As you are celebrating Labor Day with friends and family, take a few minutes to see how far we have come:
- At the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worker worked 12-hour days, seven days a week to make a very basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 worked.
- As labor and unions organized to improve working conditions, some of the rallies that served as a foundation for Labor Day turned bloody. During the Haymarket Riot in 1886, several workers and policeman died. During the Pullman Railroad Stike of 1894, dozens died.
- While the holiday can be traced to a New York City parade in 1882, Labor Day did not become a national holiday until 1896.
- Union leaders pushed for a September date for Labor Day to coincide with the New York City Knights of Labor Conference. The Knights of Labor happened to be one of the largest unions.
- There is some debate over who the founder of the holiday is. Some credit Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, for proposing the idea first. Others credit Peter McGuire, co-founder of American Federation of Labor.
Have a great day with family and friends!
Sources: History Channel: Labor Day
Huffington Post: The Bloody Origin of Labor Day
Time Magazine: Here's Why we Celebrate Labor Day