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The Story of Labor Day

The first Labor Day.

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Labor Day is a day that honors workers. America celebrates with a three-day weekend and many people enjoy hot dogs, barbecues, water balloon fights, and parades.

Who Done It?

Nobody knows who to thank for this Monday holiday – a McGuire or a Maguire. Peter J. McGuire was a carpenter. Some records name him as the first person to suggest a day to honor laborers.

The challenger, Matthew Maguire, was a machinist (someone who uses machine tools to make metal parts). Some say Maguire invented the holiday in 1882.

How Was It Done?

New York City held the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882. New York was the first to celebrate the event, but Oregon was the first state to pass a law officially recognizing the holiday, in 1887. By 1894, 23 other states had taken up the celebration. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law to make the first Monday in September a national holiday.

The First Labor Day

The first celebration in New York almost went wrong. William McCabe, the Grand Marshall of the parade, became nervous as he saw there were only a few people ready to march, and no band to play the music. Luckily, Matthew Maguire let the frazzled McCabe know that 200 marchers from the had just arrived. And even better news, they had a band! The final count of marchers was between 10,000 and 20,000 men and women.

*This article is adapted from “McGuire Or Maguire? Whoever Gave Us Labor Day, Thank You!” by Kelli Ballard.
Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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