On September 5th, 1882 New York City celebrated the first Labor Day to provide tribute to the social and economic achievements of the American worker. This, however was not considered a national holiday at the time, and the second “Labor Day” that was celebrated in 1884 was proposed by the Central Labor Union and it was known as a “Workingmen’s Holiday”.
How it began:
While most National Holidays have a known origin; Labor Days origins are rather unknown, and to this date no one knows who first proposed the idea for a worker’s holiday.
The first who was thought to propose the holiday was a man by the name of Peter J. McGuire, a general secretary for the “Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor”. He was the first to suggest a specific day in order to appreciate those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold’.
However, some research suggests that Peter J. McGuire was not the first to propose this idea. It is said that in 1882 a man by the name of Matthew Maguire, a machinist for the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J proposed the idea while he was serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
As with every national holiday, the bill to introduce Labor Day was first introduced by the state of New York, but the law was first passed by the state of Oregon on February 21st, 1887. During this same year, more states, which included Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York enacted legislation and created the “Labor Day Holiday”.
By the end of 1889, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania also enacted the same legislation. By 1894, 23 more states had also followed suit with recognizing Labor Day as a holiday, and on June 28th, 1884 the holiday was passed at a federal level and that it would be celebrated on the first Monday in September of each year.