Yesterday, America celebrated Labor Day as a National Holiday for the 127th time. The very first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. The first Labor Day was an outgrowth of the burgeoning union movement in America. New York’s first Labor Day celebration consisted of about 10,000 workers, who took unpaid leave and who marched to where else but Union Square?
President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday. The passing of this law came at the same time that the bitter Pullman Strike was occurring in Chicago, which caused a major disruption to all railroad traffic in the Midwest. In response, President Cleveland, a Democrat, called out federal troops to help put down the strike. Some historians contend that President Cleveland advocated for a Labor Day holiday because he was afraid of losing the support of working-class voters. In the late 19th century, Labor Day celebrations focused on parades in major industrialized cities. Today, the holiday is a celebration that honors organized labor in different ways. To many, of course, Labor Day is also seen as the end of the summer season.