Some Facts about Labor Day

Happy Labor day!


….what the heck is Labor Day anyway?

I’ve always wondered that, vaguely. Why is it called Labor Day? What is it for? What is it’s purpose, other than to note the exact time it becomes unfashionable to wear white? There was never any Labor Day parade, nobody ever talked about it in history class, and other than sleeping in the hammock and having a cookout I can’t think of any Labor Day traditions. It was just a day off of school. So I thought I’d do some quick Googling, find out what it’s about, and let you all know.

Basically Labor Day is all about unions and the organized labor movement in America in the late 1800s. It was first proposed in 1882 as an event by the leader of a labor union (there’s some dispute over which one exactly) as a day to celebrate the working man, a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Oregon was the first state to make it an official holiday in 1887, and by the time it was made a nationwide holiday over thirty states were already celebrating it. Grover Cleveland signed it into law in 1894, shortly after the famous Pullman strike. During the strike the federal government had sent in the military to break it, and things got violent. By the time it was all over 13 people were dead and 57 were injured. Cleveland wanted to put all that behind them as quickly as possible, and Congress easily pushed through Labor Day legislation as an easy way to rebuild some bridges with organized labor and the working class.

All in all, a more interesting history than I would have thought. They really should teach about it in school; like high school. I don’t know how easy it would be to explain labor unions and the Pullman strike to third graders.


About Mark Hamilton

I am, in no particular order, a nerd, an aspiring writer, a Christian, an aspiring filmmaker, an avid reader, a male, a YEC, a GM, and a twenty something. I like learning how things are made, finding out how to do things from scratch, and I you can find more of my writing at

Posted on September 3, 2012, in History. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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