Labor Day is a celebration of two things. Officially, it celebrates the contributions of people in the workforce. Unofficially, it celebrates the end of summer before the back-to-school season. But how did Labor Day come about? Here are a few fast facts:
- The origins of Labor Day are a little muddy. No one is quite sure if Peter J. McGuire (secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters) or Matthew Maguire (a machinist) was first to suggest a “workingman’s holiday.”
- The Central Labor Union in New York City was the first to plan a Labor Day on September 5, 1882.
- President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894 after the deaths of 13 workers in the Pullman railroad car strike. The president sent in Army troops and U.S. Marshals to put down the strike since the boycott of Pullman cars was messing up mail delivery. To smooth relations with American workers afterward, he quickly enacted Labor Day.