History of Labor Day

Labor Day Celebration New York City, 1882
Each Labor Day, it is necessary to go beyond the barbecues, vacation spots, and Back To School Sales. It is time to reflect on the history of Labor Day and how it came to be. The holiday was conceived to celebrate the American labor movement with all its strength, contributions, and prosperity to the wellness of the United States of America.

Labor Day is celebrated the first Monday of September.

Who founded Labor Day?
That is up to debate, but has been attributed to these two men: Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor or machinist Matthew Maguireproposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Maguire later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J.

How was Labor Day to be Celebrated?
The first proposal of the holiday was a street parade to demonstrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations. " A community festival was to follow for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. 

Here is a timeline
September 5, 1882 - The First Labor Day celebrate takes place in New York City celebrating the workingman. 
1885 - the first government recognition is passed recognizing the importance of the work force.
February 2, 1887 - New York State is the first to introduce a state bill, but Oregon is the first state to pass it into law.
1887 - Four states (Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York)  created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment
1889Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania followed suit
1894 - 23 additional states adopted the Labor Day holiday
June 28, 1884 - Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

© Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time™ guidebook series. Adirondack Family Time™guidebooks have easy, short Adirondack family hikes for ADK kids, parents, retired, seniors, dog-owners, Adirondack swimming holes, Lake Placid Olympic activities, Adirondack trivia, Adirondack horseback rides, Adirondack snowshoe family trails and more. Look for the Adirondack family guidebooks online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the next Adirondack Family Activities™ guide.


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