The first Monday of every September is known as Labor Day in the US, a “howliday” created as a way to acknowledge the social and economic achievements of American workers. Labor Day was a long time in the making, beginning with local ordinances in the late 1800’s which eventually morphed into the state legislation. Although New York was the first state to introduce legislation, the first state to actually pass it was Oregon on February 21, 1887. Four more states-Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York joined the movement in 1887 and passed state laws creating the Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania followed and by 1894, 23 more states adopted the holiday. Congress passed a national law on June 28, 1884, making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
There has been some dispute as to whose idea it was to propose a day acknowledging the contributions of workers. Some records points to Peter J. McGuire, (general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor) was first suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
However, the history suggesting Peter McGuire’s was the ‘father of the Labor Day movement has not gone unchallenged. Many suggested it was Matthew Maguire (a machinist and later union leader), and not Peter McGuire, who founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support that notion. What is certain is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the Central Labor Union plans. A second Labor Day holiday was held the following year on September 5, 1883 and in 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, with the Central Labor Union urging labor organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations throughout many industrial centers in the country.
Public parades showing “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families were the original ideas behind the celebration and continues to this day. In recent times, Labor Day is often associated with the informal end of summer. Our friend, autumn officially arrives in just 19 days. Hallelujah!
While more people are associated with high-tech work than with manufacturing these days, it’s the entire work force that contributes to the standard of living we enjoy and only seems fitting to acknowledge the economic contribution workers made toward the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership. Here at the Ranch, we’re going to kick back, hang out and enjoy a pleasant day and be grateful for all workers who contributed in making this day a national holiday. For those of you enjoying the long weekend, we hope you enjoy this extra day off but don’t forget to remember it was all made possible by hard-working folks. Here’s to a pawtastic day and wagnificent week.
Live, love, bark! 🐾