Categories: American History

Labor Day in the United States of America

Nena Arias | September 2, 2013 

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September, that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. The holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbeques and the end of summer vacations. 

However, Labor Day in the United States is a spin off of the International Worker’s Day, also known as May Day. May 1st is a celebration of the international labor movement, brought on by socialism. International Workers’ Day commemorates the Haymarket affair in Chicago in 1886.  The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at them.  The police reacted by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators. 

In 1889, at the first congress of the Second International meeting in Paris, Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests.  May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the international’s second congress in 1891. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on “all Socialist Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” [1] 

In the United States, Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887.  By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.  Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. As you can see the influence of socialism has been coming in our back door for a long time and government has caved in for the most part.  Over concerns that to observe Labor Day in May would be associated with the Communists, the first Monday in September was established.  

The pattern to celebrate Labor Day is a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”[2] This is followed by picnics of the workers and their families. The holiday is often the return to school, although school times now may vary. Taking advantage of the large numbers of potential customers free to shop, Labor Day has become an important sale weekend for many retailers in the United States.