**Please note ARC Electric Company is closed today in observance of Labor Day. We will return Tuesday, September 8th at 7 am. Have a blessed day!
Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day was created to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It started under the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894 under Grover Cleveland.
The idea of a “workingman’s holiday” caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress did not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a dismal period in American labor history brought workers’ rights right into the public’s eye. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage drops and the firing of union representatives.
On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair American workers moral, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified. Some records indicate Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to suggest a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged – many speculate that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the notion that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
To some, Labor Day is the symbol of the end of summer for many Americans – and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events. I guess until you start the research you don’t really know the history involved.