Happy Labor Day Weekend!

The first Monday of September is traditionally celebrated all across the nation as Labor Day, This is one of eleven official federal holidays and allows for many Americans to get to enjoy what is called a “three day weekend.” Ever wondered how the holiday came about or what it is supposed to represent?

There are several events that are associated with the Labor Day weekend. For some, it means the beginning of the high school and college football seasons. For others, although not to people in the state of Louisiana anymore, it marks the end of the summer and the start of the school year. Officially the holiday was created to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Just how did the holiday come about?

Before it became a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. Oregon was the first state to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887, and that year four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – passed similar laws.

The Labor Department says by 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday, and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

Who is responsible for Labor Day?

The answer to this question is just about as clear as the question of why it is called Labor Day when you off work? Disputed history says two workers can make a solid claim to its origins.

Some records show that in 1882, Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, suggested setting aside a day for a “general holiday for the laboring classes” to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

Many others believe that machinist Matthew Maguire, not McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, proposed the holiday in 1882, while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

According to the New Jersey Historical Society, after President Cleveland signed the law to create a national Labor Day, the Paterson Morning Call published an opinion piece stating that “the souvenir pen should go to Alderman Matthew Maguire of this city, who is the undisputed author of Labor Day as a holiday.”

Perhaps showing there were no hard feelings, both Maguire and McGuire attended the country’s first Labor Day parade in New York City that year.

Nowadays the holiday might be celebrated with anything from swimming at a beach or pool, grilling. How ever you choose to enjoy your time off, one thing you are asked do is celebrate it wisely and safely. 

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