The Origin of Labor Day

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Courtesy of the Dept. of Labor

We all love when Labor Day rolls around, it means a day off of work (for many of us), which means more time to relax and spend with friends and family. Labor Day always occurs on the first Monday of September. That much we know. And it has something to do with working, right? Exactly!

Labor Day was started out of the labor movement, and it’s a day to pay tribute to the achievements of the American worker. It was first recognized in 1885 and 1886. The first state to recognize it as a holiday was Oregon in 1887. By 1894, it became a federal holiday. This was because of a railroad strike called the Pullman Strike. During this strike, 30 workers were killed after President Grover Cleveland ordered US Marshals and US Army troops to quell the event. In order to appease organized labor after this tragedy, Cleveland and Congress made Labor Day a holiday.

The idea was proposed by a machinist named Matthew Maguire in 1882, while he was serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union. There is controversy though, as many argue that Peter McGuire of the American Federation of Labor first proposed it in May 1882.

The holiday falls on the first Monday of each September to mark the end of summer. Now it has become a huge retail sale day, as have many other holidays like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.

There you have it! A brief origin of Labor Day. Now you’ll know why you’re out on the beach on Monday and not having to work.

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