The History of Labor Day

Many people consider Labor Day to be a weekend of celebration, football, and the end of summer. But, what is the real reason we celebrate Labor Day?

According to the History Chanel, the industrial revolution brought an era of longer work hours and lower pay. These issues, a long with hazardous working conditions, drove American works to establish unions to push for change. Labor Day is the result of “the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” (Department of Labor). With this in mind, what are the five essential things to know about Labor Day?

  1. The first Labor Day was September 5, 1882 in New York City, as proposed by the Central Labor Union. This first celebration included marching for improvements to the lab or conditions in New York. The day of parades and other celebrations was planed for this date because it filled the long period of time between the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. In 1884 the official date of Labor Day in New York was selected as the first Monday in September. (The History Chanel).
  2. Oregon was the first State to Pass a law recognizing Labor Day. In 1887, the state secured the holiday. That same year, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also recognized this holiday through state Legislation. (Department of Labor)
  3. Labor Day was not a national holiday until 1894. Congress was reluctant to recognize this holiday. In 1894, a strike erupted that interrupted the function of the railroad nationwide. After American troops were sent in to end the strike, violence erupted and several people died. To bring recognition to workers rights, and in response to the strike and resulting violence, recognized Labor Day as a federal holiday. (The History Chanel)
  4. There is still a question as to who was the founder of Labor Day. Historical records are not clear as to whether it was Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire who suggested this holiday first. Peter McGuire was a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor and a Carpenter in the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. Matthew Maguire was a machinist and a secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, the union that advocated for the original celebration in 1882. (Department of Labor)
  5. This Labor Day weekend is expected to have the highest travel volume since 2008. AAA is predicting that 35.5 million Americans will be traveling this weekend. Specifically, 30.4 million are expected to be driving on the road to reach their holiday weekend destination. (Fox News)

With the festivities underway across the country, it is important to remember the origins and the meaning of this holiday. With the improvements made to the work environment, it is time to celebrate the achievements starting in the late 19th century to make American workers safer. It is also important to all of us to take the time, and appreciate the hard work of Americans across the country.

From all of us at Colombo Law, we wish you and your family a safe and happy Labor Day.

by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on