For most, the first Monday in September is just another three-day weekend to enjoy. But have you ever wondered about the origins of Labor Day or why we celebrate it?
According to History, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. During this era, also known as the Industrial Revolution, Americans worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to make ends meet. Sometimes children as young as six years old were working as well. Due to unsafe work environments and the lack of labor laws around pay and hours, rallies and strikes started to form in the late 1880s. One of the most infamous ones was the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago which resulted in the deaths of several police officers and workers.
It wasn’t until 1893 that a watershed moment occurred. The employees of the Chicago Pullman Palace Car Company, a railroad car manufacturer, went on strike over pay cuts. This lead to the firing of their union representatives. Then the American Railroad Union boycotted the company, which led to nationwide problems as railways were the most common transit system during this time. The federal government sent troops to Chicago to end the strike, but it broke out in violence resulting in some deaths. After this unrest, Congress and President Grover Cleveland officially declared Labor Day a national holiday on June 24, 1894, in an effort to appease American workers.
Over 100 years later, many families enjoy this day as the unofficial end of summer since schools tend to start their academic year around this time. So get out and celebrate this Labor Day since you’ve earned the right to it.