In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.
Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day. Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. mili-tary and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.
The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist move-ments that, though distinct from one another had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Worker’s Day. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territo-ries have made it a statutory holiday.
Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the weekend of La-bor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. In the U.S., most school dis-tricts that started summer vacation 1-2 weeks into June will resume school the day after Labor Day.