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History of Labor Day

History of Labor Day

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Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday in September, was developed to commemorate the value of the American worker and their socioeconomics contributed to the history and success of this country. Accordingly, the American labor force is accredited with improved working conditions and wages and the subsequent higher standards of living of contemporary workers compared to those during the late 1800s.

Much debate exists regarding who initially proposed the idea of the holiday between American Federation of Labor (AFL) co-founder Peter McGuire and Matthew Maguire, secretary of New York's Central Labor Union. Nonetheless, the majority of historic scholars assert that Maguire did, in fact, propose a Labor Day in 1882 with the first "official" celebration occurring in New York on September 5th of that same year. In 1887, four state governments recognized Labor Day as a holiday. These were:

  1. Colorado
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New York
  4. New Jersey

By 1890, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska followed suit. It was not until the Pullman strike riots during 1894 that President Grover Cleveland vowed to make labor a priority and rushed the bill through Congress declaring Labor Day a national holiday on 28 June 1894. Early celebrations included parades and festivals to honor the American worker.

Despite its long and illustrious history, more recent Labor Day activities revolve around its economic significance and much of the aforementioned earlier celebratory activities have been relegated to days of yore and replaced with a variety of public addresses. Labor Day today is most often regarded as the last official weekend of summer.

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