History

The History of Labor Day

Today is Labor Day for those of us living in the United States. Seeing as I am a self-proclaimed history geek, it occurred to me that I didn’t know how Labor Day came about, so I decided to do a little research on this, a holiday I am most grateful for as don’t we all need that extra day off?

Grover Cleveland signed off on Labor Day being an official holiday on 28 June 1894 and it is celebrated on the first Monday of September each year. Oregon was the first to recognize it as an official holiday in 1887 though New York was the first to introduce a bill (New York also celebrated first in 1882). By that first Monday in September 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York also celebrated with the state of Oregon. By the time President Cleveland signed off in 1894, 23 states were recognizing the holiday.

However, it was originally a holiday for federal workers only. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that everyone was granted the day off. And even now stores and restaurants are still open on this day off for the labor force.

Bain News Service, Publisher. Suffragettes – Labor Day ’13. 1913. date created or published later by Bain. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2014694076/.

Another Point of View

While doing a bit more research, I stumbled upon a New York Times article where it went into detail stating that the parade that took place 5 September 1882 was really a 1-day strike where workers could have lost their jobs in participating. At the time the American worker spent 12 hours on the job each day, working 7 days a week. Did not matter your age, even children worked long hours. But on the first occurrence of Labor Day, workers marched from City Hall to a giant picnic at an uptown park. The workers were asking for an 8-hour workday and higher wages.

When President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day bill in 1894 he was hoping to end a Pullman Strike with the mid-west railway system. Pullman had lowered the pay to the workers but did not lower the rent of their homes, and so the workers went on strike.

(I found it interesting that this part was lacking from the Department of Labor website, and even Wikipedia).

Whose Idea?

No one knows who the initial credit goes to for founding Labor Day. Two men have been said to have started the day:

Peter J. McGuire

Peter J. McGuire was the General Secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Some say he was the person who initially suggested of setting aside a day as a “general holiday for the laboring classes”.

Matthew Maguire

Matthew Maguire was a machinist and the Secretary of the Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey and he proposed the holiday while serving as Secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

A New Jersey paper, the Paterson Morning Call, reported the pen that President Grover Cleveland used to sign the bill into law should go to Alderman Matthew Maguire.

Both McGuire and Maguire attended the first Labor Day parade in New York City that year.

Above information was found using the following websites:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day

US Department of Labor – https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-labor-day.html

History

Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death

Famous words that finished a speech given by Patrick Henry on 23 March 1775 that encouraged the Second Virginia Convention that was taking place at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia to become a part of the Revolutionary War (or at least put Virginia in a place of defense).

This is a Currier & Ives drawing circa 1876 that can be found at the Library of Congress

After his memorable speech Patrick Henry was named Chairman of the Committee to build the Virginia militia.

No one knows for sure if Patrick Henry said the infamous words or if his biographer, William Wirt, created them. Regardless, men who were in attendance that fateful day claim it is the “boldest, vehement, and animated pieces of eloquence that had ever been delivered” according to John Marshall who spoke on behalf of his dad, Thomas Marshall. George Mason claimed “every word he said not only engages but commands attention”.

Who Was Patrick Henry?

Patrick Henry was born on 29 May 1736 in Virginia. He was born of privilege and at age 10 was taught Latin, Greek, Math, ancient and modern history by his father. He was a self-educated lawyer, who like the philosopher Cato would use speeches as a form of persuasion.

Following the Declaration of Independence, Patrick Henry served as it’s 2nd and 6th Governor (from 1776-1779 and again from 1784-1786). Throughout his life his other vocations were planter, politician, and orator.

He made countless speeches over the years and no one ever wrote them down, a sad tale for his biographers. He was a highly respected man and is considered one of our nations Founding Father’s.

He passed away on 6 June 1799 of stomach cancer.

The Entire Speech

If you would like to read or hear the entire speech given at the Second Virginia Convention, please click here to visit the Colonial Williamsburg website where you can download an MP3 version to listen or read the words already typed out of this speech with the famous ending.

I found the information used above by reading a variety of websites:

History

Juneteenth

For the first time ever, Juneteenth is being recognized as a national holiday in the United States as President Biden signed it into law on 17 June 2021. It had already been an official state holiday in Texas since 1980.

For those who are unaware, Juneteenth, or 19 June 1865 is when the residents of Texas finally learned of the abolishment of slavery when Union soldiers made their way to Galveston, Texas (the Emancipation Proclamation had been put forth by President Abraham Lincoln on 1 January 1863 making all slaves free, but it took 2 years for this information to spread across the land). These former slaves began to celebrate with dancing, singing, eating, and prayer.

Hoping that this leads to more progress in having us truly be the United States of America.

History

October 6, 1926

Babe Ruth Sets World Series Record

In a world where we just began the Major League Baseball playoffs, back in the 1920’s they were already in the midst of the World Series.  On this day, October 6, 1926, George Herman “Babe” Ruth hit 3-home runs against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series.  This wasn’t duplicated until 1977 when Reggie Jackson, also a member of the New York Yankees, became Mr. October against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

babe-ruth-medium
George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Photo found at On This Day

* I found this bit of history using History.com