Labor Day is just around the corner, which means it’s time to break out the grill, gather your loved ones, and have a blast. But do you ever stop to think about the history behind this awesome holiday? If you’re curious and want to impress your friends and family with some fun facts, check out this quick rundown of Labor Day.
Labor Day is an epic celebration of the achievements of American workers, observed every year on the first Monday in September. The roots of this holiday go back to the late 1800s when labor activists worked tirelessly to establish a federal holiday recognizing the incredible contributions that workers make to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
But before it was a nationwide holiday, Labor Day was recognized by individual states and passionate labor activists. The movement to secure state legislation began with municipal ordinances in 1885 and 1886. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day on February 21, 1887. And the momentum only grew from there – by the end of the decade, more than half of all states had adopted the holiday. It wasn’t until 1894 that Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.
The question of who founded Labor Day is a hotly debated one. Some believe it was Peter J. McGuire, a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, who suggested the idea of a “general holiday for the laboring classes” back in 1882. But others argue that it was actually machinist Matthew Maguire who proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Recent research seems to support Maguire’s claim, and the Paterson Morning Call even declared him the “undisputed author of Labor Day as a holiday.” Regardless of who came up with the idea, both McGuire and Maguire attended the country’s first Labor Day parade in New York City in 1882 – a historic moment that would pave the way for generations of hardworking Americans to celebrate their contributions to this great nation.