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Holiday Time > History of Labor Day (in the United States of America)

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message 1: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, street parades and athletic events.

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts 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 Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.


https://www.history.com/topics/holida...


message 2: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

The Gleaners
Jean-Francois Millet
1857


message 3: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

Peasnat Woman Harvesting Potatoes
Vincent Van Gogh


message 4: by Heather, Moderator (last edited Sep 02, 2019 08:15AM) (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

Winter Work Modern Peasants
Sir George Clausen



Flora the Gypsy
Sir George Clausen


message 5: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

Teo Italian Peasant Women and an Infant
Jean-Leon Gerome
1849


message 6: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

Portrait of a Peasant
Giovanni Giacometti


message 7: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

Peasant Woman Watering Her Cow
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot


message 8: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments

The Peasant and the Nest Robber
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
1568


message 9: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1897 comments What a nice group of paintings, Heather. Thank you.


message 10: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments Ruth wrote: "What a nice group of paintings, Heather. Thank you."

Thank you, Ruth! I had fun finding them. And there are some I hadn't seen before.


message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 362 comments Wonderful paintings of laborers, Heather!

The Smithsonian Magazine had an interesting article about Thomas Hart Benton who showed working people in his murals. There are lots of photos in this article:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-c...


message 12: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 362 comments Have you heard about the American Mural Project, a museum in Winsted, CT, that pays tribute to American workers? It hasn't fully opened yet. A mural that is 120 feet long and 48 feet high and 10 feet deep is being installed in a former factory building. It's made in many overlapping parts that give it a 3-D effect.

https://www.americanmuralproject.org/


message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1897 comments Connie wrote: "Have you heard about the American Mural Project, a museum in Winsted, CT, that pays tribute to American workers? It hasn't fully opened yet. A mural that is 120 feet long and 48 feet high and 10 fe..."

How interesting. I'd love to see it more pictures of what it's going to be like.


message 14: by Connie (last edited Sep 02, 2019 01:15PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 362 comments Ruth wrote: "Connie wrote: "Have you heard about the American Mural Project, a museum in Winsted, CT, that pays tribute to American workers? It hasn't fully opened yet. A mural that is 120 feet long and 48 feet..."

I wish I had more, Ruth. The artist spoke to my lifelong learning group a few years ago, and showed slides. It is a huge project since they had to gut the factory building first. She has a group of volunteers (that know about construction) mounting the parts of the mural as she is finishing them. I think she also has school kids painting in some sections of the mural (where she did the outlines) so the community feels like they are a part of the project.

Edit: I just found a 4 minute video of the project.

https://www.americanmuralproject.org/...


message 15: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments That is incredible, Connie! That idea to bring so many people together and from all 50 states, all ages, races, genders, etc, of people!

It also talked about 50% if blacks and Hispanic kids don’t graduate from high school and this could possibly change that, giving them a chance to see their potential at a different lifestyle and what they could actually accomplish.

This is really neat! What an amazing idea.
I would love to see this now and when it is completed!


message 16: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1897 comments Thanks, Connie. I love the spirit behind this.


message 17: by Dirk (new)

Dirk Van | 2756 comments So Labor day is always on the fist Monday of September?
That's always a long weekend then ;-)
Here in Belgium it's on the 1st of May, no matter what day of the week it is... if it's on a Saturday or Sunday, we can choose it freely through the year which gives us an extra vacation day ;-)


message 18: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 362 comments Dirk wrote: "So Labor day is always on the fist Monday of September?
That's always a long weekend then ;-)
Here in Belgium it's on the 1st of May, no matter what day of the week it is... if it's on a Saturday o..."


Yes, it's always a long weekend at the beginning of September, and a last chance to hit the beaches before they close for swimming since the lifeguards go back to school.

Do you have the May Day tradition of leaving little baskets of flowers at people's doors in Belgium? I remember my daughters making May baskets in school, but am not sure which countries have that tradition.


message 19: by Dirk (last edited Sep 03, 2019 01:40PM) (new)

Dirk Van | 2756 comments Connie wrote: "Do you have the May Day tradition of leaving little baskets of flowers at people's doors in Belgium? I remember my daughters making May baskets in school, but am not sure which countries have that tradition. ..."

No, never heard of that tradition, not in this part of Europe, maybe more in England or Ireland?


message 20: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1897 comments I remember leaving flowers on May Day, but the custom died out before my children were old enough to participate.


message 21: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments I’ve never heard of that tradition. Is it something foreign to the United States? Or only foreign to Heather?


message 22: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1897 comments We did it in the 1940s in Los Angeles.


message 23: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8333 comments Oh okay. Thank you for the clarification.


message 24: by Connie (last edited Sep 03, 2019 11:52PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 362 comments I googled the May Day flowers tradition, and it was a Celtic tradition that was brought over to the United States from Ireland and other countries. But the tradition has died out here.


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