Labor Day, the first Monday of September, is considered by many to be the unofficial end of summer.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was celebrated in Sept. 5, 1882 by the Central Labor Union in New York City.
The holiday was created as a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
The first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday.
Two years later, the holiday was moved to Monday as a “workingmen’s holiday” and has continued ever since, spreading across the country along with the growth of labor unions.
The holiday grew in popularity over the years, with several municipal ordinances passed in recognition of Labor Day in 1885 and 1886.
That led to state legislation establishing the holiday in the New York, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey legislatures.
By the end of the 1880s, Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had joined the movement to take Labor Day national.
Twenty-three other states joined the fold by 1894.
In the summer of 1894, Congress took official action to make the first Monday in September a national holiday in honor of America’s laborers.
History is not clear on who was first to propose a Labor Day holiday.
Some say Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the founder of Labor Day.
McGuire is said to have suggested the holiday as a way to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
Others believe that Labor Day was the brainchild of Mathhew Maguire, a machinist who would later become secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in New Jersey.
What is known is that the Central Labor Union adopted the first Labor Day and appointed a committee to “plan a demonstration and picnic” for the public.
The committee created a plan for the first observance of Labor Day that would include “a street parade to exhibit to the public ‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations’ of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.’”
In 1909, the American Federation of Labor Convention adopted a resolution designating the Sunday preceding Labor Day as “Labor Sunday,” in honor of the “spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”
Over the past century, Labor Day has become universally embraced as a well-deserved day of leisure and recognition for American workers and their families.
(First run in 2011)