The History of Labor Day and How You Can Get Involved
Happy Labor Day! On this day around the United States, Americans celebrate the social and economic achievements of the labor movement, and everyday hard workers in our community. Labor Day commemorates the contributions U.S. workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our great nation.
However, we oftentimes forget the great meaning behind this holiday, and instead see it as just another opportunity to have the day off from work. What does Labor Day actually mean, and how can you use an altruistic lifestyle to get involved? Today, let's talk about the history of Labor Day and some ideas for you to join in.
When was the first Labor Day?
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City by the Central Labor Union. From this unofficial celebration came an increasing emphasis across the nation on Labor Day, a “workingmen’s holiday”. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these ordinances came an outpouring of workers who moved to secure state legislation.
In 1887, the New York legislature was the first to propose a state bill honoring the holiday; however, the first state to actually put Labor Day into law was Oregon, on February 21, 1887. During that same year four more states—Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—established Labor Day as a holiday through legislative enactment.
By 1894, 26 other states had also adopted the day as a way to honor their workers. Finally, on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act officially declaring the first Monday in September as Labor Day—a national legal holiday.
Who founded Labor Day?
Even today, there are still doubts as to who actually came up with the idea for a Labor Day observance. The two men have gone down in history as possible founders of Labor Day are Peter McGuire and Matthew Maguire.
Peter McGuire was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, along with cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. He is said to have been the first to suggest a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” On the other hand is Matthew Maguire, a machinist and later secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, who may have proposed the idea while serving in 1882.
No matter who developed the idea, Labor Day quickly took off and became a nationwide holiday, honoring the strength, freedom and leadership of the American worker.
How can we commemorate Labor Day?
Labor Day means more than just getting an extra day off of work. If you want to really have an impact this Labor Day, make an effort to get involved in your community and give back to the hardworking men and women in your city.
Whether you choose to volunteer at a local shelter, support military service personnel or donate to a cause you care about, your Labor Day can be focused on honoring those who have worked so hard to build up our country’s economic and political well being.
See what activities you have going on in your area today and get involved for a Labor Day you and your family will never forget.