The first Labor Day commemoration was held on September 5, 1882, when more than 10,000 workers paraded in New York City and held a rally in Union Square. Such celebrations spread throughout the country in the following years, during a period when the growing labor movement faced many struggles.
After federal troops moved into Chicago and shot workers during the Pullman Strike the administration of Grover Cleveland wanted to extend a peace offering to the labor movement. The result was a bill rushed through Congress to make Labor Day an official federal holiday.
Illustration: An early Labor Day parade in New York City, circa late 1880s/Library of Congress
Connect on Facebook: AboutHistory1800s
Follow on Twitter: @History1800s