Posts Tagged ‘Labor Day’

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Only in America

Posted: 7 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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The bill designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day arrived on President Grover Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the strike of railroad workers in Pullman, just outside of Chicago.*

The movement for a national Labor Day had been growing for some time. In September 1892, union workers in New York City took an unpaid day off and marched around Union Square in support of the holiday. But now, protests against President Cleveland’s harsh methods made the appeasement of the nation’s workers a top political priority. In the immediate wake of the strike, legislation was rushed unanimously through both houses of Congress, and the bill arrived on President Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the Pullman strike.

1894 was an election year. President Cleveland seized the chance at conciliation, and Labor Day was born. He was not reelected.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”

*And, lest we forget, this was just 8 years after the Haymarket Square tragedy, also in Chicago.