Labor Day in America

Share This Page






Follow This Site

Follow SocStudies4Kids on Twitter


Labor Day celebrates the contributions of American workers to the production and prosperity of the country. Labor Day is a federal holiday and takes place each year on the first Monday of September.

Labor unions have a long history in America. In the late 1800s, a drive among many workers to celebrate their economic achievements resulted in the proposal of a tribute in the form of a holiday in New York City. Some sources record that the idea was first put forward by Peter McGuire, a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Other sources report that the idea came from a man with a slightly different name, Matthew Maguire. 

The first widely observed holiday honoring American workers took place on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York. This event, which consisted of a large parade and a picnic, was organized by the Central Labor Union and was repeated the following year, on September 5, 1883.

After the third successive such holiday, by which time the date was fixed as the first Monday in September, the members of the Central Labor Union urged members of similar organizations elsewhere in the country to have events of their own. The result was a "workingmen's holiday" in several cities across the country in 1885, supported by city ordinances proclaiming a day off from work.

Oregon was the first state to declare Labor Day a state holiday, in 1887. That year, four more states (Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) passed similar laws. By 1894, 23 states had similar state holidays. In that same year, Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September a federal holiday.

Since that time, Labor Day has been a day of remembrance for hard-working Americans. The day is certainly known as a day off from work for many people. Some communities still have organized events. In years past, important people have given speeches at Labor Day picnics. The parades of the past are not so common anymore.
Many other countries have a similar holiday. May Day, the first day of May, is so celebrated in many countries.

Search This Site

Custom Search

Get weekly newsletter