Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Labor Day weekend is an annual celebration in the United States in honor of workers and their achievements. Originally created by the labor movement of the 19th century, Labor Day is a day that not only symbolizes the end of the summer, but pays homage to all laborer’s past, present and future.
During the height of the Unites States Industrial Revolution, the average American worked 12-hours shifts, six or seven days a week in order to earn a basic living. Children as young as 5 years old often toiled in mines, mills and factories across the country. All faced unsafe working conditions with poor air quality and insufficient facilities and breaks. Sickness and death plagued US cities, due to numerous deplorable work conditions. Labor unions, tired of their dire circumstance grew eminent and more vocal. They organized rallies to protest their dreadful work environment and demand better hours and pay. Many of these rallies would turn violent – such as the 1886 Haymarket Riot and the boycott of Pullman Railway cars in Chicago, led by Eugene V. Debs, where a sundry of laborers and policemen were killed due to rioting.
The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday” celebrated the first Monday in September, quickly caught on and states began passing legislation recognizing the holiday. In an attempt to repair relations after years of unrest, the United States government passed an act, legalizing the Labor Day Holiday for Washington DC and U.S. territories. It was not until June 28th of 1894, more than 10 years after its first introduction, when President Grover Cleveland officially signed it into law, making Labor Day a federally recognized holiday.
The true founder of labor is still up for debate. Some accredit the day to co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, Peter McGuire. Others declare it was a secretary of the Central Labor Union, Matthew Maguire. Regardless of who originally proposed the holiday, all were in agreement that tribute for their many contributions to the United States of America should be recognized and celebrated.
Today, Labor Day is usually a weekend long commemoration across the country, recognized in a multitude of ways. Some cities have parades, barbecues, and fireworks. Retailers often recognize the day by promoting discounted prices. However, you celebrate this weekend, be safe and have fun!
Sources: History.com / Britannica.com / Smithsonianmag.com