiki Whose Editors Are Always Working.
In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.
Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unionsfor the previous several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent socialist and anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.
The holiday was already being celebrated by a trade union called The Noble And Holy Order Of The Knights Of Labor, or Knights Of Labor for short.
The Knights of Labor began as a secret society of tailors in Philadelphia in 1869. The organization grew slowly during the hard years of the 1870s, but worker militancy rose toward the end of the decade, especially after the great railroad strike of 1877, and the Knights’ membership rose with it. Grand Master Workman Terence V. Powderly took office in 1879, and under his leadership the Knights flourished; by 1886 the group had 700,000 members. Powderly dispensed with the earlier rules of secrecy and committed the organization to seeking the eight-hour day, abolition of child labor, equal pay for equal work, and political reforms including the graduated income tax.
The first Labor Day celebration was held on September 5, 1882, and was organized by the Knights of Labor. The Knights began holding it every year and called for it to be a national holiday, but this was opposed by other labor unions who wanted it held on May Day (like it is everywhere else in the world).
They pushed for it to be a national holiday but were opposed by other unions who wanted it to be celebrated on May Day which was when Labor Day was celebrated around the world. Today we celebrate International Workers Day on May Day.
However, the Haymarket Affair would be the deciding factor.
The May 4, 1886, rally at Haymarket Square was organized by labor radicals to protest the killing and wounding of several workers by the Chicago police during a strike the day before at the McCormick Reaper Works.
Toward the end of the Haymarket Square rally, a group of policemen arrived to disperse the crowd. As the police advanced, an individual who was never identified threw a bomb at them. The police and possibly some members of the crowd opened fire and chaos ensued. Seven police officers and at least one civilian died as a result of the violence that day, and an untold number of other people were injured.
The riot set off a national wave of xenophobia, as scores of foreign-born radicals and labor organizers were rounded up by the police in Chicago and elsewhere. In August 1886, eight men, labeled as anarchists, were convicted in a sensational and controversial trial in which the jury was considered to be biased and no solid evidence was presented linking the defendants to the bombing. Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On November 11, 1887, four of the men were hanged.
President Cleveland was concerned that placing the Labor Day holiday in May would cause a celebration of the bombing. That is why he went with September which was where the Knights Of Labor had been celebrating it all along. Today we celebrate it on the first Monday of the month.
There you have it, a little bit of history for your holiday. I hope whatever you guys are doing today you all have a wonderful safe holiday. I’ll be back to my usual fare on Tuesday. So until then be well and I will see you on the next Fact Of The Day.
Fact Of The Day is the daily column where RobGronkowski’sPartyBusDriver shares some random tidbit of science fiction, fantasy or horror knowledge. If there is a show or movie you would like to see done, leave a note in the comments below. You can see the full archive of past columns here.
- Knights of Labor at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2007). Progressive Historians (2007-09-03).
- ^ Jump up to:a b c “United States Department of Labor: The History of Labor Day”. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
- ^ Jump up to:a b The Bridgemen’s magazine. International Association of Bridge. Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers. 1921. pp. 443–44. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
- Jump up^ “Origins of Labour Day”. The Canadian Encyclopedia: Origins of Labour Day. Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- Jump up^ “Online NewsHour: Origins of Labor Day – September 2, 1996”. PBS. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- Jump up^ Brendan I. Koerner. “Why do we get Labor Day off”. Slate Magazine.
- Jump up^ Sally Kohn (September 1, 2014). Why Labor Day was a political move. CNN. Retrieved September 1, 2014.