The Real History Behind Labor Day

For most of us, Labor Day is a long weekend towards the end of summer. However, it’s origin might surprise you.

It began during the deep recession of early 1890’s when George Pullman, the railway tycoon was forced to lay off workers and reduce wages. The workers retaliated by going on strike causing commerce in many parts of the country to grind to a halt.

The Pullman laborers started their strike in May 1894. The following month, Congress passed legislation making the first Monday of September a day to recognize workers. In July, President Grover Cleveland decided enough was enough and sent federal troops to Chicago to crush the strike.

A few hours after the troops arrived, mobs of people started tipping railroad cars and setting them on fire. Troops cracked down with guns and bayonets, only worsening the rioting and destruction of property, with dozens dying.

An interesting side note: the original “Labor Day” was set for May 1st, the international holiday for workers. President Cleveland was concerned that Labor Day on May 1st would encourage Socialism, as the holiday had begun to be associated with communism, now known today as “May Day”. Labor Day was them moved as far away from May 1st as possible!

Have a happy and safe Labor Day holiday weekend!

As always, please feel free to contact me.

Keith Springer

916-925-8900

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