The   SG signature  Papers Project Presents: Labor Day
We tend to think of Labor Day as the official end of summer. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a holiday to celebrate wage earners and their families.

Local unions paraded with banners and symbols of their trades. Invited speakers -- usually national labor leaders and friendly politicians--inspired the crowds. And families enjoyed picnics, games, contests and other entertainment sponsored by the local labor movement.

      George Grantham Bain Collection Library of Congress (1909)



Labor Day began as a muncipal holiday -- the New York City Central Labor Union sponsored the first parade on September 5, 1882.  Within few years other central labor bodies were following their example and by 1885 the Knights of Labor and the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions were calling for a national holiday in honor of working people.

In 1887 Oregon became the first state to pass a law establishing the first Monday in September as Labor Day. After 32 states took similar action by 1894, the United States Congress passed legislation making Labor Day a legal holiday.
  
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