Labor Day in Canada began in 1872 in Toronto but quickly made its way south to the U.S. In 1894, Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday after a failed attempt to break up a railroad strike.
The first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. The Labor Day parade of about 10,000 workers took unpaid leave and marched from City Hall past Union Square uptown to 42nd street, and ended in Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue for a concert, speeches, and a picnic.
Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in 1887.
On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
What are we celebrating? The contributions and achievements of the 155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce.
In the late 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5-6 years old worked in factories and mines.
The year in which the 8-hour day was firmly established was 1916 with the passage of the Adamson Act. This was the first federal law regulating hours of workers in private companies.
Traditionally people did not wear white or seersucker clothes after Labor Day as it unofficially marked the end of summer.