For those in the United States who are celebrating Labor Day today, have a safe and enjoyable day. This also signifies the unofficial end to the summer as we start to move toward the fall.
According to the Department of Labor:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
The Department of Labor site notes, however, that there is still a debate on who proposed this full holiday. Some have Peter J. McGuire as the founder, and others have Matthew Maguire as the founder. It seems recent research shows that Maguire might be the person as he apparently proposed the holiday in 1882 while servince as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
That seems to be more possible, considering the first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City. It was accordance to plans of the Central Labor Union. A year later, the union celebrated it again. In 1884, they moved it to the first Monday and urged others to follow the example in New York. By 1885, it had grown quite a bit to further reaches of the country.
It has obviously grown through the years and it’s often now used as the unofficial end of summer. But let’s remember the basis of this holiday and what it was meant to show. After all, in this day and age, it’s always worth looking back at those who came before us and how those people helped shape this country moving forward.