When was America's First Labor Day?

Answer: December 28th, 1869. (147 Years Ago From This Day)

The backstory here is actually pretty awesome. Apparently back in the day, when 8 hour work days weren't a thing, a secret society of tailors in Pennsylvania decided to form a group called "The Knights of Labor". At the time they were the largest and one of the most important America labor organizations in the country. They were big on things you and I take for granted today. Think the social and cultural uplift of the American workingman. They hated socialism, and, as mentioned above, demanded an eight-hour day.

Unfortunately these guys became victims of their own success. In 1869 they had 28,000 members, in 1884 they had 100,000 members, and by 1886 their membership ballooned to 800,000. They grew too quickly and lacked the organization structure they needed to keep functioning into the 1900s.

Regardless, they were the first group to observe "Labor Day" in the states. Later on the first annual observance of Labor Day was organized by the American Federation of Labor in 1884. This is the Labor Day that you and I know, which takes place on the first Monday in September.

In 1887, Oregon became the first state to designate Labor Day as a holiday and in 1894 Congress designated the first Monday in September a legal holiday for all federal employees. Pretty sure, most Americans get this Monday off.

Anyway, next time your chillin poolside, running through sprinklers, or hanging by the beach on Labor Day, pour one out for the Knights of Labor. They're the ones who started it all.

Read More

General InterestOld Glory