Who started Labor Day?

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tags: Labor Day

The act making Labor Day a federal holiday spared few words when it was signed into law on June 28, 1894. Above the scripted signatures of President Grover Cleveland, the speaker of the House and the vice president, the 83-word law declared that the first Monday of September be “the day celebrated and known as Labor’s Holiday.”

The paragraph does little to suggest the decades of confusion that would swirl around the holiday’s origins, Cleveland’s role in its creation or the blood spilled along the way. Labor leaders with similar names spawned much debate as to who was the holiday’s true founder, and the caretaker of the nation’s leading Cleveland museum insists that the president’s signing of the law was not the politically motivated gesture widely reported ever since.

The first Labor Day celebrations took place more than a decade before it became a federal holiday. Many sources point to Peter J. McGuire — founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and an early leader of the American Federation of Labor — who suggested the celebration to the Central Labor Union of New York as the holiday’s progenitor. Others claim that Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union, proposed the holiday....

From 1887 to 1894, 23 states passed Labor Day laws. Oregon was the first, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Then came its recognition as a federal holiday.

Read entire article at WaPo

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