8. Labor Day

Members of Ford Local 600 of the CIO march in the Labor Day parade in Detroit Michigan, 1942. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)“On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 to 20,000 workers, at the risk of losing their jobs, gathered in New York City and marched from City Hall to Union Square in support of an eight-hour workday. The idea quickly spread to many communities, and in 1887, Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday. And after having used federal troops to suppress the Pullman strike, an anti-union U.S. President Grover Cleveland sensed that he had to recognize the contributions of workers and together with Congress, enacted the first national Labor Day in 1894.”

—Tedd Levy, “Celebrating Labor Day”

The Gilder Lehrman Institute offers the following resources for exploring the origins of Labor Day, the workers for whom it exists, and the lasting impact of acknowledging labor in the United States.

Classroom Resources


Self-Paced Courses