For most people, Labor Day is just an excuse to barbeque in the great outdoors and enjoy a day off of work and school. But how is Labor Day considered a national holiday? There is some speculation as to who was first credited with the idea of the Labor Day holiday. Some people credit Peter McGuire, a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, and others believe Matthew Maguire, secretary of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., is to credit.
Labor Day parades actually originated from workers strikes in the late 1800s, the first of which was held on Sept 5th, 1882. With the Industrial Revolution affecting the American economy, men were having to work 12-hour days, seven days a week. These strikes allowed for the labor unions to voice their demand for a better way of life.
It wasn’t until 12 years later that Congress established the day into a national holiday. The workers’ unions chose the first Monday in September to mark Labor Day because it falls halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. So in 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law designating the first Monday in September, Labor Day, honoring the average working man of America. Ironically, Cleveland was not a labor union supporter, but was trying to repair some political damage that he had previously suffered.
Whoever deserves credit, one thing is for sure, Americans all over the United States are grateful to these men for giving us an excuse to take an extra day off of work and school. So next September when you’re floating the Guadalupe or flipping burgers in your backyard, just remember, the first Monday of September was not always a day of rest, so take a moment to remember the men who changed our history.