The History of Labor Day


The history of Labor Day dates back to the late 1800s. This annual celebration of workers and their achievements began during the height of the Industrial Revolution. Long working hours, dismal working conditions, and minimal rights for workers led to the creation of labor unions fighting for the working people. The “workingmen’s holiday” idea took hold in 1882 across many industrial centers, with many states passing legislation to recognize it; however, it was not legalized by Congress until 1894.


Historical Events:

September 5th, 1882, was the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. Ten thousand workers in New York City took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square.


The infamous Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886 led to the deaths of police officers and civilian workers protesting. A rally advocating for the eight-hour workday turned violent, with a bomb thrown at the police. The aftermath of this event resulted in several labor leaders being arrested or executed.


The Pullman strike on June 26, 1894, crippled railroad traffic, leading to clashes between workers and law enforcement. Several riots occurred that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.


Who Created Labor Day?

On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday. While the founder of Labor Day is uncertain, the long Labor Day weekend is cherished and celebrated in cities and towns. On June 28, 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed several holidays to ensure they would always be observed on Mondays so federal employees could enjoy more three-day weekends.


How Will You Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day weekend is synonymous with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. Family traditions, barbecues, parades, and relaxation are how we spend the long weekend. Kansas City is full of attractions to help you celebrate this Labor Day holiday. From the Kansas City Irish Fest, to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival to the Kansas City Royals and Monarchs, the weekend is yours to relax and enjoy.

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