The Labor Day article on History.com tells us that, “. . . On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.” Congress passed an act making Labor Day an official holiday on the first Monday in September twelve years later. After doing some research I found there is some serious history as to why we have this holiday at all.
There is some debate as to who originally suggested the holiday. We know it was either Matthew Maguire, or Peter McGuire (both leaders in unions), but it is actually unclear which one. What we do know for sure is that one of them suggested it to Congress after the original march, because of issues of the time and the need to show American laborers good will. There was a huge labor movement in the late 19th century and the poor working conditions and labor laws were a major concern. The 19th Century saw a rise of industry that was unprecedented, but the cost was that children as young as 5 or 6 worked in horrible conditions along with adults, and many people were working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, and still being paid barely enough to live on.
This coming Monday will be the 124th Labor Day since those first 10,000 workers marched for a fair deal. After my research on this, I am grateful to the men and women who made this country greater by standing up for their rights over a hundred years ago. To salute them and their efforts, I plan to enjoy the long weekend. I hope you all do the same!
Happy Labor Day everyone!